This project was funded by the BBC Wildlife Fund
This new project for WCS-India aims to broaden the reach of their conservation initiatives through awareness building to encourage local Indian business houses, corporations, foundations and high net-worth individuals to build philanthropic support for tiger conservation.
It is based in Bengaluru (Bangalore), the capital city of Karnataka state in southern India. The work is largely carried out in southern India but links with other major Indian cities like Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata are being explored.
Conservation of charismatic species like tiger is a priority issue in India. There is a reasonably high level of awareness among the urban Indians about wildlife conservation, though their level of engagement in terms of taking action to support conservation is often very limited. Philanthropy for wildlife conservation is still at a very nascent stage in India. Though Indian and multinational companies operating in India have in the past attempted small-scale philanthropy for conservation it was largely restricted to urban-based environmental issues such as tree planting, awareness drives against non-degradable product usage and garbage disposal.There is high potential to harness this sector for tiger conservation as the tiger is a cultural and religious icon and is the national animal of India. The Indian economy has been growing at 9% over the last several years and even now is growing at a higher rate than in most other countries. A globalised business policy has also brought in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a serious part of India’s private sector.
Engaging these individuals from the corporate world, along with societal icons such as sports persons and musicians in evidence-based conservation education programmes and highlighting the various inter-connected strands of real life wildlife conservation will raise their awareness and enable a more sophisticated understanding of this complex subject especially in the Western Ghats. Once progress is made, subsequent meetings elaborate further with specific case studies and field visit are planned for these people either as individuals or in small groups to expose them to real world conservation.