Dr Ram Jakati with his award
At the RSPB’s online AGM, attended by 1100 live participants, Dr Ram Jakati, SAVE FACC member and chair for five years, was awarded the RSPB Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Nature Conservation for his services above all to vultures and to SAVE. The announcement was made by Prof Debbie Pain on behalf of RSPB.
Dr Jakati, who was Chief Wildlife Warden for the Forest Department in Haryana for many years, played a key role in not only getting veterinary diclofenac banned in 2006 but also establishing a network of sanctuaries, breeding centres and the urgent action needed to ensure that vultures did not go extinct before the ban could be implemented. His work began before the cause of the decline had been identified and his early intervention can be considered a major factor in protecting India’s vultures.
He subsequently helped to found SAVE. SAVE Chairman, Prof Rhys Green commented “Dr Jakati has been exceptional. Once convinced by the evidence about the right thing to do he used his skill, diplomacy and contacts to make it happen. Asian vultures still have some problems, but they wouldn’t be around now without Dr Jakati’s interventions.”
Vibhu Prakash, who started the project for BNHS and has been central to the vulture programme in India ever since says: “Sir, rearing vulture chicks, finding the cause of vulture declines and presenting scientific findings were all very exciting and satisfying. However, they were only possible because of your troubleshooting and skilled navigation of administrative hurdles at every step of the way – all done behind the scenes. You have our heartfelt thanks”.
Dr Jakati said in his acceptance speech: “I am very delighted to receive this prestigious award and deeply humbled by your gesture. I would like to emphasise that we could make rapid progress in vulture conservation in India because we had an excellent team to start with during early 2000. I would, therefore, like to accept this award on behalf of that vulture team which laid a solid foundation for work on saving Indian vultures from possible extinction. I would specially like to mention the names of Dr Vibhu Prakash and Nikita Prakash of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Dr Debbie Pain and Chris Bowden of the RSPB, Prof. Rhys Green of Cambridge University and member of the RSPB, Dr Andrew Cunningham of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Jemima Parry Jones of the International Birds of Prey Centre.
I would like to thank officials of Haryana Government and the State Forest Department, BNHS and other institutions who helped in the smooth functioning of the vulture programme. I would specially like to mention Mr Gulab Singh Sorot, then Jt Secy, Late Mr Maheshwari, then Forest Secretary, Mr D. S. Dhesi, then Environment Secretary, Mr L. S. M. Salins, then Principal Secretary, Government of Haryana, Dr Asad Rahmani, then Director of BNHS, and Dr D. Swarup of Indian Veterinary Research Institute, then in charge of Wildlife cell. Lastly, I thank all others from BNHS, RSPB, ZSL and SAVE who worked with us and continue to work on the project.”