Trek Polamaa 2015 – Speaker Profiles

Sara – Living with Elephants
Our first speaker has been a regular guest with us for the past 2 years, previously bringing beautiful documentaries on Tigers and Leopards which got our audience glued to the screen.
This year he is bringing us his latest masterpiece on “Living with Elephants”.

Speaker Profile

Sara is a Wildlife Cameraman, filmmaker and presenter. He started his career as a wildlife biologist and journeyed his way through being a photographer and then a cameraman. He has shot several documentaries for National Geographic, BBC and Animal Planet. His recent films include the 2 episodes of the award winning series ` Secrets of Wild India’ and the ground breaking film ` Leopards – 21st Century Cats which was even nominated for Wildscreen UK. (shown last year in Trek Polamaa)

Sara is a Brand Ambassador for Carl Zeiss India. He is the founder and creative director of `Evanescence Studios’, a film company that specializes in online film content production. 

Topic – Living with Elephants

Valparai has a population of nearly 100 elephants which have to live among tea plantations. Unfortunately every year people get accidentally killed by these elephants. Scientists from the Nature Conservation Foundation developed a unique way of saving people from elephants encounters. They used the power of the mobile phone
Arun Krishnamurthy : Science in Conservation
Our second speaker is no stranger either: he has been very active in environmental conservation in India and around our city. Recently an article of his appeared in The Guardian:
Arun Krishnamurthy: Environmentalist working towards real time, result oriented conservation, aiming at blending science and daily life.
Arun (born 1986) is an Indian environmental activist who has initiated campaign cleaning various lakes across India. He is known for founding the NGOEnvironmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) in 2011 based in Chennai which has its branches in other cities such as HyderabadDelhi andCoimbatore.[1][2][3] Arun with the organisation has been successful in cleaning over 17 lakes in the country[4] and having worked in Google before quitting the job to dedicate voluntarily.[5] He was chosen as among the five people for prestigious Rolex Awards for Enterprise award in 2012 for restoring Lake Kilkattalai in Chennai.[6][7]

Topic: Science in Conservation
India blessed with her natural wonders is at the crossroads stuck between short term development and long term impacts. Has science taken a back seat in a country where its most needed?

Kate Friedman – Reforestation and Sustainable Living
Our next speaker is from Brooklyn, New York. Kate Friedman is the Project Director of Sadhana Forest India, a reforestation and water conservation community in Auroville. She manages a team of 15 long-term volunteers who support over 1000 short-term volunteers across the year. You can visit the site every Friday at 4:30pm when Kate gives a free tour of the community and reforestation work! Then stay for our Eco Film Club where we screen an environmentally-themed film and offer a free vegan dinner!

Topic – Sadhana Forest

Sadhana Forest started its ecological revival and sustainable living work in 2013. The vision of its founders, Yorit and Aviram Rozin, is to transform 70 acres of severely eroded, arid land on the outskirts of Auroville. In a spirit of human unity, their aim is to introduce a growing number of people to sustainable living, food security through ecological transformation, wasteland reclamation, and veganism. Our energy and resources are focused on the creation of a vibrant, indigenous Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF).

Sadhana Forest won the third place in the Humanitarian Water and Food Award(WAF) 2010. The ceremony took place in the Marble Hall of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 25th, 2010. Shri Ashok Kumar Attri the Ambassador of India to Denmark honored Sadhana Forest by attending the ceremony.
This award is an international recognition of the quality of the ecological and humanitarian work done by Sadhana Forest in India and Haiti.

Nishant & Shravan – Chennai Wildlife Rescue
Our next set of speakers comes to the rescue of animals and wildlife caught in our ever expanding urban environment and uses the power of the social media to create awareness on this acute problem.
Save Earth for Next Generation (SENG) is an NGO, which started out as a small group of college students in 2012, brought together by their passion for nature. Our team first started working on plantation of saplings in the Southern parts of Chennai. We have planted over 1300 plants so far, with a success ratio of 75%. We also initiated the distribution of “Eco Carry” bags made out of scrap cloth and successfully implemented the use of these bags in parts of South Chennai as an alternative to plastic bags. Since then, our team has grown bigger. We actively support Student Sea Turtle Conservation Network Chennai, Blue Cross of India, and the Tamil Nadu Forest Department in wildlife conservation activities. 

