The pandemic highlighted the urgency with which we must preserve natural habitats and ecosystems
THE world as we know it came to a screeching two years ago. Reeling under the effects of the pandemic, the clarion call to governments and businesses was to stop human encroachment into the wilderness, including strictly regulating the wildlife trade. So fittingly, the 2021’s World Wildlife Day theme was ‘Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’.
The objective was to reinforce the pivotal role that ‘forests, forest species and ecosystems services’ play. These ecosystems help to sustain the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, especially with respect to the indigenous and local communities.
We rely way more on forests for our day-to-day welfare than we know. They are not only a source of raw material, but also of an endless array of products such as energy, shelter and medicines. For those living in the forests or adjacent areas, the jungles serve as the means to earn their daily bread as well as centres for social interaction and celebration.
PTES, a UK-Based organisation has expressed fears that wildlife conservation, which was anyway low on the list of priorities for the world, is likely to suffer even more during the COVID 19 pandemic. Given the lowered tourism revenues, many communities that depended on ecotourism, have since resorted to poaching, thus increasing human-animal conflicts.
However, not all is lost! As the world’s focus shifts to cleaner ways of living and minimising the human impact on destroying other species, here are 5 NGOs in India that are at the forefront protecting the wildlife, forests and livelihoods, and sustaining the people and the planet.
Almost synonymous with wildlife conservation throughout the world, WWF- India has been leading the charge of preservation, conservation, and support for over 50 years. The approach taken by the organization to battle India’s diverse and complex nature conservation is strongly backed by science. The WWF works with governments, corporates, businesses, NGOs, schools and educational institutions and the society at large, supporting and raising awareness about endangered ecosystems.
Wildlife SOS is one of the premier NGOs in India for wildlife conservation. Started in 1998, it began with an objective to protect India’s biodiversity wealth in conjunction with the indigenous communities of India. In fact, more than 40% of their staff belong to tribal communities who work in the forests. These staff are also provided skills training to support livelihoods. The NGO is currently on a mission to save endangered species and at-risk livelihoods among the onslaught of the pandemic through various fundraisers, in tune with the theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day.
Founded by Belinda Wright in 1994, Wildlife Protection Society of India aims at focussing energy and knowledge to help tackle India’s growing wildlife and nature crisis. The organisation also endeavours to reduce human-animal conflict, especially between humans and tigers, leopards, and elephants through directed community efforts. It’s among the most respected organisations in India when it comes to conservation strategies. The scope of the NGO’s work extends to Sundarbans, Simlipal, Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench, Tadoba, and Rajaji Tiger Reserves.
Founded in 1996, NCF focuses on wildlife research and conservation, working across various wildlife habitats from coral reefs and tropical rainforests to mountainous forests of the North. The organisation also makes it a point to work with local communities in their habitats by supporting their training, livelihoods, and development programmes. They work in areas such as Cauvery and Malai Mahadeshwara (MM Hills) Wildlife Sanctuaries, where lack of awareness can lead to adverse effects such as habitat loss and fragmentation, and poaching. This World Wildlife Day you can do your bit to raise awareness or help here.
A pioneering organisation for conservation, protection and scientific education of wildlife in India, Centre for Wildlife Studies was established in 1984. As a part of its efforts, the organisation undertakes various activities including educating those living near forest areas about wildlife and the need to safeguard the forests.
The beneficiaries of their programmes range from school children to workers who live and work in and around forests for sustenance. The organisation has adopted a scientific approach towards the preservation and betterment of forests and wildlife.
(The article was updated on April 30, 2022)
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A writer by profession, vocation, and most importantly by choice Amruta can be found in a sunlit corner with her books, cats and a cup of coffee.