SHILLONG- To raise awareness about wildlife conservation in the Garo Hills and honour the region’s biodiversity, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in partnership with the State Forest Department, the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), HCL Foundation and World Land Trust celebrated National Wildlife Week 2023 by hosting a range of events in villages across the Garo Hills.
National Wildlife Week is celebrated every year in our country from the 2nd to the 8th of October. Commemorating this year’s theme–“Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation”, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) with the support of its partners organised various events throughout the week in South Garo Hills to foster inclusivity and collective action for wildlife conservation by all.
The celebrations commenced on the 3rd of October in Dalupara village (located near the India-Bangladesh border). Students from Dalupara SSA UP School and Pokirgona Upper Primary School actively participated in a range of activities including drawing and quiz competitions, documentary screenings and a cleanliness drive. Over 100 individuals, including the local community, joined hands to make the event a success
On the 4th of October, over 500 students of Baghmara Government Higher Secondary School participated in essay writing and quiz competitions. The children were also shown a presentation on birds and mammals of Garo Hills, along with crucial information on the do’s and don’ts of encountering wild elephants. The students were also educated about human-snake conflicts and the appropriate measures to take in such circumstances. Winners of the competitions received certificates from the ‘Office of Director – Balpakram National Park’.
The celebrations progressed to Jetra village in the Western end of south Garo Hills on 5th October. Here, the WTI team hosted football matches to spread awareness about wildlife conservation. The event drew 80 footballers from four villages with an audience of nearly 200 spectators. It extended to the 6th of October culminating with the final football match.
The Garo Hills of Meghalaya are part of the Indo-Burmese biodiversity hotspot and the Garo Hills Conservation Area (GHCA) is also in the queue for getting the status of ‘World Heritage Site’. It is also part of the Garo Hills Elephant Reserve. Therefore, it is imperative to take action to conserve the rich biodiversity of the region.
Sandeep Kumar Tiwari, Chief of Conservation, Wildlife Trust of India, said, “Community-based conservation is the cornerstone of fostering coexistence and driving meaningful change. The interactions during Wildlife Week have played a crucial role in nurturing a sense of responsibility within the local community, inspiring a collective commitment to protect and coexist with our natural world.”
WTI, along with its partners and local communities has been relentlessly working in the region for almost two decades to safeguard the natural heritage of the region and to secure and restore the forest patches located between West Garo Hills and Nokrek National Park with a view to establish wilderness connectivity with Balpakram National Park (BNP) –a landscape titled as the Garo Green Spine (GGS) forming the backbone of biodiversity of the region. The community-based conservation model ensures that they are the key stakeholders in reaping the benefits of conservation and coexistence with nature.