Philanthropy: The Spirit of Giving

The Story for Conservation started in the Sankhala Family three generations ago. When Amit’s grandfather was a Forester, he was lured into killing his first Tiger. The feeling of guilt made him change his mission in life. In his book he writes – 

“Even today the scene is as fresh as it was that morning, and the open eyes of that tiger have haunted me all my life. To overcome my guilt I have dedicated my life to the cause of tiger preservation. “

Kailash Sankhala was the first conservationist who raised his voice in favour of protecting the tiger as early as 1956. He conducted an extensive study under the Jawahar Lal Nehru fellowship during a time when tiger population was dwindling at an alarming rate due to poaching and hunting. His presentation on the status of the Tiger, at the IUCN conference in 1969 Delhi, raised an alarm of Tigers heading towards extinction. With the backing of Indira Gandhi and determination of great leaders like Dr.Karan Singh, MK Ranjitsinh and many more, an aspirational conservation program was launched name Project Tiger, to which Sankhala was the first founding Director. Till today, this is the biggest conservation program for Tigers and has created over 50 Tiger reserves in India.

Inception of Tiger Trust

Kailash Sankhala was awarded Padmashree (One of the highest civilian awards) by the President of India with a title that stuck on – Tiger Man of India. In 1989, Kailash along with his younger son Pradeep, founded Tiger Trust, which was a NGO pursuing Tiger conservation with funds generated from grants like US Fish and Wildlife Association, Clemson University Tiger for Tigers Program, HSBC, etc OR Tourism revenue generated at the lodges Sankhalas owned.

Inception of Tiger Trust

Kailash Sankhala was awarded Padmashree (One of the highest civilian awards) by the President of India with a title that stuck on – Tiger Man of India. In 1989, Kailash along with his younger son Pradeep, founded Tiger Trust, which was a NGO pursuing Tiger conservation with funds generated from grants like US Fish and Wildlife Association, Clemson University Tiger for Tigers Program, HSBC, etc OR Tourism revenue generated at the lodges Sankhalas owned.

Kanha and Bandhavgarh, are already well established national parks where conservation projects by various organisations have been successful. The idea of Tiger Trust was, after they finished establishing grassroot conservation in these parks, with medical camps for villagers, conservation awareness in local villages, skill training, Tiger Trust started to focus on bigger issues. Poaching was rampant in the 90s and TT recruited a legal team to start fighting on behalf of the Tiger with the help of the forest department and local villages. Legal cases were tried against poachers, while giving witness protection to local villagers. TT went on to provide guard training workshops to various national parks, awareness in schools based in metropolitan cities and organising the Kailash Sankhala memorial lecture at WWF Delhi to spread awareness of whatever the current crisis in wildlife conservation that would need awareness.

The Lodges at Kanha & Bandhavgarh, support the work of Tiger Trust and provide a home base to many conservation documentaries which are made. Sustainability is high priority for any camps that are made by the Sankhalas. You will always find that 95% of the employees at any of the lodges are from the local villages, who have been trained over many years to move up the ladder. (Might be good to insert an image of an employee). The Food is all sourced from local area to provide a Farm to Table Experience. In Bandhavgarh, you will find Solar Haat’s, Solar Cookers and Wormi-Composting. Whereas in Kanha, they have regrown a Sal Forest over 25 years around the property, which is now home to countless birds and flying squirrels.

And one of the utmost important sustainability principles – is the experience. Every person at the lodge along with the naturalists are there to teach our guests about nature. About why nature preservation is important and how addictive a Wildlife experience can be. Hence, bring your children, friends, family. You may come as a guest but we will send you back as a conservationist.

Tigerland

In Tigerland, Academy-award winning director Roff Kaufmann’s brilliant documentary, Amit Sankhala says: “You save the tiger, you save the forest; you save the forests, you save the water sources and all the biodiversity, and in the process, you save the human beings.”

This statement encapsulates the ethos, the philanthropic spirit of the Sankhala family that has been involved with aspects of wildlife conservation for decades. From empowering local communities, saving animal species to reaching out globally to stakeholders to talk about forest conservation challenges and measures, the Sankhala family continues its unwavering commitment and philanthropy.

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