Shahriar Caesar Rahman
Caesar’s wonder for the natural world was discouraged by his high school in Bangladesh. Nonetheless he became convinced that he had to follow the path of wildlife conservation. He set out his mission to bring back imperiled tortoise and turtle species from the brink of extinction. Hunting practices and destruction of the forest for agricultural practices are the major threats. To tackle this, Caesar established primary schools in the remotest villages of the Sangu Reserve Forest, a biodiversity hotspot. In exchange, the villagers agreed to cease hunting highly threatened wildlife species, resulting in a 70% reduction of turtle hunting. Furthermore, he has empowered life-long hunters to use their traditional ecological knowledge for conservation purposes.
From an early age, Shahriar Caesar Rahman had a profound love for nature. Though his wonder for the natural world was discouraged by his high school in Bangladesh, Caesar became convinced that he had to follow a path towards wildlife conservation. After studying in America he returned to Bangladesh and set out on a mission to bring back the Asian giant tortoise, and other highly imperiled turtle and tortoise species, from the brink of extinction.
"I firmly believe that empowering the native communities to take action is the most effective means towards achieving the conservation of their unique ecosystem and culture.”Shahriar Caesar Rahman
Vision and Approach
In the remote Chittagong Hill Tracts, which is part of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot Caesar is fighting hunting practices and the destruction of the forest for agricultural practices and logging, the major threats to his beloved tortoise and other wildlife. With the NGO the Creative Conservation Alliance (CCA) of which he is a co-founder, Caesar developed a comprehensive approach that empowers local people to become stakeholders in their own landscapes. He established primary schools in the remotest villages of the Sangu-Matamuhuri Reserve Forest. In return, the villagers agreed to demarcate areas for community managed forests and cease hunting of highly threatened species. Furthermore, he turned life-long hunters into para-biologists who use their traditional ecological knowledge for conservation purposes.
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
Winning the Award and the prize money contributed to the establishment of the Creative Conservation Alliance’s Turtle Conservation Center and the acquisition of two male tortoises, which resulted in the first captive breeding successes of Asia’s largest tortoise in Bangladesh.
"Mr Rahman has demonstrated the wisdom of combining top-down with bottom-up approaches to species conservation across diverse landscapes. His innovation in mobilizing primary schooling opportunities to the communities of remote villages is a fundamental step forward in conservation strategies. He has proven that tenacity, vision, and personal commitment can achieve results even in the poorest and least cared-for countries of the world."Mr. Brian J. Huntley, International Selection Committee