Discovery and Inspiration at Bannerghatta National Park

Enjoyed facilitating this outing for the Socare children.Thankful to Socare and Sunand for connecting me to them for this opportunity.

Story of Socare Ind

While commuting to work every day, he (late Mr. Mani) used to pass by the Bangalore Central Jail where he observed children crying outside the gates. With the breadwinner of the family in prison, these children had absolutely no support from society. Before retirement, he decided to contribute towards making life better for these children.
With the help and encouragement of his supportive wife, Mrs Saroji Mani, Socare Ind was born in June 1999. They decided to give his retirement money and all their life earnings, including their own residence, to this valuable cause. His dream has now become a reality and everyone has the opportunity to be a part of this noble cause.

(Credit: Sunand Sumpath (linkedin) )

On a bright and sunny day, on the 13th of January 2024, the younger children from the NGO Socare Ind, embarked on a journey to Bannerghatta National Park. The event was organized by the compassionate staff and volunteers with total support from the National Park education officer, Ms. Amala. Their intention was in providing these children with a day filled with joy, education, and a deeper understanding of nature and wildlife conservation.

Our special thanks to the donors including Nandini Gautam, Bhuvana Raj, Maulya and Sanjay.

Bannerghatta National Park is a sprawling wildlife sanctuary nestled in the outskirts of Bengaluru, renowned for its diverse flora and fauna. Spanning over 100 square kilometers, it encompasses a variety of ecosystems, and is home to a rich array of wildlife.

Planning and Preparation

The planning for this trip started a few weeks earlier when the Socare decided to give the children a really immersive and joyful experience through a field trip.

Sunand Sampath, a Certified Naturalist, was asked to make necessary plans and organize this trip. Being an ardent nature lover, he took up this opportunity and through referral, connected with Vijetha, a committed nature lover who loves to spread awareness about nature, wildlife, ecology, biodiversity, etc. She is immensely passionate about connecting children with nature, through very immersive and innovative learning methodologies. The coordinator from Socare Mr. Tyagaraj, ensured that all necessary arrangements from the NGO is taken care of and logistics are in place. There were a few additional adult volunteers, including Shashikumar and Afsar. On the day of the trip Socare children were among the first ones to be seen at the national park, all excited and bubbling with enthusiasm and curiosity to explore the day.

We all soon huddled up in a circle for the main briefing of the day. Vijetha gave an idea of what to expect (and what not to expect, as some of the children were expecting an encounter with a black panther), and also about nature conservation and related topics.

Ms. Amala is an enthusiastic education officer who really understands the value of connecting with children.  We had the honor of having her here, and listened as she explained to the children about the wild animals, the national park, ethical habits, why the need for a zoo, what to observe and how to observe, etc.

The trip started off with a safari, with a whole bus for the entire team.Safari Adventure.

The safari was an exciting safari, exploring the natural habitats of various animals.

This immersive experience allowed them to witness wildlife in a setting closer to their natural environment for the very first time. It fostered a deeper appreciation for the importance of conservation and preserving animal habitats.

After the safari, it was time for another excitement.

Butterfly Park Delight

The journey continued with a visit to the Butterfly Park, a vibrant haven for these fragile, yet resilient creatures. The children marvelled at the kaleidoscope of colours, as butterflies flitted all around them. Vijetha’s efforts to intertwine entertainment with education shone through as she discussed the life cycle of butterflies and their significance in maintaining ecological balance.

The zookeeper too explained more detailed nuances of different stages of a butterfly. The children saw their tiny eggs, caterpillars, and pupae.

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There were many types of butterflies, with beautiful infographics all around to help identify them.

After the kids had a short refreshing juice break, they walked towards the canteen situated within the zoo. The cordial canteen staff were generous in offering a very sumptuous lunch, topped off with ice-cream which we all enjoyed.

Recharged with a full stomach, we headed out to explore the zoo!

Zoo Exploration

At the zoo, the children were treated to a fascinating array of wildlife from around the globe. Ms. Amala, a zoo education officer, was kind enough to coordinate a discounted entry and other necessary arrangements.

The children were mesmerized by the diverse species. They got engaged in interactive discussions to understand the importance of preserving biodiversity.

There were animals from various parts of the world, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, The younger children were tired and started throwing some tantrums about leg pain, etc though we were almost towards the end of the visit.

However, there was one surprise awaiting the little explorers. This was a visit to a Rehabilitation & Rescue Center.

Wildlife Rehabilitation and Rescue Center (WRRC)

At the rehabilitation center for injured animals and birds, the experts Dr Nirupama and Amith explained the crucial role of rehabilitation. They detailed the process for treatment, emphasizing its significance in the broader context of wildlife conservation. The children also saw how the animals and birds were recovering under the care of WRRC.

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They actively participated in a special quiz session, further enhancing their understanding and leaving them with a sense of responsibility towards protecting the environment.

As anticipated, the rehabilitation center visit was truly engaging, energetic and memorable. Special thanks to Dr. Nirupama and Amit for cheerfully engaging the children.

To our surprise, all the kids were back in action with a lot of energy… all the tiredness had vanished!

Conclusion

By the time we said our good byes it was evening, everyone was extremely happy and parted with a sense of fulfillment.

Discussions over the day had covered various topics like identifying animals and birds, ethical issues, rehabilitation and its need, some wrong practises which people do in general. Many children were so inspired that they wanted to stay connected to nature in future. This visit was more than just a day out for the children; it was a transformative experience for them.

These excursions to places like Bannerghatta National Park hold immense importance in the holistic development of children. Exposure to wildlife not only sparks curiosity, but also instils a sense of responsibility towards the environment. Interacting with experts and witnessing first hand the efforts put into rehabilitation and conservation can inspire a new generation of nature advocates.


Acknowledgements

All of us – organisers and volunteers, too enjoyed the day’s learning along with the children.

This is mainly thanks to the kind support of Ms. Amala.

Grateful to to all the staff.

The zoo staff were very cooperative and enthusiastically engaged the children wherever possible. Even the canteen staff were very cordial.

Special thanks to Dr. Nirupama and Amit of the rehabilitation center for energetically encouraging the kids.

Thanks to Socare manager Tyagaraj and his colleagues for providing a wonderful opportunity for the children. The children were so  jovial, and appreciative of every big and little thing in this visit.

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