Ecotrail December 2020-January 2021

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ECOTRAIL

Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers in India under serial No MAHENG/2015/65640

December 2020 January 2021

Vol. No. 6 Issue No. 2

Bridging the Gap equip yourself with a gap

self drive holiday Junnar - an offbeat destination

Price Rs.10

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CONTENTs

03 04 05 06 07 08

FROM THE EDITOR Gap Experience

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ON THE BRINK

Western Hoolock Gibbon

BRIDGING THE GAP

The Gap Year Option for 2021 and Beyond - Rae Nelson

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CAMP STORIES

First Post Covid Trek - Surbhi Kulkarni

Self-Drive Holiday

Junnar - An Offbeat Destination

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COUNTRY CHRONICLES A Potpourri of Culture and Communities

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Benefits of Travel

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conservation stories

Restoring Chennai's Water bodies - E.F.I Reptile Education - Steffi John

LOOK FOR US ON Trailblazers.TheOutdoorSchool

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Printed, Published and Edited by RANJAN BISWAS on behalf of TRAILBLAZERS ADVENTURE TRAVEL PVT. LTD. Edenwoods, Bay House, Ground Floor A, Gladys Alwares Marg, Off Pokhran Road No. 2, Thane (West) 400 610

Trailblazers - The Outdoor School

Editor

: Ranjan Biswas

Associate Editor

: Sachin Sata

Reporters : Dhrupad Bhide Nayantara Deshpande Himani Kende

Download softcopy from www.trailblazersindia.com Call us to participate in our camps/activities: www.thetrailblogger15.blogspot.com www.trailblazersfoundation.blogspot.com 022 21739737 or 022 21739732 OR email us on: contact@trailblazersindia.com

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ECOTRAIL, DECEMBER DECEMBER 2020 2020 -- JANUARY JANUARY 2021 2021 ECOTRAIL,

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Dear Readers, The last issue of this year comes in the beautiful Christmas month of wintry December, and may Santa Claus bring all of you good health. When I look back in the year gone by, I am impressed how mankind handled the gripping Wuhan virus or Covid 19. The award for resilience of the year goes to the human species hands down. Many changes, all good have come about due to this crisis and humankind is better off. It may seem this was a wasted year, but to my mind we have leapt far beyond, its only not apparent and the story will unfold. I am saddened by the immense loss of human lives and the untold misery in many homes, but there will be a closure soon and fear is not the answers, mask is. This issue has many interesting stories and work being done by a lot of conscientious individuals and organisation to help the planet. This issue also covers the key issue of students or even adults before they start their work, to equip themselves with the 21st century skills to help prepare boldly and make an impact by undertaking a Gap experience which Trailblazers is launching for the first time in India over 4 weeks in Pondicherry. I must dwell on the Gap experience or the learning from outdoors. Being out of your comfort zone, you are forced to interact, adjust, compromise, accept, participate, communicate, get angry, learn new things and do things that you never knew you will be excited about. I will request all teachers, coordinators, principals, trustees and parents to join us for the free virtual seminar “Bridging the Gap� on Gap experience on January 9th, 2021 (to know more visit www.trailblazersindia.com/gap). Before I say au revoir let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and may the new year bring all our readers good health and happiness. Wish you all a Happy New Year.

Ranjan Biswas Editor- Ecotrail | Managing Director - Trailblazers Adventure Travel Pvt Ltd | Trustee- Trailblazers Foundation

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ECOTRAIL, ECOTRAIL, DECEMBER DECEMBER 2020 2020 -- JANUARY JANUARY 2021 2021

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ON THE BRINK

western hoolock gibbons

Image Courtesy: Vijay Cavale

Hoolock hoolock

The Western Hoolock Gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) is also called white-browed gibbon. It is found in Assam, Mizoram and Meghalaya in India, Bangladesh and in Myanmar west of the Chindwin River. It is classified as endangered by IUCN. It is one of the two ape species found in India. Males are black in colour while females are copper tan. They live together in monogamous pairs and can be found in a family of up to 6. Their calls are referred to as gibbon songs which can be heard from about 2 km away. Their habitat consists of wet evergreen and semi-evergreen forests with contiguous canopy mostly in the hilly regions. Arboreal and diurnal in nature, they are frugivorous but may change to a folivorous diet in the dry season. They also eat insects, spiders and birds eggs. They are important seed dispersers. They move by brachiating from one tree to the other. There are less than 5000 individuals in the wild, which is a decline of more than 90% of population over a period of 30-40 years. Major threats to the species include habitat loss and fragmentation due to anthropogenic pressures. Conservation efforts include creating awareness about the species, protecting their habitats, involving local communities, and listing it under Schedule 1 of the Indian (Wildlife) Protection Act 1972. Some of the suggestions to save this ape species include protecting more areas of their habitat, monitoring their population at regular intervals, plantation of Gibbon friendly food trees and a national level policy.

