Guwahati, May 22: As part of the celebration of World Biodiversity Day 2021, and in continuation of its efforts to generate awareness among the younger generation on Wildlife Conservation and Crime, Aaranyak conducted a series of classroom webinars in prominent schools of Guwahati.
The series classroom webinar started with the Sanskriti- The Gurukul School on 15th May, 2021, followed by a webinar in Sarala Birla Gyan Jyoti school on 22nd May, 2021. A total of around 60 students benefited from the webinar which was hosted by the school administration.
From Aaranyak, the resource persons included Dr. Jimmy Borah, Senior Manager in Legal and Advocacy Division and Ms. Ivy Farheen Hussain, Project Officer in Tiger Research and Conservation Division.
Ms Ivy spoke about the wildlife scenario of Assam, their importance and introduced the students to wildlife conservation and some of related issues. The interaction session was initiated with a Power Point Presentation by Ms Ivy Farheen Hussain who introduced the concept of wildlife to the students and discussed the biodiversity of Assam.
Her discussion about the urban wildlife was an eye opener for the students and motivated the kids to observe their surroundings and relate with it. She also talked about how the students can contribute in this field and encouraged them to be active participants in conservation from the current stage of their life and so as to provide a measurable effect in this field.
She highlighted that they need not be a “Conservationist” to do conservation and no one is ever too young to have an impact.
Dr. Jimmy provided a general perspective and introduced the students to the field of Wildlife Crime. He talked about the severity of Wildlife Crime and stressed on how it is not far behind in terms of magnitude to crimes like illegal arms, drugs and human trafficking.
He highlighted while poaching of mega animals such as the tiger, rhino or elephant hogs the limelight, the unabated killing and capture of a wide variety of lesser animals rarely elicit any response, goes almost unnoticed.
He also spoke of the strong laws and legislation that India has in terms of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and how such laws can be a deterrent to wildlife crimes.
Both speakers while interacting with the students mentioned how the long-term survival prospects of many wild species which once used to be abundant in our forests have been jeopardized due to poaching and the thriving illegal wildlife trade. While the demand for tiger body parts, rhino horn and ivory in the illegal wildlife trade is well-known, not many would be aware that body parts of owls, tokay geckos, pangolins, monitor lizards, spiny-tailed lizards and mongoose hair are equally sought after.
Both the webinars were attended by groups of very insightful and curious students who asked some very interesting questions regarding both the talks. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and considering that they already have online classes going on, the interest in attending a webinar on wildlife conservation and crime just goes to show their inquisitiveness and fascination with the field of wildlife.
Ms Ruchi Rai, HOD Science and Coordinator, Environmental Science of Sanskriti- The Gurukul School, who also attended the workshop talked about how important it is for the students to know about the different species of significance in Assam itself like White-winged Wood duck, Pygmy Hog and Hoolock Gibbons, which are as much important as a One-horned Rhino or a Royal Bengal Tiger. She spoke how important it is to familiarise the students with topics in wildlife conservation so that they can make better choices growing up.
Ms. Pinky Hazarika, TGT Biology, Ms. Mampy Dey, TGT Science and Sutapa Chakravarty, PGT Chemistry from Sarala Birla Gyan Jyoti school, also joined the talk and expressed gratitude and expects more such webinars for the students to continue to cultivate knowledge and interest in the field of wildlife crime and conservation.
Aaranyak also plans to hold an Inter-school Competition among the participant schools to raise more awareness among the students. Education and awareness can act as important directional tools to sensitize students at ground-level.