Schoolkids get reassurance, message on saving wildlife

Schoolkids get reassurance, message on saving wildlife

With schools in Bengaluru’s eastern outskirts fearing for the safety of students following the sighting of leopards in Whitefield, forest officials in the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) on Thursday started awareness programmes in educational institutions.

The aim is to educate people that there is no need to panic, Sunil Panwar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, BNP, told Deccan Herald. “Schools are declaring holiday, citing precautionary measure. It sends out a message of fear to the people. We will first carry out the programme in schools. As we get audience, we will gradually move to apartments and commercial complexes,” he said.

On the first day, forest officials approached two government schools and spoke to children about wildlife conservation, its importance, characteristics of leopards and why forests are important. “We explained to children that leopards are not attacking people, that they are just being seen and will go away,” Panwar said. Nonprofit A Rocha India is assisting the department.

Avinash Krishnan, Research Officer, A Rocha India, said the objective of the awareness campaign was to empower people living close to forests. “On Day One, we approached two government schools in Bannerghatta area since others are conducting exams. We explained simple things to the children and the school management. For example, if they see a leopard, they should keep the area clean, not pile up garbage and keep stray dogs away, stay indoors in the evening and inform forest officials if they sight any wild animal or get its signs.”

The BNP and A Rocha have created a database of 22 schools in Bannerghatta area and are gathering more data on Anekal, Hosur Road and Electronics City to conduct awareness campaigns.
A similar campaign is being carried out in schools and residential and commercial areas, especially in and around Whitefield where speculation is rife about sightings of the leopard, said Dipika Bajpai, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru Urban. The department is finalising the places to cover and the NGOs to be involved.

“The process of holding awareness campaigns will start in mid-February. We are also searching for software professionals, local residents and like-minded individuals who are willing to volunteer in educating the public,” Bajpai said. “This is the only way forward for co-existence and eliminating fear.”

The forest department has issued a list of dos and don’ts in the wake of a leopard straying into Vibgyor High school, the subsequent sightings of the wild cat around Whitefield in eastern Bengaluru and rumours of presence of more leopards.

   Immediately inform forest and police officials.
   Give a safe passage to the animal so that it finds its way back from where it came.
  Schools should ensure they have grills fixed in bathroom windows and have ventilators. No door should be left open. All unused classrooms should be shut from outside.
    People should stay indoors and move in groups. As it grows dark, the leopard will find its way back into the forest, harming none.
   Bursting crackers, throwing stones, shooting and
flashing camera will disorient the animal, leading it to stray into nearby villages.
The department said it was equipped with necessary rescue paraphernalia to deal with any eventuality. Queries and complaints can be sent to or posted on the Twitter handle @dcfbangalore.

Officials to contact
For Kengeri, Uttarahalali, Thurahalli, Nice Road, Roerich Estate, Thattaguppe, BM Kaval, Dodderi and Tavarekere, contact Range Forest Officer (RFO) Devaraj (95351838178) or Deputy Range Forest Officer (DRFO) Kenegri, K N Rajappa (9448234928).

For BTM Layout, Whitefield, Kadugodi, Indiranagar, Electronics City, KR Puram, Koramanagala, Varthur and Marathahalli, contact RFO Veeranna (9980199868).

For Malleswaram, Yelahanka, Hesaraghatta, Kakolu, Soladevanahalli, Madanayakanahalli, Nelamanagala, Kadabagere, Nice Road, Magadi Road, Srigandhakaval, Rajankuntem Mylappanahalli and Mavallipura, contact RFO V Ganesh (9448682121) and DRFO Chidananda (9844061028).

For Electronics City, Bommasanadra, Hebbagodi, Attibele, Sarjapur, Jigani, Bidarakadahalli and Indlavadi, contact RFO Arun C R (9480260249), DRFO Jayaramaiah (9902068578) and Balakrishna DRFO (9902881158).

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