A three day nature camp was conducted from 22nd to 24th February 2019 for a group of 12 PG students and 27 UG students accompanied by three teachers; Dr. Reema Kuriakose, Dr. Sherin Antony and Ms. Shilpa Abraham of the Department of Zoology, St. Teresa’s College (Autonomous), Ernakulam accompanied by 3 coordinators – Mr. Ajimon, Mr. M.S.Vinod and Mr.Renjith Kumar. The places visited include Arboretum at Thottakkatukara- Aluva, Eravikulam National Park, Munnar situated in Idukki district and Mattupetty Dam in Munnar. The field trip was organized as a part of Nature Study Camp and was supported by the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department and Rotary club of Cochin, Ernakulam.
The journey started commenced with a Prayer and small introduction highlighting the importance of conserving the nature by Rev. Dr. Sr. Vineetha, Director of the college.
On the way to Munnar the group visited the “Arboretum” in Thottakkatukara- Aluva; a botanical garden devoted to trees. This place is distinct for the presence of extinct plants with medicinal value. Another main attraction of the park was the “Nakshthravanam”- which assigns a particular tree to each star sign.
Eravikulam National Park having an area of 97 sq.km, is the 1st national park located along the Western Ghats in the Idukki District of Kerala in India. It is situated between 100 05’ N and 10020’ north, and 7700’ and 77010’ east. Eravikulam National Park is administered by the Kerala Department of Forest and Wildlife, Munnar Wildlife Division, which also runs the nearby Mathikettan Shola National Park, Anamudi Shola National Park, Pambadum Shola National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kurinjimala Sanctuary. Eravikulam National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park has the largest stretch of undistributed montane shola grass land eco-system in the Western Ghats.
The main attraction of the Eravikulam park is Nilgiri Tahr also known as “Varayadu” scientifically called as Nilgiritragus hylocrius. Now the park has the largest known population of Tahrs existing in the world. It was notified in 1978 to protect the endemic and endangered Nilgiri Tahr and its habitat.
The Nature camp at Eravikulam National Park was formally Inaugurated by Sri. Anoop, Beet Forest Officer, Munnar Wildlife Division of Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department. The presidential address was given by Mr. Renjith. Mr. Anoop gave us a lecture on the Biodiversity and details of the Eravikulam National Park.
The park also shelters Atlas Moth, Elephants, Sambhars, Gaurs, Lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Tigers and Leopards. The group also visited Mattupetty dam(Madupetty Dam) near Munnar which is a concrete gravity dam built in the mountains to conserve water for hydroelectricity.
Neelakurinji Also famous is the Neelakurinji season in Eravikulam that comes every 12 years, when flowers, scientifically known as strobilanthes kunthianus, bloom and whole hillsides inside the National Park burst into purple. Trekking through the Shola Forest was another highlight of the Nature camp.
During the valedictory function Beat Officer Mr Anoop distributed the certificates for students and prize winners. 1st PG Zpology student, Ms. kavya C.P. handed over a beautiful picture of Nilgiri Tahr to the Beat Officer.
The three days of the camp gifted the students with an experience of a lifetime. They got a chance to understand and experience nature at its best.