WWF’s Dr. Rimington Award is presented to an individual who has made a highly commendable contribution to the conservation of wild tigers and this year’s theme for the award is ‘Living with Tigers’. The recipient of the 2021 Award, Umashankar Mandal, is a committed citizen that has been restoring the mangrove habitat in his community for over a decade.
Umashankar Mandal is based in the Indian Sundarbans - one of the largest mangrove forests in the world and the only mangrove forest home to tigers. The landscape also supports the livelihoods of local communities and importantly protects them from frequent and potentially deadly cyclones.
Planting a future for both tigers and people
Tigers and communities live in close proximity to each other in the Sundarbans. The landscape is highly vulnerable to climate change with wildlife and local communities bearing the brunt because the low-lying islands are susceptible to flooding. Any changes in the ecosystem that affect the landscape can potentially lead to an increase in conflict between humans and tigers.
Umshankar has seen first hand the impact of cyclones which is what inspired him to start his journey to restore his island's mangrove forests. Over the last ten years he has single-handedly planted at least 650,000 mangrove seeds and saplings. Umshankar’s efforts have inspired others in his village to join him in the planting process, which he’s largely self-funded.
Umshankar’s restoration efforts over the last decade are having a positive impact for both tigers and people. His work is key to preserving a delicate balance in the ecosystem while protecting the island from cyclones such as Cyclone Yaas which hit the Sundarbans in 2021.
“I understood early in life that humans will survive if they save nature.” - Umashankar Mandal.
The mangroves planted by Umshankar will help safeguard future generations from climate change and provide a safe habitat for the tigers which call the Sundarbans home.
Thank you to the Rimington family for their support to WWF and this award which spotlights incredible individuals working tirelessly to conserve tigers and their habitats.