Bandipur Yuva Mitra outreach initiative to complete 100th programme soon

5000 students sensitised on issues of conservation

October 08, 2023 06:37 pm | Updated 06:45 pm IST - MYSURU

A session in progress at the Bandipur Yuva Mitra programme at Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

A session in progress at the Bandipur Yuva Mitra programme at Bandipur Tiger Reserve. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The nature education programme for students - Bandipur Yuva Mitra (BYM) - launched by the Bandipur Tiger Reserve – has benefitted more than 5000 students so far and the 100th programme will be held during the coming week.

The objective of the initiative is to sensitise children living in villages on the forest fringes to environmental issues and wildlife conservation as they are the local stakeholders.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar, director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, said that 97 BYM nature camps have been held so far and about 5000 students from government schools have participated in it. The 100th programme of BYM is likely to be held on October 12th, he added.

The BYM envisages turning the students into ‘’friends of forest’’ and thus creating a ‘’social fencing’’ which will come in handy in conservation, said Mr. Ramesh Kumar. The students will also be trained in becoming eco-volunteers and this is bound to help forest and wildlife conservation in the long run, he added.

There are 136 villages surrounding the Bandipur Tiger Reseve within a distance of 1 km radius from the forest foundary and a majority of these villages are in Gundlupet and Chamarajanagar taluks of Chamarajanagar district; and Nanjangud, Sargur, and H.D. Kote taluks of Mysuru district.

The importance of the ‘’social fencing’’ and creation of eco-volunteers stems from the rise in wildlife population coupled with increase in human-animal conflicts. The programme is expected to keep alive the local support for conservation.

The BYM was launched in March this year with the objective of reaching out to underprivileged students to make them the future guardians of the forest. Apart from creating awareness about wildlife, the students are also being apprised of the reasons behind the increase in conflict. Mr. Ramesh Kumar said that apart from school children, students from local colleges will also be part of the outreach programme and it will also give them an opportunity to visit, explore and experience the forest ecosystem.

The first year’s target is to reach out to atleast 10,000 students of which 5000 have already been covered so far while 1000 teachers will also be sensitised on the issue during the year.

The programme is held five days a week and students and their teachers are given a presentation and talk on issues related to conservation besides engaging them in conservation on the issue. This is followed by a safari for which two vehicles have been exclusively reserved for it, said Mr. Ramesh Kumar. A pocket guide booklet is also distributed to students on topics of birds, trees, reptiles and amphibians, mammals and insects

‘’The BYM initiative will also link the school curriculum with the practical field visits through ‘’learning by exploring’’ approach. In the long-term, we envisage that the schools surrounding Bandipur will be ‘’green schools where the seeds of conservation ethos are sown among the younger generation’’, Mr. Ramesh Kumar added.

As an extension of BYM targeted at students, the authorities have also rolled out Raita Mita programme where farmers are taken into confidence, apprised them of the conservation issues, the department’s policy on crop compensation for damages caused by wildlife etc all of which is expected to provide local community support and participation in conservation.

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