Literary meet makes room for wildlife stall

Jorhat, Feb. 1: The biennial Asam Sahitya Sabha session, the literary extravaganza that attracts hundreds of visitors from across the state, has an unusual participant this year.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India is showcasing the message of wildlife conservation in the ongoing session at Biswaratna Dr Bhupen Hazarika Samannay Khetra at Gobindapur in Baksa district.

"We are happy the IFAW-WTI is taking such an initiative. This is the first time a stall has been put up in a Sabha session to spread the message of wildlife conservation. The initiative has come at the right time when incidents of rhino killings have increased," the Sabha's assistant secretary, Debojit Bora, told The Telegraph over phone.

The idea to install such a stall at the Sabha session was conceived following the recent spurt in attacks on animals, especially the rhinos, in several parts of the state. The killing of a rhino by poachers at Manas National Park about a month back, played a decisive factor in WTI officials planning to set up the stall.

"Since the park is close to the venue, we have decided to set up the stall to spread the message of wildlife conservation. The aim is to make people take pride in the wildlife resource at Manas, a bio-diversity hotspot," Sashanka Barbaruah, a WTI official, said.

Barbaruah said it would not be possible to carry out wildlife conservation without the help of people who reside near animal habitats.

Manas, he said, has six national and international designations ' a Unesco World Heritage site, national park, tiger reserve, biosphere reserve, elephant reserve and an important bird area ' and the people of Assam should take pride to possess such a natural habitat.

The park has nearly 60 mammal species, 42 reptile, seven amphibian and over 450 species of birds, of which 26 are under global threat. It provides habitat for 22 of India's most threatened species of mammals.

Barbaruah said apart from distributing leaflets about animal conservation to visitors, an art workshop has also been planned involving members of All Assam Visual Artists' Association, where spot paintings on conservation would be carried out. Painter Noni Borpuzari is likely to attend the workshop.

"We will try to involve schoolchildren in our conservation efforts. We have invited children of several schools located near Manas to visit our stall and learn more about conservation," he said.

WTI has taken the initiative to relocate rhinos at Manas after almost the entire population of the animal at the park was wiped out during the peak of Bodo movement. Several rhino calves raised at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, run by IFAW-WTI, near Kaziranga National Park have been shifted to Manas in recent times.

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