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Purnima Devi Barman gets the 'Green Oscar' Whitley Gold Award 2024

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 03-05-2024
Purnima Devi Barman gets the 'Green Oscar' Whitley Gold Award 2024 Award and Honour 6 min read

Dr Purnima Devi Barman, a wildlife biologist from Assam, has won her second Whitley Gold Award, also known as the Green Oscar. She was honoured for her conservation effort of the endangered bird, Hargila or Greater Adjutant Stork and its wetland habitat.

This is the second time that Dr Barman has been honoured with the Whitley Gold Award. She was also awarded the prize in 2017.

Dr. Barman received the trophy from charity patron Princess Anne – the Princess Royal, the sister of King Charles III, at the Royal Geographical Society award ceremony in London, United Kingdom.

About the Work of Dr Purnima Barman 

The Hargila bird, which feeds on decaying organic matter, was seen as dirty and unwanted vermin. People used to destroy its nesting places on trees. To protect the bird and its nesting place, Dr Purnima mobilised the local people and tried to change their view of the bird. She founded the Hagrila Army of Stork sisters, mainly consisting of local women, to protect the bird's nesting area.

The birds are mainly found in the wetland areas of North -East , especially Assam. The population of the birds, which had dropped to around 450, has increased to over 1800 in the areas mainly due to the conservation efforts of Dr Purnima and her Hargila Army. 

Thanks to her efforts, the government of Assam celebrated 7 October 2022 as “Hagrila Day.”

Dr Barman aims to double the global population of the Hargila bird to 5,000 by 2030. She is actively working in India and Cambodia through a network of grassroots workers to achieve this target,

Importance of the Hargila Bird 

The Hargila bird has a wingspan of  2.4 metres and can reach a height of 1.2 meters. It builds a nest that could be one meter wide.

The Hargila birds play an important part in the wetland ecosystem. They consume decaying organic matter, play a vital role in nutrient recycling, and maintain ecosystem health. They also hunt snakes and keep the area clean of poisonous snakes.

Hargila birds are an essential ecological pillar in Assam's wetlands, which comprise more than 15 percent of the area of the state.

Whitley Awards and 2024 Winners 

Whitley Fund for Nature is a charity registered in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1993. 

The charity instituted the Whitley Gold Awards in 2007. The Whitley Gold Awards is given to grassroots conservation leaders from the global south for their efforts in mobilisng the local community to find local solutions to the global biodiversity and climate crises.

The 2024 Prize winner will receive 50,000 British pounds for funding the winner's conservation effort for a year,

Charity patron Princess Anne presents the award every year at the Royal Geographical Society Award function in London, England. Princess Anne is the sister of the present British monarch, King Charles III.

Purnima Devi Barman gets the 'Green Oscar' Whitley Gold Award 2024

Winner of the 2024 Whitley Gold Awards 

The first Indians to get the Whitley Gold Award were Archana Godbole and Brad Norman in 2007.

Serial no



Conservation Work


Naomi Longa 

Papua New Guinea



Raju Sharma 




Aristide Kamla 


Wetlands and Freshwater


Kuenzang Dorji 




Fernanda Abra




Leroy Ignacio




Purnima Barman 




Answer: Dr Purnima Devi Barman of Assam for her conservation effort in saving the Hargila bird.

Answer: The Whitley Gold Award is given by the London-based charity Whitley Fund for Nature.

Answer: Archana Godbole and Brad Norman in 2007.

Answer: In 2017 and again in 2024.

Answer: 2007
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