Your Guide to 2018’s World Environment Day


June 5th is celebrated as World Environment Day each year. While some years focus on saving wildlife, others focus on cleaner water. This year, 2018, the theme for World Environment Day is:



Here are 5 facts about this year’s World Environment Day celebrations:


  • India is leading the charge with their campaign #BeatPlasticPollution and is hosting the global celebration and observation of this all-important day.  Pan-Indian plastic clean-up drives are being organized and schools are being mobilized to conduct neighbourhood marches, to spread the word about the terrifying impact of plastic on the world. In fact, in states like Gujarat, companies are reusing the 200 metric tonnes of plastic by-product from their paper manufacturing plants to power cement production plants across the state.


  • Peru has come up with a supremely unique solution to ending plastic pollution while helping their poor. The country recycles its plastic bottles and makes out of them – ponchila – which is a combination of “poncho” and “mochila”, a coat-bag amalgamation, made specifically for the poor children in the Andes. The product is a bag/poncho which can be used to carry books and transformed into a poncho to wear. The children, most of whom do not have warm clothing and who must travel several miles to reach their schools, are given these weather-proof and recyclable ponchila to use. Watch this video to see a ponchila in action.


  • Samoa recently had one of its own receive the Environmental Award for the Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge from the United Nations. Angelica Salele was awarded US$10,000 for her invention – the reusable cotton sanitary napkin. Not only are Salele and her partner Isabell Rasch normalizing conversations about menstrual hygiene in Samoa, but they’re tackling a big issue – the 44.9 billion plastic-coated pads that fill-up landfills globally each year. The reusable cotton pads are made from skin-friendly material and do not contain any trace of plastic or related materials.


  • The International Olympic Committee has made a commitment to reduce the production and usage of single-use plastics from the institution’s offices and events. The committee has also partnered with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to make sports environmentally sustainable. As part of this project, the IUCN has provided the IOC route maps of all the places that will be touched during the Summer and Winter Olympics, in each of the countries who have applied to host them till 2026. The maps indicate plastic disposal sites and waste management sites, amongst other places, which can help the IOC curb plastic waste.


  • The United Nations Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres has made a global appeal asking for the end of usage of single-use plastic. As you’ll see in this video, Secretary-General Guterres makes a compelling argument why plastic should be banned. Just to re-iterate, here is his message:

A healthy planet is essential for a prosperous and peaceful future. We all have a role to play in protecting our only home, but it can be difficult to know what to do or where to start. That’s why this World Environment Day has just one request: beat plastic pollution.

Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. Every year, more than 8 million tonnes end up in the oceans. Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy. From remote islands to the Artic, nowhere is untouched. If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish.

On World Environment Day, the message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can’t re-use.

Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world.

– António Guterres


Now that you know what’s happening around the world today, here are some tips to recycle and reduce plastic pollution.


If you’re interested, you can even take this fun and engaging quiz on key environmental movements around the world. It’ll just take 2 minutes.





P.S: Featured Image

The Display of the .275 Rigby and the Subversion of Corbett’s Vision

I’m currently in the midst of reading James Edward Corbett a.k.a Jim Corbett’s famous omnibus, which houses memorable accounts of his encounters with ferocious man-eaters in the Uttarakhand region.

The 1900s took on a nightmarish reality to the simple folk of the villages of Uttarakhand. The period between the early 1900s and the late 1930s saw thousands of innocent people fall victim to man-eating carnivores. The Government of Uttarakhand sanctioned expert marksman Jim Corbett with the task of ridding the villages of these ferocious beasts.


While Corbett accepted the request, he did so on two conditions:

  1. He would not accept any monetary or non-monetary compensation or “trophy” for the kills
  2. He would not entertain any trophy hunter, expert or otherwise, to be present in the same area while he was hunting the man-eaters.

Over the span of 30 years, Corbett managed to successfully locate and kill 16 tigers and 19 leopards that were terrorizing the villages in and around the state of Uttarakhand. Single-handedly, Jim Corbett managed to save the locals from the mercy of dangerous predators while protecting these very animals from the hands of greedy trophy hunters.

A Large-hearted Gentleman with Boundless Courage

In his book, The Man-Eating Tigers of Kumaon, Corbett describes the tiger as “a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage”, whose natural prey isn’t humans. He goes on to say that the tiger (in fact, every animal that becomes a man-eater) is “compelled through stress of circumstances beyond its control to adopt a diet alien to it. The stress is, in nine cases out of ten, wounds, and in the tenth case, old age.”  His love for the striped  beasts is evident in his writing. It is clear that Corbett, who was a hunter and a marksman, turned away from trophy hunting and took up his hunting assignments only to help the poor and isolated villagers in the Uttarakhand region.

A Gift from the Government, a Lifelong Companion

The man-eater of Champawat was Corbett’s first assignment. The tigress had been driven out of Nepal by the Nepalese army after having killed over 200 people. Forced out of her established territory, the tigress arrived in Kumaon, where she added a whopping 234 more victims to her list. By the time Corbett arrived, she was already at her 235th.

tiger 2

Spending weeks in the freezing jungles of Kumaon, Corbett finally managed to kill the man-eater. By now, after a terrorizing rule of 4 years, the Champawat man-eater had added 346 people to her kills in Kumaon.

As a thank-you for ridding them of this menace, the Government of Uttarakhand gifted Corbett a beautiful, hand-crafted .275 Rigby rifle; one that would turn out to be his lifelong companion.

