WWF-India urges tourists traveling to the Himalayas to go green!

WWF- India’s Green Hiker campaign launched

New Delhi: In its efforts to encourage responsible tourism in the Himalayas, the World Wide Fund for Nature- India launched its Green Hiker Campaign today in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The campaign aims at raising awareness about the vulnerability of the Himalayan ecosystem, by encouraging tourists and tour operators to adopt responsible practices towards reducing the impact of tourism on this fragile ecosystem. The campaign stands on the positive, direct message of Nature leaves a mark on you, don’t leave one behind. The campaign corresponds with the tourist season in the Himalayas and links with the Incredible India initiative of the Ministry of Tourism.

WWF's Green Hiker Campaign launched in Delhi by Mr. Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism (3rd from left) - © Anil Cherukupalli/WWF-India

The launch saw the participation of various officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India in addition to many other organizations and individuals. Arjun Vajpai, the youngest Indian to conquer Mount Everest at the age of 16 was also present to lend his support for this campaign. He also shared the overwhelming experience of his recent expedition and the importance of being a responsible hiker.

Mr. Maninder Singh Kohli, veteran Himalayan hiker, presented a short account of his experiences in the Himalayas, the problems and possible solutions. A Green Hiker Animation Film targeting the tourists and service providers in the industry and encouraging them to watch their footprint was released and screened at the launch.

Mr. Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, while launching the campaign said, “…The Himalayas are the pride of our nation. The Ministry of Tourism is glad to support this campaign, since the conservation of the majestic Himalayan ecosystem is a common goal which we have to achieve together. It is important that we start now ….”

On the occasion, Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India said, “Irresponsible tourism is increasingly rendering the high altitude regions and its fragile wetlands vulnerable. Appropriate mechanisms need to be put in place so that tourism can carry on without negative consequences on this ecosystem. The impact of travel in the Himalayan region needs to be dealt with by the travelers themselves. They should be both responsible practitioners and delivery mechanisms of the conservation message. The Himalayas need our care and protection.”

From WWF-INDIA

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Karnataka, where the mahseer is safe…

Fishing camps along the Cauvery have helped safeguard the habitat of the mahseer. Also, most of the poachers have been rehabilitated and are employed as guides and guards to patrol the river stretch at the fishing camps, reports Susheela Nair

Hurtling from the high mountains of the Brahmagiri range in Kodagu district, the bountiful Cauvery river flows across Karnataka, snaking through forested hilly tracts and agricultural fields. Some stretches of the omnipresent Cauvery between the Shivanasamudram waterfalls and Mekedatu, shelter the giant mahseer, the legendary sport fish of India. On the banks of this stretch of the river are three fishing camps Doddamakali, six km upstream, and Galibore, 16 km downstream of Bheemeshwari and all run by the state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd (JLR). These camps are all within a few hours drive from Bangalore. Anglers from all over the world make their annual pilgrimage to these exclusively reserved stretches to pit their wits against the mahseer while non-anglers revel in nature’s bounty.

Angling history can be traced back to the pre-independent days when the British used to ‘catch-and-kill’ the mahseer. With the construction of dams in the adjoining areas, the migration of the fish was restricted and even blocked in some places.

This contributed to the decline of the mahseer population. Moreover the villagers, mostly settlers indulged in netting, poisoning and using ordinary detonator with safety fuse thus destroying all aquatic life forms including fish fingerlings.

Explains Arun Srinivasan, President, WASI, “Realising the need to safeguard the habitat of the mahseer fish and the adjoining riverine stretches of forest, Wildlife Association of South India (WASI) set up temporary fishing camps in the mid-seventies. For the past thirty years, we have been involved in the protection of this stretch of the Cauvery river.”

Bheemeshwari

Catch-and-release practice
“In the light of decreasing sizes and number of good specimens, we adopted the ‘catch-and-release’ practice, thus giving a fresh lease of life to the mighty mahseer. We have been protecting mahseer fishing by adopting conservation, stocking and management measures so as to stem the decline of mahseer population,” the WASI president adds. Subsequently JLR took over the river stretch by setting up a camp at Bheemeshwari in 1984.

The mahseer is the pride and joy of the Cauvery and Asia’s premier sporting fish. It is believed that the name has been formed from the Hindi words maha (great) and sir (head). It could equally have been derived from the Persian mahi (fish) and  sher (lion) but either way, the mahseer retains its status as king and the prize catch for all committed anglers.

In local parlance, it is known as bili meen. Catching the mahseer fish is easier said than done. The legendary fighting fish resists all attempts to catch it and there is a virtual tug-of-war between the angler and the fish for about 20-30 minutes. It can grow to over 100 lbs in weight, can easily swim upstream, against rapids, at over 20 knots, a truly spectacular sight amidst splendid scenery.

