Arunachal’s Airgun Surrender Abhiyan receives UNESCO recognition

Itanagar: Campaign encourages voluntary surrender of airguns and licensed guns

BY | Wednesday, 15 November, 2023

Arunachal Pradesh’s Airgun Surrender Abhiyan received international honour at UNESCO’s 14th Southeast Asian Biosphere Reserve Network Meeting held in Sabah, Malaysia on 13th November 2023.

Dr Damodhar AT, IFS, Director, Dehang-Debang (Dihang Dibang) Biosphere Reserve collected the memento from the Malaysian federal government’s Environment, Natural Resources & Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmed on 13 November. Dr Damodhar is representing India at the conference where he also shared India’s Biosphere Reserves Status and Management report with special reference to the success story of Airgun Surrender Abhiyan of Arunachal Pradesh.

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Airgun Surrender Abhiyan was launched on 17th March 2021 at Seppa Forest Division, East Kameng by Arunachal’s Department of Forest and Environment led by the State’s Minister of Forest, Environment and Climate Change of Arunachal Pradesh, Mama Natung. The campaign encourages the voluntary surrender of airguns and licensed guns to address the rising issue of declining population of wildlife in Arunachal’s forests due to hunting and illegal poaching.

Over 2,400 weapons have been surrendered since the launch of the initiation. On 26th May 2022, a native of Lower Dibang Valley district surrendered his .22 caliber airgun worth Rs 3.5 lakh.

In a post on X, Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu lauded Minister Natung for the campaign. “Huge applause to Shri @NatungMama ji, Hon Minister for Environment & Forest, for having brought out this wonderful initiative to conserve wildlife, and also to all those whose efforts have scripted this historic feat,” Khandu posted.

Earlier, on 18th November 2021, Minister Natung received the ‘Conservation Award’ for the campaign on behalf of the Forest Department at the 6th North-East Green Summit 2021, held at IIT Silchar. The Airgun Surrender Abhiyan was also mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 84th episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on 26 December 2021 where he lauded the Arunachal Administration and praised the people of Arunachal Pradesh for surrendering their air guns to protect wildlife.

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