It's summer time and all that comes before our eyes are ripe mangoes, watermelons, fantasy parks, trips to your hometown, catching up with old friends, summer camps and many more. But none can beat a trip to the woods with all those elements of nature and serenity clasping us together.

The students of Melur education district were taken to Grizzled Squirrel Wild Life Sanctuary, as part of an environment awareness summer camp in Shenbagathoppu, near Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district recently.

The schools

Students from Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Melur, Government Higher Secondary School, Sekkipatti, Thaniyamangalam, SSV Sala Matric H.S. School, Melur Government Higher Secondary School, Paravai, Government High School, Vandiyur, Lourdhu Annai Girls Higher Secondary School, Al-Ameen Higher Secondary School, were part of the team.

Palaniraj, forest ranger, Shenbagathoppu, had already provided directions to the coordinators about the trip. He asked the students to come with lunch and water packets as one has to trek about 14 km through the forest terrain.

The ranger deputed the forest guard, Marriappan, who is a native of the place, to guide the team through the sanctuary. Excitement gripped the air as the students started trekking along the hilly terrain at around 11 a.m.

Expectations were high to see the squirrels, monkeys, bison and even an elephant, as they entered the forest near the Pachaiamman temple. The scorching sun was indeed a challenge though the walk was through bushy jungle. On the way they saw a few squirrels, monkeys and also saw the paw-print of the big cat.

The forest-guard briefed the students on the severe drought they were facing and how cattle died over the year due to water scarcity.

The students got a firsthand experience on the effect of global warming as they felt hot winds inside the forest, dry riverbeds, withering trees and missing animals. The team reached the foothills of Kattu Alagar temple after trekking for about 100 minutes and covering a distance of 7 km.

Environment concerns

During lunch break, teacher coordinators Prabhu, Vanimuthu, Selvaraj and R. Umadevi explained the effects of global warming and the need to protect the environment. Students were told to pass on the message.

The team also paid a visit to the Srivilliputtur Andal Temple where students had the glimpse of the temple tower, which is the emblem of the Tamil Nadu Government. The event was organised by National Green Corps, Melur, with support from the District Education Officer.