Young Naturalist Award (2016)
Dhruv Prajapati Naturalists are a rare breed and I suspect that they may soon become extinct. But then you meet an exception like Dhruv, a young man pursuing his passion while getting a doctorate degree. Extraordinary when you consider that most naturalists like me have an aversion to academia! With well over 1,500 species of spiders and at least a dozen new species added each year from India, it is evident that we have just begun exploring our biodiversity and contributions from young investigators like Dhruv are going a long way. At the age of 24, Dhruv has credible publications in mainstream international journals like Zootaxa and the Journal of Threatened Taxa. Gujarat has long been neglected by most researchers with regards to the biodiversity the state hosts, and thus Dhruv’s work has been seminal. During research for his Master’s dissertation on the spiders of the Gujarat University campus, he found 77 species, some of which are rare and not previously reported from the state. The conservation of a species is only possible if one knows of its existence and researchers like Dhruv lay the baseline for conservation by introducing new species to the world through his dedicated efforts in the field and more so in the daunting task of lab work and reviewing literature. Dhruv already has the discovery of six new spider species to his credit, two of which belong to the genus Cambalida from the rare ant-mimicking spider family (Corinnidae), reported for the first time from India.
– By Zeeshan Mirza, Member, IUCN Spider and Scorpion Specialist Group