Mumbai students on ‘Journey for Learning’ with Karbi villagers near KNP

Promoting NE biodiversity to benefit villagers

GUWAHATI: It is a multi-pronged strategy to promote community’s traditional eco-cultural practices that augur well for the local biodiversity as well as provide an additional livelihood options for members of the local community.

The initiative is named “Journey for Learning” – travel to enchanting rural Northeast to experience characteristic richness in the biodiversity while staying with the community.

A batch of 29 students from urban Mumbai had time of their life while capitalizing on the opportunity to indulge in fun and frolic with the natural ambience near Kaziranga National Park (KNP) while local Karbi tribe villagers played host to them.

Aaranyak, a leading biodiversity conservation and environmental research organisation of Northeast India, organised its 3rd round of ‘Journey for Learning’ programme for a batch of 29 students of the Department of Environmental Studies, Somaiya Vidyavihar, Mumbai. The programme, which was held during January 2-8, this year in Karbi Hills, Kaziranga National Park, Nameri National Park, Kaliabor, Nagaon and Guwahati, under the guidance of four faculty members.

The programme has been designed to provide hands-on experience for students visiting Northeast India in respect of eco-cultural and biodiversity conservation in the region while staying with the community. Ten households in Chandrasing Rongpi, Hemai Lekthe and Phumen Ingti villages accommodated all the 29 students participating in the programme in homestay mode and the Kindu Langso SHG from the villages provided food to the visiting group. The programme also helped the households in showcasing the rich tradition and culture of Karbi tribe besides getting financial benefits.

It was found through a recent study that these villages located in the vicinity of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kaziranga National Park in Assam, get no benefit from the thriving tourism business in the area.

The programme comprised of learning about different techniques of studying socio-economic and cultural heritage of the villages through village walk, river walk and questionnaire-based surveys. The HoD of the Environmental Studies Department of Somaiya Vidyavihar, Dr. Sugandha Shetye expressed that it was a great experience for the students to explore the region.

The students also cycled to Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park at the Durgapur villages to know about diversity of orchids in Assam and other exhibits there. The students, in small groups also carried out assessment on natural resources, ecological service, socio-economic, traditional knowledge & practices, environmental management practices and the use of non-timber forest produces by the villagers. They learnt about the floodplain ecosystem and its importance. The students were also taken to Nameri National Park and it was a lifetime experience for them when they saw the critically endangered Pygmy Hog at the release center at Potasali.

They visited the community-based Hargila conservation area at Dadara near Guwahati where the group interacted with the Hargila Army, a woman conservation group.

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