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Massive Srinagar walkathon spotlights J&K’s rich wildlife heritage, biodiversity

Children and students participated in large numbers to make the five-km Walkathon a great success

`On the occasion of 67th National Wildlife Week, a major event – Wildlife Week Walkathon — was organised in Srinagar to underscore the importance of collaborative efforts in preserving Jammu and Kashmir’s rich biodiversity. Highlighting this year’s theme – “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation” — the impressive walkathon which witnessed participation of 4,000 people, including  school children, university students, non-government organisations, Central Reserve Police Force personnel, and local citizens, was flagged off by Manoj Sinha, Lt. Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in the presence of several dignitaries.

The Walkathon was organised by the Department of Wildlife Protection, J&K in collaboration with the several organisations and institutions including Wildlife Trust of India, Astral Foundation, Wildlife SOS, Forest Department, Jammu and Kashmir Police, Directorate of School Education, Kashmir, and Wildlife Conservation Fund among others.

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The Wildlife Week Walkathon in Srinagar was flagged off by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha

The five-kilometre-long walkathon commenced from the Police Golf Course and finished at Nishat while amplifying awareness about pressing conservation issues, with a special focus on involving the youth actively in wildlife conservation efforts.

Apart from its breath-taking scenery, Kashmir is home to a rich array of flora and fauna. The walkathon highlighted endemic species like the Hangul, Himalayan brown bear (Wazul haput), Markhor (Keel bakra), Hangul and Black-necked crane (Trung Trung Karmu) through the representation of mascots.

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The various groups of students and youth were seen championing the cause of wildlife in J&K

Speaking on the occasion of the flag-off, Sinha said: “Kashmir is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife and wild spaces. From Ramsar sites like the Hokesar to the alpine wilderness of the Kazinag, we are blessed with species that make Kashmir, the ‘heaven on Earth’. It is our duty to work towards protecting the same and ensure that our precious wildlife is safe.”

The LG urged the Kashmiri youth to contribute to this cause, in whatever capacity they could.

Commenting on the event, Tanushree Srivastava, head of WTI’s Mountain Ungulate Project said: “We hope this initiative has been able to help people grow more informed, motivated, and drawn towards the cause of environmental and wildlife protection.”

Thanking all the participants for their dedication to the cause, Aaliya Mir, Education Officer and Programme Head-J&K, Wildlife SOS, observed: “Wildlife Week is a time for us to reflect on the importance of wildlife conservation and our responsibility to protect our natural heritage.”