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Wild Orissa: The unyielding greenhearts



Wild Orissa is a passionate, deeply committed, movement driven by a simple desire. Of preserving a virtue. Preserving respect and harmony for forests of Odisha, an incredible state of an Incredible India, tucked away towards the rising sun. Over more than two decades, they have persevered to bring about an attitudinal change and inspire communities to adopt the cause of conservation of forest lands and their natural citizens.

Click to read – This man felt guilty about killing a bird. So he went on to save an entire bird sanctuary! – Better India

It all started with a collective will

As with every beginning, it started not with a moonshot, but a simple collective will of a few idealists and greenhearts who had a desire to “do something” about an issue that bothered them. Nothing more, but not an inch less. Since 1997, Wild Orissa has been pursuing this faithfully, diligently staying the course.

Untamed development, urban pressures, voracious & selfish tourism, poaching, apathy were hacking away at one of the most prized possessions of this state. Its untamed districts, that rightfully should remain that way, were under pressure. While the state’s relative reticence, helped the cause of keeping gold diggers and land-raptors out, it was a matter of time when the battle between urbanisation and environment would begin. This deserved and begged for immediate positive action.

A quiet revolution stirring the waters of Chilika. How Wild Orissa influenced poachers to turn protectors at Mangaljodi, ushering in a conservation movement.

Slowly the small brigade was joined by individuals from diverse fields. The police, bankers, chartered accountants, customs officers, engineers, administrators, conservators, students, researchers, and lawyers trooped in to lend a worthy shoulder and build faith. Not driven by greenback dollars, but a simple pursuit of what’s truly green, ethical and worth preserving for the next generation of custodians.

Preserve. Protect. Persevere.

This was to be the virtuous cycle for Wild Orissa. Profit here was, is and will always be the proverbial dirty word. And that makes for a very clean conscience.

Read: A campaign to save the environment

Read: A blog on the magic of Mangalajodi

First stop. A quiet revolution stirring the waters of Chilika.

Click to read a blog on a transformational journey.

Ultramarine Views

The magic of Mangalajodi by Sanctuary Asia

Click to read this fascinating story of an inspirational village that swears by its birds.

A place birds call home
Seagulls at Lake Chilika
Seagulls at Lake Chilika


Wild Orissa has its agenda clearly set. Walk the talk. From participating in wildlife census surveys, lending a helping hand to the government departments wherever required, petitioning the powers to be on causes that need attention, organising school and village contact programs driving awareness and participation, working as a state partner for the international body IBCN, acting as a moral guardian of wildlife habitats, more often than not, sustaining themselves with self-generated meagre resources but always with enormous heart and resolve.

Members when asked about this unrelenting spirit, mention that these beautiful lush habitats and a delicate environment deserve nothing less.

A cause for concern though.

Wild Orissa, is worried over unregulated construction and excavation of fishponds in Chilika as they pose a threat to its ecology. The efforts are on to persuade the government on the policy front to regulate this.


Next stop, Sundarpur, Hirakud-Debrigarh. The conservation drive continues

The Simlipal Tiger Reserve Initiative by Wild Orissa.

Wild Orissa has also engaged with one of the largest reserves in the country, Simlipal to help the efforts of the administration with village outreach programs, to engage with local communities and wean them away from hunting and influencing young minds in schools in these remote areas.

Simlipal's tiger out for a swim
Simlipal’s wild cat out for a swim

A multipronged strategy has been worked out by Wild Orissa for some of the problematic areas in the buffer area of the Simlipal Forest Reserve, which includes, engaging with frontline forest protection personnel, involving institutional set-ups created by the STR administration like Sabuja Vahini, Tiger Protection Force (TPF), Vana Surakshya Samitis (VSS), for more relevant interface with the local community, engaging with children and schools located in remote forest areas in STR, providing alternate engagements for keeping local communities engaged during pinch poaching/hunting periods, involving women groups including women SHGs in campaigns for anti-poaching drive and leveraging Honorary Wildlife Wardens of the district.

A special cash award was given to a VSS which had successfully contained forest fires in its area.

The Wild Elephant Conservation Program

Protecting the elephant corridors of the state

The Wild Elephant Conservation Program of Wild Orissa started in the year 2000 and has focused on the problem of vanishing elephant corridors, apart from the year-round problem of Odisha losing its mature tuskers to poaching. More than 100 adult tuskers have laid down their lives in a short span of a few years, and this trend is in urgent need of reversal before it is too late.

A wild elephant by the lake
A wilding by the lake

Wild Orissa plans to draw the attention of planners and policymakers to the sanctity of elephant habitats while delineating plans for the state. Members have been associating with the state forest department personnel in elephant count exercise in areas like Keonjhar, Chandaka, Ushakothi, etc. and undertaking field visits to assess the elephant habitats and problems which crop up like the Rengali Irrigation Project which has marooned a large population of elephants in Dhenkanal and Cuttack districts. A National Symposium for Conservation of Wild Elephants in Orissa is being organized shortly.

Inspired by a land, truly sublime and simple

Shanti Stupa at Dhauligiri, Odisha – where Emperor Ashoka laid the foundation after having ruminated over the ravages of the Kalinga war. It is rumoured that the river Daya turned red due to the bloodbath. This is a period in history that marked the birth of Dharma Ashok, when he fully embraced Buddhism and renounced violence.

Simplicity often has an infinite capacity to breed virtues. This was a land of simple folk, who led simple lives but had some extraordinary adventures. With coveted chapters in history, this unassuming state, the erstwhile land of Kalinga, rewards its faithful with plenty to learn, see, travel, revere, and eat. Plenty worth preserving, and conserving.

Sun temple at Konark
Sun temple at Konark

The legendary temples, naturally blessed landscapes oozing minerals and fertile soil, the delicate performing arts, age-old crafts, impactful erstwhile kingdoms whose influence reigned over as far as Java, Sumatra, Bali and Ceylon, charming villages, storied tribes, clean cities, provincial cuisine which is being rediscovered as we speak, the list goes on. Almost provoking one to re-think the simplicity tag.

Waterfall at Simlipal in Orissa / Odisha
Waterfall at Simlipal

However, what endures and sustains the tag, are its people and their simplicity.

Simple, honest, God-fearing and polite to a fault, indigenous residents of this state have led a life that respected the balance between man and nature. Harmony was a natural way of life but change was coming. Some for the good and some not so. And this needs its custodians who would rise to the cause and occasion.

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Written by Xplorium

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