We created the Chennai Wildlife Rescue page on Facebook in an attempt to receive some public attention and possibly save more animals, which has worked out great so far. On an average, we attend 20 rescue calls every week. We have had a good couple of years, and hope to continue working and growing with the same zeal.

Our team consists of members that have had quite some experience in nature and wildlife-related work. Two members R. Nishanth and Shravan Krishnan will be presenting the efforts of the team:
R. Nishanth, a graduate of Chemical engineering, is the founder of S.E.N.G. He has had 7 years of experience working with reptiles. At present, he is a reptile conservationist working with Turtle Survival Alliance India (TSA), where he works on gharials, river turtles and snakes at Chambal River and parts of Jim Corbett National Park. He has rescued more 700 animals.

Shravan Krishnan, a B. Com. graduate from Loyola College, has been actively involved with wildlife conservation from a very young age. He has been working with sea turtles for the past 10 years with SSTCN Chennai. He has rescued more than 200 snakes and several other animals including monkeys, deer and birds with the help of the Forest Department. He is the founder of Hotel for Dogs, Chennai’s biggest dog boarding facility. Apart from all this, he also plays cricket professionally and has represented Tamil Nadu and the South zone in tournaments.
Ram Prasad – Roles and Responsibilities of Society in Environmental Conservation
Our fifth guest speaker this year has worked for 36 years in the Tamilnadu Forest Department. He has a Post Graduation In Economics And Sociology And Diploma In Forest Management.Visited Europe And North American National Parks To Study Natural Resource Management In 2006.Has Long Experience In Joint Forest Management And Biodiversity Conservation And Social Forestry. Retired From Government Service From 2014 and Presently associated with Tamil Nadu Forest Department as Consultant Assistance In Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation Project ( A Japanese Aided Project)

Speaker: Mr. Ram Prasad – Ast. Director (Retd) Tamil Nadu Forest Department & Chief Consultant – Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation Project
Topic: Roles and Responsibilities of Society in Environmental Conservation

Ramunajar: Cycling Yogis and Heritage Rides – A Retrospective
Our next speaker is the founder of the Cycle Yogis, a non-profit group whose explores various heritage sites in South on cycle
Involved in heritage related activities since the student days at Loyola College Chennai, completed post graduation in History from Delhi University (North Campus) in 1996. Passionate about cycling, took it up as a regular activity in 2010, since then cycled across most of the places in Tamilnadu including all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. An ardent swimmer organised mini Triathlons for a short duration of time and also participated in MTB Himachal 2011 held at Shimla. French teacher by profession founded Cycling Yogis in 2012, the group involves riding to places of Heritage or Historic landmarks and is officially a part of Madras Week Celebrations since 2012. Actively into blogging written about brief history of bicycles in Chennai and mapped few routes by connecting them with the past.
Topic: Cycling Yogis and Heritage Rides – A Retrospective 
V. Arun – Connecting back to Nature
Arun qualified as an engineer and worked in the field for seven years. He then switched to teaching and worked as an Environment Education teacher in the Krishnamurti Foundation School, Chennai for 12 years. Now he lives in Thiruvannamalai in an organic farm and manages an afforestation project and works with local children on environmental education projects. Arun along 
with friends have been running a small farm based school since 2009.

Arun has also been with Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network for the past 18 years and since the time he joined, his focus has been in reaching out to the public to involve the larger community in safeguarding the interests of the turtles. Towards this he holds discussions with various groups of people both on the walks and in schools, colleges etc


The topic will be on connecting back people to nature and exploring alternate means of livelihoods and other alternate methods towards this end . It will also focus on the various projects and people who are attempting to connect back to nature and to provide a perspective on the current state of the environment in a broader sense .

Manick – Dating your past through Temples
Topic: Dating your past through Temples

Synopsis: Temples have been a constant in every Indian’s life. They are all around us in every part of the country. People visit them for various purposes – religious, social, art and architecture.

They also are a constant reminder of our past and have historic significance. In this talk, the speaker will trace through the history of how the various types of South Indian temples came into being, through the centuries. You will see pictures of temples and pre-historic sites that you can visit on your next trek outing and be able to identify the various symbolisms and significance of these silent monuments.

