Eco Club @ Alnatha Government High School

One of the ideas that had cropped up in our regular meetings was to kick off eco-clubs in schools located around the periphery of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. If we could impress on young minds, the importance of saving our forests and our environment, our future could be bright.As a first step in this direction, we chose start the eco-club at Alnatha Government High School.

During the first visit to the school, we decided to take the children out on a birding trail around the periphery of the school which happens share its boundary with the Muneshwara reserve forest . We kicked off the activity with the customary introductions and divided the students, about forty in number, into five groups. Each group was asked to chose a bird name as the name of their group and had to let the rest of us know something about the bird.  The students were given a briefing about  basic birding etiquette, what to look out for during the walk and how to note down the observations including basic sketching. We then set off on the trail, each group equipped with a couple of binoculars and led by one or two Vanodaya volunteers. The excitement and enthusiasm of the students was evident during the walk. They were eagerly pointing out to the innumerable number of birds that were flying around doing their daily chores. The binocular experience was a first for almost everyone, including the teaching staff and all of them were eager to get a peek though it.  The realization that there were so many birds right outside their school dawned upon them. Time flew and despite getting late for the daily "bisi oota" served at the school , the students continued to be engrossed in the birding activity. We eventually had to force them to get back to school after spending close to two hours in the field.

Birding walk in and around the
school premises

At the end of the trail, the students re-grouped and we recapped the learning during the birding activity. Before calling it a day, we handed over one flash card to each student which had a picture and a name of bird. The students were required to fill up the rest of the details in the flash card by referring to a field guide (Hakki Pukka, by Poornachandra Tejaswi) during their free time.  Observation books were also distributed and they were asked to make note of bird sightings whenever possible. The field guide and a pair of binoculars were handed over to the school.

When we visited them a month later, they were eagerly waiting for us and most vociferous in their welcome.  All of them had made a sincere effort to fill up the flash card and list down their observations in the book.

On our second visit we screened a video -" Tales from the Nagarahole Forest". How the landscapes changes over  a period of time,  the rainwater  nurturing the grass, which in turn acts as fodder for the herbivores, the carnivores prey on the herbivores and others. The nature in a constant flux and balance. How grazing  livestock’s inside forest depletes the fodder for the wild, hence, they are forced to come into the villages looking for food. The communicable disease the livestock may spread across the wild. The fire accidents that can destroy the forest, because of human interference. The man Vs animal conflict. The plausible reasons why CWS is not home to the diverse wild animals like Tigers or others in spite of its bigger area was also discussed.  The poaching, which was a one of the causes harming the wild was also touched upon.  In the end how all these wonderful wild may be lost, if we do not take heed now itself, was the parting message.

Students and teaching staff 
watching the video
It was so well received and the response to our few quizzes was overwhelming.  They were also able to identify some of the wild animals sighted in CWS viz Elephant, Leopard, Mongoose, Gaur and may of the birds. Girls seemed more enthusiastic and were seen pleading us to come again.

During the visit in the subsequent month, we projected an interactive video, "Nali Kali", on wild animals, covering Elephant, Leopard, Bear and Gaur. For their sustenance, the required habitat, food, Carnivore or Herbivore, Social living or individuals were the points explored in the interactive session.  They were able to come up with right answers most of the times.  Most of them were aware that their elders go to forest to cut trees. They assured they would stop this happening in future.

Students participating
in an interactive session

If a few of them feel impressed and turn out to be another Karanths, Chinnappas or Valmiks, it is worth all our efforts. If a few can spread awareness across and guard their forest with pride, our job is done well.

We came back with unexpected hope and enthusiasm. Such eco-clubs covering perhaps more schools appeared imminent.


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