Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Elephant stories for children, by elephant children…

“… Once upon a time there was a green green jungle with so many families of animals. One family was special and it has an elephant father, an elephant mother and a little boy elephant…” the kids started and went on.

The children of Thanamalwila Education Division were competing for the Born Free Children’s Short Story Competition, 2012. Their aim was to write short stories on wild elephants, elephant behaviour and the human-elephant interactions as they experience in their villages. The competition was organized to continue Born Free Sri Lanka’s dialogue with the school children in the area, encouraging them to appreciate nature (including elephants in their neighbourhood) and promote human-elephant coexistence. Born Free worked with the Divisional Education Office from May through September 2012 to select the entries and  hold the award ceremony. About a third of the area's 39 schools in the area took part in the competition.

Story - Love of elephant mothers by Achini Ishara ( 14 years) of Rathambalagama School

Story - The naughty little elephant by Shanika Sewwandi (16 years ) of Rathambalagama School

The competition had three categories:

  1. Junior I (Grades 6-8/age 11-13 years) on Days of wild elephant babies
  2. Junior II (Grades 9-11/age 14-16 years) on Elephant mother’s love
  3. Senior (Grades 12-13/ age 17-18 years) on Look, elephants in our village

Stories were told in Sinhala, one of the main languages spoken in Sri Lanka. It was interesting to see the less-privileged schools submitting most entries for the competition; most of which told exciting stories. Fifteen winners from ten different schools were selected as winners from all three categories. The winning entries were selected by the Sinhala Language teacher, Ms. S. S. Nandani of the Divisional Education Office, with the assistance of Born Free Sri Lanka.

“…God! It is an elephant in my farm! Just you wait elephant… Let me collect my shotgun.” Shanika Sewvandi (16 years old) of Rathambalagama School was telling the story of a mischievous baby elephant who was out roaming alone, away from its mother and had come across a villager’s vegetable farm. The story had a happy ending, with the farmer and his family later helping the baby elephant to go back to its mother who took great care of the baby elephant from then on.

The award ceremony was held at Udawalawa National Park on the 8th September 2012, in the presence of school staff and parents. Each winner was awarded with story books and stationery worth about LKR 2,500 (approx. £12). The event was financially supported by local contacts of Born Free, contributing over LKR 50,000 (approx. £240), which was greatly appreciated. The chief guest, The Director of Divisional Education Office, Mr. M.A. Ratnasiri, mentioned that little steps like the Short Story Competition helped to develop the students’s language skills while training the children to think about and look after the environment around them.  Ms. Nandani requested that Born Free Sri Lanka continue the effort by publishing the winning stories so that they could be told to children all over the island. The request was accepted with honour and the possibility of publishing the stories is being considered.

The school children had a great time after the prize giving ceremony with a visit to Udawalawa National Park, where a Park official explained the role of the Department of Wildlife Conservation in protecting elephants in Sri Lanka followed by a rare opportunity to engage in an exercise identifying venomous snakes in the area conducted by Born Free’s Nirmala Balasooriya.

Participants are looking forward to another school competition from Born Free in 2013 which will again be about elephants and their conservation in the area.

See last year’s Art Competition winners and story

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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