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The Environment Conservation Group

The Environment Conservation Group

What started as a casual talk between three friends – Mansur Ahamed, Mohammed Saleem and Gaythri Devi – to bring the birdwatchers of Coimbatore under one group, led to the formation of the Coimbatore Birding Club (CBC), the avian wing of the Environment Conservation Group (ECG) started in 2009 by a small group of like-minded people committed to protecting and conserving nature.

Here, a group of school children enjoy the exhibition of the best images entered in ‘Click Your Pic’, a photography contest started by the Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History and the Environment Conservation Group. Photograph by M. Gaythri Devi.

The CBC quickly became popular, with almost 1,000 members on Facebook actively posting photographs and sharing experiences and details about birding. Arijit Banerjee, Gnanaskandan Keshavabharathi, Prashant Srivastava, Mattias Nordlund, Radhika Ramasamy, Sudhir Shivaram and Sharad Agrawal are some experts from the birding fraternity who guide members on identifying birds. CBC also includes dedicated members like Gokul Ram who rescues birds being sold through the illegal bird trade, which are after careful rehabilitation released into the wild. The CBC was recently involved with the rescue of more than a 100 Tri-coloured Munias in Kerala. While returning from a birding trip to Kerala, two members, Gokul and Kannan saw a few people selling Tri-coloured Munias. They split into smaller groups and assigned responsibilities. One group, headed by Kannan and Gokul, began looking for CBC members specifically from the area to help. Another group headed by Mansur tried to contact Forest Department officials. The third group, Gaythri and Saleem, posed as buyers and began bargaining for the birds. They offered to buy all the birds for a discount and the culprits fell for the trap. Hundreds of munias were trapped in a small cane basket and they had been coloured to make them seem more ‘attractive’. The CBC members succeeded in contacting the Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr. Sasidharan, who immediately swung into action by sending a team of officials to the spot. The culprits were caught red-handed and were remanded, and the birds set free.

However, this passionate avian supporter wing is only one aspect of the NGO. The Environment Conservation Group has been involved in various conservation activities. Massive cutting of trees was prevalent across Coimbatore. The ECG members arranged various protests to gather media attention and it resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of trees being felled. Today, The ECG is just a phone call away for the people of Coimbatore who wish to protect their neighbourhood trees. The ECG also undertakes awareness activities, which include talks in schools and colleges, corporate gatherings and signature campaigns in prominent locations. It has also placed hoardings in many major wildlife sanctuaries to create awareness amongst the public on the ‘dos-and-don’ts’ of responsible tourism. Members also work with the Forest Department to fight poaching in local forests.

On Earth Day 2012, the ECG partnered with Sanctuary Asia and the Earth Day Network to spread environmental awareness. Photograph by M. Gaythri Devi.

A number of talented photographers are a part of the organisation and there has been great emphasis on the need for ‘ethical photography’ by not allowing posts of nesting birds and birds in captivity, and giving importance to mentioning the date and location of the images for future reference. Thus, they encourage good quality photographs worth sharing, but at the same time, not disturbing their wild subjects in any way. Photowalks, exhibitions and contests to encourage photography are also conducted. ‘Click Your Pic’, supported by the Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, started in the year 2011, has now become an annual event with participation from across India. Acclaimed photographers like Sudhir Shivaram, Radhika Ramasamy, T.N.A. Perumal and Balan Madhavan have had their images displayed at the event. ECG’s mission for the future is to educate the youth about the importance of conservation and give the children of tomorrow a greener world.

For more information, contact:

The Environment Conservation Group

103, N.H. Road, Opp. Naaz Theatre, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641001.


Tel.: Mohammed Saleem (President) +91 9787878910

Gaythri Devi (Secretary) +91 9942310000

Mansur Ahamed (Trustee and  Admin - CBC) +91 9976767676.

First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIII, No. 1, February 2013.


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