Eco club activity on 9th September 2017

Reviving the Eco club activities, Team Vanodaya's target this time was Byadarahalli High School. So, on 9th September 2017 we set out from Bengaluru in the wee hours and reached Byadarahalli by 9.15 am. The programme started  by 9.30 am with brief introduction of Vanodaya activities to class 8 & 9th standard students. Then the film on Nagarahole Sanctuary was shown. The students enjoyed the show. Few Questions were asked on wildlife after the show. Students showed their keen observations and responded well and were eager for more. We assured them we will come again for a field activity of birding next month.

As a bonus we had a call from the Halagur range office previous day, for a presentation on CWLS on the occasion of “Chinnara Vanadarshana”. The programme was at Bheemeswari.

On the way  to Bheemeswari, we noticed that  the forest looked very green and refreshing. There were around 50 students from the Morarji Desai residential school. They were engaged by the department people since 8.9.17. A Power point presentation on CWLS was presented by us and Jagadish in detail highlighted the important facts on CWLS and our role in it. The students showed surprisingly good knowledge about wildlife. An Essay, drawing of snakes in its habitat and quiz on wildlife was arranged next. Top three were selected in each category and prizes distributed. The camp was meticulously organized by the Forest Department and very educative for the students. We received two more invites for the Eco club activity from Mr.Nandeesh, DRFO for Dhangur High School  and Mr.Venkataswamy, Principal, Morarji Desai Residential School. 

During lunch time, we spotted 4-5 Otters in the river opposite and few of the lucky students were excited to see it. We had earlier sighted few mongooses and many wild boars. A couple of hornbills were also sighted. Strolling and relaxing under the green canopy was very pleasant indeed.

Having had our fill both in food and wild sights, we were witness to another curious drama  unfolding on the ground. We chanced upon a Wasp stinging a May-June beetle(grub stage) and leave it partially paralyzed. The victim struggled to move after some time. Having found a host to lay its eggs, the parasitoid Wasp started digging a hole in the ground to take the victim inside.   Once  inside the host the parasitoid egg hatches into a larva. The larva feeds on the host’s tissues until ready to pupate, by then the host is  either dead or moribund. Finding that the hole was not big enough, it went further deep and wide.

As we waited in awe what would happen next, a big black  foraging ant happened to find the struggling victim and pounced on it and started  dragging it out with its sharp fangs. It slowly dragged the victim which probably weighed 10 times more than its own weight on the uneven and rough terrain. Its power was amazing. In our scale the ant had dragged the victim about a foot in about 3 minutes. 

Meanwhile at the Wasp’s trap, we could see the movements as the mud stirred and out came the wasp. Finding that the host was gone, it immediately set out in search. Probably the food trail pheromone took it to the path the ant had taken, Lo and behold, in no time it found its victim. By now, the ant through its own chemical communication had called for reinforcements and nearly 4-5 ants had joined to drag the victim away. When the wasp approached the victim, the ant attacked the wasp, finding that it had no chance against the ants, the wasp flew away having the lost the host for laying its eggs. 

It seemed a feast was on the table for the ants the next couple of days. It was an absorbing drama of few minutes at the insect level for us. It was quite a fruitful day of sharing and learning. Earlier we had  witnessed 2 dung beetles push and drag a dung quite a distance.

On way back we spotted a jackal and more wild boars. The forest never ceases to amaze !!!


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