Near the end of his career, Jim Corbett established the Hailey National Park, which was renamed the Corbett National Park in 1957. A lover of animals, Corbett drafted rules that prohibited big game hunting in the region of Uttarakhand, as a result, saving the lives of countless animals. He reminded trophy hunters, animal conservationists and Government officials everywhere that big game hunting should only be taken up in extreme cases where lives are at stake.


After setting up the National Park, Corbett hung-up his hunting rifle and took to a life of photography and writing. Today, the .275 Rigby rifle is a symbol of conservation.


The Rigby Brought to Life

Given the symbolism of Corbett’s rifle, it may come as a surprise to many when in 2015 at the 44th convention of the Safari Club International (one of the biggest hunting clubs in the USA), a replica made in memory of Corbett’s .275 Rigby rifle was showcased for five long days, where it served as the big-draw for trophy hunters and big game hunters. The weapon was advertised as one of the best hunting rifles in the world and was sold to an anonymous buyer for $250,000.


John Rigby and Co., the manufacturers of the iconic rifle and one of the sponsors of the display at the convention, acquired the original weapon for an undisclosed sum. Corbett’s rifle was then taken on a world tour and displayed in various similar conventions. Finally, the weapon found its way home – to Corbett National Park. The rifle will remain in Chotti Haldwani village for the next 10 days.

Jim Corbett, in his regulations, has laid down strict restrictions regarding the usage and display of weaponry on the Park’s premises. While the organizers are terming the display as an attempt “to create an awareness for wildlife conservation and propagating the vision of Jim Corbett”, they are clearly disregarding the rules and beliefs of the Park’s founder.

The company also wants to work towards “the protection of hunters’ freedoms globally”. While their intentions are turning heads in India, in other parts of the world, their desire for hunters’ freedom is coming true.

At the 43rd Safari Club International convention, over 20,000 hunters reportedly applied for special rights to hunt 317 animals worldwide; an application that was granted. The group brought in $2.7 million from the auction of 317 kills.

On a normal day, the attendees of the convention are granted access to hunt from a pick of approximately 600 animals from across 32 countries. When special requests such as the 317 hunts are authorized, there is no room left for conservation.


Add to this the display of Corbett’s symbol of conservation as a badge for trophy hunting and you have people actively promoting big game hunting and trophy hunting in the name of a man who spent his life protecting these very creatures.

Events such as these actively encourage people to take up hunting as a sport and a profession. The killings of Cecil the lion and Harambe the gorilla are seen as harmless and helpful, even.

While organizers claim that these events help raise money for conservation of endangered species, it doesn’t hide the underlying barbarity. At the end of the day, one animal has to die for another to live.


When mass-murder of animals is condoned by official institutions, it leaves all the work done by activists and conservationists like Jim Corbett undone.

Corbett created Chotti Haldwani, a village that is the model example of how man and beast can co-exist peacefully. He set up India’s very first tiger reserve and triggered the country’s culture of conservation. He wrote books that both inspired and educated millions about these stigmatized animals. It’s a shame that such a man’s name has been flung in the mud by the makers of the very rifle that saved countless lives, human and animal.



Do Wildlife Documentaries Add Value to Conservation Efforts?

Sir David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II came to a close on December 11, 2016, after 6 breath-taking episodes that covered the majesty and beauty the world has to offer. While the show lived up to the expectations its iconic predecessor had set, some experts believe it failed to add any practical value to conservation efforts.

But, is this true?

All nature documentaries, irrespective of whether they are made by the National Geographic Society or the BBC have focused on both the trials and the triumphs of the species that call this planet home. It’s true that it’s absolutely exhilarating to get a glimpse into the lives of these creatures. But, we must ask ourselves whether these shows are encouraging us to actively work towards saving species from extinction or not.


Recent research by the Centre for Biological Diversity has revealed that we are currently in the midst of the sixth wave of extinction; meaning, this is the sixth time we are in the grips of a potential mass extinction, in the last half-a-billion years. Habitat loss, the introduction of new species and global warming form the three primary causes for this plight.

Wildlife documentaries seldom show us this side of the picture. We are shown glorious sunrises and romantic sunsets, exciting chase sequences and heart-warming birth scenes – all without depicting the imminent danger of extinction.

It seems as though these shows are designed to capture only utopian moments, sequences that add beauty and which create unspoiled visions of a world that is not in the grips of extinction.

Considering all this, it seems as though these shows are only meant for visual pleasure and not for practical use. But, is that true? Have BBC and NGC stopped being relevant? Do they add any value to conservation efforts?

The complicated truth

The reality is, wildlife documentaries are involved in a precarious balancing act of sorts – juggling between entertainment and education on one hand and mute monitoring and vocal activity on the other. The truth is, without these shows being aired, we will for the large part remain unaware of the plight of threatened and endangered species. Many of the world’s preeminent researchers and conservationists were once children who were inspired to make a living out of conservation, because of these very shows.

The BBC, the National Geographic Society and every other science-based organization are creating avenues for us to better understand the flora and fauna that inhabit our world. While some hosts may openly voice their concerns about habitat loss and others may not, they certainly inspire us to stand in arms with those who are fighting the battle for conservation. At the end of the day, these documentaries provide us with the knowledge, the arsenal for the battle. What we choose to do with this ammunition is ultimately up to us.


-Nisha Prakash