At the end of the 2011 Pollyanna had the difficult but enjoyable task of reading the many entries in the ‘Tales For Wildlife’ International Children’s writing competition.
Launching the competition was Pollyanna’s first act in her new role as Global Ambassador for Australian organisation Wildlife Warriors. Entrants were invited to submit a story inspired by any of the animals or subjects helped by Wildlife Warrior’s conservation partners – snow leopards, cheetahs or any other wild cat – or North American wildlife or wilderness areas. Winners in each of three age groups will receive award certificates, and a book or limited edition print signed by Pollyanna.
We are delighted to announce that overall winning story is ‘The Lesson of the Cheetah’ by nine year old Jenna Townsend from Houston, Texas.
Pollyanna will create a painting of the animal subject of this story inspired by Jenna’s writing. This painting will be published as a limited edition, and Jenna will receive the number one print, signed by Pollyanna. The print will then be sold to raise funds for the winner’s chosen conservation partner. We will unveil Pollyanna’s painting in the coming weeks.
Pollyanna commented ‘I was overwhelmed by the incredibly high standard of writing in all the entries. It is wonderful to see how many talented young writers are out there! Many of the stories brought a lump to my throat, and it was almost impossible to select a winner. However in the end I kept being drawn back to Jenna’s story, which is beautifully written, and touches on the very real conservation issue of the conflict between cheetahs and farmers in Africa – and the fact that cheetahs are often persecuted because they are blamed for kills made by other predators. But at the very end there is a deliciously cheeky twist of humour!”
The Lesson of the Cheetah
The wind was blowing the crisp golden grass over the vast savannah plains. Nearby, a farmer surveyed his livestock, noticing that one more of his family’s goats were missing. The farmer grumbled, “It’s that cheetah again!” That evening, the farmer set out to find the cheetah that was killing his livestock. He grabbed a newly sharpened pitchfork and began his hunt.
The farmer waded through the tall grasses, feeling the warm African heat surround him. Suddenly, he thought he saw something move. There! He moved closer…slowly, with his pitchfork raised. And, there, lying in the tall grass, he found a cheetah mother, nursing her three-month old cubs. The farmer raised his pitchfork in the air, ready to kill the mother cheetah. But the cheetah spoke softly, “Please don’t kill me and my cubs.” The farmer stopped—shocked and amazed! “This can’t be happening,” he said under his breath.
“But it is,” said the cheetah. “I am Kekay. The Queen of the Savannah,” she said, while she cleaned her small cubs.
“But how are you speaking to me?” asked the farmer. Kekay looked at him, as he slowly lowered his pitchfork.
“Let me tell you a story…” she began.
“Long ago, before your farm was here, my great-grandfather cheetah was the ruler of these open plains. He was the fastest cheetah ever. Gazelles could not even out run him, nor could the kudu. He was so fast, my whole family would stay at the den, and only he would go hunting for prey, which was plentiful in these lands.
Then as the seasons passed, people began to move into our territory. Because of this, our prey moved—finding other grasslands. But the farmers remained with their own livestock. We had no idea that those animals were not our prey, so we began to hunt them to keep our family alive. My great grandfather was quick…leaping over their sharp wire fences and dragging the animals back to our den. The farmers became furious, and came after my family. They thought we were killing their livestock for fun, but the truth is, we had no choice because they drove out our natural prey. The farmers found us. They killed my whole family except my great grandfather. He barely escaped—running by the farmers so fast that the air pushed them over. He ran, and ran. Finally reaching a place where he felt safe. He eventually started a new family—living a long and great life. My great grandfather was a great cheetah. He taught our family about the farmers and their livestock. That’s why his story is passed on in my family.”
“So why are you telling me all this?” asked the farmer.
Kekay looked with her big, golden eyes, “Because it is not I that killed your livestock. Even though you have chased my prey to other areas, I know that those animals are yours, and do not belong to me.” The farmer sighed with relief, “I am so sorry that I thought it was you. I will leave you and your cubs alone!” Then the farmer went home, learning a lesson that cheetahs aren’t always what they seem to be.
Three hours later, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a note. In horrible writing, it said, “The lions did it. From, Kekay.”
Pollyanna was overwhelmed by the standard of the writing, and as well as the winners selected several additional stories for commendation
Winner - 8 and Under Age Group: Ellie Kohut, Nottingham, UK
Pollyanna commented : Ellie's delightful tale of co-operation was a clear winner in this group - and I loved the python called Polly!
Winner - 9- 13 Age Group: Freya Hawkins, Derbyshire UK
Very Highly Commended : Saarah Yousaf, Leeds, UK
Very Highly Commended : Tom Dixon Humphreys, London,UK
Highly Commended : Laura Ryder, Exeter UK
Highly Commended : Rajan Mann, Warwickshire, UK
Highly Commended : Sadia Nowshin, Coventry UK
Highly Commended : Elie Griffiths, Nottingham UK
Highly Commended : Nathanael Wheatcroft-Brown, Whitby UK
Winner - 14 - 18 Age Group: Alice Millington St Albans, UK
Very Highly Commended : Song Zheng Yi
Very Highly Commended : Fiona Doyle
Very Highly Commended : Megan Ann Owens, Derbyhsire UK