The year 2008 has not been a peaceful one in the Kashmir valley as we witnessed many unfortunate events during the year. Normal life came to a standstill for most part of the year. The schools and colleges remained closed for most of the time. In spite of all this, Wildlife S.O.S. continued to spread the message of conservation in the valley.
The Wildlife S.O.S. Eduvcation & Awareness team managed to have about 14 school and college programmes with the students, one programme with the CRPF officials and about 3 programmes with the staff of schools and colleges. About 2000 to 2500 students took part in these programmes which were mostly about awareness about the presence of wildlife in the state and about different factors responsible for the ongoing human wild animal conflicts. The focus was especially on the students who come from places where conflicts take place frequently. A painting competition and a debate were arranged as part of the conservation programme to allow the students a medium and platform to express their thoughts and ideas.
Geeta Seshamani of Wildlife S.O.S said “It has been observed that the students still perceive wild animals as threat to human life and needs to be eliminated by what ever cruel means. The programme is aimed at helping students to get sensitized about the serious consequences of the decrease in the population of wild animals and its habitat. Also the ongoing progarmme has helped the students and the staff to understand that human beings are largely responsible for this conflict situation.”
Aaliya Mir, Wildlife S.O.S. Education and Awareness Officer in Kashmir said “We organized one awareness programme in Ganderbal area recently which was in focus for last few months for bear conflicts. About 50 students from 9th and 10th standards took part in the programme. The other progarmme was in Galaxy Public School which is on the outskirts of Srinagar.” She added Despite the cold weather and winter vacations in schools and colleges, Wildlife SOS is now targeting private tuitions to reach the young students to pass on the message for the conservation of the wildlife in the valley. As part of the ongoing awareness programme, two such programmes were conducted at Nowshera and Soura areas in central division of Kashmir.
These areas although now very urbanized used to be close to the forests and has seen many wild animals human conflicts in the past. The young students who take private tuitions in these centers got moved on seeing the plight of the wild animals at the hands of the humans. Also the knowledge and the status of the local species in the state enlighten the need among the students for the conservation of the wildlife in the state.â€
The programme is also trying to expand to the rural areas to create awareness among the villagers and locales who mainly face the brunt of the man-animal conflict situation.