The Founding ‘Father’ of our Society, the late Brigadier C. M. Cariappa was the moving spirit behind its establishment. He recognized well before environmental considerations became fashionable, the importance of preserving what we in Kodagu have inherited from our forefathers. He was aware of the great wealth of flora and fauna that has made this District what it is today. Being an avid and knowledgeable bird-watcher himself, he knew of the rich and varied avifauna that spread its wings through the length and breadth of the District. Among his other interests in the field of Wildlife and Nature, was his keen abiding interest in angling. This, not so much in luring fish for the sake of ‘hooking’ them, but from the aspect of preserving the mighty Mahseer in order that sporting anglers from other parts of the country would come to fish in the Kaveri and try their luck in landing this fighting and elusive game fish.
In September 1980 he addressed a letter to like-minded persons in Kodagu of the imminent threat to the district that was being caused by rampant poaching of wildlife and the widespread, uncontrolled felling of timber. The Brigadier was an impatient man who was determined that something must be done at the soonest to protect our natural resources before it was too late. For the purpose he proposed the setting up of a ‘wild life association’ and asked that a preliminary meeting to discuss his ‘brainchild’ be held in November that year. The response was immediate and positive. As a result the first “Founder’s Meeting” was held at the North Coorg Club on 9th December 1980. In January the following year it was decided that all members would take an oath in the form of a pledge that reads as follows,
“Convinced of the fundamental importance of conserving the natural environment upon which rests the foundation of human civilization, I solemnly pledge I that I will spare no effort to preserve our vanishing wildlife and our dwindling forest areas which our generation holds in trust for posterity”
It was agreed too that this pledge would be taken by all members present at the Annual General Body Meeting every year.
Among subjects discussed at the meeting were:
- The preservation and conservation of wildlife, including birds and fishes.
- Bird Watching.
- Wildlife photography
The Constitution of the “Coorg Wildlife Society” as it came to be known, was approved on 10th September 1981 and it was registered on 30th December 1981 vide S31/82 dated 30thDecember 1981. Mr. C.M. Thimaya a senior, well-respected Planter was elected as President which office he held till March 1985. He was as dedicated to the cause as was the Brigadier and stressed the importance of spreading the message of the preservation and conservation of our environment and our wildlife among the youth in our schools and colleges. Brig C. M. Cariappa accepted the appointment of Executive Vice President and among his many successes was the responsibility in getting the Sambar being accepted as the logo of the Society. Later Mr. Pratap Chittiappa was able to influence M/s Hindustan Thompson to design a crest that today is in such great demand that unauthorized vendors have been marketing it with their own color combinations!!!
Between Mr. Thimaya and Brig C M Cariapa they were able to impress upon the State government the imperatives of preserving Kodagu’s natural heritage and resources. They even proposed that since Government had placed an embargo on hunting it might consider a three-to-five year ban on felling of timber within the District. Alas, they were unable to make any impression in this vital issue, however, they were successful in getting the Forest Department to appoint the President of the Society to the State Wildlife Advisory Board where he would have greater access to the decision making authority.
Over the years, the Society has grown from strength to strength and now has a membership of 920. It has its own premises on land donated by the late Mrs. Bollu Chengapa where an appropriately named ‘Vanya Raksha’ auditorium has been constructed. Today it is an organization that is widely respected and well known throughout the Country.