Prakriti, the
wildlife club at IIT Madras (IITM) that observes and conserves the wildlife
habitat of the institute, was formed in 2002 to protect the unique biodiversity
of the campus.

Since IITM was
carved out from the Guindy National Park, it houses variety of flora and fauna.
Animals like spotted deer, blackbuck, palm civets, snakes, birds, monkeys,
mongoose, squirrels, jackals, turtles etc. can be found on campus. One of the
several activities of the club is to rescue and provide aid to these animals
when needed. Dr Susy Varughese, from the Department of Chemical
Engineering of IITM, who has been associated with the club since its inception,
said, “The animal rescues mostly involve vehicle hit, construction
activity related injuries, dog attacks, food poisoning etc.”

She shared one of
her many memories associated with the club, “In 2006, we rescued a blackbuck who had
fallen into an open well on the campus. We found it swimming in the well,
15 feet deep. Two of the life-guards stepped into the well using the stairs and
managed to get the blackbuck out. Afterwards, we got the well closed with
mesh on the top to avoid such accidents”

Prakriti has about
250 members and occasionally organises awareness activities like movie
screenings on the conservation of flora and fauna, and guest lectures. Vivek
Puliyeri, a member of the club, said, “I love bird-watching and since school
days I have been enthusiastic about wildlife. Back in November 2015, Sharad
Apte, a noted ornithologist, gave us practical training on bird call recording.
It was a good experience, and at last I was able to understand the meaning of
different bird sounds.”

He added, “In the
second week of January, we found a monkey who was unable to walk. We took him
to a veterinarian for being treated. That night after we released him, some
members took turns to keep a watch nearby to make sure the monkey is
comfortable and is not harmed by dogs.”

Prakriti actively
organises programmes like nature walks, bird watching, cleaning the campus
of plastic and other non-biodegradable wastes, photo competitions, painting
competition, etc. Dr Varughese further added, “We also organise a bird watching
training camp for children which runs for six days in summer every year. We
have been conducting this programme since 2005 and is very popular among the
children on the campus. However, the most important activity is to monitor the
campus and the wildlife for its healthy existence.”

Saurabh Awatade, a
fourth year Civil Engineering student at IITM, said, “Last year, I took three
puppies in my care, when I was unable to find their mother. I used to feed them
in my hostel but as it was not allowed I had the puppies relocated to a safe
location with Prakriti’s help.”

Protecting the
wildlife and the environment should be everybody’s business and IITM is trying
to fulfil their share. Prakriti, the voluntary wildlife club at IITM, operates
entirely on charitable contributions by nature lovers in kind and cash if such help
is needed.

Write Comment