Port Blair, Oct. 8: Along with the rest of the country, the 64th Wildlife Week was befittingly celebrated in the A&N Islands too, by the Department of Environment and Forests, A&N Administration, from Oct 2 to 8, 2018, which culminated with a valedictory function held in the auditorium of Tagore Govt. College of Education, Middle Point here this evening. The Lt. Governor, A&N Islands, Admiral DK Joshi, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, NM, VSM (Retd.) was the chief guest on the occasion. The Member of Parliament, A&N Islands, Mr. Bishnu Pada Ray was the guest of honour. The PCCF-cum-Principal Secretary (Env. & Forests), Mr. Tarun Coomar, PCCF (Wildlife) cum-Chief Wild Life Warden, Mr. DM Shukla, DGP, A&N Islands, Mr. Dependra Pathak, senior officers of the Administration, students besides general public were also present on the occasion.
Addressing the gathering, the Lt. Governor lauded the Department of Environment & Forests for organizing a series of programmes involving various sections of the society, especially students, during the Wildlife Week Celebration in the Islands. The Lt. Governor remarked that ‘Wildlife week’ celebration was started in the country with the vision of saving the animals by taking some critical steps, and the celebration is aimed at sensitizing citizens about the importance of wildlife, its protection and preservation. “Though the population of terrestrial mammals in A&N Islands is not very big, the varied marine life, in the form of corals, other marine creatures, marine national parks, varieties of flora and fauna, endemic to the A&N Islands, compensate for it all”, the Lt. Governor said. The Narcondum Hornbill birds, which were on the verge of extinction, have now increased in good numbers; besides there are other unique wildlife found in these Islands like the Megapode bird with its amazing and interesting habitat, crab eating macaque found in the Nicobar, which also is unique in its own way, said the Lt Governor, urging one and all to protect the wildlife of the Isles.
He further stated that the A&N Islands comprises of 600 plus Islets, of which 32 are permanently inhabited and the remaining, are uninhabited. Such uninhabited Islands pose a great challenge in terms of protection of wildlife. Besides the agencies involved in the protection of the wildlife of these Islands such as the Department of Environment & Forests, Police and Coast Guard, the support of the citizens are equally important in this regard, he added. The poachers are a great threat to our wildlife, as they are on several other important dimensions of the Islands, the Lt. Governor said, calling upon the citizens to inform the authorities, if they sense any threat to our Islands and its wildlife.
In his address, the Member of Parliament highlighted about the unique species of A&N Islands such as Megapode bird, Crab eating Macaque, sea cow, besides various other endemic species of flora and fauna. He also mentioned that the Islands offer a huge scope of holistic tourism development in the form of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, besides the scope of night safari. He remarked that students who have flair for nature study and wildlife genetics can be taken to such places so that they can be encouraged to involve themselves in the protection and preservation of the wildlife. He also lauded the Department of Environment & Forests for organizing various awareness programmes for the public and students.
Speaking on the occasion, the PCCF-cum-Principal Secretary (Env. & Forests), Mr. Tarun Coomar congratulated the Lt. Governor for having successfully completed one year tenure in the Islands. He further said, the A&N Islands has about 86.93 forest cover, 95 wildlife sanctuaries, 6 national parks, 1 biosphere reserve and exhibit a great degree of endemism. The Islands also houses about 3000 varieties of flora and 9000 fauna, 43 rare endangered plants and 30 rare animals besides endemic birds. He said, the Forest Department is taking every step to conserve the rich biodiversity of A&N Islands by creating awareness and advocacy on protection of wildlife and endemic species. He also informed about the new initiative of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change- ‘Green Talk- Initiative on Green Good Deeds’.
The pamphlets titled ‘Green Talk-Initiative on Green Good Deeds’, brought out by the Department of Environment & Forests, A&N Islands was released by the dignitaries. They also felicitated the winners of various competitions organized as part of the 64th Wildlife week celebration in the Islands besides budding artistes from JNRM, participant photographers and artists from A&N Islands for their contributions in the form of painting and photographs on wildlife. Private organizations such as MAK Logistics, TSG, Andaman Connection, ANTBOA and Agency House were also felicitated for their active support and participation during the Wildlife Week Celebration.
A documentary on various activities carried out by the Department of Environment and Forests in association with other stakeholders was also screened.
Earlier, welcoming the gathering, the PCCF (Wildlife) Mr. DM Shukla enumerated the series of activities organized by the Forest Department during the weeklong celebration, where citizens were sensitized about the importance of wildlife and its protection and preservation. He said, the Islands are blessed with tropical rainforest, which also exhibits a wide range of endemism and the Forest Department is giving due protection to such endemic flora and fauna of these Islands. The programme culminated with the vote of thanks proposed by DCF (Wildlife), Mr. P Naveen Kumar.