Project Updates December 2023-January 2024

First published in Sanctuary Asia, Vol. 44 No. 2, February 2024

A Sanctuary Report - December 2023-January 2024
Notes, anecdotes and reports from Sanctuary Nature Foundation’s projects across the country.

Kids For Tigers
Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan
Supported by Morningstar CSR

Twenty-two girls, who regularly use the Computer Centre in Kutalpura Maliyan, set up by Morningstar and the Sanctuary Nature Foundation, were taken on an excursion for an outdoor nature class to the National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary on December 29, 2023. Govardhan Meena, Kids for Tigers Coordinator, Sawai Madhopur, guided the tour. The girls explored the Chambal Gharial Sanctuary by boat, observing gharials, mugger crocodiles, and avian life. Dr. Ramsingh Meena, a veterinary officer at the sanctuary, elaborated on the Chambal’s biodiversity and inspired the students to protect the Chambal Gharial Sanctuary and its inhabitants.

Empowering young minds, Govardhan Meena, Sawai Madhopur Kids for Tigers Coordinator, leads 22 girl students from Kutalpura Maliyan Computer Centre on an outdoor nature class at the National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary. Photo: Sanctuary Photolibrary.

Forest officer Seema Meena of the Ranthambhore National Park, recently awarded the Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award for her contributions to wildlife conservation, also interacted with the young women, urging them to get involved and do what they could for wildlife protection – an incredibly inspiring experience for these young students.

Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Panna, Delhi and Bengaluru
Supported by IndusInd Bank CSR

Several nature trails were conducted across different Kids for Tigers’ cities supported by IndusInd Bank. Children from all sections of society were introduced to the wonders of nature, with its diversity of habitats and ecosystems, urban and rural.

In Coimbatore, the nature trail was conducted by Kids for Tigers Coordinator Mohammed Saleem, one of the city’s most respected naturalists. The trail was held at the Boluvampatti Forest on December 10, 2023, and resource persons included the coordinator at the World Wildlife Fund D. Boominathan, ornithologist Selva Ganesh, and forest guard Vijay Kumar and his colleagues. The excited young participants were able to spot diverse wild species, from chital to Malabar giant squirrels, and a host of avians. They also visited a water purification plant, where the Siruvani river water undergoes treatment before being distributed citywide.

Young explorers embark on a nature trail at Boluvampatti Forest on December 10, 2023, guided by Mohammed Saleem, Kids for Tigers Coimbatore Coordinator, alongside various other reputed naturalists from the city. Photo: Sanctuary Photolibrary.

The expedition also included a visit to Singampatti, one of six tribal settlements nestled in the forest. Participants had a unique opportunity to interact with the tribal chief, gaining insights into their lifestyle and traditions. The encounter provided a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the forest and its inhabitants. “The nature trail proved most educational and beneficial, offering pupils valuable insights into the natural world. Visiting the tribal settlement and water treatment plant opened avenues for learning. The outing was greatly appreciated by all participants,” said Muthulakshmi, a teacher at Perks Matriculation Higher Secondary School.

In Hyderabad on December 13, 2023, in the picturesque Telangana State Forest Academy (TSFA), Dulapally, nestled within a sprawling 75 to 100 acre forest, Kids for Tigers Coordinators Anand and Geetha Madhubashi took participants on a delightful nature trail and introduced them to the Academy’s dedicated programme, ‘Children and Forest Education’, that fosters awareness among children about nature, wildlife and conservation.

Guided by the insightful Rammohan Rao, Forest Range Officer, TSFA, the children received a captivating discourse on wildlife, emphasising the profound importance of all living things to humanity and the planet, and the need to respect them. Adding another layer to the expedition, Dr. Dharma Chandra Kumar, a Ph.D. in Medicinal Plants, joined the nature trail through the picturesque forest landscape. His expertise provided fascinating insights into the significance and diverse uses of various floral species. The trail covered a distance of approximately 3.5 km., revealing not only the beauty of the natural surroundings but also the wealth of information that the forest holds. Both children and their teachers were captivated, and eager to learn more. A teacher of The Shriram Universal School, Vanitha, commented, “It was a wonderful and insightful session with Rammohan. His elucidation on the vital role of forests in sustaining life on Earth resonated deeply, prompting a call to action.” After the trail, participants convened for a refreshing lunch on the premises before dispersing, carrying with them not just memories but a newfound appreciation for the remarkable forest and its rich biodiversity.

