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Paint Manas Green project

As part of the International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) Animal Action Education Programme, the young boys and girls of Kahitama High School, Bahbari High School and Manas M E School joined their teachers, local artists and members of theDepartment of Education, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) as they made their school walls explode with colour while painting their favourite animals all over them. The objective- to spread awareness on the plight of wildlife in Manas National Park. Already three schools have been covered under the campaign.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare's Animal Action Education programme (IFAW-AAE) is operational in 18 countries making it the largest animal-oriented educational project, designed especially for children to sensitise them towards the issues being faced by animals around the world. In India, the programme is carried out by Wildlife Trust of India in thousands of schools across the country.

With the campaign themed ‘Paint Manas Green’, the AAE programme is being jointly conducted across the district targeting, around 4,000 participants, under the banner of IFAW-WTI’s ‘Greater Manas Conservation Project’.

The collaboration between IFAW-WTI and the Department of Education, which focuses on reaching the AAE message of wildlife conservation to as many schools as possible, has also seen translation of the activity packs, including a DVD, into the regional Bodo language. This year’s packs are themed ‘Elephants, Never Forget’. “We have around 3,000 schools in BTC, and elephants are a part of our natural heritage that we want our children to learn about, respect, feel proud of and help conserve,” remarked Shri Rabi Sankar Borgoyari, Director of the Department of Education, BTC.

The school’s headmaster, Lokhiram Basumatary, said, “This is the first time such a colourful and innovative event took place in our school, which was not only extremely enjoyable, but also allowed the students, teachers and local community to take home an important message. We are glad to be one of the schools to collaborate with IFAW-WTI to spread the message of wildlife conservation in Manas.”

Lyka Basumatary, one of the five students that painted large rhinos and elephants on the wall commented, “We are responsible for protecting Manas’s future, and my friends and I had a great time painting our favourite animals, in our effort to protect them from danger.”

A workshop was held in September this year as a part of this collaboration, and brought together the teachers from 28 schools located very close to the Greater Manas area. In addition to these teachers, Department of Education officials also participated, who would be instrumental in distributing the activity packs to schools. They were informed about the AAE programme and given specific training on conducting the programme in their schools/regions.

IFAW-WTI sociologist Sanatan Deka said, “Teachers are the messengers who take back the message on wildlife conservation to their societies. Our broad objective is to educate and create awareness among the locals on conservation so we can build a strong and sustainable society, and teachers are the best people to spread that message.”

As per the programme, the educators will carry out various awareness programmes like drawing competitions and quizzes among the students in schools, all related to wildlife and its conservation. Each school will send around 15 of their best drawings for the final section, and prizes and certificates will be given to the best drawing selected among them. Besides, prizes and certificates will also be given to teachers and schools that best conduct the programme.

On Wednesday, Bahbari High School and Manas M E School undertook the same activity while Panbari High School will paint their walls on 22 November, and Kachugaon Public School on 25 November 2013.

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