Mangrove-awareness event in Palk Bay, India

Dr.Vedharajan Balaji, CEC member and Director of OMCAR Foundation, organized a mangrove exhibition in  a southeast coastal village for 250 students.

Children attend a mangrove biodiversity awareness event at a remote coastal village school in Palk Bay, India.

In 2011, a team from the OMCAR Foundation conducted coastal biodiversity awareness events reaching 1500 youths from various schools, colleges and universities. As a follow up, we expect to reach 2000 additional youths before March 2013. The events highlight the link between the economy, fisheries and mangroves of our local coastal area. While faciliators explain the issues, young people explore them through a series of displays using microscopes, live specimens and seedlings.

In one microscope, we display mangrove breathing roots and its cross section. The second microscope displayed the salt secreting glands of mangrove leaves, which helped the students understand how mangroves tolerate extreme salinity. The other microscopes displayed planktons collected from local mangrove waters. 

Another display featured live specimens of Scylla serrata (mangrove mud crab). This crab species is caught everyday from our mangroves and exported to other countries. The students saw the crabs and understood the economic value of the mangroves explained by our team.

In addition, three displays showcased different species of nursery-raised mangrove seedlings. We explained how to produce mangrove seedlings in nurserys, and how it is important to restore the degraded mangroves of Palk Bay.

At the end of this event display, the students learned about a variety of molluscan shells collected from the local shore. The students enjoyed seeing and touching the shells, and they were curious to know why each shell has its unique shape, size and colour.

Several flex banners were displayed in the event hall, featuring posters about mangroves, salt marshes, associated spiders, birds and mammals of Palk Bay.

At its heart, the school students learned and enjoyed this practical mangrove awareness event, in which they particularly understood about how the mangroves play key role in food chain. One of the students expressed his new-found understanding: “Oh! So we are all standing at the end of this food chain that starts from mangroves to planktons to fishes and finally to us,” he said.

This programme is conducted in a coastal village school, so the students will be the key players of local mangrove conservation. The students will convey the conservation message of this event to their father and mother who are daily venturing into sea and local mangrove habitat for fishing respectively. 

This event has its long term positive impact that will align with IUCN’s international activities and UN millennium goal number seven B. This event is of interest to CEC members and IUCN because it comes under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity Aichi Target 1. This programme is funded by Light House Foundation, Germany.

For more information, contact Dr.Vedharajan Balaji, Director of OMCAR Foundation

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