Yet another eventful year at the E-Base has passed. Last month, the E-Base program completed four years. In the company of our wonderful students and forest guards, we celebrated four years of learning and creating appreciation for wildernesses and the tigers that reside in them. This year saw our students improve their reading skills, explore the biodiversity around them in more depth and learn yoga. Here is a quick glimpse of our anniversary celebration in Pench.
With a clear understanding of what biodiversity is and the importance of it, it was time to explore the biodiversity in their very backyards. Each forest has its own composition of species that play different roles in the ecosystem. Thus every ecosystem is unique and this was the message we wished to share with our students. IT was now time to discover the wonders of the forest of Pench.
Beginning with a video on the Pench Tiger Reserve and a second, on tropical forests, the students were encouraged to observe the animals and plants in both the videos. The students made a note of the differences between both the forests. They then brainstormed on the possible reasons for a difference in the biodiversity of a tropical forest and their very own forest of Pench.
A modern day movement in support of the planet began in this month close to half a decade ago. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had awoken so many of the youth, and increasingly degraded air and surroundings lead to more people raising concern and springing into action. Environmental health was, for the first time, a part of tea time discussions of the common man and the agendas of the politicos. That was 1970. This is 2015.
Despite increased awareness and more inclusive action to address environmental issues, we are, unfortunately, still in the midst of a climatic crisis, one that leaves us with a precarious future. One of the biggest reasons for this climatic turmoil is deforestation. However, it is not only the risks of climatic turmoil that we face due to deforestation, it is also a loss of our food and water security. Ahead of Earth Day on the 22nd of April, this workshop by Priyanka Pandit was about this very concern: loss of our green spaces.
As part of Kokuyo Camlin’s ‘Camlin Kids Power’ initiative, Camlin promotes awareness of burning social issues amongst underprivileged children through mediums such as music and art.
How glad we were to Priyanka and the folks from Camlin over to explain food chains, deforestation and food security with the help of a book and a guitar!
To begin with, Priyanka took the students on a tour of the forest. A forest comprises of producers, consumers, decomposers and the likes. The consumers are herbivores and carnivores which are poles apart in every way, but still have one common link: the producer, our very own forest.
While we go on obliviously about our daily musings and chores, the world around us is teeming with life. It may not be at a macro level us primates are used to observing, but it happens at ground level, by a pond or under the canopy of a tree.
Coupled with a lovely illustration, writes Julia Rothman in her delightful book ‘Nature Anatomy’, a little on how even a rotting log, though dead itself, is the source of much life. “A dead tree on the forest floor may not look like much, but the decomposing odd hosts a party of plant and animal life. Many kinds of insect larvae burrow into decaying wood to take shelter from the winter. Snail and snugs delight in the debris and fungi growing from rotting logs. Earthworms digest vast quantities of rotting or organic matter, leaving behind nutrient rich casts. Moist decomposing wood is a perfect nutrient nursery from which leeches, mosses, flowers, and even other trees can set root and thrive.” Such are the designs of nature and such is the unique circle of life.
If this is the case of just a rotting log, what must the case of a prime deciduous forest be? This is exactly what our students found out in this workshop with Reniscience Education.
Who hasn’t ever tried to make the two similar ends of magnet touch? Or, tested how many paper clips he or she can lift with just one magnet.
Magnetism is perhaps one of the most entertaining parts of Pyhsics and this month, the students had a wonderful workshop by Vidnyan Vahini on it. Mr. Sharad Godse and Mr. Vinayak Dixit of Vidnyan Vahini were down in Pench to epxore with the students the properties of magnetism and why it is so unique, and the importance of the phenomenon in our daily life.
One of the best and most effective sources of clean energy, the Sun, has been manipulated to our benefit since time unknown.
Our students are well versed with solar energy through their extensive exposure to the workings of a solar planel. After all, it is a kilo watt of solar that supports their favourite classroom.
However, this month we took manipulating solar energy a step further with this workshop by Curiouscity Science education. Educators, Utpal Chattopadhyay and Shonali Chinniah, taught the children what happens when we mix different materials, natural and artificial, colours and the light from the Sun.
Sometimes, all we need is a little inspiration to give us the thrust in the direction of action. With simply the intention of inspiring on the third anniversary of the E-Base, we had a small celebration to mark three years of educating and motivating to lead change.
This anniversary the students got an opportunity to interact with very dynamic guests- Bhajju Shyam, Vikram Sridhar and the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) of the Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra.
The immensely talented and renowned Gond artist Bhajju Shyam wowed the students with the story of his life. Coming from the Pradhan tribe, a sister tribe of the Gond, Bhajju Shyam has seen it all and done it all. From working as a security guard in Bhopal to giving talks in Paris and London; Bhajju ji’s life took a complete 360 degrees turn.
The Pench Tiger Reserve is home to the famous Royal Bengal Tiger. This large cat has come to receive much attention and conservation efforts focus on the recovery of the numbers of this majestic specie. With the tiger at the fore, changes in the reserve take the form of changing rural landscapes, social fabrics and tourism revolving around the tiger.
Through our identity exploration and film making workshop, we wished to shift focus from the tigers of Pench and see what lies beyond!
Our students, rightly the ‘sava shers’ of Pench, learnt about video shooting, editing, voiceovers and everything that comes with film making. However, this was no ordinary film making workshop; the five days of the workshop entailed digging deeper and exploring the relationship of ‘jungle, mein aur gaav’ and, in the words of Ankit, ‘demystifying the camera’.
In May, we began a small crowd funding project for Rs. 70,000 for one library in the E-Base in Pench, Madhya Pradesh. Little did we know we would end up raising more than double the amount we had earlier planned to, and build two libraries instead of just one! It is October now and both our libraries together have close to 1200 books, a reading program for members from five schools and two mobile libraries.
A tour of the atmosphere by Sangita Kapadia and Purvi Vora of Reniscience Education was in store for our students recently.