Speaker profile:

Graduated in 1984 from Anna University as a Mechanical Engineer, Manick Rajendran continued to complete his MBA from IIMB two years later. After a stint with a voluntary agency serving in the villages of Tamil Nadu, he took a franchise opportunity with NIIT. That was the start of his entrepreneurial pursuits. In the early nineties, he moved to the US and through exposure to a variety of industries ranging from Finance to Healthcare, has had two successful exits. He has served as the Co-Chairman of the Admin and Finance Domain Committee of the Healthcare IT Standards Panel, as well as the Co-Chairman of the Interoperability Tiger Team set up to advice the Obama Administration on Meaningful Use stimulus guidelines.

In the past 3 years, he has served as the Director of the Velammal Medical College Hospital and Research Institute and continues as an advisor. His focus continues to be on the improvement of people, quality and customer service. He is a Lean Six Sigma Green belt in Healthcare. Currently as Founder and CEO of iMMi Life, a company out of Chennai, he provides heart attack advisory in an emergency for the common person, with a view to stemming the loss of life due to heart attack. This methodology will reduce treatment time and bring about healthy clinical outcomes. An avid hiker, amateur astronomer, archer and bicyclist, he continues to trek not only the hilly regions of South India, but as you will see, to interesting historical sites.

Arjun – Indiahikes and Trekking in India

Our next speaker Arjun started trekking since he was 8 — mostly on his own. Even as a teenager he has roamed the Himalayan hills on small excursions of his own, courtesy his father who was a bank officer and was posted often in the hills. Later, as he grew up, he started to do more serious treks, often taking his friends along. While on these treks, Arjun noticed problems that plagued the trekking world and often discussed them with his friends. 

Wanting to solve problems of the trekking world gave birth to Indiahikes. Today Indiahikes is one of the largest trekking organisations in India.

In his talk Arjun will take us through the journey of Indiahikes, how it started, how problem solving of the mountains helped grow Indiahikes. He will also talk about the future of Indian trekking.  

Indiahikes was founded in 2009 in Bangalore. Last year they took around 7500 people into the outdoors in 15 odd treks (local and Himalayan) batched up season-wise. Thanks to the growing trekker base Indiahikes has gone international this year with Gokyo Ri (Nepal) and Kilimanjaro (Africa).
CTC is keen to invite different external trekking groups (either non-profit or commercial) as guest speakers at Trek Polamaa to hear different perspectives on our shared passion for the outdoors, understand & discuss on common challenges faced and share experience and learnings with each other.

Sunil Menton: Edurance Athelete, A lifestyle change

Our final speaker is a well know athlete in the endurance sports scene in India.
Sunil Menon, nickname Desi Superman, is born in Coimbatore and settled in Hyderabad. He is a Triathlete, Ultra Marathoner, Cyclist, Motivational Speaker, Former Chief Organizer of Hyderabad Cycling Club, senior member of Hyderabad Runners club, organizer of club runs, organizer and participant in Brevet Rides and Cycling Races.
Sunil became the first person from Hyderabad to complete Ironman event at Ironman South Africa. The Ironman is a triathlon which consists of 3.8 km swim in open ocean waters, 180 km bike (cycle) ride and a 42.2 km run, non-stop. Sunil is the first person from Hyderabad to qualify for Boston Marathon with a timing of 03:11 in the San Francisco marathon. He recently ran the 100K Ultra marathon in Bangalore.
Sunil organized a four day Triathlon training camp to Goa. He was the Race Director for the Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2011 & 2012. As an organizer of Hyderabad Cycling Club he brought Brevet Rides to India.

Topic: Endurance Athlete, A lifestyle change
As humans we are rediscovering our limits and pushing them further and further up. The journey of an Endurance athlete beings by taking small steps. What are these steps? How can one achieve feats once considered impossible?
When do Endurance athletes peak? What lifestyle changes are needed in order to become an Endurance athlete? How do I avoid injuries internal/external?
These are some of many questions asked by beginners, amateur athletes. Come join this session to gain insights into answers to these questions and more…come join the journey of being an Endurance athlete.

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