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Encounter with R.E.P.T.I.L.E.S

Posted about 14 days ago by krystal_X

I am familiar with trekking because of my father. He was an enthusiastic trekker in his childhood and although my exposure to treks has been limited, I have enjoyed the ones I’ve been part of. Hence when my father sent a PDF with details of a reptile management camp being conducted near a village about eight kilometers from Agumbe, I jumped with excitement.
It was the last day of my mid-term exams, 27th September 2019; my mother dropped me to Kumaran School off Kanakpura road at around 21.30hrs. I was greeted by none other than Madhusudhan Shukla the camp coordinator and Proprietor of WOODY ADVENTURES. It was with great excitement that I joined him in welcoming all the other participants who arrived at the pickup point one by one. We were eighteen kids in the age group of 10 to 15 and three adults were in charge of the group. We left Bangalore in a bus at around 22.45hrs.

DAY ONE (28TH SEPT 2019):
We reached the KCRE campsite at around 09.30hrs and went to freshen up…. I had already made a few friends by then. To be honest, I expected the campsite to be a bit messy but when I saw the place I was pretty impressed with it……well I’d say it was quite posh for a camp in the wilderness!!!! All of us got ready and assembled in the hall for breakfast. After a sumptuous meal we met the course Director Mr. Gowri Shankar who is a well known herpetologist and snake expert. We also met our course teachers Mowli and Lohit. A few group pictures were taken before the start of the workshop.
Our first activity was a divided group activity where we had to make two groups of four and two groups of five each and we had to find unusual animals and plants in the forest. I was in a group of five people. We found a lot of frogs, leeches, dragonflies and even a dead crab which we called ‘dormant’…. that sounds stupid, I know. This activity kept us engaged till about noon after which we went back to the camp for lunch.
In the second half of the day we were divided into two groups and asked to make ‘pitfalls’. I won’t be surprised if you wonder what that is. Pitfall is a kind of trap laid close to a steam with the idea of trapping reptiles or small creatures like freshwater crabs, spiders etc. Once caught they are used for training purposes and then let free. We took about three hours to make the trap. We then went for a shower because we were all covered in mud. After a shower we were asked to assemble in the hall for dinner and a wildlife documentary shot at Agumbe. After dinner were escorted to our tents to retire for the day…..​​

DAY TWO (29TH SEPT 2019):
This day was quite fun because there were a lot of things which happened… firstly the previous night Madhu told us that we needed to wake up by 06.00hrs as we had a long day planned. We woke up around 05.45hrs cleaned up our tent and had a shower. Around 07.30hrs we headed out for a morning walk with the idea that we would find birds and we did!!!! A funny thing happened to me…my shoe got completely wet and the sole gave way in the middle of the walk. Luckily we were asked to carry floaters too, so I had something to wear for the rest of the trip. We returned from the walk around 08.45hrs to have breakfast. Then our teachers showed us some PPT’s and then we were asked to identify snakes using the snake skin – that is, scale count.
After that we were given sheets of paper to draw and write the life cycle of a frog. I learnt the life cycle when I was in fourth grade - four years ago, but it was a good refresher.
The day took a turn when KCRE got a call to rescue a KING COBRA!!! In fact Madhu kept the suspense till’ we were all seated in the bus. You can well imagine our excitement. We reached the rescue site fifteen minutes after the catcher. The snake was in a big garden belonging to an old couple. It was a female and did not seem happy that we were there. She even bit the snake hook. The rescue operation took about half an hour. When we reached the camp the snake catcher went his own way, assuring us that the snake will be set free in its natural habitat.
We then reviewed our pitfalls and my group had caught a big freshwater crab. After that we went for a shower and after a nice shower we went for the night walk where we found so many nocturnal creatures and some animals sleeping. We saw six scorpions, three tarantulas, Malabar pit vipers and much more. We returned for dinner and then hit the sack.

DAY THREE (30TH SEPT 2019)
The last day at Agumbe was a relaxed day… we woke up at around 06.00hrs, cleaned our tents up fully and freshened up. We had coffee and went for a trek at around 07.45hrs. The quote is true “the best view comes after the hardest climb “it was so beautiful.
Standing there you feel humbled by nature.

After finishing the trek we had breakfast and went through the last few PPTs they had for us. Later we went to a large stream for a dip and then returned for lunch.
Since it was the last day, the organizers had planned a quiz and my team got second place… not bad for a first time trek quiz. We were then allowed to ask questions to the experts and teachers.
The day had ended and it was time to take the bus back to Bangalore. We collected our certificates, had dinner and boarded the bus.
Strangely, although it was my first trek outside of Bangalore, I did not feel homesick. In fact, I felt very melancholic on the last day. I think that’s what Nature does to you.
On a normal day, as a teenager I go through many emotions; I am happy at times, I am sad at times, I get angry sometimes – it oscillates rapidly. In Agumbe however, I was of course scared, being in the forest, but I experienced a certain kind of peace and calm that I have never experienced before. I enjoyed the magnificence of living in the present moment. It is a destination I would recommended to everybody!!!!