Each year Nepal dedicates the first week of its own new year (between the second and third week of April) to wildlife and nature. Keeping with this, ‘Wildlife Week’ celebrations took center-stage throughout the country this past week under the theme ‘Wildlife Conservation for Prosperity’.
At the Central Zoo in Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, the special week comes across as all the more significant – especially given that it is the country’s one-and-only well-established zoo, and with it, the onus it continues to have on conservation education and youth response.
During its week-long celebrations this year, four events stood out as distinct highlights. Starting with the Orphan Children Programme on April 15, fifty children from the Nepal Children’s Organization (Balmandir), Naxal were invited to a talk event organized especially for them, accompanied by a zoo guided tour thereafter. Making for the children’s first-ever zoo visit, their sense of natural high, especially during their interactions with the animals was remarkable.
Following this, a training on Solid Waste Management was organized for thirty more Friends of Zoo (FOZ) members on April 16 wherein special sessions were facilitated by Mr. Rajaram Karmacharya of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Mr. Tulsiram Sitaula of NEPCEMAC (a prominent waste management company). These sessions were particularly successful in drawing students’ interest and insight about waste management techniques in-use by the Kathmandu Municipality and at Central Zoo. Already successfully implementing its plastic ban initiative, as well as campaigning for similar measures across FOZ schools, the Central Zoo uses segregation waste bins in its premises and has adopted pile composting of organic waste collected from wild animals.
On April 18, an inter-school wildlife photography competition was organized for FOZ members from seven schools wherein thirty impassioned students were tasked with shooting and showcasing pictures. Although the winning prizes were only kept for the top five contenders, the competiton's judges and visitors were taken to impression by the level of quality displayed at the exhibition. The final event at the zoo culminated with a Climate Change Awareness Programme conducted by Mr. Rajan Poudal and Mr. Santosh Sherchan, both Conservation Officers of NTNC. Orienting young school students about the basic premise of climate change, attention about its growing severity was made through sharing the case of a particular village impacted by climate change in the trans-Himalayan district of Mustang.
Wildlife Week was conceptualized with the overall goal of raising awareness and renewed commitment for wildlife through critical action. In this youths have a decisive role to play. Through the activities undertaken this year we expect that NTNC-Central Zoo will continue to contribute in more meaningful and lasting ways for children to connect and respond to nature. By already connecting over a million urban youths and visitors every year, the Central Zoo has a special place for continuing to make a difference and a cause for environment and wildlife.