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Northeast India’s video documentation hub coaching youth in conservation

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Kolkata: Digitally archiving wildlife and environment is a key resource in conservation, says environmental filmmaker Rita Banerji, who kick-started northeast India’s first youth and community based video documentation centre in Tezpur, Assam.

The Green Hub centre in Tezpur trains as many as 20 youths in video documentation, editing and photography to aid in recording the environment, wildlife, biodiversity Aand communities in northeast India.

“The first batch of students is now making short films and videos and a digital archive is being created. We offer a two-and-a-half month fellowship for which youngsters from remote and marginalised communities are selected. Experts in conservation coach them.”

“They can get into conservation through video documentation,” Banerji told IANS over the phone on Thursday.

Banerji, who won the Panda Award (Green Oscar) in 2010, alongwith co-director Shilpi Sharma for the film “The Wild Meat Trail”, said recording existing and disappearing biodiversity helps keep track and provides valuable information to stakeholders like NGOs and scientists who engage in conservation.

“Everybody who is working on ground has a camera and when they shoot wildlife they have a lot of footage lying around so the aim was how can we make use of those and make them openly accessible to the community so that they can protect their resources,” explained Banerji.

The Delhi-based filmmaker, who now divides her time between the national capital and the northeast, wishes to branch out to other regions, like the Odisha coast, for the video documentation hub.

Odisha coast has one of world’s largest nesting sites for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles and is also Banerji’s focus areas.

“Turtle Diaries: The Olive Ridley Turtle” by Banerji, which won the ‘Film for Children’ award at the just-concluded eighth CMS Vatavaran festival, captures a stunning mass nesting event and shows how communities are assisting in conservation locally.

“The biggest threat to the turtles and wildlife in the coastal region is the disappearance of beaches due to development projects,” added Banerji.

(IANS)

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Group of Activists Trying to Persuade International Conservation Conference to Ban Trophy Hunting

More than 50 members of the European Parliament and 50 environmental groups, led by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting

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Activists, Conservation, Trophy Hunting
In this Nov. 20, 2013 photo, Cecil the Lion rests in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. The well-known lion was killed in Hwange during what authorities said was an illegal hunt. VOA

A group of activists is trying to persuade an international conservation conference to ban trophy hunting, which outrages some animal lovers but has long been tolerated by some environmentalists as a way of protecting wildlife.

More than 50 members of the European Parliament and 50 environmental groups, led by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, signed a petition to the triannual CITES conference taking place this week in Geneva.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international treaty granting degrees of protection to over 35,000 species.

Agreements passed at the conference are legally binding to 183 signatory states, and although they do not supersede national law, they set standards for global trade and tourism.

Activists, Conservation, Trophy Hunting
A group of activists is trying to persuade an international conservation conference to ban trophy hunting, which outrages some animal lovers but has long been tolerated. Pixabay

A trophy hunting ban is not currently on the agenda as resolutions need to be submitted six months ahead. The meeting started Saturday and continues through Aug. 28, with the main decisions usually finalized over the last two days.

A CITES spokesman declined to comment on the letter and said CITES decisions are taken by governments, not the secretariat.

CITES adopted a resolution at its 2016 conference recognizing the compatibility between well-managed trophy hunting and species conservation.

Trophy hunting, while popular with a small group of wealthy big-game hunters, has come under the spotlight in recent years following several high profile cases. The death of a lion called Cecil, shot by an American dentist in Zimbabwe in 2015, sparked global outrage.

Also Read- Water Pollution Threatens Nearly All Globally Agreed Development Goals

The World Wildlife Fund, which is not a signatory to the anti-trophy hunting petition, supports a limited amount of hunting provided it helps local communities prioritize wildlife conservation over alternatives such as cattle raising and habitat conversion for farming.

Eduardo Goncalves, President of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, rejects this argument.

“Trophy hunting is immoral and cruel,” he said, adding that it often goes hand in hand with poaching. He added that trophy hunting brings in pennies compared to ecotourism.

International Union for Conservation of Nature spokeswoman Rosie Cooney, who is attending the CITES conference, said ecotourism and trophy hunting are not mutually exclusive and both should be used to protect wildlife. (VOA)