Let me start by introducing the organiser of the nature camps Dr.N.Kodandaramaiah. Dr.N.Kodandaramaiah is a doctor by Profession. He has stopped his practice ever since he has started orgnanising nature camps. His personal interests are Nature and Tourism. He owns a trust by name Usha Charitable trust. The camps he organises are on behalf of the trust. He has many volunteers in the team who support the cause.
Avoid Plastics, if you cannot avoid using plastics, reuse them. This is one of the message to spread. All the Volunteers are Nature and Wildlife admirers. They do their best to protect them too.This trust has volunteers from different fields. Ecological scientist, Lawyers, Ornithologists,Students, Photographers, software engineers. Everybody has one motto behind these nature camps that they organize. Save Nature and Wildlife.
Harish Bhatt is a Ecological scientists from IISc. He is the one who imparts knowledge about Nature, Animals and Environment. Whenever he is guiding us through jungles or mountains he talks about variety of plants and animal species, Advantages of having them in Nature.
Two facts told by Harish which impressed me are :
1)Leeches : Leeches inject some sort of anaesthesia into our bodies when they get hooked to human body to suck blood. Because of anaesthesia we don’t feel the pain when a leech starts sucking blood. That anesthsia is said to be good for the blood circualtion in the body.
2) We human beings are guests to wild animals when we enter forests or jungles. Animals cannot speak, they never can give us permission. We intrude into their territory like unwelcome guests.Hence maintain silence when you enter their homes.
3)Story behind extinction of Dodo’s(Birds). This story also tells us how species in the forests are important to maintain ecological balance.
This was the first time we were going to a nature camp. Aravind’s friend and collegue Jayanth referred about these nature camps. It sounded exciting as it involved trekking. We had no Idea what this trip was all about until we experienced it.
We started off from yeshwanthpur on friday night to Kollur. We all settled in the bus. We didn’t know anybody in the bus , except we five. Jayanth, Naveen, Ravi, Aravind and me.Jayanth knew Doctor who was organising. Doctor introduced himself to all the passengers in the bus.Very Patient and calm personality.
Journey began with sweet distribution. Tuppada mysorepak and mixture(Sweet and hot). It was packed in small polythene bags. We were asked to return back the polythene bags and not throw them.
1) You dont throw them anywhere you want ,
2)They will reuse the polythene bags to pack things throughout the journey untill we return back from trip.
We stopped at Kamat upachar veg somewhere close to Tumkur for dinner. After dinner, Dilse movie was played in the bus for entertainment. Bunch of regulars in these nature camps(Volunteers)were having fun in the last seats of the bus. We still didn’t know who these guys were. There were of couple of good singers we heard them singing. Didnt know who it was.
We reached kollur around 6 in the morning on saturday. The place was called Anejari and the camp where we were to stay for 2 days was Anejari camp. we walked around half a kilometer to reach the camp. Camp didnt have cottages or rooms. It had tent houses. Exciting. We checked into our tent houses. Place was perfect, green, no pollution, no electricity. Lights and heaters were solarized. All ladies checked into 1 tent house. Rest of the boys occupied other tent houses.
Tea and coffee was served with buns. Vegeterian breakfast was getting ready.We were asked to get ready and assemble at a place by 8.30 for breakfast and a brief explaination about the camp to new comers.
Anejari forest and camp is maintained by forest department. Forest officers and DCP of that locality were there for supervision that day.We were lucky to have them talk and share their experiences. All the volunteers were introduced to everybody. They shared their experiences and interests. We were given instructions of safety. Some knowledge about animals in the forests. Harish explained how we can measure the age of a tree. By looking at the girth of the tree, a person can tell how old is the tree.
We started off from the camp post breakfast. Lunch was packed for us.
We were all dropped in the bus at the entrance of the forest. We all began walking. We were among forest mountains . We were taught a term called Canopy, which describes how thick the forest is. Canopy 0 means thin forest. Canopy 1 is meduim thick forest where sunlight penetrates. Canopy 2 is a rainy evergreen forest where sunlight doesn’t penetrate. It is dark even during the day time.
I got kissed by a leech. I realised it kissed, I plucked it off and threw it away. We kept climbing up, Tired and dehydrated. All our water bottles were empty. We were climbing up and gravity pulling us down. It was tiring. Some students spotted unique birds, plants and trees.