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STRIDES IN SCIENCE

Water on the moon NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places. SOFIA has detected that water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. Data from this location reveal water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce (approximately 350 ml) bottle of water – trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface. “We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about

resources relevant for deep space exploration.” “Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers,” said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries.” SOFIA’s follow-up flights will look for water in additional sunlit locations of the Moon during different lunar phases. (Source: www.nasa.gov)

Trees set sixth-graders up for success "Hundreds of studies show a positive link between contact with nature and learning outcomes, but the studies on nature near schools focus on young children or older learners. We wanted to make sure the same pattern was true in this vulnerable and overlooked population," says Ming Kuo, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at Illinois. It was. Even after taking a whopping 17 variables into account including student demographics, school resources, and neighbourhood characteristics, Kuo and her co-authors found that the more tree cover around a school, the better its standardized test scores in both math and reading. The study included 450 middle schools and nearly 50,000 students in urban, suburban, and rural communities in Washington State. Researchers believe that even in Covid times when students do not go to schools, access to nature or trees around their home can relieve stress in children. (Source: www.sciencedaily.com)

ECOTRAIL, 2021 ECOTRAIL, DECEMBER 2020 - JANUARY 2021

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BRIDGING THE GAP

The Gap year Option for 2021 and Beyond It is estimated that, in India, about 320 million students are being impacted by college and school closures due to the COVID pandemic. For a number of these students, it may be timely to explore a gap year option. What is a Gap Year? According to the Gap Year Association (a non-profit organization in the United States), a gap year is a time of “experiential learning, typically taken after high school and before college or career, in order to deepen one's practical, professional, and personal awareness." The specific length of time can be as few as two months, more commonly a semester, or a full year or more. A gap year may include a combination of: • Volunteering and/or service • Career exploration or internship • Paid work • Unplanned time to learn more about yourself and the world. Gap Year Benefits Here are a few benefits that have been researched and documented. • Gappers gain maturity, self-confidence, a sense of purpose, and college- and career-readiness skills. • Gap year students do well in college when they enter or return – research shows, for example, they earn higher grades than non-gapping students. • Once in careers, 86% are satisfied or very satisfied. Gap Years and COVID Gap year professionals are working through different scenarios as COVID realities continue to unfold. First and foremost, of course, is the safety of their students as well as that of the local communities in which gappers serve. Is Your Student Interested? If you know someone who may be interested in considering gap year options, here are a few tips. • Ask Students to Define Their “Why”? 1. How would you like to grow? 2. Are there core issues or causes that you want to contribute to? 3. What do you enjoy doing that you would like to explore as a possible career? • Research. The Gap Year Association (www.gapyearassociation. org) has numerous resources to help you along the gap year journey, including: a searchable database of programs, a Planning Guide, and much more. Conclusion Research and myriad personal stories support the positive impacts gap years have, even – and maybe particularly – in this time of COVID. As one gapper said, reflecting the sentiment of tens of thousands, “It is a transformational experience that has just begun to define my life. If you can dream it, you can do it!” https://www.gapyearassociation.org Trailblazers is organizing Bridging the Gap Webinar on 9th January, 2021 . To register and know more visit www.trailblazersindia.com/ gap

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BE THE CHANGE you want to see in the world Rae Nelson is a gap year author, researcher, and parent. She is co-author of The Gap-Year Advantage and Gap Year, American Style. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Gap Year Association (GYA). She received the 2020 GYA award for Advancing the Gap Year Movement. Rae served at The White House as Associate Director for Education Policy.

