Sushil Dorje, Field Programme Coordinator, Himachal Pradesh, India
Born in a farmer’s family in the remote, high altitude Himalayan village of Kibber in Spiti Valley, Sushil Dorje started his conservation career as a field assistant in a research project in 1996. Armed with limited education in a village school, no formal training as a ranger, but a deep curiosity about nature, Sushil’s growth into one of the most committed conservationists in the region has been remarkable. Today, he is motivating the youth of Spiti to help protect wildlife, and has helped stop the occasional hunting that used to take place. He has also helped expand a community-based livestock insurance programme –started in his village to address human-snow leopard conflicts – to eight other villages in Spiti and Ladakh. He has been involved in the setting up of two village wildlife reserves and is working with several schools to promote conservation education and awareness amongst Spiti's children.
Sushil is a fine naturalist and also provides support and advice to many researchers working in the region. Working selflessly at frigid heights of 4000 to 5500 m, he contributes much more for wildlife conservation than what can be expected from the small income he derives. He is also involved in monitoring the performance of conservation efforts by coordinating camera-trapping studies of the snow leopard, and monitoring mountain ungulates and birds.