Most schools arrange annual excursion for children in the name of Educational Tour. A series of temples, gardens and picnic spots are visited in the trip dominated by bus journey. Precious wilderness areas en-route are vaguely ignored and never considered for a stop. But few schools plan exposure visits to wilderness areas- far and near. TVS Academy runs one such school in Tumkur which categorically conducts exposure visits to their students. Starting from the tender fifth graders to tenth graders they have a fixed destination. The lower classes begin with a day’s visit and as the kids grow they are taken out for greater distance and duration. As the plan intends, the sixth graders are taken out within the district. Every year the sixth grade comes here to study Grassland ecosystem. There couldn’t be a destination better than Mydanahalli for that purpose.
Mydanahalli is close to Madhugiri and accessible by road. Mydanahalli grassland that was just a community grazing land was declared Community wildlife reserve once healthy populations of black bucks were reported from here. A watch tower constructed by the forest Department in the late nineties was the only shelter for the visitors who stayed over night. The circular room which served as a rest place for the forest staff shoulders the watch tower. It has roof made of tiles and stands about twelve feet above the ground.
Now there is a suitable place to accommodate thirty students and few teachers. A hall measuring 15X25 has two rooms with attached bath rooms. The rooms have two cots each. There is a tiny kitchen that seems to have been built for the two watchers who stay to look after the site.
The team of thirty seven students and three teachers arrived on the noon of Dec 2010. Manu accompanied the team to conduct the camp. After a brief introduction the class was taken out for a Nature walk. The students were shown how to identify grass species and were asked to collect grass specimens
|Children collecting grass specimen.|
. Teams were assigned different directions to collection Grass and carry them back in the long envelope made out of drawing sheets specially made to collect plant specimen. Later they were made to lay out their collection upon a chart and enumerate the diversity in them.
The activity promoted observation and a healthy competition among the students. They not only learnt to identify grass but realized the diversity in them and the way they were distributed. After tea there were some games to encourage socializing among the students. And in the night there were audio visual presentations on Grassland ecosystem and its importance.
The following day there was an early morning nature walk and after a solid breakfast the teams were taken out for an observation of Blackbucks. The students learnt to sit quietly at a place and observe black bucks. In the far distance there were several dozens of them and some even were mixed up with the cattle. The bucks were in fact very close to the herdsman, prompting the kids to stalk for a black buck. However they were to be held back and encouraged to make observations through binoculars and take count of them.
|Observing Black bucks|
That evening Mr. Prasanna and Mr. Gundappa arrived to share new games with the kids. In the Audio Visual session they presented the story of the conservation of Black bucks at Mydanahalli. It was followed by a film show on Savannas and its animal life.
The third day was packed with more of hands-on activities such as tracking animals, counting the cattle and assessing their pressure on the black buck population. Prasanna demonstrated the age old process of taking plaster cast of foot prints.
|Children making notes of their observation.|
There was a group discussion and role play regarding the issues related to Black buck conservation. Children content with high spirits to push through their view points until the camp culminated. It was a fruitful and memorable three days with a lot of learning experience for everybody in the camp.