The first of its kind comic book, authored by Arthy Muthanna Singh and Mamta Nainy, exclusively on the lesser-known species of the Nilgiris, was launched by World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF India). The Nilgiri Tahr is the only mountain ungulate in southern India amongst the 12 species present in the country. A large part of the population has depleted from its historical range, and the existing population is under severe stress due to habitat loss and hunting.
“Valli’s Nilgiri Adventures” is an engaging comic book with colourful illustrations and a captivating storyline to garner the interests of children. Valli, the main character of a school-going girl, visits the Nilgiri’s on an education trip with her classmates. The book vividly brings to life the experiences she gains in the forests, sighting wildlife, including the elusive Nilgiri Tahr (state animal of Tamil Nadu). The book launch is part of WWF India’s year-long campaign to raise awareness among children, youth and the general public about the Nilgiri Tahr.
Arthy Muthanna Singh, author of the book, shared her experience, “When WWF India first briefed us about co-authoring a book on the Nilgiris, with a focus on the state animal of Tamil Nadu, the Nilgiri Tahr, I was over the moon with excitement. To co-author, a book about the same region where I had grown up as a child was a dream come true! So Valli’s Nilgiri Adventures traces many parts of my childhood – the Todas, the Ooty chocolates, the treks up the Blue hills, the wildlife that was such an important part of who I am today.”
“We have tried to give our young, impressionable readers a true feel of the wonderful Nilgiris – the wildlife, the forests, the clean air, the tea gardens, the famous Ooty chocolates, etc. We were lucky to have Aniruddha Mukherjee as the illustrator. He made the book extra-special with his vivid water-colour renditions,” said Mamta Nainy, the co-author of the comic book.
The comic which will be available both in English and Tamil was launched today by the Chess Grandmaster and WWF India’s Environment Education Ambassador, Mr. Viswanathan Anand and, Ms. Madhura Visweswaran, Tamil Nadu Philanthropy Ambassador, WWF India.
In his keynote address, Shekhar Kumar Niraj, IFS, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, highlighting the importance of conserving the Nilgiri Tahr said,”Conserving the Tahr is also conserving the pristine shola-grassland ecosystem. The Mukurthi National Park is a unique protected ecosystem created to conserve the grasslands and the Tahr. The government is keen on protecting the iconic species of Tamil Nadu, and I am happy to see the support for the Tahr in terms of the book and the celebrity ambassadors who have lent their voice for its conservation.”
Karan Bhalla, COO, WWF India part of the launch event said, “It is very important to inculcate reading habit among children as it helps build imagination, language skills and story-telling skills. WWF has been working on environment education for a long time as we believe educating and engaging our children through books and activities will help them take necessary action for the environment.”
WWF India initiated its conservation work on Nilgiri Tahr in 2008. In 2012, an assessment on Nilgiri Tahr’s status, threats faced, habitat, and population size was initiated in the Western Ghats. WWF India published a report on the comprehensive study of the Nilgiri Tahr population and its habitat in the hills of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in 2015. It was the first time such a comprehensive report was prepared. WWF India continues to undertake regular surveys in the upper reaches of Sholas and grasslands in the Western Ghats. It works in close collaboration with the Kerala and Tamil Nadu Forest Departments.