Brunch

‘Life of Pulli’ 

  • A lesson in leopard conservation for primary school children

In a time where wildlife conservation is in the hot seat, and educating the younger generation on the importance of conserving our natural resources is so vital, environmental writer and advocate Tharanga Gunawardena has published Sri Lanka’s first creative non-fiction book about leopard conservation, Life with Pulli. An educational picture book, Life with Pulli aims to shine a spotlight on the problem of conservation among primary school children.

Life with Pulli illustrates the story of Pulli, an adolescent leopard from Wilpattu National Park, elaborating on the threats he faces as a leopard today, and how we as humans can save him – and his whole species – from being endangered.

With Life with Pulli now available to the public, Brunch reached out to Gunawardena for more insight into the inspiration and the story behind this masterpiece. Throughout Life with Pulli, Gunawardena uses symbolism to communicate habitat behaviours of leopards and uses a female as a biologist/wildlife conservationist in the story to encourage more women and inspire girls to take on unconventional roles to safeguard Sri Lanka’s environment/wildlife.

Life with Pulli highlights critical issues and facets of leopard conservation, like the existing environmental and conservation threats to the Sri Lankan leopard, how the survival of wildlife (especially vulnerable species) is dependent on habitat conservation, and what measures we can take as individuals to help them survive. The book is also brought to life with meticulously detailed illustrations that showcase the beauty of the Sri Lankan leopard and Wilpattu National Park. It also carries a world map of leopards, a “read more” section with further information for anyone curious about leopards and conservation.

Gunawardena is currently a communications manager at Room to Read, an international non-governmental organisation (INGO) that promotes literacy and gender equality through quality education. This includes publishing children’s books to promote a habit of reading. She is also a columnist and her latest articles were published in the World Economic Forum. Her true passion for environmental and wildlife conservation blossomed after working for a local environmental organisation where she realised that educating the younger generations is one of the most sustainable methods of supporting conservation. 

Author of ‘Life with Pulli’, environmental writer, and advocate Tharanga Gunawardena

Speaking to Brunch, Gunawardena shared that Life with Pulli is not unique just because it is the first creative nonfiction book on leopard conservation for children, but because it is a meticulous attempt to help the next generation to grow up to be more sensitive and understanding about the topic of environmental conservation. 

“The increase in leopard killings is what triggered me to write this book at this point,” Gunawardena explained. “The variety of the Sri Lankan leopard is only found within the island, and conservation is essential for their survival. I believe that environmental degradation happens as a result of the lack of awareness, and therefore, this book is my way of making sure that future generations can have a solid education on the significance of leopards and the threats they face regularly.” 

Fact-checked by veteran leopard expert Rukshan Jayawardene and illustrated by wildlife artist and illustrator Lisa-Marie Chambers, Life with Pulli has received glowing reviews pre-publication from animal welfarist, Embark Founder, and Who We Are Founder Otara Gunewardene, wildlife conservationist and Small Cat Advocacy and Research (SCAR) Co-founder Anya Ratnayaka, and English teacher and British Council Sri Lanka Manager Communications – Marketing Manisha Amerasinghe.

Illustrations in the book 

Life with Pulli is currently available at Barefoot, the “Who We Are” website, and on Amazon. 

For further queries or direct orders, readers may contact the author via tgunawardena1@gmail.com.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094GBP6LK/

Instagram: @life_with_pulli 

Facebook: LifeWithPulli