Wildlife SOS co-founders Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani have been awarded the prestigious Jeanne Marchig Animal Welfare Award 2017 for their outstanding and tireless practical work over many years in the field of wildlife conservation, animal welfare and protection. Wildlife SOS was established in 1995 after Kartick and Geeta were inspired to start a movement to make a lasting change to protect and conserve India’s natural heritage, forests and wildlife.
The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust was established in 1989 by the late Madame Jeanne Marchig of Geneva, because of her deep concern for nature and animals and in memory of her husband, the painter Giannino Marchig. The objectives of the Trust is to protect animals and to promote and encourage practical work in preventing animal cruelty and the relief of animal suffering. Each year the Trustees of the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust look to recognise significant achievements within the field of animal welfare and protection, through the presentation of its most prestigious award – ‘The Jeanne Marchig Animal Welfare Award’. The award consists of a grant of of US$20,000 (Twenty Thousand US Dollars), to Wildlife SOS in support of its work in the field for animal care and welfare.
One of Wildlife SOS’ early major campaigns was to tackle the 400-year old practice of cruelly training and forcing sloth bears to ‘dance ‘and perform. Wildlife SOS took the decision to offer the owners training in alternative livelihoods which would earn them more money than they were getting exploiting the bears, as well as help in sending their children to school. This courageous decision resulted within a short period of time, in more than 620 ‘Dancing Bears’ being surrendered by their former masters. In December 2009, the last of the ‘dancing bears’ in India had been rescued, housed and rehabilitated in Wildlife SOS Rescue Centre’s and over 300 families received help.
Since the inception of the Wildlife SOS Elephant conservation and care project in 2010, Wildlife SOS has rescued 26 elephants from distress and rehabilitated them at the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC), Mathura.
Our objective is to position the ECCC as a model Elephant Conservation and Care Center and gradually encourage positive change in all Indian temples, tourist sites and other locations where elephants are held and managed using traditional methods which involves brutal negative reinforcement to a more positive reinforcement based approach.
Geeta and Kartick’s unwavering dedication to the cause they have committed their lives to has helped Wildlife SOS become the successful and respected organisation they are today, and made Kartick and Geeta well deserving of the amazing honour of this award.