Conserving Bhitarkanika Wetland and mitigating human-crocodile conflict with Students’ Stewardship

16 Dec, 2023

Bhitarkanika is a Ramsar wetland on the eastern coast of India. With more than 400 villages in its vicinity, the wetland supports countless livelihoods, and the mangroves protect the area from devastating cyclones and tidal surges. As inhabitants and dependents of the wetlands, local communities often have an overlapping presence with the resident saltwater crocodiles which can lead to situations of conflict resulting in injuries and fatalities to cattle and humans. As part of the ongoing efforts to enhance awareness in the region and reduce such conflicts, the IKI-BMUV supported Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection project, recently organised a series of awareness workshops under the ambit of the ‘Save the Wetlands’ campaign of the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Aimed at school students and teachers, the awareness series was organised for 15 schools of Kendrapara district in collaboration with Mangrove Forest Division, Rajnagar (Odisha) and Action for Protection of Wild Animals (APOWA), a local NGO.

Starting with an orientation workshop for selected teachers in the district to assess the perception and awareness of the wetland values and concerns, the workshop series for the 15 schools was designed to address priority concerns and give opportunity to the students to learn and enquire about wetland values, safety precautions around the mangroves and the crocodile habitats and their role in conservation of Bhitarkanika. The campaign reached out to more than 800 students and teachers. The workshops included film screenings, roleplays and interaction with forest staff, village administrators and experts. The students were also engaged in group discussions on their vision and recommendations for the wetland’s conservation and crocodile conflict mitigation. With the aim of empowering the future of the community to take up conservation stewardship, the campaign series concluded with field visit to the mangroves of Bhitarkanika.

The vision of the campaign is now being taken forward by the students and teachers themselves through different ways like roleplays for younger students, art competitions presenting wildlife mitigation solutions at student science congress and more.

Snaps from Bhitarkanika Awareness Series © APOWA


About the project

The Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection project aims to strengthen the institutional framework and capacities for an ecosystem-based integrated management of wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites) in India. Four Ramsar sites have been selected as pilot sites under the project: Pong Dam and Renuka Lake in Himachal Pradesh, Bhitarkanika Mangroves in Odisha, and the Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. The project is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in close cooperation with the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA). This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. Read More

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