Storytelling for Asian Elephant Conservation
Storytelling is a part of many cultures that help people understand their environment and educate them about it. Current Conservation and Balipara Foundation collaborated together to host a storytelling session at the multi-disciplinary platform of the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics TM Forum on in November’18 in Assam, India to engage with students from schools in Guwahati in the Eastern Himalayas. Manini Bansal, Managing Editor at Current Conservation took her skill of storytelling to Balipara Foundation where she conducted workshops for children in Guwahati and Balipara.
Assam is an area that experiences a lot of human-elephant conflict. Manini saw this as an opportunity to make children understand the nature of elephants and the reasons behind these conflicts. She broke the ice with some role-playing games where children enacted elephant reactions to different scenarios. This allowed them to think about how the elephants would respond in such situations. The activity led to a discussion with the children about their interactions with elephants. They concluded that there is no side to be blamed for the human-elephant conflict but because humans have greater resources, they can help resolve the conflict. She narrated an adaption of Nachikethan’s field notes, “Gentle Giants”, a story of an elephant that bullied his herd members but was too scared to face a small turtle. The workshop was wrapped up with an interesting draw-your- pet-elephant session. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed personalizing their elephants and had some creative suggestions as to how they would like to take care of them. She was quite pleased to see the response of the children. They were open to sharing their first-hand stories regarding their interaction with elephants.