Meet Purnima Devi Barman, a wildlife biologist, who has been awarded the United Nations’ highest environmental accolade

Indian wildlife biologist Purnima Devi Barman, who has dedicated her life to preserving the great stork – an endangered wetland bird – has become one of the winners of this year’s UN Environment Programme’s Champions of the Earth.

The awards, announced on November 22nd, are among the highest environmental awards, and Barman has been named the best award in the Entrepreneurial Vision category.

This year alone, the United Nations Environment Program scored nearly 2,200 nominations from around the world for the prestigious award. Out of this huge number of candidates, Barman was one of the five to win big.

Purnima Devi said to celebrate her victory the wire“The whole team is very honored to win the award.”

Other winners include a Lebanon-based nonprofit group called Arcenciel that works on waste management, Cécile Bibiane Ndjebet from Cameroon in Central Africa that works to improve women’s rights in the region, and Constantino Aucca Chutas from Peru that pioneered a community reforestation model in the country. and Partha Dasgupta from the UK who works in biodiversity economics.

Who is Purnima Devi Barman? What does it require? Take a closer look.

Who is Purnima Devi Barman?

For a woman who has made a great name for herself as a wildlife conservationist, Barman’s childhood was not a happy and blissful one.

The United Nations Environment Program website states that when she was five years old, she was sent to live with her grandmother in Assam on the banks of the Brahmaputra River. The young girl’s separation from her parents and siblings became so strong that she soon became unbearable.

Barman found comfort in birds when her grandmother, a farmer, took her to a rice field to teach her about the different birds in the area.

She said, “I saw storks and many other species. She taught me bird songs. She asked me to sing for herons and storks. I fell in love with birds.”

Her love of birds – especially storks – and wildlife alike was so strong that Barman decided to make a career out of it. I later pursued a master’s degree in zoology. Before I started working on my doctoral thesis on the greater helper stork, also called “hargyla” in Assam, I discovered that the birds I grew up with were disappearing.

Therefore, she discontinued her dissertation and focused more on keeping species alive. In 2007, a campaign to protect storks was started in the villages in Kamrup district of Assam where the stork population is concentrated.

Hence began her long and influential journey as a wildlife conservationist and stork.

her job

Before launching her campaign, Purnima Devi found that the extinction of storks was the result of the “unwelcome” nature of people in Assam.

She says that in Assam, especially in the Kamrup district, the bird is criticized for being a scavenger that feeds on carcasses and brings dead animals back to their nests, many of which grow in people’s gardens.

To address the inconvenience caused by the storks, which are about 5 feet tall, the villagers used to cut down the tall trees in their backyards to strip them of a place to live, which eventually led to their extinction.

Barman, who herself was ridiculed for saving the birds, said, “The bird was completely misunderstood. They were treated as a bad omen, bad luck or a vector of disease.”

She knew that to address this problem, she had to change the perception of the people in the village. Because the birds needed protection as they play a vital role in the wetland ecosystem, women mobilized the area and created an army called the “Hargila Army”.

Conservation efforts have included building tall platforms of bamboo to provide endangered birds with a platform to hatch their eggs and give them space to roost.

Purnima Devi is also a Senior Project Manager at an NGO called ‘Avifauna Research and Conservation Division’.

Hercules army

The brainchild of Purnima Devi, Hargela Army has been a hit since its launch.

Today, the group is made up of more than 10,000 women from across Assam who have combined their efforts to protect nesting sites and rehabilitate injured storks that fall from their nests.

To encourage a growing number of storks, the group also celebrates the arrival of the newborn chicks by arranging baby showers.

Apart from this, in an effort to spread awareness about Hargil, Purnima Devi thought it would be a good idea to open an entrepreneurial branch as part of the army where women weave looms and spin yarn to make textiles decorated with bird motifs.

Besides creating awareness, the company made women financially independent and enhanced their livelihoods.

Since its operation, the army has built about 250 houses nested across the villages of Dadara, Alpacharia and Singhimari from just 28 nests. Now, the Kamrup area has become the largest breeding colony of the largest helper storks in the world.

Why is stork conservation so important?

Once the most abundant stork in the world, the stork is now found only in parts of Cambodia and India.

The apparent extinction poses a threat to the wetland ecosystem as they are scavengers whose diet includes fish, rodents and snakes. Its large size allows it to swallow large bones.

For this very reason, they have also acquired the status of “cleaners” of their ecosystem who also serve as wetland predators.

With input from the agencies

Read all files latest newsAnd the trending newsAnd the Cricket newsAnd the Bollywood newsAnd the
India news And the Entertainment news over here. Follow us FacebookAnd the Twitter And the Instagram.

Leave a Comment