In Nagpur, a nature trail was conducted at the Gorewada Biodiversity Park on December 20, 2023. Conservationist Tejinder Singh Rawal and Kids for Tigers Nagpur Coordinator Ekta Bhaiya led the students and teachers on the trail, where they spotted many different water birds including the Common Coot, Red-crested Pochard, and cormorants. A Class Eight student of School of Scholars Wanadongri, Adityawardhan Sable, said “It wasn’t any normal day when I had to go to school – this time, we didn’t learn from books, but learned the most important lesson, which is adaptability from nature itself. I would like to come again and again to see such beautiful treasures of nature.”

On January 6, 2024, Baavan, in conjunction with the Sanctuary Nature Foundation’s Kids for Tigers programme led by Coordinator Deepak Ahirwar, held a wonderful Tiger Festival at the Pattan Government Middle School in Chhatarpur district, Panna. The Chaurasia (KP) Foundation has been active in upgrading the houses and school of Pattan, and was also an active participant. The NGO Samavesh, also active in the Panna area, set up fascinating stalls demonstrating the absorbing way they impart science education in schools, and they also showcased organic farm seeds. Students from the middle schools in Madla, Rajgarh and Baharpura also participated along with several enthusiastic volunteers. Despite the rough weather, a large audience gathered to appreciate the enchanting and educative mime acts, plays and songs that were performed on stage. Several fun workshops on origami, art using natural items such as leaves and pebbles, face painting, calligraphy and BMI measurement checks were also appreciated. A sunny day in spite of the dark clouds and rain! It was a perfect and fun way to encourage tiger conservation and environmental education among all age groups.

Six children from Delhi schools were selected as Tiger Ambassadors and taken to the Protected Area in Rajasthan along with their teachers for an overnight trip to the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, as part of the  Kids for Tigers’ Annual Residential Camp 2023-24, which was held from January 3-4, 2024. Led by the Delhi Kids for Tigers Coordinator Neerajj Mittra, the children were taken to Sawai Madhopur by train on January 3, 2024. After spending a night at a resort, the children were taken on a safari the next morning into the reserve. For the children and their teachers, visiting the wild was a novel experience, with the anticipation of a potential tiger sighting only part of the fun

After the safari, the children were taken to the local handicrafts village, Dastkar, where they observed how local communities use traditional handicrafts for alternate livelihoods, reducing their dependence on forest products. This wrapped up an exciting, fun-filled yet educational camp, full of nature and wildlife.

On January 19, 2024, more than 250 kids, 34 teachers and 12 schools in Bengaluru participated in the Kids for Tigers’ Fest held at Bal Bhavan. The festival, which is dedicated to celebrating the environment while concurrently fostering awareness about pressing environmental issues, is supported by IndusInd Bank, and was organised by Bengaluru Kids for Tigers Coordinator, Mamlakatoi Haidarova.

Young minds showcase their artistic scrolls, advocating for wildlife and environmental conservation, at the Tiger Fest held in Bengaluru on January 19, 2024, at Bal Bhavan. Photo: Sanctuary Photolibrary.

This year’s fest was centred around the theme ‘Project Tiger – The Next 50 Years’, emphasising the intricate interconnectedness of biodiversity and underscoring the crucial message that safeguarding tigers and their habitats is indispensable for ensuring the nation’s food and water security.

The event commenced with an inaugural address by Kalyan Varma, a renowned wildlife photographer and filmmaker. Utilising various creative activities, including a nature quiz, face painting sessions, group songs, pick-and-speak competitions, and scroll displays, the festival provided a platform for students and teachers from 20 city schools to contemplate conservation efforts, combating climate change, and advocating for the sustainable coexistence of all species on Earth. The overarching goal was to galvanise collective climate action and instil a sense of responsibility towards our environment.

