Gratitude and affectionate hugs of appreciations 

This book is a collective effort of many people and a product of many pathways. While many others have contributed significantly the work of four people made this book actually possible. 

Vijay Subramani, an ad professional who used to teach copywriting in the Mass Media Department of Wilson College from 2003 to 2011 heard about the book and agreed to join. He has rewritten parts to make it readable. Ankita Thakar, a senior teacher and alumnus typed out the entire manuscript from my handwritten notes which were often illegible. Meenaz and Rohan from Upshot Media took on the task of designing the book and have done a great job, in spite of dealing with a lot of unprofessionalism, attending meetings which often were all over the place. I really appreciate what they have been able to put together. Features like ‘Fun and interesting facts’ was their suggestion. They have also taken the responsibility of printing and publishing the book. Manasvi Dighe, the young creative mind behind the maps. Farida Anajwala for her valuable inputs in the content and flow. I must specially thank Farida Anajwalla, an alumnus of Sophia college, who was on a Camp with me at Tadoba in 1993. She has been part of many Trails preferring evergreen forests to cold deserts like Spiti. Sandesh Lad and Tejasvi Lohia for choosing and organising the page wise images. Farida Anajwala, AK Pranav, Manisha Nanda, Sindhu Koshy and Rajendran Pottayil for organising the images through friends and contacts. I appreciate the effort of Srushti Salvi for typing out innumerable drafts of this acknowledgement and hundreds of additions. Special appreciation for Tanvi Rodrigues for doing the index meticulously and contributing photographs and always ready to help. Even at odd hours. 

Special appreciation for Tincy George, an alumnus, who looks after CSR at Glenmark and helped us cover part of the cost. We thank Glenmark Foundation for their contribution of Rs. 5,00,000/-. I thank Ankita Sharma for helping us with the fundraising efforts in the US for the book. Dr. Shamim Suryavanshi and her team of Tarannum, Ankita, Suhasini Nair and Priyanka Shukla for generating questions for a comprehensive handbook when the format of the book changed. Many of their questions have been incorporated in this book. We appreciate their hard work. I thank Anshuman Mor for whetting the first set of 150 questions and answers for scientific authenticity. 

Manisha Pandey and Vivek Kulkarni for suggesting that this book should be an experiential journey through India’s biodiversity. It was a great idea. Vivek Kulkarni was also the first to contribute his images for the book. Akul Tripathi is extremely knowledgeable, sensible with a dose of cynicism and has been a huge support for many camps in unimaginable ways. I thank him for giving access to his set of images. Farhan Thakur, Mahmood Kadri and Manisha Pandey were part of the brainstorming team. Manisha Pandey also edited two sets of earlier material. Anish Talpade used his creative talent to break the monotony of conversations with humour. 

Anish Talpade used his creative talent to break the monotony of conversations with some humour. Shruti Sinha helped with arranging many photos for the first draft of the book. Photographs were contributed by Bhupinder Singh Randhawa, Disha Pinge, Esmail Samiwala, Sanjay Gogate, Sarmistha Ghosh, Shehzad Arsiwalla, Swapnil Ramesh Mhaske, Anirudh Chaoji, Akul Tripathi, Jaydatta Nikalje, Madhushree Baliga, Nalini Chandrashekar, Nisha Navgire, Prachi Galange, Supraket Meshram, Vivek Kulkarni, Esther Pullanthara, Dr. Sushant Mane, Sana Khan, Suru Nair, Rishika Mathur, Amar Harjai, T. J. Siddharth, Arshad Hussain, JY Brothers, Shashank Birla and many more.

This book is about the journeys of Wilson College Nature Club. I appreciate the contributions of staff members Prof. Vakharia, the late Dr. Muthe, Prof. Parkar, Dr. Dange, Dr. Anantani, Dr. Manek Mistry, Dr. Mrs. Nalwalla, Prof. Vinita Mathew, Prof. Bandu Konde, Dr. Sushant Mane, Prof. Mahesh Shetti, Prof. Tasneem Pota, Prof. Deepika Todankar and Prof. Joyline Mascarenhas for helping the students and me discover new dimensions of biodiversity.

Engagement with Biodiversity has meant travelling to different locations. Five amazing people helped extensively, Elias, former Principal of Daystar School has helped organise camps across Himachal Pradesh for two decades and a visit to Zanskar. Hemanth Jayapaul, has helped organize great camps in Tamil Nadu and Kerala for two decades. Rabi Kumar, currently CCF Jammu and Ladakh has helped organise trips to Dachigam, Ladakh and Tripura. David Sonam has been an integral part of more than seven of our visits to Ladakh for the past 12 years. I don’t know of anyone who is more knowledgeable about natural history, geography, culture, history and so much more. 

