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.
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.
It gives us a lot of joy to share with you that the Pench E-Base program was featured in Canada’s ‘Natural Life’ magazine just last month. We have worked tenaciously over the last three years and we have begun seeing changes, big and small. Whether it is students making reading a habit, or them finding solutions to their waste in school, they are being transformed into conscious, independent youth of tomorrow.
Writes Monica Szczupider about the changing face of conservation in our times, “Gone is the day when environmental movement polarized the social structure, pitting non- conformist hippie against upper middle class consumer; these days they are often found inside the same skin. But according to Conservation Wildlands, environmentalism can no longer be an extra curricular activity available only to the middle class and above. Sustainable living must be implemented on the front lines- into the precariously balanced societies straddling a disappearing world, and an exploding one, where people share their homes with the most endangered species on our planet.”
Right in time, prior to their Board exams, Vidnyan Vahini conducted a workshop for our 10 and 12th grade students. To simplify the various laws of Physics and reactions in Chemistry, Mr. Sharad Godse and Mrs. Urmila Parchure joined us in Pench for a hands- on workshop.
Often, challenging subjects such as Physics and Chemistry are not taught in a hands- on fashion, leaving in the minds of students many a doubt. Mr. Godse and Mrs. Parchure focused on these problem areas and theories ahead of their Board exams to ensure our students score the highest possible marks in March.
Beginning with basics such as what acids and bases are to the periodic table, our students studied it all. For the day, classrooms were converted into chemistry labs with various colourful liquids to noisy puffs of smoke.
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.
While the 1864 novel introduced to children a completely spectacular image of the underground and of what the Earth is made up of, the reality is quite different. However, it isn’t of importance that the Earth’s core isn’t as exciting as that imagined by characters, Alex and Professor Lidenbrock, the Earth’s core is still extraordinary. Off course, one does not expect the same hospitality from the planet like in the science fiction novel.
This month’s agenda compromised of a virtual journey to the centre of the Earth. Our students are aware of what is extant above the Earth’s surface, but this workshop took them below it to discover what lies beneath.
Purvi Vora and Sangita Kapadia of Reniscience Education made this workshop just as entertaining as the far fetched novel with some fantastic activities.