6th October 2018: The 66th year of Wild Life Week was celebrated by the Nature Club of Salesian College Sonada by having a short trip to Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling. The Wild Life Week usually falls on the first week of the month of October. The club welcomed the week on 3rd October 2018 by presenting a special assembly speech by Miss Anuraghi Rai, the President of the Club and Miss Risha Rajjak, the Joint Secretary. They introduced the significance of the week with this year’s theme “Big Cat Predators under threat”. The assembly speech was followed by the act of planting a sapling on the college compound with the hands of the college guest Rev. Fr.K. U. Mathew from Haryana.
Accordingly, as planned the Club animators Mr. Prashant Rai, Miss Prayana Subba and Miss Nomu Sherpa got permission from the Principal Fr. Dr. George Thadathil to take the students to Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling.
At 1:30 pm 20 Students along with the Club animators Mr. Prashant Rai and Miss Prayana Subba headed towards Darjeeling Zoo in college bus. It was around 2:37 pm the team reached the Zoological park. The group was introduced to Miss Pranita Gupta, the education assistant and Miss Rohini Chettri, the research assistant of the Park. They guided the team from Salesian College Sonada throughout the park. First of all, Miss Gupta gave a short history of the park, how the Darjeeling Himalayan Zoological Park was named as Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park after the name of first lady governor of West Bengal by India’s former PM Indira Gandhi in the year 1975. Miss Guptainformed about the specialty of the park, that it is the only Zoo where the North-Eastern Himalayan flora and fauna are kept on their original habitational style at their best. They have special breeding centers for Red Panda and Snow Leopard as well. The Zoo has 70 acres of area out of which 75% is the Jungle section. The team was thoroughly guided by Miss Gupta and Miss Chettri along the three sections of the park, the lesser carnivorous, the herbivorous and the carnivorous section. The team got to know about the exotic and indigenous fauna of the Eastern Himalayan region, Red Panda, Markhor deer, Sambhar deer, Pheasants, wild cats, big cats, reptiles, the big black Asian Bear and many more. The team was further guided by Mr. Sairus Bhaktaraj Pradhan, the taxidermist, in the Bengal National History Museum which is one of the section of the Park. He gave description about everything that was in display inside the Museum, basically the specimens which were more than 100 years old was something fascinating. He shared his knowledge about the art of preservation of animal hides, about the ecology of West Bengal and species of different insects as well.
By then it was 4:05 pm. Every member of the group was provided with a pamphlet describing the entire 15 aspects of the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. The two faculty members were provided with special zoo notebooks. The zoo authorities even provided copies of Collection of Bengal Natural History Museum, Darjeeling, Conservation Breeding Programme of Darjeeling Zoo an Overviewand Animal Species and their Identifying charactersfor the college library. The college team took the final group picture with the guiding members of the Zoo before leaving.
The students were very energized by the dedication of Zoo authorities and motivated by their spirit of hard work towards the act of awareness and preservation of Wild Life.By clearing their several queries, they collected enough information about the rare and endangered species of the Eastern Himalayas. At around 4:30 pm the team stated back towards college campus. At around 5:45 pm the college bus reached campus area, ending a day full of enthusiasm and learnings.