We reached on the top where we saw a board ” Arasinagundi water fall”. We all were relieved that we finally reached. But Nooooooo!.Now we had to walk down the mountain for another 2 kms. Single person walk route. Very narrow. Follow the person in front of you. It was a thick jungle. If your off the route , you are in deep pit. It was scary to walk that way in a jungle. After 2 kms walk down the mountain, we reached the Water fall.
It was Wowwwww….Magnificient…Majestic. Not all could get closer to the water, Stones were slippery and it was dangerous. Jayanth and Ravi managed to climb up and get into water. Naveen, Aravind and Me didnt climb up, as it was risky. We all had our lunch around 3’o clock. dipped oursleves in water for some time, Soaked in Sun.
We had to head back before it gets dark. We left the place at 4. Walking down the moutain was also painfull, since we had lost most of our energy climbing up. We found small streams in a couple of places. We managed to quench our thirst with that fresh water. We reached the main road just before it got dark. What a Joy. Victory at last. We returned just in time.
We rested on the main road for some time. Much needed relaxation. Legs were hurting badly.
We got into the bus. On the way stopped for some tea. We reached our camp by 8. Freshened up for some hot bajjis . At around 9, we were served hot veg dinner. It was more like candlelight (Battery) dinner since there was no power.
After dinner was the time for campfire in the midst of dark night. No electricity. Only campfire light. We had an amazing entertainer among us.Deepak. He is a Lawyer by profession. He is an actor and a great singer. He performed so many scenes from Kannanda film actor Raj kumars’s movies. Some enacting from Kailasam’s compositions. He engaged all of us deeply with his entertainment. We were so surprized with his diverse personality. This was one of the last bench guy in the bus, who were having fun the day before. Day 1 completed at 11 in the night.
Wake up call came at 5.30 am the next morning by Doctor saab. Everybody slowly woke up to freshen up and get over morning chores. Breakfast was ready. While all others were getting ready, we spent some time knowing doctor about his interests. Pulav and mosaru pachdi was ready for breakfast.It was yummy. We all packed our bags and left the place after breakfast.
Before we got into bus to witness and understand Mangroves, There was a small activity arranged by Harish bhat to better understand something about nature. We were divided into 2 groups with 1 mentor for each team. Both teams were given an area (10×10″)of forest. We were asked to count number and variety of trees,plants,insects,animals,birds in that area. We could take help from mentor for names. We were also supposed to draw a map of where what was spotted and canopy. After this activity we realized how much of life exists in such small piece of forest land. Imagine the amount of life in vast forest land we have.
We were heading to see Mangroves. Mangroves are the plants which grow in stagnant lake water. These are the tress which grow upside down. Roots are above water level and the tree is grounded in water. Amazing isn’t it?. Root which grows above water level develops some sort of fruit. This fruit falls into water and grows into a tree. Hope I am right is explaining the concept behind Mangroves.
Next was a visit to place Maravante beach. This is the place where Tortoise eggs are taken care off. It is said that Tortoise travels far distance from different parts of the world and reach this beach, when it is pregnant. It lays eggs on this beach.Number of eggs laid varies between 150 to 200. These eggs are kept covered under sand at a measured depth. These eggs cannot be exposed to rain water. They rot or get spoilt.
After 55 days the baby tortise hatches and come out of sand by itself. These baby Tortises are taken and kept in a separate reservoir kind of place untill some more days. Protected. After few days they are left back into the sea. It is said that out of 150 -200 eggs laid and hatched, only few(2-3) tortises reach the destination.
All these activities of taking care of tortoise eggs, protecting them and releasing them back to sea, is taken care of by a man called Dasi Karvi. He is a 75 years old man living in a small hut, by beachside. He is recognised by karnataka govt and awarded for a marvellous job he does. His initiative to save tortoises as they are getting extinct is exemplary.
Snacks and fruits were contantly offered to us while we were travelling different places.
Nature camp opened up our eyes. Understanding nature and protecting whatever we are left with is the need of the hour.
We started our journey back to Bangalore and reachd early morning 4 am. Home by 6am. :).
Thanks to Jayanth for referring us to this nature camp.