These Mumbaikars are helping in preserving the ecosystem

Updated: Mar 01, 2019, 10:21 IST | Dalreen Ramos

Ahead of World Wildlife Day, meet four Mumbaikars who are making a difference to preserve our fragile ecosystem

These Mumbaikars are helping in preserving the ecosystem
The mammal poster

While the origin of life on Earth is still being debated upon, some of us still need saving. The rate of extinction of species is estimated to be between 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate. In 2013, the UN General Assembly declared March 3 as World Wildlife Day to spread awareness about conservation, and the theme this year is a shout-out to marine life — Life below water: for people and planet. And while we still have world leaders ignoring climate change, here are four influencers in the city making a difference.

Aesthetic thinking
In the art community, there is awareness about conservation, but not sensitivity; artists are too concerned about aesthetics. All of us are inspired by nature, but how much are we giving back?" Ashvini Menon questions.

Ashvini Menon
Ashvini Menon

The illustrator runs a creative studio that uses art as a medium to channel thought and action, and has also collaborated with the Bombay Natural History Society and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau. Menon says, "Designers are always making products for an audience. I try to merge aesthetics with awareness. Last year my studio created ink illustrations of 57 mammals, and people picked it up just because it looks good! But we plan on making another series."

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Making the right call
When you mention the word "wildlife", the images of big carnivores automatically crop up, leaving smaller animals in the background. And the distinction between a complaint and a distress call is often forgotten.

Pawan Sharma

"A monkey found on a tree of a society near a national park is normal, but a jackal trapped in a well is a distress call. There's also a difference between interference and intervention," explains Pawan Sharma, the founder of RAWW, an NGO that tackles rescue operations for urban wildlife. Sharma is currently seeking R14 lakh to set up a 24x7 wildlife rescue service ambulance. "We as a society have not understood the meaning of conservation. We do whatever is convenient for us. But compassion is the most important factor."

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Not rocket science
Scientific research often seems overwhelming. But Sachin Rane, founder of the Naturalist Foundation, a citizen's group working towards wildlife conservation and research, aims to shatter that notion. He's a commerce graduate with a keen interest in the subject.

A marine survey on the Haji Ali shore
A marine survey on the Haji Ali shore

"We welcome anyone to help out in our ongoing projects that include a study on the ecosystem at Haji Ali and the Juhu Koliwada area.

Cratena sea slug with hydroid corals
Cratena sea slug with hydroid corals

Many college students also join us," he says. Till date, they've found a variety of fauna including porcelain crab, cratena sea slug with hydroid corals, octopus, maroon stone crab and hard corals.

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Saving specimens
A report released last year revealed that India ranked third on the list of countries with the largest number of threatened turtle and tortoise species.

Green sea turtle
Green sea turtle

And after the demise of a hawkbill and a green sea turtle at Mumbai's Taraporewala Aquarium, Dr Santosh Gaikwad, a professor at Mumbai Veterinary College — who may just be the last taxidermist in India — was asked to create the specimens.

Hawksbill sea turtle
Hawksbill sea turtle

"You can't find these in the city anymore. The colour of aquatic animals fades away quickly, so applying a colour tint is very important. You also permanently lose the eyes, so glass eyes have to be inserted," he shares.

Santosh Gaikwad
Santosh Gaikwad

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