WWF gallery opens for visitors; mugs, bags among items for sale

It was a garage, a crammed one at that. But, it was decided to put the space next to the State office of the World Wide Fund for Nature — India (WWF) at Moolavilakom here to proper use in 2007. A permanent nature gallery that would exhibit and sell items was set up. This project lived a short life of three months because of a Central policy imposing restrictions on charitable trusts such as WWF-India from earning profit through exhibitions

Six years on, the modest stock of the centre is being opened for visitors again. While the Central rule still does apply, the national office in New Delhi granted permission to the Kerala office – the only State office that hosts a gallery.

Panda, the star

Since they have only a limited assortment of goods on display, no ceremonial launch was held last week when the shutters opened again. One wall of the former car shed now supports a shelf of WWF publications including ‘Marine Turtles along the Indian Coast’, ‘For a Living Ganga’, ‘Handbook on Entrepreneurship – How to start eco-friendly small-scale business’, to name a few. These detailed and well-illustrated volumes are reference books.

Desk and wall calendars featuring stunning wildlife and natural landscape photography, diaries and notebooks made of eco-friendly material emblazoned with the poster-boy of WWF, the Giant Panda, are among the exhibits of the gallery. Lamp shades, coffee mugs, pen-stands made of bamboo and jute have also been displayed. Among the more unusual items that WWF showcases are corporate neck ties – a range of them marked by tiny pandas, elephants and other symbols of nature.

Jute and cloth bags are for sale along with tougher backpacks and sleeping bags for the serious trekker. There are lapel pins shaped like birds. Sixteen Indian birds have been featured on bright enamel brooches. The Scarlet Minivet, Green Bee Eater, Pheasant Tailed Jacana and Fire-Tailed Sunbird are stand-outs among this collection of WWF accessories.

To diversify collection, the State office of WWF may also tie up with NGOs in Kerala that manufactures eco-friendly items. State Director Renjan Mathew Varghese said a Thrissur-based group, Prerana Handicrafts, which promotes self-employment skills; another NGO sourcing bamboo products made by tribal communities in Wayanad; and Zero Waste Centre here at Kovalam had been short-listed to liaise with.