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“A Night in the Jungle” is an exclusive study tour arranged by the Sancharam Club. It provides the students with a rare opportunity to study the forest, wild animals, birds and butterflies directly, by camping in the dense forest. The tour programme has been arranged in Senthuruni, Painavu, Chimmini and Muthanga forest regions, under the guidance of the Department of Forest, Kerala. Aswathy P. S, a tour participant of the programme, held at Senthuruni Wildlife Sanctuary on 8th and 9th of November, writes about her unforgettable experience here.
Our tour team consisted of 33 friends - the participants hailing from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts. We are the first group participating in the programme ‘A Night at the Jungle’ organised by the Sancharam Club. Some of us haven’t ever seen any forest so far. A few of us have got a passing glimpse of forests while travelling by bus on long journeys. Most of us have seen forests only through television and textbooks. For that very reason, all of us were filled with excitement and a slight anxiety, as we set out on this forest tour.
That tour was held on the 8th and 9th of November. We arrived at the Senthuruni Wildlife Sanctuary at 1.30 pm on 8th November. Our boarding was arranged in the forest Wildlife Education Centre at Senthuruni. After lunch, all of us wore the T-shirt, and cap provided by the Sancharam Club and reached the conference hall of the Education Centre. We have to get acquainted with the woods before entering it. A team including the Deputy Director of Wildlife Education, Mr. Madhusoodanan Pillai, were present there to create an awareness in us about the woods.
Senthuruni Wildlife Sanctuary! Do you know what is meant by the word “Senthuruni”? It is a tree which has the scientific name ‘Gluta Travancorica’. It has a core with deep red colour. In Malayalam we call it as ‘Chenkurinji’. The red colour in its core proved lethal for it. These ‘Chenkurinjis’ were felled in large numbers to make beautiful furniture. This calamity took place mainly during the reign of the British. This Wildlife Sanctuary was given its name to protect the Chenkurinji trees which were abundant in the Thenmala region. The aborigines call these trees as ‘Senthuruni’.
We were given a lot of such knowledge through their lectures. Dr. Dilip, who has studied a lot about the woods and wild animals, and has written eleven books on this, gave an interesting lecture about woods. Forest is the original abode of human beings. But later we committed so many cruelties towards the forest and the inhabitants of it. So we have the liability to do penance for them. “How is it possible?” “We should love forest and respect it. Trees are essential to keep the balance of nature. We must realize that fact”, said Dr. Dilip.
The Deputy Director of Wildlife Education,
Mr Madhusoodanan Pillai, told us about the relation between forest and water. He explained to us in detail that in addition to causing rains, the forests also prevent the flow of water.
The prominent ornithologist and the activist of Kottayam Nature Society, Mr. P. Ajay, told us about the details of observing nature. We can study a lot by observing each creature keenly. He explained with example how to observe the moths, birds and wild animals. In the evening we visited the culture zone of the Eco- friendly Tourism Promotion Council, Thenmala. It is a wonderful centre with an amphitheatre and a Butterfly Safari. There is also a music fountain. It is a fully computerised fountain - a fountain working in accordance with music and colours. It was an unforgettable sight.
By the time we returned and had our food, a unique personality had arrived - it was - Mr. Santhosh George Kulangara, the president of the Sancharam Club. As you know, he has travelled through 59 countries and is the first space tourist designate of India. We spent one hour with him which was a quite unforgettable experience for us.