Wild Kids

Building support for tiger conservation through youth environmental education programming in Central India.

Sarika Khanwilkar

Age 24, India

PROJECT: Building support for tiger conservation through youth environmental education programming in Central India.

Tell us about the work you are doing to create a wilder world.
People living on the peripheries of tiger habitat are most impacted by wildlife management decisions and most directly impact the future for this wildlife. In India, Wild Kids mobilizes and empowers these communities through education and outreach. Our program (launching November 2016) will reach 11-16 year olds, bringing 3-day, tiger-focused environmental programs to secondary schools in and around Panna, Pench, and Tadoba-Andhari National Parks. These areas protect an important meta-population of Bengal tigers in central India. This project raises awareness among teachers and students living with tigers, so that they may play a role in reducing human-tiger conflict and be apart of future tiger conservation.

Our interactive education programs focuses on field-based and project-based learning to inspire curiosity and a conservation ethic. Youth learn monitoring techniques of tigers and Indian wildlife to become effective ‘citizen scientists,’ using GPS, camera traps, and maps. They will create and develop a focused behavior-change campaign in their village, as an effective and practical tool to reduce human-wildlife conflict. Our training and recommendation for conflict reduction are modified from previous findings of our partners, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust, an Indian-based NGO that has completed 20 years of research in the central Indian tiger landscape. Each student receives a tiger ecology book and backpack with school supplies, such as notebooks and pens. We provide a teaching guide and a workshop for teachers at each school, providing them with tools to integrate tiger conservation into existing curriculum.

We will distribute a tiger ecology book, backpack, and school supplies, and support the creation of wildlife clubs in classrooms we visit. At teacher-specific workshops we will provide a teaching guide and other tools to integrate tiger conservation into curriculum. Finally, Wild Kids students from India and Cougar Fund students in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. will teach each other their personal experiences of coexisting with big cats from artwork and stories, in a natural and cultural exchange via online video call.

We envision a wilder world where the communities living with tigers are also working to protect them.

 

What are five (5) of your short term goals to accomplish in the next 1-2 years?
1. Visit 90 classrooms in and around Panna, Pench, and Tadoba-Andhari Tigers Reserves with the Wild Kids mobile education unit–empowering youth to conserve tigers and their habitats.
2. Distribute a tiger ecology book and supply backpack to all students.
3. Distribute teaching guides to 90 teachers, providing post-workshop support for long-term success and tiger conservation curriculum.
4. Create a replicable model for program expansion and global application.
5. Raise support and financial capital for a continued teacher salary.

 

What are five (5) of your long term goals to accomplish in the next 5-10 years?
1. Create a workforce of locals with tiger ecology knowledge and experience to fit the employment needs of the government and partner non-profit organizations.
2. Reach 5 additional tiger reserves in the central Indian landscape.
3. Continually employ a teacher with successful funding.
4. Engage with new partners to expand the program model.

 

How can others help you accomplish these goals?
Wild Tiger is in need of project support in the areas of fundraising and graphic design. We need your help to: design a brochure/other marketing materials, the tiger ecology kids book, and a teaching guide; research grant opportunities; strategize the next year of financial development; and procure donations.

 

How can the public get involved with your project/work?
Get involved as a volunteer (from anywhere around the world!) or be apart of a Wild India trip. Wild Tiger will lead you on a 2-3 week immersive, hands-on natural and cultural immersion trip to central India. Email 4thewildtiger@gmail.com if you are interested in volunteering, or to learn about our upcoming Wild India trip.

If you are a student in high school or college, join Wild Tiger’s Youth Council. The next application is due April 1st, 2017.

 

What have been some successes you have had?
We have seen public support grow with the use of social media and have increased our program support and potential with the inclusion of partner organizations–Tiger Research and Conservation Trust and Gwalior Forester’s Society.

We envision a wilder world where the communities living with tigers are also working to protect them.

Wild Tiger is in need of project support in the areas of fundraising and graphic design.

Coexistence is possible!