From Bandipur to India Gate to Gondia, WTI Celebrates International Tiger Day with Schoolchildren



The Hon’ble Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change prepares to flag off the Tiger Walk at Rajpath, New Delhi

July 29, 2016; New Delhi: Undeterred by the humidity and clouds threatening rain, over a thousand schoolchildren from twenty schools across the national capital converged to join a Tiger Walk from Rajpath to India Gate called by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

The walk was flagged off by Shri Anil Madhav Dave, the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The Hon’ble Minister administered a pledge to the assembled crowd that also included senior officials from the ministry, school teachers, wildlife enthusiasts and organisations such as WWF, Aircel and Sanctuary Asia.

Through its Wild Aid programme, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) had organised two tiger mascots that walked alongside the rally.  These mascots proved to be extremely popular as participants clamoured to click ‘selfies’ with them; tiger masks that were distributed among attendees provided more selfie opportunities. It was an enthusiastic and aware lot of schoolchildren – many from schools that were regular participants in Animal Action Education (AAE) – who understood the importance of the tiger in our ecosystem. For the unaware, the IFAW-WTI AAE film Born to be Wild: Saving the Majestic Tiger was screened prior to the minister’s arrival.

The minister extolled the fact that India houses 70 percent of the world’s tigers and said that it was a matter of pride that our national animal is a big draw for tourism.  Teachers accompanying the students showed great interest in continuing with awareness activities through the year with AAE; their participation in this event speaks volumes of their commitment to the cause of creating better individuals – a Green Gen Next for a greener planet.

A short video message by actor, director and founder member of WTI Club Nature Dia Mirza was also screened for the schoolchildren on the occasion. The message can be viewed here.

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Schoolchildren watch an AAE documentary on the tiger during the International Tiger Day event at Pitambar tola, Gondia

Gondia, Maharashtra: At WTI’s Central India Tiger Habitat Securement Project in Gondia, International Tiger Day was celebrated with the schoolchildren of Pitambar tola, a village situated on the boundary of Navegaon Wildlife Sanctuary.

WTI partnered with the Dongargaon (Depot) Wildlife Range to organise a programme at the Zilla Parishad Primary School in the village. Students were shown the IFAW-WTI Animal Action Education documentary Born to be Wild, and were briefed on the importance of tigers and forests by the ACF Sushil Gupta, Dongargaon RFO Deepak Baghde and WTI Asst Manager Anil Kumar. The programme was attended by the school students, teachers YK Salame and PS Nandanwar, Eco-development Committee (EDC) members and forest staff K.R. Kawale, W.A. Sonwane, and Belekar, and Ms Latpate of the Wildlife Division.

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Students don protective gear as they prepare to participate in a clean-up exercise in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve campus

Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka: The Karnataka Forest Department and WTI partnered to conduct an International Tiger Day event with schoolchildren from fringe villages around the tiger reserve, all with a high incidence of human-wildlife conflict.

The event was presided over by Mr Hiralal, Conservator of Forests, Bandipur TR, and was graced by Shri Mahadeva Prasad, Hon’ble Minister of Cooperation, Government of Karnataka, as the chief guest.

The students were picked up in Forest Department buses in the morning and given a sumptuous breakfast. Following this, Forest Department personnel gave them an overview of the issues currently facing wildlife and Protected Areas. The children were then given protective gear including masks, gloves and caps as they assisted forest staff in a brief cleaning drive of the Bandipur campus area, during which they were also told about the problems that wild animals face due to plastic pollution and other human activity. The AAE documentary Born to be Wild was then shown to them, followed by a Q&A session.

After a nice lunch the students were taken into the forest on safari in groups, where some of them reportedly spotted a tiger. Finally, they were given a copy of ‘Praanigalu’, a book about wild animals in India, and were dropped back home after an evening chai and an informal chat with Forest Department and WTI staff.