To allow them to learn from each other and figure out what opportunities exist for them, 17-year-old birder and naturalist Mahathi Narayanaswamy started an initiative called Chennai Young Naturalists Network. “There are 31 young naturalists in the group now. These days, parents are also letting their children involved in such activities. It gives youngsters confidence that becoming a naturalist is not a field that has no scope. Our goal is to bring youth together to study and protect our fast disappearing biodiversity. Our work can be divided into three categories - first is observation and discussion where we will be meeting regularly for walks (once lockdown eases) and discussions to observe and learn more about the world around us. Through this, we can help naturalists to build on their skills and also discover new opportunities. The second category is to compile, study and understand - we compile the data that we collect through our walks, to understand and comprehend different patterns that may be exhibited by wildlife. Thirdly, we are focusing on publication and outreach - we hope to reach out to institutions and people to encourage participation in wildlife-related activities,” says Mahathi.
Because of the lockdown, the team is mostly doing online activities. “We have a project on iNaturalist called the Chennai Young Naturalists Network. All observations made by our members are added to the project. We have conducted a live session during National Moth Week and also did a quiz session on Instagram. We are planning to conduct a session in collaboration with Stella Maris College in early August. Once things started easing out, we will have the opportunity to meet and get to know other members better,” the 17-year-old adds.