World Environment Day 2020: How wildlife conservation organizations find unique ways to stay afloat during lockdown

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From shark and pony adoption programs to community feeding initiatives, here’s how wildlife conservation organizations stay in touch with volunteers and animal lovers during this lockdown

There couldn’t be a better time to shed light on how we humans are gradually destroying our planet. Appropriately themed “Time for Nature”, World Environment Day 2020 focuses on how humanity is on the verge of collapse and why it is time to save our resources and reconnect with it. nature. Hosted by Columbia, in partnership with Germany, June 5 will see more than 100 countries virtually commemorate the day with events, seminars and discussions.

But in India, with the conversation revolving around the ruthless murder of a pregnant elephant in Kerala earlier this week, we decided to focus on the country’s thriving wildlife and the unique efforts of its keepers to keep the show going during the lockdown. .

VGP Marine Kingdom, Chennai

Since VGP Premdas, CEO, launched a video fundraising appeal at the end of last month, people have been rushing to adopt fish, stingrays and sharks from the country’s first underwater aquarium. With monthly expenses of 35 lakh (electricity, technical staff, power, air conditioning) largely dependent on ticket sales, the lockdown has taken a toll on revenues.

An overview of VGP Marine Kingdom

Premdas says that of the three planned initiatives, the first was to virtually sell one-year tickets and cut prices to 50%. “We’ve also started an adoption program (starting at $ 500 per month) where you can virtually feed a fish and we’ll share videos and a certificate,” he says. In a week’s time, they will launch an interactive virtual aquarium tour (₹ 300) for families. “Via a Zoom call, we’ll take them through the facility’s five habitats: rainforest, gorge, mangrove, coastal and deep ocean. Question-and-answer sessions will also be organized during the session. Details: vgpmarinekingdom.in

Blue Cross of India, Chennai

Since March, the animal welfare charity has continued to keep its rescue activities open (for critical animals) and has focused on the treatment, feeding and maintenance of the approximately 1,800 animals. from the refuge. The lockdown fundraising kicked off with a ketto campaign in early March (over 14 lakh has been raised so far) and was followed by community volunteer initiatives.

A volunteer feeds stray dogs and (right) a cow at their shelter

A volunteer feeds stray dogs and (right) a cow in their shelter | Photo credit: Blue Cross of India

“We then started the Karuna Containment Street Animal Nutrition Program to feed the street dogs. [at the beach, along the IT corridor, etc] and then created a WhatsApp group comprising 150 community feeders. We provided them with food and reserved areas around their homes to cover, ”says Sathya Radhakrishnan, co-secretary, adding that they continue to feed nearly 3,000 animals, including dogs, cows and horses ( at the beach) per day. “The value of the whole program is just over ₹ 21 lakh and we have fed around 95,000 animals as of June 1,” he adds. Details: crossbleue.org

To watch virtual safaris in South Africa, click here

SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary Trust, Coorg

With over 300 acres under their protection, Pamela Malhotra and her husband Anil have always encouraged people to visit their sanctuary in Kodagu District. This year was different since the ecotourism wing had to be closed in March. “The majority of our expenses are paid out of pocket and donations are scarce. [even smaller donations have stalled now], says Pamela.

(clockwise from top) A small-clawed river otter, Pamela and Anil Malhotra and a three-toed kingfisher

(clockwise from top) A small-clawed river otter, Pamela and Anil Malhotra and a three-toed kingfisher | Photo credit: SAI Sanctuary

SAI’s monthly expenses can be up to 6 lakh, including the costs of replacing stolen / broken camera traps, wildlife protection (for rehabilitation and eventual release), and sponsorship of workshops. “We haven’t been able to launch a fundraising appeal or run a sponsorship program because we have poor internet and phone connectivity,” says Pamela, adding that the lockdown, however, has been good for wildlife. . “Asian small-clawed river otters are found at SAI and this year I have documented Eurasian otters that have not been seen in the area for over a century. Both have been listed as “Annex 1”, meaning “most threatened”. The duo are now pushing for a river otter sanctuary which, along with the enhanced protection of the area, will also help local communities with cleaner, unpolluted river water to drink. Details: [email protected]

Trunk Call Foundation, Maharashtra

Thane’s “elephant whisperer” Anand Shinde had his hands full that lock. Known for his elephant calf conservation and rehabilitation projects in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan – and for his projects with forest services in various states – he has raised funds for three projects.

(clockwise from left) A Mahout with a Baby Elephant, Shinde with a Jumbo and Anand Shinde

(clockwise from left) A Mahout with a Baby Elephant, Shinde with a Jumbo and Anand Shinde | Photo credit: Anand Shinde

“We fed over 80 street dogs in Thane and we also collected 1.5 lakh for affected elephants in Thailand, with the help of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. [IUCN] and the Indian Embassy in Bangkok. Initially, we wanted to send fodder, but that was not possible due to the lockdown, ”says Shinde, who will be sending the funds on World Environment Day. He also helped the Maharashtra Forest Department deliver a baby elephant to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve via video call. “I am now tracking Cyclone Nisarga and trying to protect the birds. We have 25 artificial bird nests and they will be installed if the trees are uprooted. Details: facebook.com/TrunkCall.WildLifeFoundation

TREE Foundation, Chennai

  • Known for its community-based marine conservation and education programs, the organization has now put forward 13 acres (alongside its biodiversity education center in Marakkanam) to help captive elephants during the pandemic.
  • “We offered the use of our existing infrastructure and facilities to six jumbos and their mahouts / helpers, who are in difficulty due to lack of funds and fodder,” says founder Supraja Dharini, adding that planning their budgets one to two years in advance has helped them stay afloat during containment.
  • As for fundraising, she says, “it’s not always about money. We are constantly asking people to provide physical support or help in kind, such as education and hygiene kits. ” Details: treefoundationindia.org

Wildlife SOS, New Delhi

As animal care teams on the ground continue to monitor elephants, bears, leopards and reptiles, the nonprofit’s emergency rescue teams have also been in action in this lockdown. “As the pandemic has driven people off the streets, calls involving urban wildlife have increased,” said co-founder and CEO Kartick Satyanarayan, adding that they have responded to more than 150 calls through their rescue hotline. 24 hour pets in Delhi NCR only.

Bear at Agra Bear Rescue Center

Besides the Disaster Emergency Fund, they also get support for their online sponsorship and adoption program. “Sponsors receive an e-package, which includes photos of the leopard, elephant or bear they are sponsoring, a biography, periodic updates on the animal and a personalized certificate,” says he. Details: Wildlifesos.org/sponsor-an-animal

India Project for Animals and Nature (IPAN), Masinagudi

Nigel Otter pays around 2 lakh per month for the maintenance of his Hill View farm in the Nilgiris. Home to 200 rescued animals – donkeys, ponies, horses, dogs, cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep and a lone cat – he says animal care and veterinary services are listed as essential, their vehicles could pick up and transport food during locking.

Nigel Otter and (right) a donkey on the farm

“Given our location, most of our support does not rely on donations from visitors. Some people donated hay / straw to feed the cows and others who have saved animals in the past sent donations, ”says Otter, who is promoting his“ Adopt a Pony ”concept in which you receive a photo of the adopted animal, can schedule visits and you can also participate in the annual Hill View Farm Pony Club.

He also encourages people to buy vermicompost produced on the farm. “Donations in kind [animal feed, feeding bowls and building materials to help maintain the enclosures] are always welcome. Right now we need a chain link fence [to repair broken fences because elephants often walk through the farm, breaking them as they go]. ” Details: hillviewfarmanimalrefuge.com/adopt-a-pony


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