By Ankita Kanwar
January 31, 2014: It was a chilly Friday morning as our communication team at Wildlife SOS made their way to Salwan Public School in Delhi. Wildlife SOS and sister NGO, Friendicoes, were invited to participate at the school’s ‘Kids for Tigers’ fest– a joint initiative by Sanctuary Asia and Kids for Tigers.
The festival included several popular schools from Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) participating in various competitions aimed at spreading awareness about the environment. Our team decided to launch a pledge and engage the students in the protection of Indian wildlife.
The Wildlife SOS communication booth was a riot of colours and had banners, posters and leaflets to create awareness about how wild animals need our protection. School children stopped by our booth to learn very quickly that watching an elephant in a circus or riding one for fun; or paying to watch a bear dance on the streets; or standing by while a snake-charmer makes snakes perform, would only encourage these wild animals to be exploited more. The students also learnt that these activities were banned and illegal in India and they pledged to not watch or encourage these illegal activities.
The Wildlife SOS pledge form was the center of attraction and hundreds of school children vowed to never encourage the exploitation of wild animals.
“I did not realize that watching a snake-charmer perform or riding an elephant was encouraging the people to be cruel to them!” exclaimed Anshu Gupta, an excited 11-year-old student. Wide-eyed and ever-so-curious, the little boy soon had all his little friends at our stall. Soon, the students from senior classes joined in too, to sign the pledge against animal cruelty.
“The snake-charmer I saw had stitched up the mouth of the poor snake … so it wouldn’t bite him!” one student chipped in. “The other day, I saw a tiny bird that fell off a nest. Next time, can I call Wildlife SOS to help the baby bird?” was another query. The Wildlife SOS Helpline and Animal Rescue unit would be ever-ready to help any animal in distress, was our response.
Another student Monalisa Singh said, “I will never again go to a circus now that I know how these poor animals are trained.” “I will also tell my mom and dad how they are treated,” she added with sincere concern in her voice.
The Wildlife SOS booth managed by Ankita and Amanjeet was buzzing with fun activities that kept the children engaged. The long queue of students in front of our stall didn’t show any signs of receding! The children also left their mark at our booth by filling in an elephant outline with colourful block printing stamps with each pledge to show their love for the elephant! In no time, the elephant was a loved, happy and colourful one!
The conservation education booth also had banners about India’s first and only chain-free elephant care center near Agra in Uttar Pradesh. The children were invited to visit and walk among elephants and learn about these gentle giants and watch how they respond to love and compassion.
It was indeed a pleasure to see how the children responded. They were brimming with energy, enthusiasm and questions! A perfect occassion to have all of them answered, too!
We encourage everyone to come and visit our elephant center. All you need to do is write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and confirm an appointment for a special day with the elephants- a guided tour with our elephant experts. The children are all up for it… you’re invited too!