During the opening of the academic year on 2 September, Charudutt Mishra was presented the Wageningen University Outstanding Alumnus Award. The ecologist and nature conservationist from India, who obtained his PhD in the Resource Ecology group, is the founder of and driving force behind the Nature Conservation Foundation.
© Charudutt Mishra
Mishra is concerned about the wildlife in and around the Himalayas in India, China, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. His greatest merit is that he is able to come to good agreements with the governments and local leaders in these countries in order to protect endangered animals. ‘He is able to get Hindus, Muslims, capitalists and communists to work together’, said Jan Karel Mak of the Wageningen University Fund during the award ceremony. Mishra, who was informed of the prize only last week, could not be present to receive the award.
The passionate conservationist is the founder of the Snow Leopard Trust, an international organisation that focuses on research and protection of the snow leopard. This extremely rare feline still lives in remote parts of the Himalayas.
Charudutt Mishra obtained his PhD in 2001 under the supervision of Herbert Prins for his thesis entitled “High altitude survival; conflicts between pastoralism and wildlife in the Trans-Himalaya”. He came to the conclusion that grazing cattle drives away wild animals such as the wild yak and the Tibetan antelope from the Himalayas.
Mishra is a man with a strong sense of humour, as the following citation in his thesis illustrates: ‘The surest proof that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.’