Mumbai, Maharashtra
Supported by Anant Bajaj Paryavaran Mitra and Bajaj Electricals CSR

The Kids for Tigers programme in Mumbai had a great 2023-24. We conducted over 25 Audio-Visual shows, inspiring thousands of kids to join the movement for a greener, better future. The coming months have a lot of exciting events planned for kids from the city, including a two-night annual camp in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve!

Kolkata and Sundarban, West Bengal
Supported by H T Parekh CSR

The second iteration of ‘Art for the Wild’, a vibrant art festival with the mission to instill awareness about wildlife conservation, environmental issues, and climate change among children and the broader community, was held in Kolkata from December 22 to 24, 2023.

The festival with its overarching theme ‘Bengal’s forest, wildlife and us’ was curated to engage schools in Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, and their suburbs, and encourage children to express themselves through art. Collaborating with 21 reputed art schools, Kids for Tigers orchestrated the exhibition at the prestigious Gallery Gold, featuring artworks from 89 schools.

Internationally acclaimed artist Sushanta Paul, known for his installation art, and Prof. Silanjan Bhattacharyya inaugurated the three-day exhibition on December 22, 2023. A unique approach to the inauguration included the participation of 10 underprivileged children from the ‘Sobuj-Mon’ initiative to empower those often marginalised in mainstream opportunities. The children received Kids for Tigers’ branded hampers.

The exhibition saw over 4,000 visitors over three days, including school principals, administrators, teachers, non-teaching staff, as well as notable personalities from the art and culture sectors. The event received extensive coverage from both print and digital media.

From thousands of artworks created by the children, the six best from each age group, six ‘special-mentions’ and two ‘public-choice’ awards were selected. The best artists were honoured with framed certificates of excellence.

Empowering change: Ten underprivileged children from the ‘Sobuj-Mon’ initiative receive Kids for Tigers’ branded hampers. Photo: Sanctuary Photolibrary.

A few lucky Kolkata kids also got to experience the mangrove ecosystem of the Sundarban in an immersive camp. From January 6-8, 2024, students and educators from five different schools in Kolkata participated in a residential camp at the Sundarban Tiger Reserve, organised by the Kids for Tigers programme, HT Parekh Foundation, and SHER.

The camp, led by Sanctuary Green Teachers and Kids for Tigers Coordinators Joydip and Suchandra Kundu, offered valuable insights into the intricacies of the mangrove ecosystem. Local student and SHER’s young conservation advocate, Manish Sarkar, played a pivotal role in imparting knowledge about human-wildlife coexistence in the delta. A designated eco-guide shared valuable insights into the landscape, enhancing the participants’ understanding of the unique ecosystem.

The young campers, alongside their teachers, had the opportunity to observe life in the mangroves, understand tidal dynamics, and engage with stakeholders who coexist with tigers in the region. A specially-curated book on the delta’s birdlife proved to be a helpful resource as they identified numerous bird species during the camp, fostering a deeper connection with the diverse flora and fauna of Sundarban.

A unique session allowed for a dynamic information exchange and dialogue between seven local students and the Kids for Tigers ambassadors. The children delved on various topics, including the life and ecology of Sundarban, the challenges posed by climate change, and the delta’s impact on both rural and urban communities. Participants shared their experiences, offering valuable insights from their perspectives. The discussion made a lasting impression on both groups involved, fostering a sense of environmental awareness and collaboration.

The camp concluded at BaghBon, SHER’s multipurpose community resource centre, with the active participation of Rajendra Jakher, IFS (CCF and Field Director of the Tiger Reserve); Jones Justin, IFS (Deputy Field Director); Biplab Ghosh, WBFS (Range Officer of Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary Range); and forester Rajib Naskar. These officials actively interacted with the participants, enriching their understanding of wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship. The conclusion of the camp marked not just the end of an event but the beginning of a journey towards fostering an entire generation of environmentally conscious citizens.


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