Staff Reporter, The Shillong Times | May 22, 2021
As part of the celebration of World Biodiversity Day 2021 as well as its unrelenting efforts to generate awareness among the younger generation on Wildlife Conservation and Crime, Aaranyak, a biodiversity conservation and research organisation, conducted a series of classroom webinars in some of prominent schools in the city.
These online webinars added zing to the Covid-time online classes and raised questions in inquisitive minds of the students.
The series of 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.
The resource persons Dr. Jimmy Borah, Senior Manager in Legal and Advocacy Division of Aaranyak and Ms. Ivy Farheen Hussain, Project Officer in Tiger Research and Conservation Division, planked their presentations on their vast field experience as well as education background to throw light on wildlife conservation and wildlife crimes in such a way that the students were induced into lively interactions and that served the very goal of conducting the webinars.
Ms Ivy introduced the students to wildlife conservation and some of related issues with the focus on Assam scenario. The interaction session was initiated with a Power Point Presentation that explained 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.
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 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.
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 explained – 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.
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.