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Clean energy sop for wildlife conservation

Jorhat, Jan. 29: The Arunachal Pradesh forest department has distributed solar equipment to residents in a remote village near the Mehao wildlife sanctuary to win the confidence of the villagers in carrying out conservation programmes.

The forest department along with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has been carrying out the Asiatic black bear rehabilitation project and hoolock gibbon translocation project at the sanctuary in the Lower Dibang valley. In order to facilitate the smooth running of the twin projects, 25 families of Mayodia Model Village were given solar lighting systems, consisting of a solar panel, a chargeable multipurpose battery unit, a table lamp and an emergency light during a recent event.

“Such an initiative will strengthen the relationship between the villagers, the forest department and the NGOs involved in wildlife conservation at the sanctuary,” a forest official said.

Erratic power supply has been a major problem for people residing near the sanctuary and the department hopes the distribution of solar lighting will win the confidence of the villagers and they would help in conservation efforts.

Asha Meme, a beneficiary and a worker at the local Anganwadi centre, said the solar lamps would be a boon for primary school students of the village, who previously did not have a suitable light source to study at night.

Ipra Mekola, member of the Arunachal wildlife advisory board, initiated the confidence-building effort at Mayodia, also known as Tiwari Gaon.

“Such an initiative would definitely encourage the villagers to offer a helping hand in conservation efforts. It would be impossible to carry out conservation without the help of villagers residing near the sanctuary,” Mekola said.

Sunil Kyarong, deputy director and regional head of WTI, said the communities residing near protected areas provided the first layer of protection. “In order to strengthen this defence shield, we need to understand the psychology and needs of the people. The distribution of solar lights will help win their confidence and help immensely in the ongoing bear rehabilitation and hoolock gibbon translocation project at Mehao,” he said.

Obian Jonkey, range officer of the sanctuary, Soumya Dasgupta, assistant manager, WTI, wildlife activists of the region, beneficiaries and other WTI staff attended the distribution and awareness function.

The trust along with the forest department of Arunachal Pradesh has been trying to create awareness on conservation issues among the fringe villagers through confidence building approach for the protection of nature and wildlife.

In a similar event last month, WTI had distributed 50 solar lanterns to the forest staff in Rajaji National Park to facilitate effective anti-poaching operations.