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Wild about saving wildlife

Mridula Vijairaghavan is no average 17 year old. This teen is an integral part of Tiger Action Force and the editor of the NGO’s namesake newsletter. She talks to JAM about her passion

Tell us about the Tiger Action Force newsletter?
The basic aim of the newsletter is to inform the common man about the crisis our wildlife and environment are in. It talks about the basic issues confronting us and also tells you about what you can do as an individual to help.

It also talks about one species a month. India is an extremely bio-diverse country. The aim of the “species of the month” is to tell people how rich our country is.

When and how did you come up with the idea of starting the newsletter?
This newsletter is the mouthpiece of an NGO called Tiger Action Force, which started off about 2 years back. And when the people who started TAF thought of a newsletter, they asked me if I could edit it.

How did they know about you? How did you come to be a permanent with them?
I came across them through a forum on a social networking site. I came to be a permanent with them because the 1st newsletter was well received.

Who all are on your team?
President Neil Mehta, Vice president Bhagyesh Pidiyar, Treasurer Tanmay Pawaskar, Secretary Gaurav Mahajan, Director of projects Utpal Tongo, and me, the Director of Awareness.

Apart from the newsletter, do you do any other event to spread awareness about wildlife and its perils?
We have conducted quite a few activities, the most recent being awareness sessions in schools, that entail presentations on climate change and wildlife and drawing competitions with themes like climate change. We also conduct birding sessions at Pashan Lake to spread awareness about the threats facing it.

What is the average age of the people on the team?
The youngest is 17 and the oldest 32.

How many people/nature lovers turn up for the events you organize?
At the school there were 60 and at a more general level, fewer.

What is the best way to spread awareness about wildlife issues? I mean we do learn stuff in schools and read in papers, but it is not enough. What is your opinion on this?
The best way, in my opinion, is to be taken into say a forest with someone who can unravel the mysteries of nature and then they’re hooked! I think it needs to be more practical than theorotical. Like, just telling people that there are some 100 birds that are getting into major trouble because the Pashan Lake is in trouble is different from actually showing them those birds and saying that “those beauties will disappear”.

Is TAF a full fledged NGO today?
TAF is still starting off. We got registered only a few months ago and we have a lot of plans to be implemented.

What is the response you have garnered for the NGO and the newsletter over the 2 years?
The response to the newsletter has been phenomenal. There are approx 300 subscribers now.

As an animal lover and a TAF member, what is your message to the people out there?
It is a very very beautiful world out there, but, we need to remember that it isn’t ours alone. Also, no matter what you are — a doctor, an engineer, a student or an architect — you can make a difference!

– Nikita

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