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CAMP STORIES

MATHERAN memories First Post Covid 19 Trek

Being a student in this pandemic era is hard; attending online classes, completing assignments, giving examsall virtually. I am Surabhi, student of 11th grade. I am rejuvenated by being in nature's presence, but due to the ongoing lockdown, I had become dull and irritated of staying indoors, studying and working, and absolutely missed being in the outdoors. That is when we stumbled upon the Backyard Trails to Garbett Point initiated by Trailblazers - The Outdoor School. I was excited. The last I could remember going to the hills was a year ago. So my family and I buckled up and immediately registered for this trail! The journey to Matheran was long, although beautiful, it being post-monsoon. After reaching the spot, we were introduced to our Trailblazer experts who indeed were very friendly and welcoming. I was previously paranoid about how all the participants are going to physically distance ourselves as we are in one group but the Trailblazers experts made sure all of us took utmost precautions. Both of the experts were

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very knowledgeable and experienced trekkers, with whom we all climbed the hill with ease. The group was lovely too. At the beginning of the trail, all of us were strangers but as we paced up-hill, conversing with each other, the acquaintance was one of a kind. Another adorable member of our group was a cute dog! He accompanied us from the start of the trail, all the way up to the top of the hill, and back down again! It seemed as if he was our local tour guide from Matheran. The trail gave me an amazing respite from the hum-drum of lockdown in the city and I thoroughly enjoyed being around green, merry trees and a variety of other species. Trailblazers experts educated us lucidly about the species we came across, be it butterflies, trees, shrubs, mosses, fungi or flowers. It was a treat to watch our surroundings and have such erudite persons to tell us more about what we saw. When we reached the Garbett Point, I felt a sense of calmness in me after appreciating the view from the top. After sitting by the cliff, enjoying

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the cool breeze, the group shared a lovely lunch together. The latter part of the afternoon was spent in a blowout where all of us in the group got to know each other more and we even sang! It was wondrous! Although tired and exhausted, we came back home with a fresh mind and fond memories to remember.

Surbhi is a vocalist, bharatnatyam dancer, amateur poet/writer, online feminism activist. She loves trekking, camping and cycling.

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SELF DRIVE HOLIDAY

THE LAND OF THE KING Explore offbeat destination of Maharashtra Junnar, located in Pune District, approximately 155 km away from Mumbai city, is an offbeat destination rich in its history and natural beauty. Junnar is situated at the base of majestic Shivneri fort, the birthplace of the great Maratha Empire King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. As with most hill forts, it was built to guard the ancient trading route from Desh to the port of Kalyan. The Shivneri fort has its unique architecture and history influenced by its rulers. Apart from the hill forts, Junnar boasts a number of beautiful cave complexes and temples. Lenyadri cave complex is one of the largest and longest cave excavations in India. It represents a series of about 30 rockcut mostly Buddhist caves. Cave 7 is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to the god Ganesha. Another group of caves one can explore are Tulja Bhavani caves which also shows Hindu and Buddhist characteristics. Junnar is rural heartland of Maharashtra where one can experience authentic Maharashtrian culture and cuisine. It is one of the most prosperous rural regions. Farmers here use latest information disseminated by the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra or Farm Science Center making agriculture and dairy farming practiced here technologically and scientifically advanced. So what are you waiting for? Grab this opportunity to junk the Covid-19 negativity with Trailblazers Self Drive Holidays and head out for a blissful self-drive holiday with exciting en route tasks to this beautiful destination. Be mesmerised by the incredible Western Ghats mountain ranges that you’ll encounter en route while travelling through the enchanting Malshej Ghat mountain pass, halt for photo ops, a cup of hot tea, delicious missal pav (a spicy curry made from legumes and topped with dry fried crunch, fresh chopped onions and coriander. Pav is a local bread) and kanda bhaji (onion fritters). Drive past the tranquil surroundings of Pimpalgaon Joge dam before arriving in Junnar for your detox holiday. This wellness holiday under Covid compliant safety standards in nature abundant Junnar with authentic local cuisine will destress, rejuvenate and re-energize your mind and body. The goal is to check out feeling healthier and better than when you checked in. Travel Explore Learn. For more details write to us at contact@traiblazersindia.com

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ECOTRAIL, ECOTRAIL,DECEMBER DECEMBER2020 2020- -JANUARY JANUARY2021 2021

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COUNTRY CHRONICLES

A POTPOURRI OF COMMUNITIES AND CULTURES Mumbai – a vibrant, progressive and inclusive city

