Ayushi Jain

Young Naturalist Award 2021

Researcher, community conservationist, and student

Miles away from her home state of Uttar Pradesh, Ayushi Jain is weaving science, conservation and good old-fashioned community outreach to protect an endangered species of turtle, the Cantor’s giant softshell Pelochelys cantorii. Last spotted in 2010 by a fisherman in Kerala, the species was seen again in May 2019 in a deep, isolated pool of a river in Kasaragod district. Ayushi rushed to the location to add fresh information to her research. Working closely with the community, she brought together 40 key individuals who collectively serve as an “alert network” in her study area. Supported in her efforts by the Forest Department, ZSL EDGE of Existence, National Geographic PhotoArk and MBZ Species Conservation Fund, she works with the communities around the Payaswini and Chandragiri rivers in Kerala who are now a vital source of protection for the reptile and its habitat.

A promising young biologist, Ayushi Jain embodies the true spirit of conservation.