Rahul Kumar: Filling the wildlife void in Bihar, India.
In Bihar, India, the conservation of wildlife is not a priority. This lack of concern for the conservation of wildlife has negatively impacted the state of nature in Bihar; however, 20-year-old Rahul Kumar has not let the circumstances hinder him in bringing wildlife to the forefront. Through hard work and determination, Kumar's tireless efforts and ambition have placed him as one of the winners in the 2013 CoalitionWILD Wilder World Challenge!
Kumar's submission proposes the development of a website to create awareness and public support for wildlife issues in Bihar. The website would serve as a central hub for information as well as an avenue for public participation. Kumar suggests that his website will accomplish many important issues, such as ensuring that wildlife concerns are thoroughly documented and local issues are highlighted with regular updates. Also, the website will allow anyone to report illegal activities, seek assistance in case of an emergency (rescue or treatment of wildlife), as well as create awareness about local campaigns.
Kumar’s passion for creating a wilder Bihar started at the local zoo. He has committed himself to exposing corruption and bringing awareness to many injustices occurring in Patna as well as Bihar. Kumar makes regular visits to interact with the zoo staff and spread awareness of exploitive activities. Among the things Kumar desired to change included: the illegal extraction of snake venom, rare species of snakes being caught by snake charmers, and the sale of endangered species of bird. Kumar took a stand on these issues by reporting the exploitation to local police and even managed to rescue some snakes himself.
Kumar’s wildlife efforts are not limited to Bihar, as he has expanded his work to other states in India. Connections to other wildlifers in India via Facebook motivated Kumar to get out into the field and make a difference. In 2011, Kumar made a list of Protected Areas in India. His goal was to create a broader scope of the conservation problems in India and gather information on existing conservation efforts.
In February 2012, Kumar became involved with the Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Center, a group involved in Dolphin conservation. Kumar was active in this organization as a survey assistant for the Ganges River Dolphin Survey. Overall, this project served to gather a variety of information about the Ganges River wildlife. The survey thoroughly covered issues of dolphin populations, biodiversity in the river, the impacts of socioeconomic conditions of fishing communities, as well as provided recommendations for developing sustainable fisheries.
In February 2013, Kumar started working on a sub-project of the Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Project. This project, named “Dolphin Mitra,” functions to encourage local fisherman to become active in monitoring and reporting illegal activities in the sanctuary. Creating this network of vigilant fisherman has exposed some individuals who are harming wildlife because they interfere with their unsustainable fishing practices. Moreover, the illegal fishing practices that have been reported, such as using a mosquito net to fish, are incredibly destructive to wildlife conservation and can now be closely monitored.
It is clear that Kumar is tirelessly committed to creating a wilder world in his ever-growing community in India. A partnership between The WILD Foundation, The Murie Center and Simon Jackson, founder of the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, CoalitionWILD seeks to catalyze a social movement of people under 30 to create a wilder world like Kumar is doing. The initiative inspires and empowers young people by providing a social media platform for innovative ideas, on-the-ground projects, activities and events, while focusing attention on the power of younger generations to initiate change. They look forward to creating excitement around change-making efforts around the world.
As one of the winners of CoalitionWILD’s Wilder World Challenge, Kumar will be flying out to Salamanca, Spain to participate in the World Wilderness Congress in October. Kumar will serve as a CoalitionWILD delegate and have the opportunity to present his work on a global platform to delegates from around the world. His presence at the conference will highlight how a new generation of amazing conservationists is working towards creating a wilder world. We congratulate Rahul Kumar and cannot wait to see what he accomplishes in the future!