Every city you visit has its own unique story. The fascinating thing about them is how a variety of people, cultures and events influence its evolution. Just as we track the evolution of a species, the evolution of a city can be tracked by digging deep into its past. Understanding the beginning makes you appreciate the city you are residing in or maybe just visiting, much better. I grew up in the city that never sleeps, Mumbai. The bustling city with its many quaint corners and breath-taking views of the sea is what comes to my mind when I visualize the word home. As a child, it was a great experience to grow up surrounded by people from all parts of the country. This meant an exposure to different traditions, cuisines and celebrations. In modern times, Mumbai is a city known for its vibrancy, progressiveness, tolerance and camaraderie. The inclusivity is most visible during the festive season with each festivity having its own special hotspot within the city. With the retreating monsoon, comes the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi where for 10 days the streets of Dadar, Matunga up to Parel and Byculla are choc-a-bloc with people visiting the larger than life idols of the elephant headed God. Around the same time, during Ramazan, Mohammad Ali Road is the place to be post sunset, to feast on mouth-watering iftaar, mostly meat delicacies as well as ghee laden sweets such as Malpua. Later in the year, during the season of Navratri, every open space in the city is utilized for garba events, a folk dance from Gujarat. For nine days straight, people revel by dancing the night away in elaborate traditional wear and finery. Finally come December and Christmas time, the lanes of Bandra are alive with Christmas decorations, carol singers and fairs. These festivals are not limited to the people of a specific faith, on the contrary it is the whole city that takes part in it. Having faced many catastrophic events, there is a spirit of kinship between all its citizens that never fails when called upon. Within this network of people, there are certain communities that have helped immensely in shaping the past and present of the city. Originally seven islands, the Kolis, an aboriginal fishing community played an important part in developing the harbours. They are one of Mumbai’s oldest inhabitants and it is said that the name Mumbai originated from this community, whose local deity is the goddess Mumba.. With the Arabian sea as their foraging ground, every day, close to 2000 boats set out to bring in the day’s catch. A progressive community, the Koli women play as important a role in 8

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bringing home the bread as the men. With an electrifying energy of its own, the docks and early morning fish market are one of Mumbai’s major attractions. With every new fishing season, the Koli folk display their culinary prowess at the Koli festival in Versova, a must visit for all seafood aficionados. Another group of people known for their eccentricity as well as genius are the Parsi community. Undoubtedly their influence on the city cannot be missed from the extravagant Taj Mahal Hotel to the old-world charm of the cotton mills set up in the city. The city of Mumbai has grown due to businesses set up by well known names such as Jamshedji Tata, Cowasajee Nanabhoy Davar and the Jeejeebhoy family. The best place to catch up on stories from the past would be the Parsi cafes scattered across the city. Stepping into these cafes is like going back in time, old Parsi uncles will greet you at the door with wrinkled smiles and if encouraged will tell you tales from their youth. Parsi cafes are a great place to contemplate while trying out iconic items on the menu such as Irani chai, bun maska, Akuri eggs and mawa cakes. While on the topic of cuisine, Britannia & Co is another charming place to visit to try the city’s famous Berry Pulao. Elegant chandeliers, a vintage interior and its legendary owner Mr. Boman Kohinoor exude warmth and affection to all its customers. For 97 years Mr. Kohinoor ran the café with the same gusto and excitement, proudly displaying letters from Queen Elizabeth while engaging his audience in friendly banter. Now run by his son, the Britannia & Co should be on your places to dine at in Mumbai. These are just a few important communities of the city, there are many more one can delve into while reading up the history of the financial capital. Part of what makes Mumbai a great place to be in is the sheer diversity of groups and the communal spirit between them. Due to its extreme pace at first glance it may seem daunting and hostile to a newcomer. With people constantly on the go, it is difficult to keep up but help is always around the corner. What better place than the local trains, a lifeline of the city, to experience this. Just like in life no matter how much you bumble around, there will always be someone to show you the right way out, which is most often a gentle nudge onto the right platform.

