Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) organised a wall painting competition to encourage schoolchildren living in the Garo Hills to celebrate their wildlife through art during Wildlife Week, which is celebrated in India every year in the first week of October.
Five students from two schools were chosen to lead the mural painting, which was inspired by the theme ‘Wildlife and its conservation’. Most of the murals depicted Indian Elephants in their natural habitat, but one was a portrait of Roger, who is fondly remembered by the Garo community.
A community-built legacy
Community participation is essential for the conservation projects in Garo Hills, as the project aims to place wildlife habitats under community protection. The habitat is mainly characterised by tropical evergreen forests, and is home to around 800-1,000 Indian Elephants, as well as Indian Leopard, Slow Loris, Pig-tailed Macaque, Sun Bear, and the Endangered Western Hoolock Gibbon.
“Wall painting has been an important tool for community engagement which WTI has successfully implemented in other parts of the country as well,” says Upasana Ganguly, Assistant Manager of WTI’s Wild Lands programme. “This leaves behind a permanent message on school walls which children can view regularly, helping them build an attachment to the wildlife of Garo Hills and commitment to protecting it.”
“Roger had a special place for Garo in his heart. The local community understands and respects Roger’s and WLT’s unwavering support in securing their natural and cultural heritage. So when a mural competition was organised, they wanted to paint one of Roger as a tribute to him.”
This project is part of WTI’s wider mission to protect 101 wildlife corridors used by Indian Elephants across the whole of India. To date the project in Garo Hills has saved nearly 7,000 acres, including the Siju-Rewak corridor (between Siju Wildlife Sanctuary and Rewak Forest Reserve) and the Rewak-Emangre corridor (between Rewak Reserve Forest and Emangre Reserve Forest).
WLT has been supporting WTI’s work in the Garo Hills since 2002, and since 2015 WTI’s work with the communities to protect the evergreen forests of the Garo Hills has been supported by The Body Shop’s Bio-bridges mission with WLT.