A success story – Early Learners Classes in West Nepal

“To foster, learn, respect and live with wildlife in a way which benefits all”

Over 200 children reached and numbers growing learning about wildlife and coexistence.

At this stage we’d like to acknowledge the wonderful support from the New Zealand organization Yeti Trust Nepal which has covered class stationary costs for one year.  This page is constantly being updated and you can also get updates at the Living with Big Cats Facebook page.

In mid 2018 in the sleepy village of Thakurdwara, the main gateway to Bardia National Park in west Nepal, WildTiger coordinator Jack Kinross began teaching then six year old Ridam Tharu about wildlife with a view to her improving her English language skills.  Less than a year later around 100 children are learning about wildlife and coexistence with classes across four villages.

Ridam Tharu, one became four, then became many, many more and is now over 100 children learning.

Local community conservationists and sisters Su Se La and Manju have taken over the reaching roles and they bring in other women as needed, forming a group called the WildTiger Sisters which also helps in other coexistence strategies through the Coexistence Team.  Jack still acts in a facilitating role and visits classes when he can plus the children have had visits to jungle areas, teaching from other wildlife specialists and artists as well as frequent interaction with international visitors.

Some words from Jack:

“What we’re witnessing is children with a passion to learn but also healthy community involvement as well as a strong message about the power of children to make change.  Not only are the children developing an understanding of the importance of wildlife but we’re finding they are taking that message home and into the community in general.  Parents are approaching us from all over the region with questions like “when can you teach my child?’ and “when can you start a class in our area?’ meaning that people are understanding what is being achieved.  We’re getting reports about improved attendance and learning at their regular schooling and something that has pleased me no end is parents talking about how their child is talking about a career in wildlife conservation.

The thing that gives me real hope is just how keen the children are to learn. The classes take place at the end of the day, the children have already had many hours of regular schooling plus chores and other activities but still they come, every day, with this willingness and enthusiasm.  I think they understand they are part of something special.”

From early August 2019 the program enters a new phase as Living with Big Cats combines with local conservation authorities and groups to further enhance the capacity of the children to spread the word and make change.  Workshops, dramas and inter village exchanges have already starting and there is the aim of reaching over 1000 children over the next 12 months through the outreach to schools program where our team (and some of the foundation children) take the message into regular schooling, both government and private.  Discussion has taken place with communities which have had serious human – wildlife conflict issues and these areas are being given priority so that LwL events not only reach children but entire communities.

A big part the learning is through art and Living with Big Cats has been fortunate to have helpers such as wildlife artist Krishna Thapa involved.

We’ll bring updates at this page and you can also follow the Living with Leopards Facebook page as well as the Twitter feed @leopardlives

Once again our thanks to the New Zealand organization Yeti Trust Nepal for their contribution covering stationary costs for the year.  We’re finding there’s been great interest in the program both here in Nepal and internationally.  If you’d like to know more and/or help in any way please contact us at projects@wildtiger.org

Below are a few more images, we’ll have a comprehensive gallery soon:


UPDATE: Report below on the successful workshop held on 7 August 2019 at Bardia National Park

The first in a long series of workshops involving the Living with Leopards kids was held at Riverside View Park at Bardia National Park, it was a great success. Fifty children from the two foundation classes (other village classes will have workshop opportunities soon) of Thakurdwara and Hatisar were part of a program which introduced the 12 wild cat species of Nepal to NTNC botanist Laxmi Joshi and other attending guests from the national park, CBAPU and community as well as two foreign visitors. Laxmi then gave a fantastic class teaching the children about the importance of trees and plants, a learning which followed on perfectly from regular classes where the children learn about ecosystems. Laxmi did an amazing job engaging the children as you can see by the video at the Facebook page LIVING WITH BIG CATS which gives a short taste.
Living with Big Cats sincerely thank the Yeti Trust Nepal of New Zealand (they have also covered stationary costs for one year) and French charity Nepally Dreams for their sponsorship of these initial workshops. Riverside View Park were a fantastic host and have agreed to be the long term venue for these workshops and other programs.
We want to thank the children. They are inspirations. Their enthusiasm and joy of learning has brought smiles to us all and the feedback after this first workshop was in itself a strong expression of hope.
We thank everyone who has contributed to these early learners classes,  we’re developing an acknowledgement process for all who help.

Of particular encouragement is how the children are taking the wildlife conservation message into the community, more on that in an update soon in which we’ll be announcing more workshops.

Engage with us, something truly special is happening.

25 September 2019 – UPDATE

Regular updates are at the Facebook page Living with Big Cats and we’re also in the process of having our guidelines printed in Nepali language both online and in flyer form.

At the moment of writing we’re about to expand into another village area with an intake of about 50 children taking our total to around 200.

Artistic expression in the form of drawing, singing and drama is very much to the fore of our methodology for learning and communicating important coexistence messages.  The next update will bring news of live streaming as the children progress with their learning about wildlife, coexistence and dealing with environmental challenges.

Coexistence Team members and principle class trainers, Su Se La and Manju.