350 in India's Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Kids for Tiger's Programme, sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services, organised the first of its annual nature trails at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) on Sunday, January 10th, 2009.
Nearly 70 children and 23 teachers assembled at SGNP gate early morning to participate in a nature walk along the winding path to the Kanheri caves. After a brief introduction was given and the necessary safety instructions were imparted the group was split into smaller batches, each accompanied by a naturalist. Well known naturalists, Mr. Rushikesh Chavan, Mr. Saunak Pal, Mr. Shardul Bajikar, Mr. Santosh Yadav and Mr. Zeeshan Mirza lead their respective groups.
The walk wound through dense forest patches exposing the students to many fascinating facets of the wild world. Towering teak trees, majestic ghost trees, a constant chatter of birds and numerous ground dwelling invertebrates kept the children enthralled. Calls of birds such as the Brown-headed Barbet, Jungle Owlet, Magpie Robin, Red-whiskered Bulbul and the Crested Serpent Eagle filled the air. A troupe of hanuman langurs with their loud booming calls was unmistakable. The violet flowers of Ichbolium sp. and the white dainty flowers of Hibiscus sp. were omnipresent. Bracket fungi and termite mounds helped understand the vital role played by decomposers in an ecosystem.
Soon the group ascended to the Kanheri caves which overlook the lush forest. After a short refreshment break the participants found themselves climbing up the 1st century BC cave complex of Kanheri nested right in the heart of this forest. The ancient rain water harvesting structures fascinated the group.
A large open space in front of the third cave was used for making an elaborate 350 formation (pictures attached). With the forests as a backdrop the children announced that the objective of reducing the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to 350 ppm must be achieved at a war footing. Their walk through Mumbai's green lung re-affirmed their belief that conservation of natural ecosystems such as SGNP is one of the best ways to achieve this.
Kids for Tigers, Mumbai.