GUWAHATI, Dec 4: Leveraging drama as a powerful medium for mass communication, the premier biodiversity conservation organisation in the region, Aaranyak, has used theatrical performances to encourage cooperation from villagers in facilitating coexistence with wild elephants in areas affected by human-elephant conflict (HEC).
Aaranyak’s team enacted a play involving school students with the aim of educating villagers about the importance of coexistence with wild elephants. The play revolves around a conversation between a grandfather and his grandson, where the grandfather narrates how their village once lived in harmony with elephants. He describes how large herds of elephants coexisted peacefully with villagers in the adjacent forest. However, he mourns the sudden developmental changes in the village that have negatively impacted both the lives of elephants and villagers. The portrayal of the village’s history moves the young boy, instilling hope that people will one day make paths for the elephants to return to the jungles that were once their delightful abode.
To enact the play, Aaranyak’s team conducted a four-day training for 25 students from the 9th standard of Paneri Higher Secondary School in Udalguri district, Assam. The first performance took place on November 28 in the school auditorium in the presence of students and teachers, many of whom come from high human-elephant conflict areas in the district.
The play was scripted and conceptualized by Aaranyak’s senior conservation biologist Dr. Alolika Sinha and penned down by researcher Anushka Saikia. Other team members who played active roles in the successful event included Rabiya Daimary, Abhijit Saikia, Reshma Narzary, Mondeep Basumatari, Pradip Barman, and Bikash Tossa.
This theatrical initiative aims to sensitize locals about the increasing conflict with wild elephants, highlight the key reasons behind the conflict, and emphasize the need for coexistence with these gentle giants, which are crucial for biodiversity conservation. The drama is expected to be enacted in two more HEC conflict zones in Udalguri district to further raise awareness among the local communities.