Everyone has an equal right to enjoy forests and appreciate the natural heritage created by the birds and animals existing in the most magnificent of our wilderness scapes. To this effect, Last Wilderness Foundation, in tandem with the Kanha Forest Department conducted a two-day programme for 40 students and teachers from the ‘Netraheen Kanya Vidyalaya’, Jabalpur.
The camp began by welcoming the students to the tiger reserve and telling them about the different birds and animals present in the park. They were introduced to the different calls and sounds made by the animals to give them an idea about communication in the wilderness, from the alarm call of a deer to the call of a peacock, from the growling of a tiger to the chatter of the monkeys as a precursor to the early morning safari the next day.
The next morning saw an excited bunch of students bundled up in layers of fabric waiting to visit the forest they had heard so much about. Our entry into the forest was met with gasps from the students exclaiming how cold it was and how clean the air felt. As we went deeper inside the forest, they were told about their surroundings, the different trees present, the scenery we were passing, the grasslands and the hills, the water bodies and the different fauna that was present in line with the changing landscape.
The greatest moment in the safari was when some of the students experienced the presence of a tiger moving alongside them, parallel to their vehicle. They described the moment as one of the finest in their lives as they heard the soft movement of the tiger, walking and marking its territory, enjoying the morning sun. The students were later also greeted by the sound of a calling chital announcing the presence of a predator, which made the students happy to note that there was a big cat nearby and they enjoyed the different bird calls, which they tried to imitate much to the surprise of the avian beauties! The safari ended with a visit to the Kanha museum, where the students were given a chance to touch the different animal skeletons and figurines to understand the different patterns, shapes and the size of the different animals. The high point for the students at the museum was feeling the figurine of a tigress with cubs, wherein the students wanted to touch and ‘see’ how big the cubs were, how long the tail of the tigress was, how sharp her teeth were etc. Once back from the forest visit, the students were served lunch, followed by a game of Wildlife Bingo, translated especially into braille for the visually impaired students and it was met with great shrieks of excitement by them, every time they read and recognised a word associated with the animal and it proved to be a great hit. The biggest compliment to us with the closing of the camp, in the words of a student, was that through us, they had seen more than they had ever seen in their lives! Here’s hoping for many such students to be given a chance to experience the magnificence that is the wilderness for it belongs to all and the experience is that of a lifetime.