Children in Mumbai have a reason to be more adventurous, as college students along with forest officials from Borivli National Park have taken it upon themselves to impart knowledge about the environment in Mumbai’s forest.
Since 1982, students of Bhavan’s College, Andheri, have been organising nature trails and human-animal interactions across the 103 sqkm of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) to help children explore different aspects of nature.
Vikas Gupta, director and chief conservator of forest, SGNP, said, “Through nature trails, we try to educate one and all about nature. We have a panel of naturalists, mainly comprising college students, who are helping us spread awareness.”
Parents said such tours help children understand nature better. “Living in a concrete jungle like Mumbai, children are deprived of open spaces, playgrounds, and above all, a natural habitat. This place is situated in the lap of nature within the city; it is a welcome change for both children and parents,” said Sunita Verma, a parent and resident of Andheri.
Yogesh Patel, a post-graduate student of zoology at Bhavan’s college, said his love for nature began at a young age because of these nature trails. Patel, an expert on reptiles, is now one of the volunteers at the nature trails. “With forest department officials, we fix dates to organise these trails. As a snake rescuer, I teach kids basic information about snakes, which includes precautionary measures and ways to identify and rescue them, among others,” said Patel.
Jayesh Vishwakarma, a graduate student of zoology at Bhavan’s college, said, “When we are at the highest point of the trek, we try to spot birds like kites and eagles and tell the kids interesting facts about them. We also try to spot butterflies like common mormon and tailed jay at the lower points of the trek.”
Parvish Pandya, professor, zoology, Bhavan’s college, said, “Every child must experience the joys of nature. Where else can they find it if not in their own backyard?”