January 31, 2006
The key aim of this campaign is to create conservation awareness and highlight wildlife crime perpetuated in India and in Tibet among the Tibetan community living in India. The campaign also seeks to sensitize the Tibetan community to take proactive roles for wildlife conservation and discouraging fellow Tibetans involved in wildlife trade.
Some of the Tibetans and other Himalayan communities have been identified recently as the primary consumers of endangered tigers. Leopards, otters and other species such as fox skins which are also traded in large numbers. In order to create awareness of the consequence of these activities, His Holiness the Dalai Lama once again spoke out as a champion for wildlife protection at this year’s Kalachakra.
Over 125,000 Buddhist devotees assembled for two weeks of prayer in the great gathering for the Kalachakra empowerment initiation by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. They came together from India, Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Bhutan, Nepal and even from far away Mongolia and Russia. Some pilgrims travelled to Amaravati from western countries. As many as 10,000 pilgrims had made their way from Tibet and other Tibetan areas of China, including Qinghai (Amdo), Gansu, Sichuan and Yunan. Around 2,000 Chinese nationals from the Peoples’ Republic of China (incl. Hong Kong and Macau) and Taiwan also attended this ceremony of the Great Moving of Wheel of Time, or Kalachakra in Sanskrit.
The Tibetan Conservation Awareness Campaign stall was put up at Amaravati from Jan 7, 2006. An awareness film was screened jointly by WTI along with the TWA and the TYC at the camps of the fresh arrivals (Tibetans from Tibet); the film was also screened at the ground where the musical event was held almost daily along with His Holiness’s speech which was witnessed by a crowd of over 500. In addition to this we screened the awareness film every day at our stall, the gathering every night was around fifty. Once the Tibetan version arrived the crowd grew in number.
On Jan 10, 2006 the Dalai Lama began his teaching with his message on wildlife conservation and said “I am ashamed and don’t feel like living when I see all those pictures of people decorating themselves with skins and furs.” He particularly told the fresh arrivals to carry this message back to Tibet. On 13th Jan 2006 he spoke about the poaching of the endangered Tibetan antelope or chiru and the resultant devastating trade in shahtoosh wool and shawls. On Jan 16, 2006 he repeated his statement on wildlife conservation and also said that from times of yore Tibetans have lived in consonance with wildlife and nature and the same should be invigorated now. His statement was received well by the crowd as a result of which many visited our stall for information and took away our educational CD’s on wildlife conservation.
The response of the fresh arrivals was also overwhelming; we visited the reception centre (camp of the Tibetans from Tibet) on Jan 11, 2006. We interacted with around 60 individuals who were from Tsolo, Machur, Dzachuka, Gannan, Shunha, Chenzha and Golok. We distributed our posters and other material and our message was conveyed to them by our volunteer in the Amdo dialect. We also screened our educational CD’s and surprisingly during the screening a businessman from Lhasa declared that he possesses otter skins worth 40,000 Yuan in Tibet and promised to burn it these publicly. The head Lama of the fresh arrivals was very impressed with WTI’s work, garlanded us and wished us good luck. Around 3,000 fresh arrivals (Tibetans from Tibet) signed a pledge saying they would not wear, buy or sell animal products, which was presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
Dr. Barbara Mass, Chief Executive of the Care for the Wild International said “From the feedback we received, it was evident that the message of His Holiness and that of the video presentations had been received loud and clear, as more and more pilgrims crowded around our stall. They also took away CD copies of our educational videos, which were in great demand. Visitors to our stall were really shocked by what they saw. Those who took the CDs with them will spread this conservation message in their respective homelands.”
Dr Maas was invited to give two formal evening presentations on the role of Tibetans in endangered species protection. Both outdoor audiences were packed with at least 600 Tibetans from across northeast Asia.
“Thanks to His Holiness’s dedication to this issue
and the honesty and open-mindedness of the Tibetans, there is no doubt in my
mind that this Kalchakra was not only a deeply meaningful Buddhist event, but
will also make a genuine difference by saving the lives of countless wild animals,”
says Maas. WTI’s Ashok Kumar added: “We will continue to carry this
important joint initiative forward at many other such opportunities in the future
and to Tibetan and Himalayan communities wherever they are.”