Backyard Wildlife


By Jithendri Gomes

Over the last few weeks, there have been multiple posts and videos with suggestions of how to utilise all this extra time we now have on our hands. Kids especially need to be entertained and kept occupied. While many schools launched online classes, there is still ample time left during the day. With the younger generations moving away from nature towards technology, one way we can use this time they spend confined in their homes is to encourage our kids to rekindle their relationship with nature.

“Due to the prevailing curfew, the usual trips to national parks and forest reserves that are typically a feature in the WNPS (Wildlife and Nature Protection Society) community’s calendars during school holidays have not happened this year. Hence, in honour of Earth Day 2020, we launched ‘Backyard Wildlife’ to inspire children to pick up a camera and get out exploring in their gardens and backyards. So much exciting fauna and flora exist right at our doorsteps; we want the children to connect with this nature, appreciate it, and be inspired by it.

“The response has been fantastic to date, with us receiving many, many outstanding entries every day. A few of these entries are shared on the WNPS social media channels each day as well for our members to enjoy during these curfew days,” the WNPS said.

It has only been a week since they launched, and the WNPS confirms that they have received over 160 photographs from over 50 kids. Some of the pictures sent to them are published here; proof that our children are extremely talented and only need an opportunity and some guidance to showcase their capabilities.

For those who don’t know about this initiative, here are the details:

  • The photography competition is open to children aged 6-15 years and all you need to participate is a camera and a keen pair of eyes to photograph birds, insects, and other wildlife found in your backyards
  • The children can submit their entries via email or mobile phone
  • The judges will be picking a winner every week till the end of May, with the weekly winners receiving a copy of the book “Mammals of Sri Lanka for Children” by Dr. Sriyanie Miththapala
  • The weekly winners will be in the running to become the overall winner of the competition which will be announced at the end of May. The overall winner will receive an entire set of Naturalist’s Guides by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne

You can also reach out to them on their social media for any additional information. This certainly will be a fantastic way to engage your child and help them cope with being “stuck at home”!

We also asked the WNPS to share some other nature-friendly activities kids can enjoy that they may hopefully take up as a hobby even after the end of this curfew and once their life slowly returns to normal.

“With the whole world undergoing curfew, there are so many fantastic initiatives that have been started to keep children and even adults occupied during these times. There are live virtual safaris in the African bush you can join and also virtual tours of aquariums,” they shared.

The WNPS Youth Wing is also working on conducting some virtual sessions to keep children occupied during these times. Follow the WNPS’s social media channels for what’s coming up.

“Children can do crafts that make use of waste. For example, old newspapers can be used to make pencil holders. Children can get started with composting household waste at home, starting a small home vegetable patch, or they can take up birdwatching by recording the species they observe in a morning or afternoon.

“Children are incredibly perceptive to new ideas. So, if something becomes a regular practice, such as segregating waste at home and upcycling, they are likely to continue it. Also, parents have a crucial role to play in educating their children and making them aware of the stress and damage caused to our environment due to unsustainable lifestyles and practices.”

The WNPS stands out as an organisation that finds ways to engage with all age categories. Within the organisation, they also have a Youth Wing and Kids Department, which are open to whoever is interested.

Exposing kids to nature at a young age will certainly have an impact when they grow up in terms of being responsible adults that lead environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyles.