Sindhudurg conservationist gets Sanctuary Asia thumbs up

Updated: Sep 22, 2019, 07:40 IST | Prutha Bhosle

Malhar Indulkar features in a documentary, Sacred, that explores his work to protect the state's Myristica swamps

In Vashishti, the number of otters has been declining over the years
In Vashishti, the number of otters has been declining over the years

Charles Darwin said that the beginning of all life on earth probably happened in a warm pond billions of years ago," Malhar Indulkar, a young grassroots conservationist, says in a new documentary released on YouTube.

He continues, "I wondered what that pond looked like, where it all began. It must have looked like any other pond. This is why I think any little thing in the natural world, no matter how ordinary looking, it is worth protecting." Twenty-six-year-old Indulkar introduces us to the magic of Maharashtra's Myristica swamps (tropical fresh water swamp forests with an abundance of Myristica trees) in the latest short film, Sacred.

Chiplun-based Malhar Indulkar
Chiplun-based Malhar Indulkar

Hailing from a family of agricultural activists from Chiplun in Maharashtra, Indulkar is a graduate of Udaipur's Swaraj University. "After Class XII, I took part in a two-year programme at Swaraj University. The programme makes one rethink development and its consequences on the natural habitat. The two years proved to be a changing point in my life, and I knew I had to dedicate my life to the environment and its species and do away with the idea of a mainstream job," he tells us.

During the programme, Indulkar interned with the Nityata River Otter Conservancy (NROC) and the course of his life changed. "I was working in the Karnataka part of the Kaveri river, which involved surveying otters and assessing threats to them. I realised that the conservation of otters is highly important for the health of a river because these creatures eat up all the sick fishes in the water body, restricting the spread of diseases to other fish."

The NROC later on posted Indulkar in Chiplun's Vashishti River. "There again, we did population estimation and threat assessment of the species. In Vashishti, too, the number of otters had been declining over the years."

At present, with a little support from NROC and Sanctuary Asia's Mud on Boots Project, Indulkar is implementing innumerable initiatives to convince his community to protect their beautiful land and the aquatic species. The Mud on Boots Project aims to empower unsung grassroots conservationists across India.

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