Work ‘For a living Planet’
WWF’s outreach progamme in early 80s
My first brush with World Wildlife Fund (as WWF was earlier expanded) was when I was around eight years old. In early 1980s, like much of
, toothpaste variety at my home was restricted to either Colgate or Binaca - now Cibaca (remember Binaca / Cibaca Geet Mala hosted by Ameen Sayani?). WWF-India had then been associated with Binaca, as part of its campaign to save India ’s tigers. In 1983-84, I guess, Binaca launched a tiger poster campaign. Each toothpaste pack carried a tear away coupon that one could fill and send to an address in India . In return, we received a beautiful Tiger poster. I did this twice and received posters in both the instances. As a kid I was excited not only about some one in a far way city responding to my letter but also sending me a poster of Tiger – something that I deeply appreciated. India
WWF’s role in shaping Karnataka’s conservation scene - late 80s to early 90s
In mid/late eighties, the environment movement and spirit of outdoors was catching up with youth in a big way in Karnataka. Though seventies saw the implementation of Wildlife Protection Act and creation of new sanctuaries - many of them in Karnataka, the eighties saw some of Peninsular India’s best rainforests being drowned for ever. This was chiefly for dams in
Western Ghats. Forests were also being lost for mining, roads, regularization of encroachments etc. There seemed too much of ‘development’ around, hence an urgency among the youth to group themselves. While some did so to trek in the less explored jungles, wary of them being lost for ever, some wanted to document wildlife. Then there were others who wanted a direction in dealing with the many conservation issues. This gave rise to many organized events being held, at regular intervals, like the annual mid-winter Asian Waterfowl Census and Western Ghats treks. Around the same time, WWF-India launched its Nature Club of India (NCI) movement. The brand name of WWF and their resources in providing much needed education materials like handbooks and field guides gave the much needed direction for budding naturalists in the state. For many of us from small towns like Tumkur, , Chikmagalur etc, the timing could not have been better. Nature camps were held in rich wildlife habitats like Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. We could share with each other and learn, in an organized way, about wildlife and natural history. Among the nature clubs formed then were Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC), Tumkur, Merlin Nature Club, Bengaluru and Mysore Amateur Naturalists (MAN). Together they produced some amazing nature conservationists and field naturalists, who have made an impact not only in Mysore but abroad as well. India
Over the years, some conservationists have felt that WWF-India should be doing more for nature conservation in
WWF’s field guys are amazingly dedicated to the cause. Among them are Mudit Gupta and his team, who have inspiring stories of their work for Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. Mudit’s efforts, along with Dudhwa’s young DFO Shri P.P.Singh, to rescue wildlife swept away from Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in the 2008’s floods of Sharda and
Soheli , are some thing of legends. Mohanraj in Tamil Nadu is carrying his decades’ old relentless pursuit for the cause of Niligiris’ wildlife with WWF as well. There have been concerted efforts to establish wildlife c Rivers
orridors around Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve by Hem Tiwari’s team. Harish Gularia’s team has been overseeing the Terai landscape work that includes WWF’s help to create a new tiger reserve in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit District. Anurag and his team are working in the heart of one of Climate Change’s worst affected areas – the Sunderbans. They refuse to stand idle to the evil effects of this mega-problem and are working hard to mitigate its effects. Apart from this they are working to reduce the human-wildlife conflict in and around Sunderbans Tiger Reserve. I am yet to visit WWF’s work areas in
North East and Central, but having met the field staff from those areas I don’t think the scene there will be any different.
The stories and efforts are endless. My job is to ensure that this face of WWF is seen by its stake holders - from the lay man to the decision makers. The task is challenging, but I am enjoying it.
Check out WWF-India’s work, online, at http://wwfindia.org. I am working with the team here to give the site a face lift and this should happen before end of June. Keep visiting to find out more.