WildTeam has always strived to create a wide network of nature lovers. The more people join together to protect our threatened nature and wildlife – the greater our chance would be to succeed. That’s why, when Bangla Communications wanted us to be involved in their celebration of tigers last March, we were more than happy to join in.
On the last Global Tiger Day, Bangla Communication arranged a tiger-themed painting competition for children. This March, the winning paintings were featured in an exhibition at the Dhaka Art Center. The exhibition was expanded into a three-day colourful festival about Bengal tigers.
The exhibition was inaugurated by the wonderful Mustafa Monwar, who has inspired generations of Bangladeshi children to fall in love with art and Bangladesh’s beautiful nature. I had an opportunity to join in on the festivities on day two. The most amazing sight waited me as I entered Dhaka Art Center’s premesis, on one hall kids were learning origami – little colour paper butterflies, flowers and tigers were everywhere.
But the most wonderful surprise was seeing the paintings! Little kids, even three-four year olds, had painted so beautifully- it was amazing to see tigers through their eyes. Some paintings also had messages, of friendship between humans and wildlife, about how we should protect tigers instead of hunting them. It was great to see the messages we spread through our work, reflected in the simple thoughts of the children.
WildTeam hosted a short session in the evening, called বাঘ মামার গল্প শোনা ( storytelling about tigers). We started off the session by showing a short documentary on the beautiful Sundarbans, called আমাদের সুন্দরবন। The children gasped with delight as glimpses of tigers were shown, cheered as herds of deer ran through the Sundarbans swamp, and clapped as the vast Sundarbans landscape was shown from bird’s eye view. Next the animated music video for the সুন্দরবন মায়ের মতন (Mother-like Sundarbans) theme song was shown. The video introduced the children to Sundarbans nature, animals, birds and fishes with music and bright visuals. Afterwards, our dear Gawsia apu (Ms. Gawsia Wahidunnesa Chowdhury) led an interactive storytelling session with kids. Two volunteers took on the roles of brave children who protect some Sundarbans tigers from poachers with the help of their village elders. The simple story, with her wonderful storytelling skills won the hearts of everyone. We were also pleasantly surprised to see just how much the children knew about the Sundarbans wildlife! We ended the session with everyone standing up together and making a pledge to protect mother-like Sundarbans to the best of our abilities.
It was certainly a moment that gave one hope for a bright future for tigers!