Bengaluru, 5th February 2024: UPL Ltd., a global provider of sustainable agricultural solutions, organized the 2nd Sarus Crane Festival at the premises of Pariej Wetland in Kheda District. On the eve of World Wetlands Day, the festival aimed to raise awareness and promote the conservation of the Indian Sarus Crane (Grus Antigone). Wetlands are highly productive and biologically diverse systems that enhance water quality, control erosion, maintain stream flows, sequester carbon, and provide a home to Sarus Crane.
The event was graced by Chief Guest Shri S K Shrivastav, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Research and Training, Gandhinagar; Guests of Honour Ms Namrata Italia, DCF, Anand; Mr Rupak Solanki, DCF, Kheda, Mr Rishi Pathania, Vice President – CSR, UPL Ltd.; Dr. Jatinder Kaur, Program Manager – UPL Sarus Conservation, along with other representatives from UPL Ltd. The event also witnessed active involvement from 15 schools, engaging 150 students and teachers. It featured a photo exhibition on Sarus cranes and a spirited drawing competition among the students.
The Indian Sarus Crane, the tallest flying bird globally and categorized as vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, traditionally inhabits wetlands and shares spaces with humans. It relies on agricultural fields for feeding and breeding. The decline in the number of wetlands and the deterioration of existing habitats are considered to be the main reasons for the Sarus’s decline.
To conserve Sarus cranes, UPL initiated the Sarus Conservation Project in 2015. This project has played a pivotal role in increasing the Sarus Crane population from 500 in 2015-16 to 1254 in 2022-2023. The UPL team worked closely with farmers, correcting misconceptions and behavioural attitudes toward Sarus through education and voluntary participation.
At the festival, Chief Guest Shri S K Shrivastav, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Research and Training, said, “The Sarus Conservation Project is a commendable initiative by UPL that brings communities together for the noble cause of wildlife conservation. Such efforts are vital in fostering coexistence between nature and humanity.”
Speaking about the initiative, Mr Sagar Kaushik, President of Global Corporate Affairs & Industry Relations at UPL Ltd., said, “The Sarus Conservation Project reflects our commitment to sustainability and biodiversity. It is heartening to see the positive impact of our collaborative efforts, creating a thriving environment for the Sarus Crane and communities alike. This initiative in Kheda and Anand districts has helped Gujarat to hold the second-highest wild population of Sarus in India, and we have seen a 151% rise over eight years.”
Sharing his experience, Mr Rishi Pathania, Vice President – CSR, UPL Ltd., said, “The Sarus Crane Festival is a testament to UPL’s commitment for species conservation. The Sarus Conservation project has created an umbrella network of 88 Rural Sarus Protection Group volunteers from 40 villages engaged in protecting nests, eggs, and juveniles from poaching and predation. Additionally, 32,166 students and the community have been sensitized to Sarus Crane Conservation, and 5,000 farmers have been educated on the need and importance of conserving the Sarus Crane.”
In addition to its conservation impact, UPL has received widespread recognition for its Sarus initiative, earning accolades such as the ACEF Asian Leaders Forum & Awards 2017, India CSR Leadership Summit 2017, Coffee for Cause: Conversation on Sustainability & CSR 2018, Dainik Jagran CSR Awards 2019, 17th Federation of Gujarat Industries (FGI) Awards 2021, 5th Indian Chamber of Commerce, Social Impact Awards 2023, and an Appreciation Plaque in 2023.