The word “Holématthi”, which stands for the glorious Arjuna tree (Terminalia arjuna), is an amalgamation of two words – “holé” meaning a stream, and “matthi” a sloping stretch of fertile land alongside the waterbody, where these beautiful trees can be found. The Arjuna is one of the keystone species in the Cauvery landscape, capable of nurturing diverse ecosystems under its canopy. Holématthi then to us signifies an intricate relation between nature, water and people.
Like the riverine ecosystem of which these ancients are a part, there are several other ecosystems that exist in the Western Ghats and the Deccan Plateau, within and around Karnataka, that support and nurture several hundred species. The climate, topography, and biodiversity of the region have all contributed to Karnataka being blessed with one of the richest and most diverse wildlife habitats in the country. However, this cradle of wildlife is in dire need of protection. Holématthi Nature Foundation (HNF) was born out of the same need. It is a team deeply passionate about and rooted in the landscape.
The approach to conservation needs to be more innovative. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to conservation. It needs to be conscientiously understood in context of its ecological, and socio-political setting. Conservation is also only possible with an interaction and understanding among different entities in society –government, local communities, social leaders, conservationists, researchers, media; possible through a broader interaction between policy, communication, and action. Conservation is more than a blanket term, it is a complex idea to which we’re inextricably linked, whether we’re aware of it or not. At HNF, we strive towards securing land tenure for wildlife species through scientific research, awareness, community engagement, and responding to human-wildlife conflict.
HNF is a registered trust founded in July 2020, led by eminent conservationists with several decades of experience and contribution to the field of wildlife conservation. With the kind of team we have built over the years, we are confident we can move in the right direction and create meaningful, impactful change, as more and more people join the cause. For the sake of the protection of our wildscapes, development of our communities, and furthering of scientific research, we will have to set our aim high. A hopeful vision, deeply rooted in solid scientific methodology and measurable outcomes is of essence when working towards the goal of conservation.
With the establishment of HNF, we have been able to realize the following goals -
We have been conducting long-term population studies of leopards and tigers and their prey species. Based on our findings, HNF has worked closely with the Government of Karnataka, and the Forest Department for the gazettement of new Protected Areas and expansion of current Protected Areas. Consequently, we have been instrumental in helping safeguard over 3,000 sq. km. of wildlife habitat.
Our team has been working closely with the Government of Karnataka and the Karnataka Forest Department for the identification of close to 44 wildlife corridors that could help safeguard wildlife habitat and movement.
The Holématthi Nature Information Centre, the first rural-based information and learning centre of its kind, was established to educate and bring awareness regarding the wildlife of Karnataka among local students, tourists, media personnel, local authorities and anyone curious about this diverse landscape.
HNF has provided solar-based solutions like solar lights, solar water-pumps, and solar fences to forest-fringe communities to mitigate human-wildlife conflict situations. This was also crucial to reduce the strain on the frontline staff.
Along with this, the Fuelling Change Programme under which we provide clean fuelwood alternatives for forest-fringe communities, is one of our longest-running and most successful programmes, having thus far benefitted over 2,100 families.
The Alternative Livelihoods Programme is run by HNF to divert forest-edge communities heavily reliant on scarce forest produce to alternative means of livelihood generation.