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COUNTRY CHRONICLES

Benefits of Travel

Which of these should you develop in your child? W h i c h o f t h e s e yo u s h o u l d d e ve l o p i n yo u r c h i l d ? Tr a v e l i n g i s n o t j u s t a b o u t t a k i n g p i c t u re s o f b e a u t i f u l s u n s e t s a n d d i f fe re n t s i g h t s e e i n g, i t a l s o comprises an understanding of humanity and the w o r l d. B e n e f i t s o f t r a ve l l i n g t o g e t h e r a s a f a m i l y, w i t h c h i l d re n a n d p a r e n t s, a re m a ny. S e e i n g t h e wo r l d w i l l m a k e t r a v e l l e r s o f a l l g e n e r a t i o n s e x p l o re a n e w e nv i ro n m e n t o r m e e t i n t e re s t i n g p e o p l e o f fe r i n g a f r e s h p e r s p e c t i v e t o l i fe. C h i l d r e n a r e t y p i c a l l y m o re i n q u i s i t i ve t h a n a d u l t s, s o h a v i n g t h e m a ro u n d m a k e s t h e w h o l e f a m i l y s e e w h a t t h e y o t h e r w i s e m i g h t n o t h a ve n o t i c e d, a n d s e a r c h i n g fo r t h e a n s w e r s t o t h e i r q u e s t i o n m a k e s t h e w h o l e f a m i l y l e a r n s o m e t h i n g n e w. S e e i n g c h i l d re n ' s reactions to the world's most unusual sights and s c e n e r y r e m i n d s a n a d u l t t o a p p re c i a t e i t t o o. A s c h i l d r e n i n t e r a c t w i t h p e o p l e f ro m d i f fe re n t c u l t u r e s, e x p e r i e n c e d i f fe re n t fe s t i v a l s a n d p l a c e s, i t h e l p s b u i l d e m p a t hy i n t h e m , a ve r y v a l u a b l e s k i l l. Pe r h a p s t h e m o s t s u r p a s s i n g b e n e f i t o f t r a ve l i s - h o w i t e n r i c h e s e a c h p e r s o n ' s l i fe. Fo r a f a m i l y, t h i s c a n s i m p l y b e g i n f ro m h a v i n g t h e t i m e t o s p e n d t o g e t h e r w i t h c h i l d r e n , p a re n t s a n d g r a n d p a r e n t s, a n d

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j u s t t a l k , a n d b e i n e a c h o t h e r ' s c o m p a ny. E v e n s h o r t t r i p s e n c o u r a g e c h i l d re n t o fo c u s o n a c c u m u l a t i n g m e m o r i e s a n d e x p e r i e n c e s, r a t h e r t h a n p o s s e s s i o n s. Fa m i l y d a y o u t ve n t u re s p ro m o t e i n d e p e n d e n c e, s e l f c o n f i d e n c e, a n d i n t e r p e r s o n a l s k i l l s. T h e m o r e t h e f a m i l i e s t r a ve l t o g e t h e r, t h e m o re t h e i r c u r i o s i t y, s e n s e o f a d ve n t u re, i d e a s g r o w a n d o n e l e a r n s e n d l e s s l y. Tr a ve l o f t e n p u t s o n e i n a n e w s i t u a t i o n a n d g e t t i n g u s e d t o fe e l i n g t h a t i n i t i a l s e n s e o f d i s c o m fo r t s u p p o r t s c h i l d re n i n d e ve l o p i n g t h e c o p i n g m e c h a n i s m a n d e m p o we r s t h e m t o a d j u s t t o d i f fe re n t s i t u a t i o n s. Ta k e t r i p s a ro u n d yo u r c i t y o r yo u r s t a t e t o e x p e r i e n c e s o m e t h i n g u n i q u e. A i m t o t a k e a t l e a s t o n e f a m i l y v a c a t i o n p e r y e a r. T h i s w i l l m a k e t r a ve l i n g a p a r t o f yo u r f a m i l y c u l t u re. Tr a i l b l a z e r s e x p e r i e n t i a l l e a r n i n g p r o g r a m m e s re vo l ve a ro u n d a d ve n t u re, w i l d l i fe, c u l t u r e, a n d h e r i t a g e w h e re p a r t i c i p a n t s l e a r n i n t h e o u t d o o r s w h i l e e n g a g i n g i n i n t e r a c t i ve s e s s i o n s c o n d u c t e d b y Tr a i l b l a z e r s e x p e r t s k e e p i n g i n m i n d Co v i d - 1 9 g u i d e l i n e s. To k n o w m o r e a b o u t S e l f D r i v e H o l i d a y s a n d B a c k y a rd Tr a i l s, v i s i t w w w. t r a i l b l a z e r s i n d i a . c o m

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CONSERVATION STORIES

restoring chennai's water bodies Working with Communities and Volunteers For ages, we have been grateful for all the rains we receive in India. To this date, Monsoon plays a vital role in human beings’ welfare and India’s environment. India is a land full of rivers, lakes, and ponds. Chennai, a metropolitan city, is no less than a wonder, with multiple water bodies in and around the city. Lakes and ponds are vital players in maintaining groundwater levels. Water in them percolates and recharges the groundwater table every monsoon. They also help preserve the local temperature and regulate flooding. Many citizens in

Chennai realized the importance of these oases only after the floods of 2015. While human activities have degraded these water bodies, E.F.I has been restoring lakes and ponds with the community’s help in and around the water bodies and other stakeholders. Here are some Lakes and ponds revived by E.F.I, which are thriving with life. Let’s embrace our water bodies and stop abusing them!

