CWRC, Kaziranga, February 21, 2015: In an effort to sensitise journalists about the conservation efforts of IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), an interactive session was organised on February 21. Media persons from the area surrounding Kaziranga National Park participated in the interactive session on the ‘Role of Media in Wildlife Conservation in Assam’ organised by CWRC with support from Assam Forest Department.
Fourteen media representatives from four media associations — Kaziranga Regional Journalists Association, Bokakhat Press Club, Bokakhat Sub-Division Journalist Association and Electronic Media Journalist Association,Bokakhat — along with few senior journalists took part in the interactive session.
Dr. Bhaskar Choudhury, Regional Head & Head Vet, IFAW-WTI, lead the CWRC team which was represented by Dr. Panjit Basumatary, Subhamoy Bhattacharjee and Anjan Sangma. Bhabananda Kalita, senior journalist from Bokakhat Press Club, gave opening remarks on his association with CWRC since its inception and shared his experiences of working with the centre. Dr. Panjit Basumatary, senior veterinarian, CWRC, briefed the media about the facility and spoke about the hurdles that create unnecessary crisis during rescue of wild animals.
Swapan Nath, Working President of Kaziranga Regional Journalists Association, said that the media is a mediator between public and NGOs and the latter should take media into confidence for conservation efforts too.
The august house felt that there is a need for IFAW-WTI wildlife crime prevention training for the journalists as Kaziranga has been marred by incidents of poaching, especially rhinos, for the last few decades. Moreover, the journalists also asked for pre-flood awareness training by IFAW-WTI so that they could be a part of saving the wildlife during such crisis situations. Some suggested that a media visit to the IFAW-WTI’s Greater Manas Conservation Project (GMCP) should be organised for their understanding of the large scale conservation work in this landscape. The CWRC team felt that such media visits to different project sites can be useful for showcasing IFAW-WTI’s work in Assam and the Northeast.
Dr. Bhaskar Choudhury, Regional Head, IFAW-WTI, Assam, thanked the media persons for their valuable suggestions and encouraged them to share their views on conservation initiatives in Assam. Urging the media to write positive stories about the struggle and passion of field forest staff he said, “A negative media story on the Forest Department that is not only exaggerated but repeated has a very detrimental impact on the moral of the field staff and their family members. We are planning to hold an awareness programme in Kaziranga for the media which will help them understand the conservation issues better, as good and positive stories of conservation should also find equal space and dimension in the media.”
The Assamese version of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, written by eminent former senior forest officer and teacher BN Talukdar of Assam Forest Department, was presented to the media for a better understanding of the wildlife law and enforcement in Assam.
At the end of the discussion, the CWRC team agreed that advanced level training on ‘Role of Media’ during a rescue should be given to journalists which could include technical aspects of rescue. Also, a short training on important and relevant sections of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and Assam Forest Protection Act, 1993, should be imparted to media persons. It was also agreed that a select panel of media personnel should be taken to Manas rehabilitation areas for orientation and an interaction with media houses from BTC and Western Assam around Manas should be organised.