Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Common Ants of Goa

Goa is a blessed land when it comes to studies on lesser fauna, because of a host of people who have been working on them for many decades now and have been successful in popularizing their respective lesser fauna to like minded Goans. Take for example the interest shown by Goan students and nature enthusiasts in Odonates (Dragonflies and Damselflies) in the past few years primarily because of the efforts of Parag Rangnekar to popularize it. I on the other hand, having made an entry in this scenario just four years ago and studying an even more obscure group of lesser fauna viz. ANTS, had an uphill task.Whenever I say to someone that I study ants, I get two questions:

Why even bother about those insignificant creatures?

followed by

How can I kill them?

Down the line, I realized that this probably is because not many in India have been very successful in making ants as charismatic as the Butterflies, Birds or Tiger. This probably also has something to do with the perception of human thinking, which labels anything smaller than ourselves and dull in appearance as insignificant or unworthy of our attention and time. 

Ants though, are neither ecologically insignificant or dull in any way! Having witnessed the multitude of ant diversity in Goa, I decided it is up to me to share this with every like minded person in the state. The first step was to take this to students of Goa, who are ever ready to learn and understand new facets of their surroundings primarily because the Goan culture is still deeply rooted in nature.
  
One fine day I finally decided that I have enough resources and expertise to make a very basic level material for school kids and to induce them to look at the world of ants through a different perspective and so a poster on Common Ants of Goa was thought about by me and Dr. Vaibhav Chindarkar. We aimed this poster to be the first step to generate interest in school and college students along with wildlife tourists in Goa. 

So with generous funding from Mineral Foundation of Goa and support from Goa Forest Department, Pondicherry University and Government College of Arts, Science and Commerce- Sanquelim, One Thousand copies of this poster have been printed which will be distributed free of cost to all Schools and Colleges across Goa.





A high resolution version can be downloaded from the below link:




A lot of people have helped me and have worked hard to make this project a reality and no amounts of gratitude would suffice. I list down all the people who have made this project a reality! 

Dr. Vaibhav Chindarkar my dear mentor, guide, friend and every other thing I can think of in all my endeavours till date both personal/professional and co-author of this poster.

Parag Rangnekar for all the suggestions and work put in even when he was out in the middle of no where for five days. 

Gauri Dalal for having to answer my frantic queries on funds and transfers.

Harshada Gauns and Satchidanand Gauns for all the running around getting me the common names of ants in Konkani.

Conrad Pinto for the lovely work designing this poster and Eveny Luis for the lunch and lemonades while working

Dr. K V Devi Prasad for his guidance without which I would have never been able to work in Goa in the first place.

Dr. M.K. Janarthanam for being a constant source of motivation throughout these years and being the first support for me in Goa University.

Also it would be unfair on my part not to mention Nirmal Kulkarni and Devadatta Naik who had initially put this idea of making a poster for ants in my head.

A big thanks to Dr. K. Chandrashekara, Dr. T.M. Mustak Ali for introducing and training me in Myrmecology and Shyamal Lakshminarayanan for teaching me valuable lessons on various concepts till date!

The way is forward and we hope to come out with a flip book on Ants of Goa very soon, which will aid in identification of Ants on field God willing as the next step in this process. 

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