Care for the wild
I am a student. How can I protect wildlife?
You can do a great deal.
1. Our wild animals and birds are primarily endangered because of the loss of habitat. You can help wildlife by creating wildlife habitat on your own property or in any place in the city or around it. Plant local native trees, shrubs and native grasses. They will not only look good, but provide good habitat and healthy foods for a range of native species. You could also provide nesting boxes or hollow logs for birds and mammals, or install a bird bath or pond.
Each person in India is responsible for the cutting of 7 trees a year for their needs – from furniture to doors to firewood to newspapers etc. You need to put these trees back every year and make sure they are native fruit trees. Get your school to ask for a patch of land from the local administration that can be turned into a city forest.
2. Poachers are draining the forests of their animals and birds by illegally capturing them and bringing them for amusement or sale to the city. If you can catch any madaris who have snakes, mongooses, monkeys, langurs in their possession, and hand them over to the police to be jailed, you will have done a great service to India.
3. If you can stop anyone in your school from buying or keeping birds and fish (yes, these are severely endangered as well) that will be good work.
4. Look at all the pet shops in your city. If anyone is selling turtles or any Indian birds, immediately call the police and have the owner arrested.
5. Many birds are severely endangered because they are being used for religious rituals. Owls, bats – these are very important to the survival of India because they eat millions of pests that destroy our food crops. If you know of anyone who sells or buys these, you must immediately have him arrested. If you keep your eyes and ears open you will find people going round the city selling dried owl feet as taveezes. Lizards are roasted over the fire and sold as quack medicine. Pigeons are killed and their blood sold for rubbing on the body. You need to learn about common practices in your city and then stop them.
6. Elephants are severely endangered. The main reason is temples and people who poach elephants and use them for begging. If you find someone on an elephant begging, you should call the police and harass him. If a temple is using an elephant, then tell the priest that you will not go there any more. Make a cause out of it in your school or college.
7. Do not go to any circus that has elephants , hippos , birds or any other animal in them. This sends them the message that if they are to survive it will have to be without animals.
8. Before you do all this, learn the laws of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 so that you can use them for the police. The normal policeman knows nothing of the law. Find out who your local District Forest officer is. Normally he is a good-for-nothing lazy person who will not save any animals. But that is because no one in the city is asking him to. If you start putting pressure on him by repeatedly calling him out for complaints or making him come to your school and give a lecture then he might get better at his job.
I am a student. Is there anything I can do to help our local animal shelter?
All animal shelters in India are run by NGOs and they do not get any money from the government or any companies. In fact, the local administration will make them do all the animal work – pick up the sick and injured, respond to rescue calls, sterilize all the dogs, house all the animals caught from poachers – but will not give them a single thing to help them survive.
These shelters belong to the community so you need to help them survive. They have almost no money – sometimes not even enough to run the ambulance. The staff salaries are going up, so are the medicine bills. Get a list from your local shelter of what they need – from rubber mats, hoses, buckets and taps and lights to bigger things like treatment tables, geysers and autoclaves, paint, bricks, cement, tiles. Find out, in your school, whose parents manufacture or sell these and start collecting them for the shelter. Every single item saves lives.
Run small fundraisers for them like colony raffles or tables at melas and give them whatever you earn.
Make T-shirts with the shelter’s name on it and wear them proudly so that the shelter becomes well known.
On your birthday, instead of a party, pay for one day’s food for all the animals and go and feed them yourself.
Ask your school to organise visits of each class to the shelter. This will sensitise the children and teachers.
Take an animal from the shelter to your home; a puppy, a dog that has been thrown out of his home, a cat, rabbit.
Whichever animal you can give a loving home to. This will free up the space for the shelter to rescue another animal and you will have done a good deed.
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