Se­nior Ecol­o­gist Rebecca Prad­han, Royal So­ci­ety for Pro­tec­tion of Na­ture (RSPN), hon­ored as Bio­di­ver­sity Hotspot Hero

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Rebecca Prad­han was hon­ored with the recog­ni­tion as one of the ‘Hotspot Heroes’ by Crit­i­cal Ecosys­tem Part­ner­ship Fund (CEPF) at the 6th IUCN World Con­ser­va­tion Congress on Septem­ber 4, 2016. The hon­ors as “Hotspot Heroes” were con­ferred to 15 con­ser­va­tion­ists from around the world dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of the 15th an­niver­sary of the CEPF at the Bishop Mu­seum in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. The ‘hotspot heroes’ were cho­sen from a pool of more than 2,000 civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions who were the re­cip­i­ents of CEPF grants for con­ser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity hotspots across the globe since 2001.

The honor was in recog­ni­tion of the valu­able con­tri­bu­tion of Rebecca to­wards con­ser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity hotspots in Bhutan and ex­em­pli­fies her self­less ded­i­ca­tion and hard work.

Rebecca, at the ripe age of 63, is one of the se­nior most staffs at RSPN and a pi­o­neer in the field of en­vi­ron­ment con­ser­va­tion in Bhutan. Fu­eled by an early in­ter­est in na­ture, she started her con­ser­va­tion ca­reer with the Royal Govern­ment of Bhutan. She served as the Head of the Herbar­ium and Forestry Re­search Li­brary of Depart­ment of Forests and Park Ser­vices from 1985 till 1999. It was in 2000 that she joined RSPN, con­tribut­ing im­mensely to the growth of RSPN – the old­est en­vi­ron­men­tal CSO in Bhutan.

One of her most out­stand­ing works has been in the field of con­ser­va­tion of the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered White-bel­lied Heron (Ardea in­sig­nis) in Bhutan. Of the less than 60 con­firmed global pop­u­la­tion of White-bel­lied Heron, 28 (pop­u­la­tion sur­vey, 2016) are found in Bhutan. The con­ser­va­tion ef­forts for this crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species were made pos­si­ble from grants and do­na­tions, and one such grant was re­ceived from CEPF for the pro­tec­tion of one of the last re­main­ing habi­tats along the Phochu River in the Pu­nakha. It was a project spear­headed by RSPN with Rebecca at the helm.

CEPF is a joint ini­tia­tive of l’Agence Française de Développe­ment, Con­ser­va­tion In­ter­na­tional, the Euro­pean Union, the Global En­vi­ron­ment Fa­cil­ity, the Govern­ment of Ja­pan, the MacArthur Foun­da­tion and the World Bank. CEPF pro­vides grants to civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions in de­vel­op­ing and tran­si­tional coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries that are in bio­di­ver­sity hotspots.

RSPN’s ini­tia­tives in con­ser­va­tion of White­bel­lied Heron in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Depart­ment of Forests and Parks Ser­vices, were sup­ported by Fel­burn Foun­da­tion, WWF Coun­try Of­fice, Bhutan, Crit­i­cal Ecosys­tem Part­ner­ship Fund (CEPF), Whit­ley Fund for Na­ture (WFN), Pu­natsangchu Hy­dropower Project Author­ity (PHPA), Karuna Foun­da­tion (Bhutan Foun­da­tion), MacArthur Foun­da­tion, Small Grant Project, GEF, Bhutan Trust Fund for En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (BTFEC).

Some of the re­cent and ma­jor break­throughs in the con­ser­va­tion of White-bel­lied Heron in Bhutan will be the con­struc­tion of cap­tive breed­ing cen­ter at Changchey (Tsir­ang), study through satel­lite teleme­try, new habi­tat in­ven­to­ries, un­der­stand­ing ecol­ogy and its dy­nam­ics through sci­en­tific stud­ies, and con­duct­ing con­sis­tent pub­lic aware­ness and ad­vo­cacy pro­grams in the coun­try, which will be in­sti­tuted through the sup­port from sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions like Pu­natsang Chhu Hy­dropower Project Author­ity, MAVA foun­da­tion, Bhutan Trust Fund for En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion, In­ter­na­tional Crane Foun­da­tion, Syn­chronic­ity Earth, UK et. al.

In her il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer, Rebecca also au­thored sev­eral publi­ca­tions. Some of her notable publi­ca­tions are the “Wild Rhodo­den­drons of Bhutan” and “Threat­ened Birds in Bhutan.”

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