Who we are

“We’re protecting the natural environment : Not an easy task. But I shall never give up trying.”

Sunita Dhairyam


“ My friends and family thought I was crazy to buy land and build a house from scratch here in the jungle. I had spent 10 years in America and suddenly I found myself in the middle of nowhere with no water and no electricity. But now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

“This is my home.  And it is home to a huge variety of wildlife – from a three-metre long tiger to the tiniest butterfly. Each species plays its part in the ecosystem and there is no excuse for killing and cruelty”

“It wasn’t easy to gain the trust of the villagers and it was a good while before they accepted me. But now they understand that as well as protecting the tigers and the leopards I want to help them, too.”


Indra Kumar Trustee – Mariamma Charitable Trust

“I was born and brought up in the village. Sunita inspired in me a real passion for wildlife. She taught me to recognise nature’s many signals.

And she opened up my world and helped me to get work in a local resort. I joined the Trust when it started and now I work closely with her helping to manage the many and varied challenges of this fabulous community.

I took over margers (kill verifications) and have built the trust and respect of the local villagers who now know me as their contact person.”

Dr. Sridharan Trustee –  Mariamma Charitable Trust –

“All credit to Sunita and her dedicated team who run the Mariamma Charitable Trust against all odds. We greatly admire the spirit and the zeal she displays to help the needy be it wildlife, the poor or the suffering. It is individuals like Sunita that bring about  radical transformation in the world.”

Indramma – Our nurse

” I have been working with the Mariamma Charitable Trust since May 2000 and am so committed to the work that we are doing here. I am local to the area and was born in the Niligiris and see first hand the need for the work that Sunni and the team are doing and the benefits it brings to the local community.

In addition to my nursing my particular interest is social work and helping with the broader issues of poverty in the local area.

I have also developed a real interest in our wildlife conservation projects.  I am certain that I will work here until the end of my working years.”

Philippa Millward – Volunteer

“I have been lucky enough to spend time as a volunteer with the Mariamma Charitable Trust and have witnessed first-hand the work carried out by the amazing Sunita Dhairyam.

Sunni’s commitment to the inhabitants of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and its surrounding villages, be they human or animal, is total. Her approach is holistic, intuitively making links, foreseeing problems and proposing solutions.

The Trust operates in an environment which is fraught with pitfalls, but Sunni always maintains her integrity as a champion of the tiger, the rural poor and the forest. The Mariamma Charitable Trust recognises the interdependency and the fragility of all these elements and it is doing its very, very best to alleviate the lot of all three.

Please help support its work by donating whatever you can.” 


Arun Venkatraman

Technical Director & Ecologist. Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Environmental Management Resources India Pvt. Ltd.


“This area in the tiger reserve is a mosaic of communities, agricultural land and forests. Traditionally the villagers have tolerated the wildlife but as the human wildlife conflict has intensified, antagonism is fast replacing this tolerance.

Sunita and the Mariamma Charitable Trust are working hard to maintain the traditional tolerance through a multi-pronged approach that focuses on enhancing healthcare and compensating farmers who lose live-stock to large carnivores from the park. These steps are important precursors to achieving the larger goal – the co-existence of human communities and wildlife with both benefiting from the other; humans from the economic value that living close to wildlife can bring through tourism and for wildlife, the maintenance of their habitat, giving them optimal access to food and water. The  local communities are confident in the Trust and the dynamic and committed team – your financial support will only further the cause of conservation in this outstanding environment.”

Dr. Shantanu Kalambi – Veterinarian. WTI (Wildlife Trust of India).

“I am a veterinarian with the Wildlife Trust of India and we work in close collaboration with the Forest Department of Karnataka. I first met Sunita  when I was 14 years old.

She is totally dedicated to wildlife and is passionate about her work.  My role is to attend to injured and dying animals and to build bridges between the local people who suffer losses and the Forest Department. Things have been so much easier with Sunita’s input. I feel she has made a great deal of change in the perceptions of the local people and has contributed greatly towards reducing human-animal conflict in this belt.”

Ajay Desai

“The Mariamma Charitable Trust has done really commendable work in protecting tigers and leopards from retaliatory killing, whilst also addressing the economic losses that the rural people face when their cattle are killed by large carnivores.

The Trust’s work in providing free health care and support for education also greatly helps to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor in the local communities”.

We’re based in the  Western Ghats in south west India, right on the edge of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve