Congratulations Nikita!

26 July 2022


Born Free funds vital wildlife education across the globe and were thrilled when our new Youth Ambassador Nikita was recognised with a major award in India. Eve Pawsey reports.

Born Free is delighted to congratulate our Youth Ambassador, Nikita, for receiving the prestigious Diana Award for her incredible work in animal rights, specifically for her campaign to free Shankar, the African elephant in Delhi Zoo. Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the award is India’s highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.

Eve Pawsey

Born Free’s Education Programme aims to instil a love of wildlife and ignite a passion to protect it. Education is key to ensuring young people grow up with an understanding of the issues facing our natural world, and that the communities living alongside wildlife have the tools to co-exist, and flourish, alongside wild animals. By increasing the awareness of the current global issues involving animals, people, and the planet, Born Free is able to strengthen the change makers of tomorrow to take action against the injustices of today.

This is why Born Free has a Youth Ambassador programme. Six Junior and Youth Ambassadors promote our charity’s mission to keep wildlife in the wild by encouraging support from their peers and spreading Born Free’s message. Their involvement provides a unique and vital perspective, helping Born Free reach greater and younger audiences and showing young people that, they too, can make a difference and fight for causes they believe in.

Nikita is founder of Youth for Animals and has been raising awareness on animal issues and inspiring youth action since 2020. Her passion for animal activism began when she encountered Shankar, an African elephant who has been in solitary confinement at the Delhi Zoo for almost two decades. Nikita became determined to be a voice for Shankar and all animals who suffer from human exploitation. Leading a campaign for Shankar’s rescue and rehabilitation, Nikita filed a legal petition in Delhi High Court to challenge his confinement, which has now led to the Delhi High Court ordering an inspection of Shankar’s living conditions.

A photo of Nikita

Nikita Dhawan

For going above and beyond in her daily life to create and sustain positive change Nikita has been honoured with The Diana Award, one of the highest accolades a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.

“I feel so honoured and grateful to have received the prestigious Diana award,” explained Nikita. “Born Free has given me an incredible platform to amplify my voice and raise awareness on animal captivity, and I hope I can embody late Princess Diana’s mission to serve the ‘voiceless’ through my animal advocacy, especially through my fight to free the lone elephant Shankar confined in the Delhi Zoo.”

Nikita you are a SUPERSTAR! We are so proud of what you have achieved and are truly inspired by your efforts to create a better world for animals.

This amazing and well-deserved recognition comes just days after the Born Free’s Youth Ambassador, Bella Lack, published her debut book The Children of the Anthropocene.

You can find out more and get involved in Born Free’s education work by emailing


Shankar Image © Nikita Dhawan