ITANAGAR ( By Maksam Tayeng ) – In a moment of great pride to the people of Arunachal Pradesh, the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mama Natung led India’s success story of Airgun Surrender Abhiyan received international honour at the UNESCO’s International Conference on Biosphere Reserves held at Sabah, Malaysia today on 13th November, 2023.
On behalf of the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Damodhar A.T., the Director, Dehang-Debang Biosphere Reserve of Arunachal Pradesh received the honour from the Malaysian Federal Government Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmed on the occasion.
Dr. Damodhar was nominated by Government of India to represent the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India and present India’s country report along with success story in this UNESCO’s International Conference and meeting on Biosphere Reserves which is being held at Sabah, Malaysia.
The Airgun Surrender Abhiyan initiative of Government of Arunachal Pradesh was selected as the India’s best success story on wildlife conservation to present in this international conference.
Dr. Damodhar was also a Keynote Speaker during the inaugural session of the event. During his Keynote address, he has shared the success story of Airgun Surrender Abhiyan with a video documentary along with presenting the country report of India.
The Airgun Surrender Abhiyan is an initiative of the Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of Arunachal Pradesh under the leadership of Pema Khandu, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and Mama Natung, the Minister, Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Under this initiative, people were invited to voluntarily surrender their Airguns and licensed guns to stop the use of these guns to kill birds and other wild animals.
The programme was officially launched on March 17, 2021 at Lumdung in East Kameng District where in 46 air guns were surrendered and Lumdung was declared first Airgun free village of Arunachal Pradesh.
Since then, the Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of Arunachal Pradesh in all the Districts have been collaborating with the local communities. Administrative departments, NGOs and Community-Based-Organisations on ground to organise awareness drives for urging people to surrender their Airguns.
The communities at large overwhelmingly responded to his call and started voluntarily surrender their Airguns and licenced guns across the State. So far, more than 2400 Airguns and 9 licensed guns have been surrendered by the people of Arunachal Pradesh. This initiative has made a huge impact for the protection of wildlife in the State of Arunachal Pradesh.
As reported by the field officers of the department, many birds have started flocking areas where they were rarely seen before the Air Gun Surrender Abhiyan started, besides the conservation message percolating down to the masses of local community.
The Arunachal Pradesh Airgun Surrender Abhiyan was also lauded by various national and international media and was awarded at the 6th North East Green Summit of the Forest Ministers of North East held at Silchar during 16-18 November 2021.
The Arunachal Pradesh Air Gun Surrender Abhiyan got a major boost when it featured in the 84th edition of the Mann Ki Baat Programme on Sunday, the 26th December 2021 where the effort was appreciated by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
The government of Arunachal Pradesh is grateful to the nature loving people of Arunachal Pradesh for welcoming this Air Gun Surrender Abhiyan initiative with open arms and making it a model wildlife conservation success story of India across the world.
Speaking about the recognition, Dr. Damodar said “it was indeed a great honor for me to represent India & my State Arunachal Pradesh on UNESCO’s global forum and receive the honor for Airgun Surrender Abhiyan in the State of Arunachal Pradesh. I was astonished to see the kind of respect shown to India by the Malaysian Govt.