Manoj Gautam is a passionate man working on river dolphin conservation in Nepal. “For me, nothing is more important than species conservation because it represents the interconnectedness of all living beings and our habitats. My ultimate vision is to see that conservation as a practice has disappeared because it has become an integral part of human life. While working for animals or the environment, people sometimes forget to have respect and compassion for human beings. Coming from a rural farming background helps me keep a perspective on what’s important in communities.
The local communities around the Karnali watershed rely on a healthy aquatic ecosystem for their livelihoods. Taking the Gangetic River Dolphin (GRD) as a flagship for the entire ecozone, I intend to build a model of sustainable community development in which conservation of the GRD is the key to ensuring livelihoods and maintaining the pristine beauty of the region. A River Dolphin Conservation Base will be the hub for community mobilisation, international visitors and species/habitat research.
The community will be at the heart of the project, and I plan to turn the Dolphin Habitat area into an area that will not only ensure the long-term survival of the species but the whole range of diversity in the eco-regime. The communities will be linked with international communities like schools, universities, and research organizations, and cultural exchanges will be included to increase local participation and their sense of benefit. This will bring in resources and expertise for other technical aspects of the project, increase global connections and make it a self-sustaining initiative.”
“Manoj Gautam is truly a conservation hero with a broad interest in protecting the wildlife of Nepal. At his young age, he has already initiated and succeeded in several very important initiatives: Nepal’s first Animal Welfare and Protection Act, Roots&Shoots (providing community involvement and youth education), Vultures Restaurants, and the prevention of commercial trade and exploitation of animals. Manoj is always on his mission.” – 2015, Masha Vorontsova, International Selection Committee