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Students, community collect seeds to restore elephant habitats in Assam

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Guwahati, April 26: A leading research-driven biodiversity conservation organisation, Aaranyak (www.aaranyak.org) has collaborated with local schools and community groups to launch a seeds collection drive throughout Udalguri and Baksa districts of Assam as part its larger goal of restoration of degraded elephant habitats in the region.

As part of a such recent initiative to collect seeds of native elephant fodder species in Udalguri and Baksa districts, the NGO engaged 60 students from Rajiv Gandhi Memorial High School, Sapangaon and 50 students from Saint Paul School, Bhairabkunda in Udalguri and community members from Madhupur and Subankhata in Baksa and Kundarbil in Udalguri.

Explaining the spirit of the initiative Aaranyak’s conservation biologist Dr Alolika Sinha said, “Based on field surveys and literature review, we gained insights on elephant fodder plants in the wild. Accordingly, we have been conducting seed collection drives seasonally engaging local communities and students from the villages to raise them in our nursery, and consequently plant the saplings at the habitat revival site in the appropriate season.”

Together the groups collected seeds of native species such as Bel (Aegle marmelos), Odal (Sterculia villosa), Arjun (Terminalia arjuna) and Thekera tenga (Garcinia pedunculata), for raising in Aaranyak’s nursery and eventually planting them at the habitat restoration site in Udalguri district.

Aaranyak, for instance, is actively involved in restoring degraded habitat of elephants in Udalguri district with support from SBI Foundation to reduce conflict between the indigenous communities and threatened Asian elephants.

A guided nature-walk around Rajiv Gandhi Memorial High School and a plantation drive with Saint Paul School students provided students with educational opportunities, fostering a better understanding of the natural environment.

Aaranyak also procured Atlas (Custard Apple) (Annona reticulata) seeds to be raised in another community-managed nursery of Aaranyak at Badlapara in Udalguri.

Aaranyak believes that such initiatives as undertaken on April 22 last facilitate long-term collaboration with schools and communities to conserve biodiversity and empower residents to become stewards of  respective local ecosystems.

This initiative was made possible through the coordination of Aaranyak’s officials Rabiya Daimari, Abhijit Saikia, Mondeep Basumatari, Didom Daimari, Bineswar Daimari, Jiban Chetry, Jaugashar Basumatary, Dibakar Nayak, Bikas Tossa, and Pradip Barman. Community volunteer Binay Kumar Boro also played a key role in the success of the initiative.

The research-driven conservation non-profit has been working with the students and community members to raise awareness about biodiversity conservation by actively contributing to ecosystem restoration.

 

 

 

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