Baputi Handique, an employee at Apeejay Tea’s Hilika Tea Estate in Assam, takes time out of his busy schedule to spread awareness about conservation of sparrows on World Sparrow Day among children and local population by explaining to them the life cycle of a sparrow, its food habits, why its population is declining and what can be done to save them using simple techniques such as building bird nest box, installing water vessels for bathing and drinking for birds, etc. as well as conducting rallies to ban usage of catapult and hunting of birds.
Baputi began the tradition of celebrating “World Sparrow Day” to make everyone in Hilika aware of the dwindling sparrow population. He has conducted bird watching workshops, rallied people to campaign to ban catapult and hunting, awareness programs about birds and their conservation, making nest boxes for homeless birds with the help of straw, card boxes etc. Baputi also leads the cleanliness drives in Hilika and one of the other interesting initiative taken by him is “Plastic free Hilika” where he involved school children of the estate every Saturday to clean their residences and surrounding areas. The inspired children took out a rally to spread awareness amongst people to stop hunting, to ban selling of catapult rubber as well as collection and burning of catapults. The children, who were engaged in hunting earlier, have turned into budding conservationists. His work has been recognized by the local media.
“Since childhood we have been taught about environment and wildlife. But it’s an irony that we seem to do nothing about it. I am just doing what I was taught in school, college, from my family, from my friends and from society. There is nothing unique about it, but a call from my heart,” said Baputi Handique.
Baputi is also one of the founding members of Society for Wildlife Conservation (SWLC), an NGO in Digboi which creates awareness on conservation of wildlife among the people living in the forests and villages in the periphery of forest as well as at the tea gardens. The awareness sessions are held at different venues such as schools, colleges and villages neighboring forest, carries out rescue operations, educational tours and bird surveys. Baputi’s role is to educate people regarding identification and conservation of birds and habitats. He is also actively associated with rescue operations. He is one of the guiding and contributing members of the checklist of birds conducted by the NGO at different tea estates. He has given more than 60 Powerpoint presentations at awareness programs organized by the NGO and Assam Forest Department (Digboi Division). He is currently working on a Rapid Action Project (RAP) on Vulture conservation sponsored by Wildlife Trust of India (W.T.I.) under SWLC He is now a resource person in implementing the different principles of Rainforest Alliance where he takes an active role in conducting Awareness programmes, training and holding meeting among the staff, school students, outside trainers and executives.
Baputi’s interest in nature was nurtured in him by his father from a very young age and later by renowned wildlife photographer, author and conservationist Dr. Ranjan Kr. Das, who taught him during his graduation days. Dr. Das’ book “Pokhir Kakolit Dibru-Saikhuwa” had a lasting influence in Baputi’s life. In Hilika, he has spotted approximately 130 species of birds till date and is actively continuing his survey. Moreover, he has spotted more than 300 species of birds at different locations of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.