Eco Volunteer Training-First day at Jungle Lodges Bandipur
We got down at the first gate of Bandipur Tiger reserve by the KSRTC bus going to Ooty from Mysore. Our Training venue was Jungle Lodges and Resort, campus on the main Mysore-Ooty highway, just an about 500 meter before the first gate of Bandipur Tiger reserve. My contact with JLR, Mr. Poovappa was kind enough to send a safari jeep to pick us up from the gate of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
Once we reached the resort we were given room to freshen up, and I was very happy to note the name of the room “Monitor Lizard”. Now how often you find a room named Monitor Lizard? I was very tired after the long bus journey from Hyderabad to Bandipur and really enjoyed my shower with water heated by a solar heater. Soon more participants joined and we joined in the training room.
I must say I was very impressed the way the program was conducted very professionally with an equal emphasis on classroom and field training.The Director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve Mr. Kantharaju were personally present on day one to address the volunteers and take us through the presentation about Bandipur Tiger Reserve. But first let me highlight the kind of wonderful folks who have joined the Eco Volunteer Training Program, it sure was a motley crew as I discovered during the icebreaker.
- A Paediatrician
- A Cardiac Surgeon
- A Mining Engineer
- An Engineer from a German auto giant
- A Few Hausfraus coming with their hubbies
- A lot of IT professional from the coding capital of world aka Bangalore
- Few Students
- An unknown Wildlife and Travel blogger
It is clear that each one of the participants came with a true passion for wildlife and nature and were willing to take time out from their busy schedule to attend the Eco Volunteer training program. Most of the guys came equipped with lenses long enough to photograph wildlife on mars if there is any. I had my puny little 55-300 mm basic Nikon lens, which was made fun of enough times, that I seriously thought of complaining to SPCAP (Society for prevention to cruelty to amateur photographers with small lenses, a virtual body that exists only in my mind). Jokes apart most of the guys I met were awesome and gave me some good photography tips, and explained why they need long lenses. (More on this in a future post).
Our lead trainer Sarath Champati, (brown half sleeve T-shirt and cap in the pic above) a very well traveled Naturalist with enthusiasm of a school boy, and wisdom of wiki for all things related to wildlife and nature, had been to all continents (including Antarctica!) to observe wildlife. He sometimes updates his awesome blog on his experiences; I only wish he was more regular in updating his blog.
A few things about Jungle Lodges and resorts here will not be out of place. JLR is owned and operated by a company of Karnataka government, but it is very professionally managed and was a pleasant surprise for me when compared to some of the other government run hotels I have stayed in.
On first look itself, the JLR looks like a very professionally run property. Our daily lunch and Tea was organized by JLR, and we had the same buffet that was served to the guest at the property. We found the staff to be well trained, courteous and the whole place spic and span. The food was really delicious & served with a smile by the staff in the central dining hall surrounded by beautiful garden.
The resort is surrounded by lush green gardens and then jungle beyond the boundaries, and I spotted many birds like female sunbird, Black-winged kite, Green Bee Eater, and some moths right on the property itself. But the best spotting was this little Bonnet Macaque who came every day and silently sat on top of our classroom as if making sure that we are taking the Eco-volunteer training seriously.
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