Friday, March 12, 2021

My City My Responsibility - Revenge of the Bisons!!!

Dear All, 

Poster of the event

At the Bistro

On 6th of March, after almost a year we could undertake our #ChallengingThanos monthly activity where we relax in a Cafe or a restaurant and share knowledge over a trending issue in the city. The whole idea is to engage more and more people and connect them to the existential crisis of our times - Climate Change - over a cup of coffee. 

This time we tried a new approach, our innovator Dr Priyadarshini Karve came up with this idea. We thought of having the event in a blended format, where we are online as well as available in a face-to-face (offline) mode in a cafe. Our neighborhood place Zillionth Bistro (ZB), which is committed to sustainability,  happens to be the right venue for such kind of  events. We thought of taking up a topic that has hit everyone in the city and is afresh in the minds of the people, Saili Jahagirdar owner of ZB suggested to talk with Nikhil Dandekar a city based wildlife expert. This was prompted by how we recently witnessed the dreadful death of an Indian Gaur on the streets of Kothrud. We thought as responsible citizens we should know how to react to such situations where we face a wild animal right in the city and Nikhil Dandekar was keen to throw some light over this situation.

Online meet over Google Meet

Our event went quite well, there were some technical glitches, but we will fix those before the next event. Overall it was a great show both online as well as offline. Here are some of the key take away's that Nikhil shared with us. Do follow these guidelines in case you encounter any wild animal on our streets.

  • Try and stay indoors or remain calm wherever you are.  
  • Avoid sharing information or any kind of forward on social media that will create unnecessary excitement or scare among the masses. 
  • Need not pass on any expert comments over how the rescuers are handling the situation or how people should act or react. 
  • Avoid clicking selfies or getting overwhelmed by seeing the animal, we need to understand that the animal is already stressed since its in an unfamiliar territory. 
  • Need to show some empathy so that the animal can easily pass the area to a another safer zone. Not interfering helps much more than any kind interference in such cases.  
  • Inform the concerned authorities/local NGOs or officials if you are aware or else remain calm. 
  • In Pune, reach out to RESQ Trust - For injured or trapped animal Rescues (pets, snakes, birds or any other animal) contact number: 098909 99111 OR 
  • Vanabhavan Office of Deputy Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Pune contact number: +91 20 2566 0370.  In case you want to inform Gaur or leopard type emergency in the city. 
Face-to-face session

Further discussions revealed that there is NO platform or website which consists of case studies or information about such city based human wildlife encounters. There's a need to map areas that are likely to have wild animals like leopards or snakes etc. in and around the city. So that such areas can be avoided by general public or can have sign boards that will make people aware about the steps that need to be taken while passing through such areas. However its also in a way risky to have information on wildlife in open domain because that will expose this information to poachers and wildlife traders. So need to be cautious while putting up this information. 
The least we can do is to have a basic awareness or trainings on such wildlife encounters. There is a lot of scope for wildlife enthusiasts/experts to work in urban areas for creating such awareness among general public with more and more wildlife coming in the cities now. There are a lot of linkages between biodiversity (wildlife) and climate change, however we couldn't really talk about these due to lack of time but yes the changing climate is in a way threatening the wildlife around us and we need to take a stance for them.  

In my opinion, this is the NEW norm in the city where seeing wildlife will be common. Let's understand that they are NOT coming for us or want to HARM us but, these encounters should remind us that we have been encroaching their lands for long now!!! And therefore we must adjust and learn to live with them side by side, giving them space and respect that they deserve!  

Pournima Agarkar.

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Check out the video of upcycling focused cafe Zillionth Bistro owned by Saili Jahagirdar.