Rajasthan is one of the richest states in terms of wildlife as its hot and dry climate, its vast sandy areas, hilly tracts and numerous lakes, rivers and waterbodies provide diverse habitat conditions suitable for a number of species.
Rajasthan also happens to be the land of Bishnois, who are fierce protectors of living species and have been standing up against poachers and hunters for over five hundred centuries now.
And now the state’s forest department has hit upon a novel idea to create awareness about animals and birds. Each of its 33 districts will be represented by an animal mascot. The mascot of each district will be distinct to the particular district. For instance, the deer has been declared the mascot of Jaipur and crane in Bharatpur.
Officials say the main reason is to create awareness of the various animal and bird species which are found in the region amongst the masses. The mascots in the different districts are:
Kharmor bird in Ajmer, Sambar deer in Alwar, Bronze winged Jacana in Banswara,Alligator in Baran, Fox in Barmer, Peacock in Bhilwara, Sandgrouse in Bikaner,Golden pheasant in Bundi, Rabbit in Dausa and Indian Screamer in Dholpur.
Sarus Cranes, the world’s tallest crane, will represent Bharatpur, which also houses the Keoladeo-Ghana National Park. The Demoiselle Cranes, the smallest crane, known for migrating over the Himalayas, will represent Jodhpur district to recognize the village of Keechan, where local people feed tens of thousands of these wintering cranes each year.
Expert Dr. Gopi Sundar, SarusScape Program Director for the International Crane Foundation says that this important process will help highlight the importance of wetland habitats for cranes in Rajasthan. The wetlands of Rajasthan are critically important for the wintering populations of Demoiselle and Eurasian Cranes, along with a very important resident population of Sarus Cranes.
The word ‘mascot’ actually comes from the French term ‘mascotte’ meaning lucky charm. The word was first heard and recorded in 1867 and popularised by the opera ‘La Mascotte’, performed in December 1880. It then entered the English language in 1881. The French word comes from modern Provençal ‘mascoto’, meaning piece of witchcraft, charm, amulet – a feminine diminutive of ‘masco’, meaning witch.
The word probably has its origin in late Latin ‘masca’. In olden days, the word mascot was associated with inanimate objects such as a lock of hair or the figurehead on a sailing ship. But from the start the 19th century and up to the present days, the term is most often linked to a good luck animal.