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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A tour of the atmosphere by Sangita Kapadia and Purvi Vora of Reniscience Education was in store for our students recently.
Pench is beautiful throughout the year.
How do we vouch for that?
Here is a selection of images from the time we have spent in this enchanting forest over the last three years. We are sure you will agree with us by the the time you reach the last photo.
In spring, Pench is abuzz with insects, birds chirping and the lovely Mahua in full bloom. The light smell of of the forest is carried about by the gentle breeze. This is a wonderful time when the summer heat is just beginning to set in.
Even though we are unaware of the total number of species that exist on this planet, we do know that human activity is soon pushing our biodiversity in a corner, inducing high extinction rates.