Campaigning for strictly protected Reserves

Wildlife First is a conservation advocacy organization that has been intensively campaigning for over two decades in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot in South India. Wildlife First is headed by K.M.Chinnappa, a decorated former Forest Officer whose life time effort significantly contributed to the recovery of Nagarahole, which is now acknowledged as one of India's finest wildlife reserves.

A team that comprises completely of volunteers drives Wildlife First’s mission. Most volunteers are professionals from other fields with diverse skills and several years of conservation campaigning experience which ensures efficient program implementation too. Members pool in their personal resources by which investments on infrastructure and equipment are negligible. Funding requirements for campaigns and basic administrative overheads are met entirely from a corpus created with contributions made by our patron, trustees, individuals and organizations with no conflict of interest, as permissible under the applicable legal regime.. As a policy, since inception, Wildlife First has neither sought nor received funding from any Government agency or International donor.

Wildlife First believes in the ideology of strictly protected wildlife reserves. Around four per cent of India’s landscape, has been notified as wildlife reserves for conserving endangered species whose ecological needs are in conflict with both the developmental demands of the urban rich and the livelihood requirements of local communities. This is based on peer reviewed scientific findings on the negative impact of habitat fragmentation, commercial extraction of non-timber forest produce and compelling data on the impact of both local hunting and the multi-billion dollar illegal transnational trade in wildlife. Therefore, Wildlife First pursues a strategy that has the potential to deflect commercial and developmental pressures away from wildlife reserves and equitably address the livelihood needs of people marooned inside through site-specific, incentive driven voluntary resettlement solutions. Wildlife First believes that in the Indian context, this is a win-win strategy that neither compromises the ecological needs of endangered species nor the interests’ of disenfranchised people. Wildlife First has intensively worked in collaboration with other partners and the Government to actually translate this strategy into successful implementation on-the-ground. Such site specific long-term efforts continue based on an in-depth understanding of the legal framework and the prevailing social dynamics in the landscape.

In 2007, Wildlife First was nominated to the National Board for Wildlife, the Apex statutory committee constituted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 chaired by the Prime Minister of India for a period of three years. Managing Trustee Praveen Bhargav represented Wildlife First on the NBWL and other expert committees of the Ministry of Environment & Forests.