White sand beaches, coral reefs, a thriving marine life, and roughly about 300 islands is what constitutes Andaman and Nicobar Islands. And to preserve this delicate natural wonder organisations like Andaman and Nicobar Environment Team (ANET), work relentlessly.
Established in 1993, ANET is an initiative of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT), which came into being after a series of surveys by Rom Whitaker, Zai and Satish.
Currently ANET is managed through a partnership between MCBT and Dakshin Foundation, Bangalore.
ANET was initially established to serve as a field station for research in the islands. “The teams mission is to develop effective conservation strategies based on a sound understanding of the islands’ diverse socio-ecological systems. ANET is the only well established civil society group, which has representations on several planning committees that address ecological and developmental concerns in the island,” says Adhith Swaminathan, Base Coordinator, ANET.
ANET is a multidisciplinary marine and terrestrial research and conservation center with ongoing projects on dugongs (medium-sized marine mammal), sea turtles, coral reefs, invasive species, fisheries, and herpetofauna (study of amphibians and reptiles), among many other things.
On creating awareness among the local people about the work that ANET does, Adhith says, “We have focused on environmental education in the last few years and are working with the education department in the Andamans to develop a handbook specific to the islands, which is contextual and locally relevant.
This Environmental Education textbook is expected to serve around 150 middle schools in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, once approved.
“We have also worked with the various departments to provide capacity building workshops for both research, conservation and education purposes.”
ANET is primarily a research center that facilitates such work. There are several researchers using ANET as a base to conduct their studies. One among the many areas that researchers are working on is to understand the regulatory and cultural significance of traditional resource use practices.
This programme aims to explore the ecological regulation properties of a number of traditional activities ranging from hunting, harvesting, gleaning and collection, as well as comparison of changes in practices over time.
Over the years, ANET has facilitated ongoing research activities and collaborated on projects with several partners such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bangalore, the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Mysore and the Dakshin Foundation, Bangalore. A list of the current projects can be found here.
ANET plans to continue research work and focus on environmental education and increase awareness among the local communities through education programs, capacity building programs and awareness programs.
Photo credits: Adhith Swaminathan