S Sathish, a Tamil Nadu Forest Range Officer, won the ‘International Ranger Award 2021’ for his excellent services and determination in conserving forests, marine life.
S Sathish grew up in Thalavadi village, north of Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary. Being close to the sanctuary, he enjoyed sighting birds and different species. He was interested in learning their names and knowing about them. He joined the Forest College and Research Institute, Mettupalayam. He went on to clear the Tamil Nadu civil services exam and was posted as a Forest Range Officer.
The job of a forest range officer is not for the weak-hearted as one has to face poachers, mafias, death threats and the wrath of animals. During his patrols he found spots for smuggling and with increased surveillance, he managed to plug the gaps. He brought down different types of crimes like poaching and smuggling of sea cucumber, a marine animal traded in South Asia for food dishes and medicine.
In April 2021, he was awarded the International Ranger Award 2021 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
He was bestowed with a badge of honour along with a cash prize of US $10,000 for conserving forests. It was awarded for his excellent efforts in conserving the marine ecosystem at the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and plantation of 100-acre Mangrove forests. Mangroves help in water filtration and maintaining water quality. It also provides protection against tsunamis and floods. He also collected seeds of endangered plant species and undertook afforestation. And now this has become home to hundreds of birds including kingfishers, sandpipers, black-winged stilts.
He is also a part of a scuba diving team that goes under the sea to check the coral reefs and to clean the coastal areas, making them plastic-free. He also came forward to save the Olive Ridley Turtle by undertaking efforts to protect the hatcheries where they laid their eggs. After hatching, they were set free on the local beach and the survival rate was observed to be over 95%. He also educated fishermen about the importance of these turtles.
Thus, forest officer S Sathish is a role model for all responsible citizens. His exemplary efforts to reduce plastic in the marine ecosystem and protect the underwater creatures bear fruits across time and space.
Researched and written by Nishi Mantri, Team ulaunch.