Romulus WhitakerIndia’s unconventional conservationist
Passionate about the natural world, Romulus Whitaker has gone from conserving reptiles to saving India’s rainforests through a network of research stations.
Famous in India for his unconventional approach to conservation, American-born Romulus Whitaker, who jokingly calls himself a “rabid hippie conservationist”, has made his mark in his adopted country, first for his notable career in herpetology, and now for saving rainforests to help overcome India’s water shortage.
We are now faced with a water shortage that will dwarf any of the past problems faced by the people.
Whitaker’s Rolex Award-winning project set forth a plan to help establish seven research stations that will connect key remaining rainforest strongholds throughout India and demonstrate the importance of their water supplies to hundreds of millions of people. In addition to hosting dozens of scientists and naturalists, each station’s mission is to be a springboard for local conservation and the education of schoolchildren about the forest.
As these rainforest research stations, based on Whitaker’s Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, established in 2005, come into operation, he is continuing his studies of the flagship species, the King Cobra, revealing the habits of the largest venomous snake in the world.
In other achievements, Whitaker set up, in 1976, the Madras Crocodile Bank to protect three crocodile species, a research station in the Andaman Islands and has published eight books and over 300 articles.
Plant species in the Western Ghats forest
7,000 to 8,000 mm
Annual rainfall in India’s Agumbe rainforest