Ho. Chi. Boralingaiah, Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University, Hampi, said the lack of concern among the public about forests had resulted in the decline of forest cover.

Speaking after inaugurating the 59th wildlife week at Daroji Karadi Dhama in Hospet taluk, Mr. Boralingaiah said forest cover, which was around 37 per cent when the country attained independence, had come down to 12 per cent. “The decline in forest cover is man-made. He is responsible for the denudation of forest, which has posed a severe threat to flora and fauna,” he said.

Santosh Martin, honorary district wildlife warden, expressed concern that several rare species of flora and fauna, including the Great Indian Bustard and vultures were on the verge of extinction.

C.P. Prakash, Assistant Conservator of Forests, and Pompaiah Swamy, wildlife photographer, also spoke. Anant Rao, principal of the Government High School in Kamalapur, administered an oath to the students present to protect the environment.

S.S. Jalihal, Assistant Conservator of Forest (Karadi Dhama) explained the importance of wildlife week and the activities to be undertaken during the week to create awareness about environment protection.

Later, essay and quiz competitions were held for students, followed by a performance by Shankar Naidu, mimicry and stage artiste. Wildlife activist Venugopal gave a talk about snakes.