Arunachal's 'Airgun Surrender Abhiyan' lauded at UNESCO conference

Itanagar: The Arunachal Pradesh government’s ‘Airgun Surrender Abhiyan’ has received international recognition at UNESCO’s International Conference on Biosphere Reserves, a Southeast Asian initiative aimed at preserving cultural heritage and the environment. The event took place in Sabah, Malaysia, on Monday.

The ‘Airgun Surrender Abhiyan’ is an initiative led by the Arunachal Pradesh Department of Environment and Forests to discourage wildlife hunting and raise awareness about the detrimental effects of wildlife killing. The campaign is spearheaded by Arunachal Pradesh’s Minister for Forests and Environment, Mama Natung.

Dehang-Debang Biosphere Reserve Director Dr. Damodhar, representing Minister Natung, accepted an accolade from Malaysia’s Minister for Environment, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmed, at an International Conference. He presented India’s report on behalf of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.

The ‘Airgun Surrender Abhiyan’ initiative by the Arunachal Pradesh government was chosen as India’s premier wildlife conservation success story for presentation at this global conference. During the event’s opening session, Dr. Damodhar delivered a keynote address, showcasing the initiative’s success through a compelling video documentary and presenting India’s comprehensive country report.

The ‘Airgun Surrender Abhiyan’ encourages the voluntary surrender of airguns and licensed guns to combat their use in hunting birds and other wildlife. The programme was officially inaugurated on March 17, 2021, in Lumdung, East Kameng district, where 46 airguns were surrendered, making Lumdung the first “Airgun-free” village in Arunachal Pradesh. Subsequently, the Department of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change collaborated with local communities, administrative departments, NGOs, and Community-Based Organisations across all districts to conduct awareness campaigns, persuading individuals to relinquish their airguns.

Under the leadership of Minister Natung and Chief Minister Pema Khandu, the programme gained significant momentum with extensive visits to almost all districts.

District-level ‘Airgun Surrender Abhiyan’ programmes were organised to sensitise people and encourage them to surrender their airguns, licensed guns, and power chain saw machines. The response from communities was overwhelming, resulting in the voluntary surrender of over 2,400 airguns and 9 licensed guns by the people of Arunachal Pradesh.

The ‘Airgun Surrender Abhiyan’ in Arunachal Pradesh significantly boosted wildlife protection, leading to increased bird populations in previously seldom-visited areas. The initiative gained recognition from national and international media and was honored at the 6th North East Green Summit of Forest Ministers in Silchar, Tripura from November 16 to 18, 2021.

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The initiative was featured in the 84th edition of the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme with Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally acknowledging and appreciating these efforts.

The Arunachal Pradesh government has expressed its deep gratitude to the nature-loving people of the state for embracing the ‘Airgun Surrender Abhiyan’ initiative, transforming it into a model wildlife conservation success story recognised not only in India but also on the global stage.

Also Read | Arunachal: CM Khandu promises road to Pipsorang by Aug 15

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