Every time a fish is caught, a camp attendant helps the angler remove it from the water, tie its mouth with a nylon rope, weigh it and pose for a photograph! And, immediately after, the rope is removed and the fish is let back into the river.

Situated on the banks of the river Cauvery, the Cauvery Fishing Camp (CFC) is an ideal picnic spot for nature enthusiasts, river lovers and a paradise for hardcore anglers. Every year, head guide of a fishing holidays company David Plummer escorts a limited number of anglers to these camps which combine the thrill of hooking one of the world’s finest game fish, the mahseer, with the rugged existence of camp life. The camp activities  revolve around the ubiquitous Cauvery river which flows sinuously through the varied terrain of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.  Birding, bonfire, coracle rides, camping one the sandy banks of the river, trekking, wildlife safaris, white water rafting and bird watching are all part of the wilderness escapade.

Conservation of the mahseer
According to N D Tiwari, IFS, Managing Director, JLR, “Besides contributing to the tourism coffers, angling tourism supports conservation of the mahseer.

“The setting up of anti-poaching camps along the river has curtailed poaching and helped in protection of the river and the aqua species. The size of the fish has grown over the years from 32 pounds to 106 pounds because of protection. Most of the poachers have been rehabilitated and are employed as gillies (guides) and guards to patrol the river stretch at the fishing camps.” Since they are familiar with every tract of the forests, know every inch of the river, where each eddy and whirlpool lies, where the fish likes to school, they have proved themselves able guides. “We help anglers with our knowledge of the waters as we are experienced fishermen ourselves,” said Bhola, a rehabilitated poacher-turned-river guide at Bheemeshwari.

Lured by the social acceptance, security and steady income and the fact that their future is intimately connected with the well-being of the endangered mahseer and its habitat, they are concerned and involved in the protection.

The Coorg Wildlife Society (CWS), another voluntary organisation engaged in protecting mahseer fishing in the Cauvery (i.e. Valnoor in Coorg district,) with a lease on 28 km of this river has been stocking young mahseer in this stretch since 1993. The CWS protects this stretch of the river, issues fishing licenses, organises sport fishing and maintains fish catch statistics.

According to AJT John Singh, eminent wildlife scientist, “If the grand old giant Tor mussullah still exists, it is only because of the farsighted conservation measures adopted  by JLR and NGOs like WASI and CWS with their unique eco-tourism and catch-and-release programmes. This is an excellent model worth emulating throughout the different ranges of different species of mahseer in the country, which would mutually benefit the fish, the habitat and the local people.”

From Deccan Herald

UNICEF holds camp on sickle cell anaemia

Ahmedabad: An awareness programme on sickle cell anaemia was jointly organised by the state government and UNICEF at a Community Health Centre in Dungry village of Valsad district on Thursday to mark World Sickle Cell Anaemia Day.

Jairaj Parmar at Sangam Hospital in Vadodara.

Dr Yogendra Mathur, the Chief Representative of UNICEF in Gujarat, said on the occasion that all governments have signed the UN resolution stating that it is the fundamental right of a child to be safeguarded against any physical or mental disability. Dr Mathur said that this year marked a century of the discovery of the disorder by James Harrick in 1910.

Dr Yazdi Italia, Director, Sickle Cell Anaemia Control Program, said: “A total of 30,30,793 individuals between the age of six months and 30 years have been targeted for screening of the sickle gene.”

He said that 64 counsellors have been appointed under the Sickle Cell programme in 12 tribal districts. An Indian Council of Medical Research survey done on primitive tribes in south Gujarat revealed that 30 per cent children with Sickle Cell disease die by the age of 14 years; publications worldwide say 20 per cent of deaths due to the disease occur by the age of two. So far, 1,300 newborn children have been screened by the government.

From Indian Express

‘Save Our Tigers’ strikes an emotional chord through Stripey

The campaign could have been driven by hard facts (there are merely 1411 Royal Bengal Tigers surviving in India as against 40,000 at the turn of the last century), but it may not have evoked such a response. Save Our Tiger campaign urges us to look at the threat to tigers through the eyes of Stripey, the cub. Stripey is hungry, concerned and awaiting his mother, who’s fallen prey to poaching.

Save Our Tiger campaign by Aircel, in partnership with World Wildlife Fund, calls for immediate action to protect the national animal. The campaign went on air on January 30, has a dedicated site (www.saveourtigers.com) where the service provider’s brand ambassadors actor Suriya, cricketer Mahender Singh Dhoni and footballer Baichung Bhutia insist that we roar with them for the cause. A group dedicated to Stripey on Facebook has more than 1 lakh fans (the numbers swelled each day and as of Saturday, the group had more than 1,12,000 fans) and more than 3000 tweeple following Stripey on twitter. A meet held in Delhi on Valentine’s Day urged people to show their love for Stripey.

