Communicating science through art is more relevant than ever

By Shruti Sunderraman | What a year it has been for Current Conservation! Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, we end 2020 on a somewhat happy note. We have a great new website,  and an exciting partnership with the Society for Conservation Biology, the largest community of conservation scientists and practitioners in the world. And we  crossed 10 K followers on Instagram!

We’ve added more to the CC family this year. We have Dhanya Bharath, a former undergraduate from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, working as our editorial intern, while Upasana Chadha and Shivani Shenoy, undergraduates from the Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Bangalore, have joined CC as design interns. 

Message in a Bottle 

By Namrata Lunia | With schools shut since March 2020 and there being limited access to online education, the educational and social needs of children from the fishing communities of Tamil Nadu have been significantly impacted. In order to address these concerns, SNEHA, an organisation working with women and children of fishing communities in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, has been trying to raise funds with the help of Dakshin,  for creating child activity and learning centres in 14 coastal villages. These centres will provide academic support (including orientation to e-learning), educational material and access to counseling services. Awareness sessions on various topics such as child rights will be organised, extracurricular activities will be encouraged and a safe space for children to come and discuss their thoughts will be created through these centres. Besides this, health check-ups and provision of nutritional supplements will also be undertaken.

On the Communications Track

By Pragya Solanki | At Dakshin, communications consists of four components – communicating with the general public, strengthening internal communications, building a network and support system for our partner organizations, and improving the existing programmatic communications with project stakeholders. The Covid-19 pandemic derailed us from our planned trajectory for these. However, the pandemic also offered us an opportunity to reimagine our ways of engagement at various levels. 

Stepping up to the challenges, the Communications Team helped in Dakshin’s relief work by coordinating the fundraising efforts and organizing the crowdfunding campaign. Many of our team members participated in various webinars and panel discussions on varied themes during this period. 

Where do the sea turtles go? A novel system to track sea turtles

By Hariprasath R | Technological advances in animal tracking systems have enabled us to study animal movement to gain insights into their spatial use and habitat preferences. Telemetry studies have been used for spatial planning and conservation and management of different  animals. Traditional animal tracking systems use a variety of techniques ranging from UHF/VHF radio frequencies (Radio collars) to transmitters which communicate with satellites. Dakshin Foundation has now partnered with a local tech start up, Arcturus Inc, to support the design of a cost-effective telemetry device employing Long Range (LoRa) radio waves.

Transmitters typically record information on the animals’ location along with other environmental features including temperature, elevation/depth, travel speed, mortality etc.

Long-Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) 

By Tanmay Wagh | The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) recently launched the nationwide Long-Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) Programme. This is a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary programme aimed at understanding the impacts of climate change on India’s various ecosystems and taxa, the results of which will feed into national and regional level policies. The programme covers a wide range of themes including soil, forests, grasslands, invertebrates, fish, herpetofauna, birds, animal movement and marine ecosystems and will be carried out at six index landscapes across the country. These include the Northwestern Arid Zone, Western Himalaya, Eastern Himalaya, Central India, Western Ghats and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.  Dakshin is heading the Marine theme of the LTEO programme.

Tiding over these uncertain times: Lakshadweep, our project and us

By Prerana Gawde and Ajithraj | Island systems are fragile and prone to global and local scale challenges like natural disasters, the effects of climate change, and social and ecological vulnerabilities. These challenges can have multidimensional impacts on the course of the islanders’ life, and the existence of the islands themselves. The COVID-19 pandemic is a new addition to the list of challenges that these islands face. As researchers working on India’s Lakshadweep islands, but currently involuntarily hibernating on the mainland, we wondered – how are they coping with the pandemic? 

Sports and Community Wellbeing: Kicking Off!

By Kanishk Srinivasan | Dakshin is entering uncharted territory with the introduction of a programme that aims to use sports as an entry point to engage with youth from fishing communities on topics of social and environmental resilience. Pandemic-induced restrictions are now an old and familiar hurdle, but we like to think that we have made the most of our time. While we had to revisit our original plans of conducting a pilot study in the Andamans and Odisha, we have instead focused on strengthening and developing other aspects of the programme — designing an alternative study which we can conduct remotely, developing a literature review on how to design an integrated, sports-based educational curriculum, compiling a database of existing drills and activities to use as part of this curriculum as well as fundraising work.

A humanitarian response enabled by networks

By Aarthi Sridhar and Madhuri Mondal | Most individuals and organisations involved with social change in India find themselves embedded within multiple networks and coalitions of the country’s vibrant civil society. Since our inception in 2008, Dakshin has built up such engagement to actively facilitate and strengthen civil society networks comprised of coastal community-based organisations and fishworker groups, but also disciplinary experts from law and natural science.

Reimagining relief: go local

By Asha Cherian | Often, when providing relief one has to choose between households and decide where lies the greatest need. This can be a harsh process where one invariably excludes households that are only marginally better positioned than the most desperate or wretched. With limited funds available against the colossal scale of deprivation these were the difficult decisions confronting our local partners and us.

Forgotten people, forgotten stories: fisherwomen in lockdown

By Ishaan Khot | Media coverage on issues of marginalisation and social injustice can sometimes be skewed, silencing certain voices and narratives in deference to dominant power structures and societal norms. Women in fisheries represent one such group that is marginalised within an already marginalised community. Women’s issues, though critical, tend to remain invisible as much of the dialogue is often focussed on fishermen.