This profile was prepared when Kishor Rithe was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Through the Satpura Foundation, Kishore is strengthening local citizen organizations to make a measurable impact on wildlife protection and forest conservation. He is creating an effective network, connecting local organizations to each other, and linking them to other related organizations in national and international partnerships. Previously, he spent ten years building the Nature Conservation Society of Amravati (NCSA), a tiger conservation program that succeeded because it helped citizens, government, and environmental organizations figure out how to work together. Using the same philosophy and techniques, he has established the Satpura Foundation to build and strengthen local efforts to stop natural resource exploitation in and around national parks and reserves. The Foundation will develop forest and habitat defender organizations in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Among these targeted parks are fifteen tiger reserves in the Satpura mountain range, one of the most biodiverse regions in Asia. Already working in and around seven sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh and eight in Maharashtra, the Foundation plans to reach all forty-four reserves in the region. Kishore's model centers on several key principles. He believes that conservation and protection must be led by locals to sustain their interest and participation over an extended period of time. Also crucial is the support of those who shape policy and public opinion, including government, academics, non-government conservation groups, the media, and the general public. Kishore prevents serious problems by encouraging communication among key stakeholders so that potential conflicts can be detected early on. He is careful to base his advocacy on facts and research rather than politics.