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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.