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Shilonda monsoon trail adventure for Indian alumni

Warwick alumni in Mumbai got together recently to catch up and explore the flora and fauna around the city.

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The Shilonda trail is an easy nature walk suitable even for children. This second annual monsoon trail, organized by Warwick Alumni Mumbai (WAM) for alumni, family and friends took place on Sunday, 29th August 2010. The purpose of this event was to give alumni an opportunity to catch up, relax and unwind amidst nature’s monsoon verdure in the city’s own Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

The Park is unique in many ways. Most interestingly, it is the only National Park in the world to lie within city limits. Despite the urban sprawl and encroachment surrounding it from sides, the 104 square kilometres tropical moist deciduous forest is home to more species of butterflies, at a count of 284, than the United Kingdom; the density of leopards is the highest in the world; an estimated 800 types of flowering plants out of over 1,000 plant species, 5,000 species of insects, 40 types of mammals, 62 reptiles and 150 species of butterfly are found here; the list of amazing facts goes on.

The Shilonda Monsoon Trail event was created on WAM’s Facebook page more than a month in advance with information like ‘itinerary’, ‘cost’, ‘directions’ and ‘tips’ properly mentioned. Photos from last year’s event were posted to give alumni an idea of the lush greenery of the Park during the monsoons. Permission to go on the trail, normally prohibited to visitors, was also obtained early on. The trail was the same undertaken last year but we hired the services of a flora and fauna expert provided by the Park’s Nature Information Centre to add value to the event.

Many of us had taken the plants that we passed by on the trail last year for granted but found new appreciation for them after learning that they had medicinal and curative properties. True to its name, it rained on the Shilonda Monsoon Trail.

Despite being wet to the bone (our windcheaters clearly did not keep us dry), we were impressed by the amazing parenting skills of the Grey Hornbill and the architectural genius of the Harvester Ant. The inclusion of the guide was appreciated by everyone. It was truly educational and meaningful to learn so much about the Park and its inhabitants.

We look forward to holding another nature trail in January 2011.