Dr Gajanan D Muratkar is the ‘Grass Man of India’, a pioneer in habitat and meadow development.
He has developed a technique in which field staff and officials identify local grasses, prepare a seed bank, create mother beds, and introduce local grasses systematically to create meadows.
He has used the technique to create meadows in several Tiger Reserves and Protected Areas in 12 states across the country.
“I am a professor and teaching and research has always been my primary duty. But I have found my passion in grasslands development work,” he says.
The research scholar taught for 25 years before he decided to work on wildlife habitat management in 2008.
“It involves a lot of steps, starting from studying soil parameters, identifying grasses and weeds to training forest staff and frontline workers in meadow development,” he says.
He has worked in 33 out of 52 tiger reserves in India and the technique has been used in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Telangana, and Kerala, among several others.
He says that a lack of a proper technique for meadow development or habitat management and suitable funding is a major issue in India.
Dr Muratkar was also awarded the Satpuda Landscape Tiger Partnership (SLTP) Conservation Hero Award for his work.
Wanting to pass his knowledge on to future generations, he has started to select and train interested MSc and PhD students.