Kolkata, July 2023: The Union Minister for Environment & Forest and Climate Change and Labour and Employment Shri Bhupender Yadav inaugurated the three-day celebration programme of the 108th ZSI day in Kolkata in the presence of Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, Shri Chandra Prakash Goyal, Director, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) Dr Dhriti Banerjee and Director, Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Dr Ashiho Asosii Mao.
Addressing the gathering Shri Yadav congratulated ZSI for completing 108 glorious years dedicated to the service of our faunal diversity. He shared the significance of the number 108, which denotes a cycle of 108 repetitions counted in a japamala, focusing on the sounds, vibration and meaning of what is said. He also described the number as 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, each having a masculine and feminine feature.
The Minister categorically pointed out that we must protect the Indian faunal diversity to protect ourselves as climate change has busted the myth that humans are superior to nature. He gave an instance put forward by renowned Anthropologist Eduardo Kohn, who said forests can think as trees interact with their environment because they have specialised characteristics of pest resistance. The forest characteristics, he said, remind us of what Gandhiji once said-‘In nature, there is enough for everyone’s needs’. The Union Minister gave the instance of the discovery of DDT, the pesticide, during World War II and how the eminent biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson made people aware of the harm it causes to the environment in her book named ‘Silent Spring’ in 1958, a testimony to human arrogance towards nature.
Shri Yadav reminded in his address, that we will not favour nature by working to protect it; rather it’s a favour we do to ourselves. He, in this regard, appreciated the efforts of ZSI in establishing globally well-known protected areas such as Silent Valley National Park (Kerala), Namdapha Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Pradesh), Nilgiri and Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserves and many others. He also mentioned ZSI’s prominent role in providing technical inputs for amending the Wildlife Protection Act.
The Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey said that ZSI should focus on the research and conservation of important wetlands of Gangetic plains of India as ‘Sarovar Mitra’, by initiating a programme for citizen scientists for better data dissemination and conservation awareness.
As a part of the event six books were released by the dignitaries-1) Animal Discoveries: New Species and New Records 2022, 2) Plant Discoveries 2022, 3) Faunal Diversity of 75 Ramsar Wetlands of India, 4) Records of Zoological Survey of India-Special Issue of ATS 2023, 5) 75 Endemic Birds of India and 6) Fauna of India-108 DNA Sequences.
ZSI signed three MoU’s for research and academic collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan, IIT Jodhpur and University of Burdwan. With the Royal Government of Bhutan, MoU was signed to conduct a population assessment of the Red Panda, through a non-invasive method. With the IIT Jodhpur and University of Burdwan, MoUs were signed for research collaborations and student exchange programmes. Besides, awards were conferred for various competitions held during World Environment Day, Mission Life and International Day of Biodiversity.