Thinlay Bhutia **AWARDEE**

Shortlist Category: Individual

Region: Asia & Oceania (excluding Central Asia)

Country: India

Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health Program

Dr. Thinlay Bhutia has worked tirelessly for 10 years to improve animal lives and protect people by reducing rabies. He has implemented humane dog population control and rabies vaccination for sustainable, long-term results through his leadership of the Sikkim Anti-Rabies And Animal Health Program (SARAH), India’s first government sanctioned program for state-wide rabies and stray-dog control.

His work brought an end to the mass shooting of dogs in the area and simultaneously reduced the street dog population to a manageable size, with fewer puppies in distress. Sikkim had been rabies free for seven years but has had two suspect cases recently. In response to these cases, Dr. Bhutia has been swift in implementing a One Health approach.

In 2010, Dr. Bhutia initiated the Wildlife Conservation and Feral Dog Program as a cooperative venture between the SARAH Program, the Departments of Forests, Conservation and Wildlife Management, and the army and paramilitary forces. This program helps protect critically endangered wildlife species, including Snow Leopard, from threat by feral dog packs in the Cold Desert and national parks.

Dr. Bhutia has led teams to respond to earthquake emergencies in Sikkim and Nepal, ensuring displaced animals were vaccinated and had access to food and water.