In a bid to sensitise people in general and prepare the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts and naturalists, wildlife experts and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), working in the field came together on Saturday at Junagadh. The meet was a clarion call for nature education activities with the help of government and society groups.
“Today, we all speak about conservation of Earth’s green cover. But what will happen in future if there is no concern left? Therefore, we need to prepare the next generation of wildlifers. The way forward is through nature education,” stated Pravan Vaghashiya, a young naturalist who runs NGO Vasundhara Nature Club in Junagadh.
Vaghashiya was addressing a gathering after receiving Wildlife Guardian Award at an event organised under the banner of Wildlife Guardians of Gujarat (WLGG), a forum functioning under the aegis of NGO Wildlife Conservation Trust (WLCT), Rajkot and supported by Asiatic Lion Protection Society (ALPS), at Malida village on the edge of Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary (GWLS) in Bhesan taluka of Junagadh district.
Called Girnarni Godma Girni Vato (discussion about Gir forest in the foothill of Mount Girnar), the event was organised to felicitate NGOs and individuals working towards wildlife conservation.
Vaghashiya complained about nature education camps having been truncated to a one-day affair instead of three-day events, camp sites having fallen out of use and bird conservation not getting as much attention as lions and leopards. Nature education camps in Gir started in 1979 and later, the government expanded the scope to other forest areas of the state.
Revtubha Raijada, who has been conducting nature education camps for more than three decades through NGO Sky Forest Youth Club (SFYC) agreed. Replying to the same, additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF) and member secretary of the Gujarat Ecology Commission, Mahesh Singh, briefed that the state government organises 1,000 nature education camps every year. “However, we hope to double the number onwards next year,” he informed, adding that the activities need to intensified in north and south Gujarat regions as well.
Retired IFS officers DS Narve and Uday Vora, who were associated with nature education activities during their service also shared their views. The duo suggested roping in Biology teachers to suggest ways to incorporate wildlife and nature in academics.
Naturalists Vinod Pandya, Sheetal Surani, Vikram Gandhi, Bhavesh Trivedi, Ami Shrimali, Akash Bhatt, Kushal Vala, Dhaivat Hathi and Chiragbala Gosai were felicitated on the occasion.