April 2010: The Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC) took root in 1989 when WWF-India launched its Nature Clubs of India (NCI) movement in a bid to encourage conservation action at the local level. WANC was started by a group of youngsters who decided to create awareness on wildlife issues and today, it is a potent force in Karnataka, actively defending the region’s wildlife.
Comprising 10 core members who have all been involved with conservation for over 15 years, WANC members take up individual projects they are interested in and by doing so, the group is able to address a gamut of issues. Senior member of WANC, B. V. Gundappa has formed a slender loris protection group in Nagavalli Village in Tumkur district and another volunteer, Guru Prasad worked with Harish Bhat of the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, to publish a book on the medicinal plants of the Devarayanadurga forests in 2001. It was the WANC that prevented the felling of large tracts of Devarayanadurga when the state government proposed a new campus for Tumkur University within its precinct.
In association with WWF-India, WANC has helped 55 schools in the district set up nature clubs and frequently conducts walks and awareness programmes in colleges and neighbourhoods to generate support for their campaigns.
Members T. V. Venkatesh Upadhya and Nandheesh are snake-rescuers and the duo also hold awareness programmes on the role of these reptiles in our ecosystems. Nandheesh was also awarded an Ashoka fellowship for his work and is currently working on a project to protect Painted Storks in Kaggaladu village post the discovery of a heronry there. This is the second largest nesting colony of Painted Storks in Karnataka.
The club has also spoken with approximately 3,000 families in Tumkur to prepare a detailed study on the usage of plastic that they will then submit to the government. They have also been conducting slideshows for locals on the need to stop using plastic and say that the response has been encouraging.
In the last decade the club has won many battles – they were the first to propose that Maidenahalli be declared a Protected Area which the state agreed to in February 2007. They have rehabilitated over 3,000 snakes and WANC member Ameen Ahmed helped prepare the first ever Checklist of Birds of Karnataka in 2000 along with Dr. Uday Veer Singh. The checklist has been a tremendous help to birdwatchers and conservationists in keeping track of rare and migrant species in the area.
The club meets on the first and third Saturday of every month and interested people can join them – their office address and contact details are available on their website http://bit.ly/c1af13. They are also active online and you can subscribe to their mailing list by joining
or follow their blog http://tumkurenvironment.blogspot.com