Vairavan Pond, Ambattur, West Chennai

Sholinganallur Lake, Sholinganallur, Chennai

Kannagi Nagar Kulam, Thuraipakkam, Chennai

Karuppan Pond, Ambattur, West Chennai

Dumpsite to Neighbourhood Pond. Tiny little ponds, located in densely populated neighbourhoods of North and West Chennai, were exploited and abused over the years. With no one to respond to their cries for help, E.F.I in association with the Greater Chennai Corporation took on the task of reviving the Ramalingasami Pond in Chinnasekkadu and the Gangaiamman Pond in Maduravoyal. In less than a month, these ponds were ecologically restored and were transformed into suitable habitats for several life forms. Urban water bodies in developing neighbourhoods being focused to ensure a water positive future for all life forms. The residents and volunteers also supported and took part in this restoration work

Before After

Before After

Environmentalist Foundation of India (E.F.I) is a wildlife conservation and habitat restoration group. A not for profit trust, E.F.I focuses on real-time and result oriented conservation efforts. Lakes and ponds often bear the brunt of modern day human negligence. Most of India’s freshwater bodies are polluted/contaminated due to human activity. E.F.I focuses on scientific revival of these freshwater bodies through a community based collaborative conservation effort. We volunteer for India & her Environment. 10 ECOTRAIL, DECEMBER 2020 - JANUARY 2021

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Reptiles: Cold-blooded yet warms your heart! Reptile Education Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/ Centre for Herpetology (Croc Bank) is one of the oldest reptile zoos in India which began in the year 1976. We have 45 reptile species where 6 of them are critically endangered as per the IUCN Red List. As a reptile zoo, our creative education programs pave the way towards conveying the nature, research and scale of conservation work being undertaken by modern zoos and aquariums. A majority of people, in general, are scared or grossed out when they encounter a reptile let it even be a house gecko. When asked why? They address it's the result of the stories that they have heard and passed on from generations. This irrational fear is the root cause of harming a reptile when they come across one. To break all the myths that surround these coldblooded creatures, Croc Bank conducts educational awareness camps. The camps provide an opportunity for participating individuals to connect with reptiles and discover their fascinating personality and behaviours. Our camps are diverse, and tailor-made programmes are encouraged based on available time and age group. One of our well-known camps is Scales & Tails, where children from the Age group of 6 to 14 years camp with us at the zoo for four days. Getting involved in these programmes what do the participants take away one might wonder. Trying to stimulate "empathy and awe" for reptiles is the goal behind every educational program of ours. Activities such as "Fish Sorting" sheds light on the salubrious amount of fish a crocodile requires to feed on and "Enclosure Visit" teaches how an Asian water monitor habitat needs to be maintained meticulously. Now, applying the same notion to animals in the wild can give a clear perspective on how, as a human species, we directly or indirectly cause an impact in their population. Issues on pollution and habitat destruction are emphasised during these activities, making people understand why being respectful and responsible towards our environment is a necessity for their survival in the wild! The activities bring cognitive learning, making it an experience that always lingers when children leave Croc Bank. Being a reptile centric zoo, the reptile programmes help people to understand and realise the critical role they play in our ecosystem. Through the interactive sessions for children and adults; we get to see first-hand how people's attitudes can change when offered a well-crafted educational experience, even when talking about crocodiles, snakes and lizards!

Ms. Steffi John has done master’s in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from Edinburgh Napier. She was fascinated by wildlife from a very young age and wanted to pursue a career towards what she loved. She is currently working in her dream job as an Education Officer at Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/ Center for Herpetology (MCBT/CH). MCBT believes creating awareness through education is the key towards wildlife conservation. www.trailblazersindia.com

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Printed, Published and Edited by RANJAN BISWAS on behalf of TRAILBLAZERS ADVENTURE TRAVEL PVT. LTD. Edenwoods, Bay House, Ground Floor A, Gladys Alwares Marg, Off Pokhran Road No. 2, Thane (West) 400 610 Download softcopy from www.trailblazersindia.com Call us to participate in our camps/activities: 022 21739732 or 022 21739737

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