Last Wilderness Foundation in association with the Kanha Forest Department has initiated a Village Kids’ Awareness Programme which allows pivotal stakeholders of conservation i.e, the communities/ children living in the buffer areas of the park to understand the importance of the forest and imperativeness of conserving it and developing a connection of appreciation between them and nature.
The idea behind the programme was to meet with the local communities residing in the villages and to have a dialogue with them about the importance of conservation and what they can do in their capacity to protect it.
The programme was attended by 20 students and 5 teachers. While some of the students attending, had hearing impairment, a few of them had been diagnosed as mentally challenged. A 2-day camp for meant for students with special needs, was special for more reasons than one, where disability took a backseat and sheer love for the forests took over in the duration of the programme.
In continuation with project Unnati, which was initiated in the summer of 2015 and in order to facilitate and accommodate these students who want to continue their education post 8th standard, LWF funded 11 students (6 girls & 5 boys) for their hostel accommodation and educational expenses.
In order to re-iterate the linkage between humans and forests, students are exposed to the world of bio-diversity in a tiger reserve like Kanha so as to also emphasis the need for the students to help protect and preserve it and garner a sense of ownership towards the forest by accepting a certain sense of duty towards protecting the forest and denizens living within
The biggest post discussion takeaway for the students was to understand the forest and the animals by helping in dispelling myths about the same. The students were encouraged to create ‘myth busting’ awareness in their concerned regions so as to help other people also appreciate wildlife rather than fearing it or misusing it thereby leading to their depletion.
Thus, in keeping with the conflict scenario of the past, it was necessary to initiate awareness sessions to lay emphasis on the necessary precautionary steps to be taken in order to best avoid conflict situations in the future. To this effect, the LWF team embarked on a journey to a region fascinated yet unsure of their dealings with the denizens that often wander into the village realm.
Last Wilderness Foundation team embarked on a journey to initiate conservation awareness in a forest which not only houses an endangered species like the tiger but is the last wild scape for the Hard Ground Barasingha as well making it a critical habitat to protect.
Back on the tourism map with a bang, Panna now needs to reconnect with its locals who live in regions surrounding the park in order for them to join the conservation movement. Thus, in order for us to connect with the locals, the LWF team embarked on a journey to the land of diamonds, tigers and people.
In continuation to project Unnati, an initiative undertaken by LWF since 2015, the adults of the Pardhi community in Panna requested driving as a vocational training, in order to help them prepare professionally for mainstream society
LWF in collaboration with the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve management conducted a one-day workshop on 12th February, 2016 on understanding human-wildlife conflict and exploring the methods to be brought into force during a conflict situation.
A programme started in the summer of 2012, the Village Kids’ Awareness Programme conducted by the LWF is in its 8th leg, and yet the learning from the students and the rural side of the wilderness continues.
"Pehle zamane mein tiger logon ki sunta tha sahib! Aao bolo toh aata tha, aur chale jao bolo toh chala jata tha, ab lagta hai cheezein badal gayi hain. Ab woh humari nahi suntan. Humein tiger se koi shikayat nahi hain aur na hogi, lekin maveshi aur logon ki zindagi ka daar toh bana reht hai na?” – Ramnath, the cook for the programme, a local of Bagdara village, tiger’s neighbour.
The primary objective of the awareness sessions conducted by LWF has been to help enable village communities living in these areas to engage and interact with their surroundings in a manner that is mutually beneficial to both, forests and people.
The tiger is at the top of the food chain and hence is an indicator species. Through the tiger, nature ensures that there is a balance in the ecosystem. Therefore, the extinction of the tiger will result in the loss of lesser fauna and consequently the forests too.
When Archana a student living in Rohaniya village told us, “Tiger ki raksha karne se pehle humein apni raksha karna zaroori hai!”, we were indignant. We wondered why they didn’t want to save the tiger and how they expected to survive without it!
“Aisa dikhta hai kya tiger?” asked Om Prakash Yadav, pointing to the handsome face of a tiger that stared at us from our banner of LWF. Om Prakash Yadav has spent all his life in a village on the periphery of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve (BTR) and the truth is that he has never seen a tiger nor an image of this beast.
LWF and VIDYA NGO have collaborated to spread awareness about wildlife and the environment and to inculcate in people the need to protect and preserve them. VIDYA is an organisation that conducts holistic and integrated programmes that focus on education and empowerment, for children and adults, from lesser-privileged sections of society.
It is essential to create an understanding among the people living here about the forest, its denizens and its existence (which is so crucial to mankind) so that together with the help of the existing communities we can hope to make a co-existence model between man and animal.
Before these sessions many of the children thought of tigers as cattle-killers and man-eaters. However, post the sessions, it was heartening to note that they changed their points of view. Having learnt about the tiger and its importance in the ecosystem, they emphasised the need to protect it.
LWF donated 600 pairs of shoes to the daily wage staff of Panna Tiger Reserve. These shoes are meant to serve as a protective measure against snakebites and other conditions that they may face while on duty.
The ‘Van Rakshak' Training Programme was conducted by LWF in association with the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department at Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve to enhance the knowledge base of the staff of the Forest Department vis-à-vis biodiversity and wildlife of BTR.
LWF surveyed 31 villages in and around Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in June 2010. The purpose of the survey was to study social, economic and demographic profiles of these villages in order understand the level of impact they had on conservation and to gather information about the social, economic and demographic factors that affect them.