So how do we pictorise wildlife conservation ? Two highly passionate people, cut out from any form of civilization, working their sweat out in dense evergreen forests where it rains throughout the year ?
Okay, but we stumbled upon this cute conservation act of an entire school at Valparai . It all started with a hobby but now it’s more than a mere time pass.
Selva Ganesh, our protagonist is a charming English teacher, like any indian movie we will begin our story with him.
On a trekking to Mulli organised by OSAI Environmental organisation, an NGO from Coimbatore, Selva for the first time sees a green bee eater through a binoculars. It’s love at first sight for him seeing a petite green wonder catching bees and coming back to same spot munching it’s snack, in a good sunlight.Any outdoor person will know, when you get awestruck by something at first, it’s definitely not seemingly to stop. That’s when he sees a Great Indian Hornbill. How could anyone not be flown away by it’s handsome bill, casque or its massive size. So was Selva.
In no time he befriended Book of Indian birds by Salim Ali and as his first salary got credited he invited his 1st binoculars home. His days were fun filled with pre and post school Bird watching sessions. Noting down birds name, getting reference from books, if not, sketching them, so he could identify them correctly later, his days were full of discovery and contemplation but there comes a twist he gets transferred to Valparai Government school.
Detested with new environment and rains throughout the year, it was all gloomy at beginning. But as he started birding again, he discovered birds were different here and most of them weren’t listed on his book. He gets equipped from an avid birder, wildlife biologist and a writer Mr. P. Jeganathan. His birding session becomes serious as he starts spending more time with birds and his mentor.
Subsequently his students got curious on what’s their English teacher doing with a weird instrument looking at trees, skies, backyard and playground ? Few boys started inquiring, only then it stroke him, supposedly birding / bird watching is a hobby for elites, why shouldn’t it be accessible to all students.
His books and binoculars became public usage and started to teach few boys. Few became more and now most of the school is familiar with numerous bird and Kids started birding in their own locality. Every lunch break and intervals meant quite grab of binoculars and books, all set for giggles, fun and birds.
English still being a foreign language in our government schools, but these kids speaking plumages, Cresent, Bills, migratory seasons and, also complex bird names now being easy to pronounce shocked officials & teachers. There are also bittersweet incidents like, once entire school looking up to spot a hawk and assembly came to almost a standstill earning Selva glaring looks from principal. Importantly birding became an aid for hyperactive and naughty kids to channelize their energy and build a rapport with teacher.
As this went on for a while, until it became an aid to conservation. It was a common practice in the area to trap a Bulbul to eat but now it has come down considerably and they even started to report on bird hurts, accidents.
Selva believes conservation’s first step is always getting the local people to be aware of their fauna and flora. He also started taking them for birder’s meet, invited resource person for talks . These interactions became a means for children to know more about outer world, gave them more exposure, confidence and instilled diverse knowledge .
Shouldn’t we all be having Selva as our teacher ??
Why do we still have hope ? Because people like Selva give us inspiration.
Not only charity but conservation also begins at home.