Manas National Park, Assam, October 15, 2017: A street play that emphasises the necessity of flourishing wild habitats and the role of people in destroying or preserving them, performed by students from Bansbari, a village on the fringes of Manas National Park, was staged today on Park Opening Day near the park entrance gate. The performance was organised by IFAW-WTI, the Assam Forest Department and the Bodoland Territorial Council.
Based on the theme ‘Why the Manas River dried up’, the play was conceived by local artiste JP Das and WTI’s Head Veterinarian (North-East) Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, who also heads the IFAW-WTI Greater Manas Recovery Project. Eminent local theatre personality Siddhartha Mukherjee scripted and directed the play, and artist and social worker Dhiraj Bharali created the paper clay masks that the children wore during the performance.
The street play was performed by students of a village on the fringes of Manas and has been created as part of an ongoing community awareness campaign.
The street play was created as part of an ongoing community awareness campaign under the Greater Manas Recovery Project. Apart from the theatrical training that the students received in preparation for their performance, they were also taken inside Manas National Park to let them experience the wilderness firsthand. “This was actually a form of ‘wildlife orientation’ for the students”, said Dr Choudhury. “Some 50 of them from Bansbari High School and Seuj Jatiya Vidyalaya were asked to hear the sounds of Manas by sitting silently near the river for a period of 10 minutes. They were asked to breathe deeply and take in the smell of the forest. They were then asked to speak about the importance of the forest and the river. They understood that forests are a divine gift; since we cannot create forests or rivers, it is our responsibility to preserve these natural habitats.”
The opening day event saw a footfall of 550 to 600 people. Attendees comprised tourists, press, the Park Director, senior forest officials and local communities living around the park. A large canvas with a rhino was put up on location to collect signatures of people who pledged to keep plastics out of the park.
“I am extremely pleased that the IFAW-WTI team in Manas organised a street play on Park Opening Day with the support of the Assam Forest Department”, said Babul Brahma, Range Forest Officer, Bansbari. “I am certain that this performance by local students was an eye opener for fringe villagers and other stakeholders, and will help them understand the importance of wildlife conservation.”