October brings Animal Action Week for Indian kids

New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Schoolchildren from India and 14 other countries will take part in the world’s largest animal-focused educational event next month that aims to sensitise young minds about wildlife conservation.

The Animal Action Week Oct 1-7 will see participation from about 150 schools in Delhi and 1,300 schools from other parts of the country. Similar events will be on in other countries simultaneously.

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Activities will include a painting competition, group discussions and the screening of a wildlife film in the respective schools.

The competition is open for children of Classes 5-9 and the three winners will be awarded with citations, trophies and cash prizes at the prestigious Venu Menon National Animal Award Function held annually in February.

The best painting from the competition would be selected for making a ‘New Year 2008’ greeting card, which will be sent to different conservation organisations to spread the message.

The event was first organised 15 years ago by conservation organization International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which gradually spread to 15 countries including India. About two million children from across the globe participate in the event.

In India, it is being organised for the fifth consecutive year jointly by IFAW and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). IFAW and WTI had formed a partnership in 2000 to take up various conservation projects in the country.

A new theme is introduced every year. This year it is “Rescue Emergency Relief for Animals”, while last year’s theme was “Making Waves for Seals”. The two winners from last year’s event were from Delhi schools.

“Activity packets, comprising a film CD and information on what other children from across the globe are learning about emergency relief, have been sent to the participating schools across the country. Schools from all the metros are also participating in this year’s event,” Aniruddha Mookerjee, chief operating officer of WTI, told IANS.

Children will be made aware of wildlife emergency situations in the country. They will be sensitised about wild animals that get displaced, abandoned or orphaned in natural calamities and the role people can play in helping these animals.

Alert citizens can also check poaching incidents by informing the officials concerned of any such activity that comes to their notice.

“We are trying to involve young people in the campaign since they will play an important role in the future. They will learn to be compassionate towards animals and their welfare issues, which will help them become responsible citizens,” Mookerjee said.

IFAW and WTI had set up the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) in Kaziranga in 2000 with support from the forest department for rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals.

About 200 animals that are rescued annually from different parts of the region are rehabilitated at the centre, which are then released back to the wild.