It’s wonderful to write to you with some great news from the field.
It is summer time and Pench Tiger Reserve is busy with eager tourists out to catch a glimpse of the elusive tigers. There is no better month to share our latest initiative than May!
It is with great pride we present to you ‘Tiger Tribes’. An idea born out of the love for meaningful travel and the identification of an opportunity for an alternative livelihood for the community members residing around the Pench Tiger Reserve, Tiger Tribes is a Community Managed Rural Tourism (CMRT) endeavour.
Along with our partners, the forest department of the Pench Tiger Reserve and Grassroutes Journeys, a venture promoting responsible tourism, we have launched Tiger Tribes in Pench.
A means to showcase the rural lifestyles of the communities around the reserve and experience more than only the thrill of spotting a tiger, Tiger Tribes enables tourists to connect with Pench on a more profound level.
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.
Our students are surrounded by one of central India’s most beautiful forests, which hold a large number of species within their innumerable, beautiful shades of green. Through this workshop on understanding biodiversity, we wished to bring to the notice of our students the biodiversity of Pench and the important purpose it serves.
Beginning with a small challenge, the students named all the plant and animal species they could think of. A one minute challenge led to much excitement and long lists by every student. It is always comforting to see our students to know that our students are connected and aware of their surrounding. Using these long lists, Purvi and Sangita of our partner organization, Reniscience Education, elucidated the definition of biodiversity. It is exactly this- a whole set of species, big and small, short and long, marine or terrestrial that make up an ecosystem.
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.
Everyday, we expel unnatural and harmful elements into our surroundings. In the beginning, they are nothing more than a mere inconvenience, however, over time, we experience the full effects of our actions.
Whether it is littering in our immediate environment, creating a ruckus in the neighbourhood, contaminating our water bodies or simply putting into the atmosphere gases that do no good for us, we pollute in many ways.
This month, the students learnt about the pollution around them in this workshop by Reniscience Education. Sangita Kapadia and Purvi Vora took the students out of the classrooms all around- into the village, by their lake, by the roads- to examine the impact through the pollution created in the village.
Through a pollution survey, the students were meant to identify the greatest sources of pollution and later, come up with solutions to best tackle the issue.
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.
This month, we had a unique workshop by a very unique personality, Vikram Sridhar. Vikram is a Performance storyteller and theatre practitioner who uses his art and story telling gift to make a difference. Vikram believes the body is a tool of communication. Through his workshops he assists students in becoming more aware of their own bodies and helping them use them as communication tools like he does with his folktale telling performances.
Amrita Lalljee, Amba Jhala and Anirudh Nair were down in Pench to conduct a very unique workshop this month. The trio, established names in the field of performing arts, visited our students with the motive of making them have some fun and simultaneously helping them find their voices.
Our students walked into the E-Base, unaware of what we had in store for them for the next three days. The workshop encompassed all kinds of learning and fun, from laughing out loud to performing skits based on personal experiences.
Performing Arts is strongly linked to building one’s confidence and opening up. Our aim is to help our students not only find their voice to make them confident community leaders but also identify performing arts as a strong medium of expression and raising awareness.
Bill Bryson elucidates the significance of water through a lovely chapter, ‘The Bounding Main’, in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything. To illustrate just why Water is such an important component of our curriculum, we’d like to quote his rather rather colourful lines on water. He says, “Water is everywhere. A potato is 80 per cent water. a cow 74 per cent, a bacterium 75 per cent. a tomato, at 95 per cent is little but water. Even humans are 65 per cent water, making us more liquid than solid by a margin of almost two to one. Water is strange stuff. It is formless and transparent, and yet we long to be beside it. It has no taste and yet we love the taste of it. We will travel great distances and pay small fortunes to see it in sunshine. And even though we know it’s dangerous and drowns tens and thousands of people every year, we can’t wait to frolic in it. ”
The last week of September saw the students of Pench, Maharashtra getting up close and personal with water. They got right into its chemical composition to its behaviour.
With a quick introduction to the chemistry and physics of water, the students studied the water cycle that makes water just so unique. We had a little fun challenging some of the students to try water that had condensed from the use of dirty, inky water (Yes, like we are sure you have guessed, there were no volunteers, it was down to Pooja to drink it).