WWF-India comes together to celebrate wetlands on World Wetlands Day
Every year, World Wetlands Day is celebrated the world over to mark the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. It is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits and the convention have been taken since 1997 by government agencies, NGOs, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community.
This year, highlighting the theme of ‘Wetlands take care of water’, a number of events and activities were organised.
JammuIn collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Protection and Department of Environment and Remote Sensing, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), WWF-India celebrated World Wetlands Day at Mansar Wetland, a Ramsar site, in Jammu. The Hon’ble Minister of State for Forests, Environment and Ecology was the Chief Guest at the event.
On this occasion, a symposium on the theme of the importance of wetlands was organised, which was attended by school students, members of panchayat, scientists, academicians, conservationists, officials from different government departments and common masses. There was also a painting competition, a photography exhibition and a film screening at the wetland. In addition, the children were taken for a nature trail to help them get interested in the outdoors. There was also a stall where the WWF team demonstrated their technical equipment for water testing. The event was attended by faculty members of Jammu University, officials from the Department of Wildlife Protection and Department of Remote Sensing. A group of students from Higher Secondary School, Mansar also present a skit before the audience pertaining to the issues the Mansar Wetland is facing and the role of local masses in its conservation. WWF-India also displayed the resource material developed by the organization for the education institutions and the equipment meant for the monitoring of wetland ecosystems.
DehradunWWF-India, in collaboration with SAMVEDI and Chakrata Forest Division, Uttarakhand Forest Department (UKFD) organised a full-day event for school children from nine Dehradun-based schools at Asan Barrage, Dehradun. This included a bird watching excursion and a painting competition on the theme of ‘Wetlands, Biodiversity and Water Management’ as part of WWF’s efforts to raise awareness on the importance of wetlands and biodiversity. In addition, a WWF-India and UKFD report called ‘Wetlands of Uttarakhand: A documentation’ and a poster on ‘Medicinal Plants of Uttarakhand’ were also released.
In Uttarakhand under the Saving Wetlands Sky-High! initiative, WWF-India is working with the community at Aghora village and local authorities to conserve Dodital wetland.
Himachal PradeshSchool students from 15 schools in Kangra district participated in quiz and painting competitions to celebrate WWD. These were organised by WWF in collaboration with the State Council for Environment Science and Technology and Wildlife Wing, Himachal Pradesh Forest Department at Pong Dam, Kangra. Moreover, there were presentations on the significance of wetlands, threats and conservation measures by WWF-India. Chief Parliament Secretary, Mr. Neraj Bharti was the Chief Guest who also awarded the winners of various competitions. Green Hiker car stickers were also released by Mr. Bharti.
Harike Wildlife SanctuaryAt Harike Wildlife Sanctuary, WWD was celebrated right from January 29 to February 2. It began with a documentary screening and group discussion on better agricultural practises with 30 farmers from Churian, Sudhian and Harike villages, followed by a documentary screening for Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and discussion on plans to make handicrafts from water hyacinth. The next day had a story-telling competition for 50 students from 10 schools around Harike Wildlife Sanctuary followed by an exhibition of water hyacinth handicraft products made by local SHGs, winning stories and posters from students and photo stories on the theme of wetland and aquatic biodiversity. On February 2, besides the exhibition, there were cultural performances by school children and a prize distribution for the winners of the competition.
Harike, a bird sanctuary in Punjab and a Ramsar site, located at the confluence of Beas and Sutlej rivers, attracts thousands of wintering birds from across the world. It has an excellent natural environment which provides favourable conditions for the migrant and resident birds. The highly endangered Indus Dolphin was rediscovered and sighted here in 2008. The WWF team has been presenting their findings and recommendations with respect to the dolphins and have extended all possible help to experts here.
SurajpurAn orientation programme on bird watching for a group of students was organised around Surajpur wetland after which they were taken for bird watching on WWD. A checklist of birds was provided to students to guide them.
Surajpur wetland lies in Gautam Budh Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) setting a perfect example of wildlife flourishing near urban areas. Interventions like creation of bunds around the wetland to ensure the availability of water, has brought about positive impacts like increase in number of migratory birds, as well as, enriching the local biodiversity.
BharatpurOn February 2, the former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen and her delegation arrived in Bharatpur also known as Keoladeo National Park (KNP) for a two-day visit. The park management and the WWF-India staff were introduced to her, following which there was a brief presentation on WWF-India’s work in Bharatpur. She was then taken to see the Water School in the village and the park in the evening. Tomorrow (February 3), she will visit the Interpretation centre.
WWF-India has been involved in the conservation of KNP for over a decade, in the form of technical assistance to the forest department staff, efforts to influence relevant political and administrative bodies to pursue water management practises, and promotion of sustainable water management practises amongst local children and their families through the Salim Ali Interpretation Centre and Programme, and the Water School.
HastinapurA Wildlife Education Awareness programme and a visit to Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary were organised for school children of Maqhdoompur Village, in collaboration with the U.P. Forest Department. In addition, a talk on the ‘Importance of Wetland ecosystem and emerging threats to this pristine habitat’ and a wildlife awareness quiz competition at Sobran Singh Inter College, Bakewar, District Etawah under the Yamuna Biodiversity Conservation Project were also organised.
WWF-India has been working on the reintroduction of the critically endangered Gharial into the Ganga at Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary, U.P. So far, a total of 494 gharials have been released under the reintroduction programme which started in 2009. With rescue operations and regular monitoring, the regular reintroductions hope to conserve this endangered species.
SariskaFor the first time, an Alwar Birding Fair was organised at Silised Lake in Alwar to generate interest in nature conservation and education and to provide new dimensions of tourism for Alwar. Organised by WWF-India, Sariska Tiger Conservation Foundation (Sariska Tiger Reserve), Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and other organisations, the fair received 600 participants including students, wildlife enthusiasts, tourists and local citizens. Birdwatchers were called in from Bharatpur, Jaipur, New Delhi and Ujjain to spot and identify different species of birds through binoculars and spotting scopes.
In addition, there was a bird and awareness raising exhibition, a Q & A session, a quiz competition and widespread publicity of the event in Alwar city and nearby areas.
Terai regionUnder WWF’s Terai Arc landscape programme, WWD was celebrated with three corridor schools, that is, 35 students at Haripura Dam, Uttarakhand. A rally marched through the villages surrounding the dam to raise awareness on the importance of saving our wetlands and migratory birds. Apart from this, the children were taken for bird watching and given the task of preparing a checklist of migratory birds in the area.
The Terai Arc landscape programme has been working towards the conservation of biodiversity in the Terai region. The main focus of work is to secure population of the tiger, elephant and Indian rhino in the landscape through community participation.
SikkimThere was a sensitisation programme for drivers in Gangtok, in collaboration with Tsomgo Pokhri Sanrakshan Samiti (TPSS) and the Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management Department (FEWMD). A Green Driver Award was granted to the most environmentally conscious taxi driver who regularly covers the route from Gangtok to Tsomgo Lake. The programme was interactive and also included a presentation on Tsomgo Lake, its importance and the significance of WWD.
For more details, kindly contact:
Ragini Letitia Singh
Senior Communications Officer,
Regional Programme for Himalayan High Altitude Wetlands Conservation, WWF-India