'Ammu' Mum on the Great Indian Hornbill
By Archana Ravi | Published: 17th January 2015 06:00 AM |
One would expect numerous awareness campaigns surrounding the conservation of the Great Indian Hornbill, now that it enjoys the unique status of being the mascot of the 35th National Games. However, the National Games Organising Committee (NGOC) has not organised an awareness campaign on the endangered species over the last two years.
In these two years, ‘Ammu, the Great Indian Hornbill’ has been touring hundreds of schools and reaching out to lakhs of people. But the message ‘Ammu’ has been spreading through the skit Kalikkunna Kuttikalkkayi Kathirikkunnu Bharatham is the importance of sports among school students. Recently, the skit had added a cameo - ‘Minnu’, the mascot of State Energy Management Centre, who advocates energy conservation.
However, the importance of ‘the Great Indian Hornbill’ and its endangered status, the reason why it was chosen as the mascot, is not mentioned anywhere in the script.
The NGOC had formed ‘Green Protocol Committee’ to ensure that the Games is eco-friendly. But the Great Indian Hornbill has never surfaced as a topic of discussion in any of its meetings.
B S Corrie, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force), who is the co-chairman of the sub-committee said: “The sub-committee has been focussing on waste management. There will be provisions to discourage the use of plastic bottles and encourage recycling. Waste generation will be kept to a minimum.’’
He added that the sub-committee can ensure that information on the ‘Great Indian Hornbill’ is disseminated at the venues of the Games. The mascot was declared way before any of the committees were formed. In fact, the ‘Green Protocol Committee’ was formed only in the month of August.
For four months the committee members had not met, according to S Faizi, who resigned from the committee the other day, reportedly unhappy with its functioning. Faizi, a member of the expert committee of United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, says that though the mandate of the sub-committee was the formulation and implementation of the green strategy of the games, its opinion was not sought while setting aside budget for the environmental activities.
Ideally, such a body should have been consulted during the construction of the stadiums, which are going to have environmental impact, he says. Unfortunately the sub-committee was formed only recently, he says.
The good news is that the number of the Great Indian Hornbill has increased in number from more than a 100 to more than 200 in the Vazhachal area over the last ten years. However this has little to do with Ammu.
The increase is the result of the silent and sustained work of the tribal community and the Forest Department in the area, with the technical support of an NGO called Western Ghats Hornbill Foundation.