Banyapran Sathi launched to support wildlife conservation
Kolkata: In a unique bid to garner public support for wildlife conservation, the state Forest department has launched Banyapran Sathi project that offers wildlife enthusiasts to venture into the core areas of the forests, especially in North Bengal and the Sunderbans and have a real-life experience on how to deal with the animals.
The initiative was kicked off in North Bengal on Sunday in which 13 persons will be allowed to spend nights in as many as six core areas in the forests of Jaldapara and Gorumara and Buxa in North Bengal.
"They will stay along with the forest guards in camps and will have their own experience on how the latter keeps a guard in the forest. They have been provided a day-long training on how they would behave if they come close to an elephant or a leopard or a deer during their adventure," state Forest minister Binay Krishna Barman said.
The team is accompanied by two of our officials who are experts in handling wild animals.
The programme was announced some months back at the website of the Forest department and till date the department has received as many as 128 applications on the basis of which 47 people have already been selected. They will be taken in small groups of 10-15 in six earmarked core areas of North Bengal forest and the same number of such areas in the Sunderbans — the home for Royal Bengal Tigers.
"Wildlife conservation cannot be done in isolation. We need to involve nature enthusiasts to understand nature, protect and conserve and create awareness. They will share their experiences in public domain through writings and posts and people will have an idea on the importance of wildlife conservation," Barman added.
The programme is open only to residents of Bengal over the age of 18 and they will have to bear the expenses for participation. Selected candidates will have to pay a fee of Rs 15,000 for two years and undergo orientation training and medical examination.
The next itinenary will be on December 4 in which enthusiasts will venture into the Sunderbans on a four or five day trip. "As many as nine people have already paid for the trip including two women and we are hopeful that there will be two or three more," a senior official of the Forest department said.
Participants in this unique adventure will not be allowed to carry video cameras. However, mobile cameras will be allowed.
A Forest department official said it is hard work and one has to adapt to extreme and unpredictable weather, live with bare necessities, get used to rationed meals at stipulated times along with other challenges.