The Department of Forest and Wildife in Kerala has issued ‘green passports’ to 40 school-aged eco-warriors from schools that lie in and on the outskirts of the state’s Periyar tiger reserve.
The program is designed to support and promote an interest in wildlife conservation and recognises these students’ efforts to protect wildlife as members of various local nature and environment clubs. Programs such as these highlight the need to educate the next generation about environmental concerns in an engaging way.
Passport holders will be given in depth insight into the biodiversity of the state’s national parks, being guided by foresters and rangers each step of the way. A wildlife warden from each park will stamp their passport once they have completed each round, giving them tangible positive reinforcement to learn about protecting the flora and fauna native to the state.
The students will have a lot of ground to cover—Kerala’s forest cover sits at about 29 percent. With climate change posing a serious threat to the environment and already upsetting the ecological balance, it is vital to instigate programs that activate the local community and teach people from a broad cross-section about our societal responsibilities when it comes to wildlife conservation.
The passport pages are illustrated with an image of a tiger as a constant reminder of this species' threat of extinction. The Department has future plans to issue more passports and involve more local students in the program.
Author: Anna Rees/ RESET editorial