2022 Conservation Prize Winner 

There were ten entries which qualified for consideration for the ‘most novel examination of human-wildlife relationships or relationships in conservation practice’ prize. The organizing committee was incredibly impressed by the depth and breadth of the presentations.

Our winner is Natasha Matsaert, who presented about ‘ghost memorials’ and the small wildlife that gets overlooked in local conservation practice.  It was an interesting and educational talk and made us consider how we don’t have to travel far to make a difference for wildlife and wild spaces. Natasha won a swag pack (hat, t-shirt, set of signed books) and will be featured on social media feeds.  She will have a chance to meet team members in her area of interest and receive mentoring from conservationists and anthrozoologists.

Biography: Natasha is a master’s degree student in the UK. She wants to use research and her background in communication to help animal causes. She likes to combine artwork and outreach. 

Summary of Research

2022 Fanimal Prize Winner

The Fanimal prize for the category “most progressive post graduate exploration of symbiotic human-animal relations” has been awarded to Sindhoor Pangal. Sindhoor has been awarded a place on the Fanimal Fellowship Program, an exciting opportunity for emerging animal scholars and advocates to explore animal-focused careers. Fanimal’s Fellowship Program is designed for post-grads to develop skills in non-profit management, networking, WordPress, marketing, social media, research, education and outreach, event planning and management, content development, and visual design. Fellows will also receive a stipend to attend a conference. You can learn more about the Fanimal Fellowship prize and hear from past fellows on the Fanimal website: https://fanimal.online/programs/fellowship-programs/

Sindhoor is a canine behaviour consultant, a canine myotherapist and an engineer by qualification. She is a TEDx speaker and the author of the book, Dog Knows. Sindhoor quit her corporate life to pursue a career in working with dogs, after her dog Nishi met with an accident and needed special physical and emotional care. She worked as a behaviour and myotherapy consultant for companion dogs, but soon discovered her passion for studying free living dogs in India. She is currently pursuing her masters in Anthrozoology from Exeter University (UK) and is also the principal and director of BHARCS. BHARCS offers a UK accredited level 4 diploma on canine behaviour and applied ethology. Sindhoor’s favourite role has been being a mommy to two amazing dogs – Nishi (who recently passed away) and Cheeru, who she considers her inspiration and her greatest teachers. 
Sindhoor’s work focuses on the ways in which Indian free-living dogs occupy a liminal space that is neither considered domestic nor wild. These dogs are neither owned nor feral. They are free-living dogs (FLD). The “free lives” of these dogs are protected by the Indian constitution, meaning that the constitution not only protects the lives of these dogs but their right to live wherever they exist. There are also instances of severe human-dog conflict involving these dogs. In addition, a sentiment I have heard in various forms from people across the globe in the context of the free-living dogs (FLDs) of India is that these “stray animals” are a result of irresponsible care for dogs. Discourses often highlight situations where the dogs face scarcity of resources, need for medical intervention or suffer from the consequences of conflict are likely to pull at our heartstrings and make us arrive at a similar conclusion. But what do the dogs want and what makes more sense in the cultural context of India?