Sigur Nature Trust small-grant 2019 for the study of household energy use in the Sigur Region


The villages of the Sigur Region, in the heart of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, are located within a network of reserves. These reserves harbor open forest that produce little wood due to a dry climate. Many people rely on firewood and wood collection tends to further reduce the productivity of the forest. As a consequence, wildlife and ultimately people suffer from the severe forest degradation.

Understanding the rationality of energy choice and the willingness of communities to find solutions is essential for a regional plan for improved livelihood and environment management. To our knowledge, little has been done on this issue in this very important region for the conservation of emblematic wildlife. Specifically, the questions to be addressed revolve around the following:

  • Type of energies available and their cost
  • Consumptive and productive use value of the different types of energies
  • Socio-economy of users and the motives of their energy choices
  • Difficulties (cultural, economical, etc) to abandon biomass as energy
  • Willingness to participate to management programs

On the 15th September 2019, the Sigur Nature Trust will provide a small grant (Rs 60,000 maximum) to document these issues

The grant is exclusively reserved for students. Candidates should send:

  • their biodata
  • a proposal (maximum 3 pages)
  • a budget (1 page)
  • a scan copy of a certificate of registration in an Indian education institution

The successful candidate should be fluent in Tamil and have excellent quantitative skills from any suitable discipline.

By accepting the grant, the successful candidate also agrees to share data and provide a report to the Trust in a convenient format chosen by the candidate (M.A./M.Sc. thesis or Ph.D. thesis or report or preferably, a scientific publication). The Trust can provide additional support such as data analysis should the candidate request it. The Trust will first disburse half the grant value and the second half will be disbursed after a review conducted at the grantee’s convenience.

The deadline for the submission of proposals is the 1st of September 2019. Applications should be sent in PDF at the e-mail address:

Risk our lives or wait till the law is implemented?

Today is the second time I was seriously charged by an elephant because of the irresponsible behavior of people.

The first time was on 25th January at 10:20 am (these things tend to stick to memory). The personnel of a nearby school at Vazhaithottam came to the river near our house throwing loud fire crackers. I went to let them know they were elephants around and was charged very seriously by Cortes. This happened because I was looking for him on the wrong side and I could not see him early enough. I was probably three seconds from being killed if my wife hadn’t shouted at the top of her voice during the charge and also risked her life by running towards the elephant. Elephants get confused when they hear loud noise and tend to lose their focus of the target.

Cortes immediately after breaking the charge. Photo Peter Davidar.

It happened again today. We saw a group of seven people and a dog walking near the river again at 10:00 am coming from the Mavinhalla village. I went to advise them to leave. I barely had the time to ask them who they were and where they had come from, when I saw an elephant charging. I only had the time to shout “run”. Luckily, we all managed to reach the house safely, but if I had not gone at the risk of my life, they would have been casualties.

Group of tourists after the charge. One person is hidden, recovering. You can also suffer cardiac arrest…

Recorded human deaths due to an elephant charge due to human disturbance inflate the statistics of human-elephant conflict (HEC). However, as we can see here, there was no conflict. In the first case, a few local people wanted to have a good time near a stream across from a Reserved Forest. In this place they are bound to meet with elephants. In order to do what they want, they  regularly disturb threatened species – in a protected area. In the second case, the group of tourists came from a house that operates as an illegal guest house and absolutely everyone knows about it. Illegal business do not trouble themselves with visitors’ safety and environment regulation.

The question is: when is the law going to be enforced before someone is killed?

Jean-Philippe Puyravaud