grantees » B. Mahadesh Basave Gowda

B. Mahadesh Basave Gowda , India

As a young boy, Mahadesh often joined his father on honey-hunting expeditions through the forests of Punanjanur, Chamrajnagar district, Karnataka, India. Growing up this way, he saw the forest as his pantry and he used its bounty sustainably. As Mahadesh matured, his forest knowledge grew and this led him to the Keystone Foundation (KS). At KS, Mahadesh’s thirst for knowledge propelled him towards becoming a JWH Initiative grantee, nominated by Snehlata Nath.

Mahadesh’s grant goals were three fold: (1) to improve his IT and computing skills, (2) fine-tune his field biodiversity research techniques, and (3) consolidate his documentation and reporting methods. With the help of JWH Initiative, he was able to fulfill all three.

Mahadesh improved his skills with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, CorelDraw and Adobe, and is now able to analyze and present his findings to communities, the forest department and his fellow colleagues at KS. In India, biodiversity and natural resources mapping has become increasingly important as land rights policy shifts towards giving indigenous people greater rights over their ancestral forests. Thanks to the habitat and exploratory survey training Mahadesh did (with small mammals expert – Arun Kanagavel), he is now well positioned to help protect the interests of the local communities and highlight the important role they play in conserving biodiversity.

Upon completion of his training, Mahadesh drafted a photo-essay on the flora found in his region, documented conservation activities in Punanjanur, prepared a script in Kannada for a movie on the dwarf honeybee (Apis florea), and worked alongside a number of well-respected ornithologists for a bird census for the Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary. Mahadesh says, “the whole experience made me feel special [and] really helped my confidence in a big way … I am very, very thankful to the JWHi – I have developed so much: my knowledge, my ideas, my techniques and my confidence. I feel more like a leader now!”

Mahadesh also played a role in opening a new Centre for Value Adding Forest Products (CVAFP) in his region. At the CVAFP, they have managed to collect 800 kgs of wild forest honey, which they then sell. The honey is sustainably harvested and provides a livelihood for honey hunters (like Mahadesh’s father) and women in the area.