Diu: In a change from earlier years, the Wildlife Trust of India’s campaign to protect the whale shark became the focus of the day marking the liberation of this tiny coastal enclave in western India from 500 years of Portuguese rule. Diu became a part of India on December 19, 1961.
Vhali, the whale shark, which was adopted as the city mascot by the Diu Municipal Council in 2004, at the behest of WTI, became a part of the two-day “Diu Liberation Day Celebration 2006” held on December 19 and 20.
On 20 December, more than 1500 students along with their teachers came together to support the whale shark awareness rally from schools across Diu. The rally was flagged off by Narulla N Jiwani, President of the Diu Municipal Council from the Diu fort and was led by the NCC band.
School children wearing sun visors waved whale shark flags, as people streamed out into the streets to witness the rally. There was a feeling of pride in the air and a sense of ownership among the people. A 45 feet long inflatable whale shark was displayed at the Diu Jetty in the middle of the town. Panels with information on the species were also displayed.
“The inflatable drew instant attention from the crowds. The photographs of the whale shark adoption at Diu bought instant memories and sense of ownership among the people” Dhiresh Joshi, Campaign Manager-WTI, said.
The two day celebration was inaugurated by Mr. Vikas Anand, Collector of Diu at the sport complex with a stunning performance of Rhythmic Gymnastics by students of Bal Bhavan Board, Diu. Along with the participating school children, Mr.S.S Khanpal (Deputy Conservator of Forest), Mr.B.B Vaishaya (Deputy Collector), Mr.R.M Bamania (Mamlatadar), Mr. Jethwa (District Education officer) and Mr.Laxmanbhai Solanki (President, Fisherman Association) also attended the rally. The event was marked with cultural activities, entertaining competitions, games and photo exhibition of the whale shark.
“It is a good achievement that Diu administration for the first time took up the message of whale shark conservation as a theme of the celebration”, Mr.Sukhar Anjane, Superintendent of the fisheries department said.
WTI in partnership with the TATA Chemicals Limited had started the Whale Shark Awareness Campaign to sensitise the fishing community as well as the people of Gujarat and Diu regarding the status of the world’s largest fish and its conservation.
Pix Credit: Divyesh Baria/ WTI