Sandesh Lad, an alumnus, helped in organising trails, treks, tree planting and camps. He is a people's person and makes all outings fun. Special thanks to Prof. Vakharia and Prof. Parkar for helping organising camps in different parts of Maharashtra at very reasonable rates. My friend Farhan who helped found the Nature Club was the first one who was good at sighting and identifying birds and butterflies. Kadri figured out interesting ways to make nature engaging, telling interesting stories and for being very resourceful. We had so much fun together. The late Bhargav with his phenomenal eyesight, knowledge of trees and special brand of humour. Navroz Behramfram, a partner in many interesting Trails and Camps, was very meticulous with documentation of sightings. Nachiket Mor, who was chosen as best camper on two WWF camps as a student, was a huge support for me through many projects. Sanjay Joshi, was an active member who graduated to become an instructor in Camps. Shashank Chavan between 1980 and 1996 helped organize state transport across Maharashtra and Karnataka. Tejgouri Mirje met me at a camp in Anamalai in Tamil Nadu in December 1980 for the first time. She has been part of Trails. In 1999, she came for a Camp on a sand bar in Okha with her daughter Savannah who was two and half years old and nephew Aditya also two and half years old. I have done trips with her to Ladakh and camped at Bharatpur and other places. Her husband and dear friend Ravi Shukla and I have interesting stories of Gingiberacea and ‘Bamboo’ as woody grass, struggling up steep slopes with lots of Lianas. 

Shripad Kabe who was part of the original group and enlightened us with his interesting insights. Ranjan Biswas, my batch mate in college, and Education Officer of WWF (India) till 1993 gave us opportunities to organise Camps at Goa and many parts of Maharashtra. He has thought up activities like Visit a Friend. Ashutosh Gogate made several Camps interesting and fun. Rajeev Prakash and Rajendra Apte did their bit in continuing the Nature Club journey. Kaizad Bhaya now Colonel Bhaya, sent material on trees, used his network to help procure photographs. Rajendra Apte has been an important part of the 40th anniversary team in ‘Giving back to college’ initiative. Manisha Sonchatra now Nanda, Sindhu Koshy, Priya Bagwadkar, Reena Mehta, Sandeep Sharma, late Naval Mistry were part of instilling new energy in the nature exploration and its engagement with nature in 1986. Vivek Kulkarni, who was known as Darwin because of his curiosity and enthusiasm for nature and biodiversity while still a student, has been an instructor for Camps and Trails. He conducts lectures on biodiversity and has helped organise tree-planting. Ameya Gokarn, Gopal Vaideshwaran and Rajesh Barua were enthusiastic instructors on camps, Kalpesh Shroff inspired and taught an entire generation of astronomy enthusiasts. Prof. Sivan and his family have been an integral part of so many Camps and Trails. 

Dr. Deepak Apte, Director of BNHS, was an instructor in camps at Anamalai, Gir, introduced us to many wonderful aspects of the marine ecosystem at Narara and Pirotan. Manish Moghe, led Nature Club and me on amazing Nature Walks especially in Sanjay Gandhi National Park and elsewhere, and in conservation works like desilting. Maverick Nature Club members and instructors Dhiren Talpade, Rajesh Singh and Akshay Uchil have been fun participants and volunteers. I thank them for their support. Anish Menon has been a support on camps and helped with sessions. Daniel Francis, who through his networking helped us get access to Trails in Kaziranga. Gayatri Parameswaran with her naughty take on bird names and principled lifestyle choices instilled fun into nature exploration and symbolized the current generation’s commitment to a better planet.

Ekta Singla, Glen and Wenona added their bit to Nature Club’s engagement with biodiversity. Disha Pinge who edited a book with me on the Nature Club on the 30th anniversary of the Nature Club, is a nature enthusiast and partner in the journey along with others in her batch. Tejasvi Lohia has been helping with camps, Nalini Chandrashekar was an enthusiastic participant in the Sikkim Camp in 1997 and after 20 years from 2017 has been active on camps. She has interesting ideas and has generously contributed Rs.50,000/- for the book. She comes for camps with her sons, passing on her enthusiasm to the next generation. 

Fatema Arsiwala, the current student oo-ordinator of the Nature Club has helped in many ways including getting sketches sourced through students. Mitali Bhasin, a second year student has provided a lot of critical support. The section on suggestions is her effort entirely. Special appreciation to WCNC 40 years WhatsApp group for their enthusiasm, energy, suggestions, special tip-pani on all matters including the book’s cover. The e-version of the book is a result of their suggestion. Anviksha More assisted and guided with the process of getting the ISBN and publisher for the book. I thank everyone and so many others for their help, kindness in putting up with me and enriching my learning and experience. I also thank all Nature Club members, associates and alumni for their continued involvement in the journeys of the Nature Club. 

Sudhakar Solomonraj

November, 2019

Wilson College Nature Club's Journeys and Conversations about Biodiversity in India

About Wilson College Nature Club (WCNC)

The Wilson College Nature Club, popularly known as WCNC, was founded in 1979, by Professors and Students of Wilson College, Mumbai, India, with a vision to create awareness on environment conservation amongst young adults.