The number of Royal Bengal Tigers is diminishing

The idea of having an emotional campaign stemmed from Lion King, says Shivanand Mohanty, creative head, Dentsu Communications, the ad agency that designed the campaign. Remember how our eyes welled up watching Mufasa breathe his last trying to protect Simba? “We were considering many ideas and felt this would work,” says Mohanty. Since shooting in tiger reserves is not permitted, the agency used stock footage for the ad.

For once, celebs remain in the background and therein lay the campaign’s success. Says Mohanty, “Celebrities have been used thoughtfully, to create a sense of urgency and drive home the point that each one of us can do something.”

Long-term campaign

Now that the awareness has been created, the agency, along with Aircel and WWF, is working on the next phase. “It’s a long-term campaign,” says Rahul Saigal, chief marketing officer, Aircel. “Whether it is children wearing Save Our Tigers badges to school or youngsters discussing the issue, the campaign was designed to encourage public participation. The website informs how people can help monetarily or by visiting parks,” he adds.

In Hyderabad, the WWF chapter has been receiving calls in support of the campaign. “A plan of action will be drawn up. We are considering having a meeting where people can share their thoughts on how they can help save the tigers in AP,” says Farida Tampal of WWF, Hyderabad.

Aircel is not the first cellular service provider to highlight environmental issues as part of its corporate social responsibility. Idea has been doing various CSR activities for some time, the latest being urging people not to waste paper. Abhishek Bachchan, as a tree, endorses the go green campaign. Cell phone major Nokia is inviting users to exchange their old handsets, promising to recycle electronic waste and plant one tree for each old handset. The ‘green’ bus stop in Begumpet is part of the Idea campaign.

In the West, companies perceived to be environmental friendly stay in the good books of consumers. Though we haven’t had such precedence in India, perhaps this is a step in that direction, even if you were to cynically dismiss these campaigns as CSR activities that merely aim to earn goodwill.

Sangeetha Devi Dundoo – From THE HINDU

Awareness campaign on plastic pollution launched in Tirunelveli

Rs.2 lakh each for Tirunelveli and Tuticorin Corporations allotted

TIRUNELVELI: An awareness campaign on solid waste management and segregation of plastic waste at source was inaugurated at Palayamkottai on Monday.

As the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board recently allotted Rs.2 lakh each for Tirunelveli and Tuticorin Corporations and Rs.1 lakh for Nagercoil municipality, the local bodies have planned to conduct a series of campaigns.

Solid untreated waste material from industries

Moreover, these local bodies have agreed to segregate the non-recyclable plastic waste and send it to India Cements Limited’s manufacturing unit at Sankar Nagar on the outskirts of Tirunelveli, where the hazardous waste will be shredded, mixed with cashew shell and used as fuel along with coal, the regular fuel. To sensitise the public to the need for segregating the plastic waste at source, the TNPCB will assist the civic bodies in organising awareness programmes.

Launching the campaign at St. John’s Higher Secondary School, Palayamkottai, Minister for Environment, Youth Welfare and Sports T.P.M. Maideen Khan said the awareness campaign should create an awareness among the public of the adverse impact of pollution being caused by the plastic products, particularly by the non-recyclable plastic materials, should encourage the public to switch over to the materials other than the plastic to the maximum possible extent so that generation of plastic waste would minimise significantly. Mr. Maideen Khan, who released a folk songs compact disc for creating an awareness.Collector M. Jayaraman said the local body representatives, government officials, teachers and students should launch a coordinated campaign against the use of plastic materials, particularly the plastic products having a thickness of 20 micron and below and its hostile impact on the environment when it was discarded.

TNPCB Chairman R. Balakrishnan, TNPCB Member-Secretary R. Ramachandran, Senior vice-president of ICL S. Nandakumar and others spoke.

From THE HINDU

India: Rajkot students replace poly bags with paper bags

RAJKOT – Students from different schools here have taken up an initiative to propagate mass awareness against the ill effects of using plastic bags.

Despite the ban imposed on the use of plastic bags, vegetable vendors used to sell vegetables to the customers in plastic bags.

To bring a complete stop on this illegal use of poly bags, students campaigned on the streets and prompted vegetable vendors to stop using plastic by distributing pamphlets and paper bags made of newspapers.

“We told all the shopkeepers and buyers to use paper bags instead of plastic bags.

Everybody behaved well and cooperated with us in our drive. Now, it seems everyone will start using paper bags,” said Rajpara Hasti, a student.

On their part, both buyers and vendors felt quite motivated and inspired by the manner in which the students explained why there was no need to use poly bags.

“When students informed us about the harmful effects of plastic bags, I started using cloth bag,” said Parul, a resident.

The student campaigners enlightened the public that polythene waste, which the stray cattle often feed on, results in damaging the digestive system as the polythene gets stuck in the intestines. (ANI)

From Taragana