The project tableau showcased at the Independence Day celebrations held at Sutraprada on August 15
Gir Somnath District, Gujarat, August 18, 2017: As part of the celebrations to mark India’s 71st Independence Day on August 15, the Gir Somnath District Administration organised an event at Sutrapada, a prominent fishing village on the Gujarat coast. Over 2000 individuals, including members of various government departments, schoolchildren, and individuals from the local fishing communities of the district participated in the event. Shri Jashabhai Bhanabhai Barad, the Hon’ble Minister of State for Water Supply, Government of Gujarat, was the Chief Guest and performed the ceremonial flag-hoisting.
Some 20 tableaus representing the activities of various government departments, including Health and Sanitation, Women’s Empowerment, Fisheries, Police etc were showcased as part of the programme. The Gir Somnath Forest Division’s tableau featured the Whale Shark Conservation Project, which is run by Wildlife Trust of India and the Gujarat Forest Department with support from Tata Chemicals Ltd. While the presence of all the fishing community heads underscored the pride that these communities take in the conservation of ‘vhali’, the beloved whale shark, the real showstopper was the demonstration of a whale shark rescue performed by community youth known as ‘Friends of the Whale Shark’.
Created with WTI’s support and the collaborative efforts of key stakeholders involved with the project, the tableau was declared the runner-up in the showcase event. “It is a matter of pride for the Gir Somnath Forest Division that the Whale Shark Conservation Project be showcased through a tableau during the 71st Independence Day celebrations”, said Mr KA Gandhi, the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Gir Somnath Forest Division. “I would like to thank WTI for their technical support in the tableau’s creation.”
Members of the Gir Somnath Forest Division, WTI project team and Friends of the Whale Shark receiving the runners-up trophy and certification
The internationally acclaimed Whale Shark Conservation Project, the most successful conservation action project undertaken by Wildlife Trust of India, has managed through a variety of community interactions to transform fishermen in the state of Gujarat, who once slaughtered whale sharks by the thousands, into proud protectors of the fish. Nearly 700 whale sharks have been voluntarily released by fishermen between 2004 and June 2017 as a direct result of the project’s activities.