Tuesday, 8 October 2013
Day 5 - Crocs, Gators and that slight dizzy feeling
The volunteers were up to mischief after 4 days of the camp here in Chennai. We convinced the kids that the plan for the day was to go to a library and research on either ‘Fashion Technology in Czech Republic from the 18th Century’ (a little difficult considering Czech Republic wasn't even a country until 1993) or ‘Chinese Diplomacy in Trade Relations’ (an equally mind boggling topic). So, after a half an hour morning yoga routine, when we headed out to The Madras Crocodile Bank, the kids had absolutely no clue what was coming up.
The Madras Crocodile Bank is India’s leading institution for herpetology research and conservation. The center hosts more than 5000 Crocodiles and Alligators, covering 18 out of the 23 known species in the entire world, along with many different types of snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises. Kaveri Bharath who conducted the ceramic workshop on Day 3, is a volunteer at the center and along with 2 of her colleagues, gave the kids a super deluxe tour of the center. Kaveri told the kids about each species’ characteristics, their habitat, their behavioral nature and their conservation story.
The star attraction of the park, Jaws III, a salt water Crocodile who is almost close to 6 meters in length and around 700 Kilograms, unfortunately decided to stay underwater and not give the children a viewing. But instead they got to see a rock python up close (a couple of them almost touched it) and also a demonstration of how venom is extracted from the extremely poisonous Krait. The Madras Crocodile Bank definitely changed the perspective of most children on how they view snakes and reptiles and they came away understanding, why the mission to conserve these magnificent creatures is so very important in this day and age.
After an exciting and educational tour of The Madras Crocodile Bank, the kids had another surprise in store for them. Prit Kumar, a good friend and supporter, had lined out a brilliant fun filled afternoon for the children and at local theme park called MGM Dizzee World. Although the adults were exhausted after the first couple of hours, the kids did not seem to be even slightly affected by fatigue after hours of getting on spinny, jumpy, flippy and just out right scary rides.
The day was extremely far off from what the kids had imagined it would be, especially when they were (reluctantly) prepared to spend the day writing about Chinese Trade Matters. But through experience based learning, they now know so much more about reptiles, conservation and on a lighter note, the stimulants of projectile vomiting.