A Prize to Treasure for Life | WWF India

After winning the regional round of WWF-India’s Wild Wisdom Quiz 2017 I was selected to represent North-East in Delhi for the international finale to be conducted by none other than the Quiz wizard Mr. Siddhartha Basu. I along with my partner Navaneel Chakraborty escorted by our teacher Tazrina Ma’am and my parents boarded the Delhi bound flight on the 5th of October, 2017 and checked into our hotel quite late at night. At dinner we met with other fellow participants and were excited and also scared thinking of how we will fare the next day and there were little butterflies in our tummies already. On 6th morning we woke up quite early, had our breakfast and the WWF team took us to the WWF office located in Lodhi Road, New Delhi. We went to the neatly decorated auditorium where I was amazed to see a big banner where in was written “10th Anniversary of the Wild Wisdom, 2017 - Enter the Maze of the Natural World and emerge a Wild Quizzer”. The butterflies grew bigger in my stomach. The prelims started soon after, 25 questions flashed on the screen and we were supposed to write the answers. This was the decider to enter into the final quiz. I knew that only 5 teams would go for the finals, out of the 14 city level winner teams from across the country. Nepal team which was the country winner already had their place reserved in the grand finale.

We had a short break and there was the release of online portal “One Planet Academy”. With music and applause from all around the hall entered the Quiz man of India Mr Siddhartha Basu. By now I started having elephants in my stomach. As he started announcing the names of the finalists, my tension mounted up in the sky. He said, “the teams to qualify for the finals are team A-Amritsar, team B-Bhopal, team C-Udaipur, Team D-Chennai, Team E already reserved for Nepal and only one team remains”, my lips dried up and my stomach started to ache as he announced that there is tie between three teams. The teams are from Guwahati (our team), Siliguri and Trichi. So we were called up the stage to break the tie and he said “who so ever press the buzzer first and answer correctly would qualify for the finals”. His question came “What kind of an animal is Eggfly, Blue Swallowtail and Common Crow?” We immediately hit the buzzer and I answered “it’s a butterfly” and thank to our stars we were amongst the other finalist teams- Team F named as Mandelia. The ever stylist and enthusiastic Mr Basu Sir asked six rounds of questions on diverse topics relating to wildlife and nature. All the teams played equally well and there was a tough competition throughout. We were lucky to become first and emerge as the International Champion of the Asia’s largest wildlife quiz – WWF’s Wild Wisdom Quiz 2017. I was happy beyond words and it was indeed a red letter day for me. We were given lots of prizes including a PS4, Encyclopedia Britannica, a Kaadoo Game and a goodie bag. But the best of all was the trip sponsored by Explorars India, right in the lap of Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand to be a part of the wilderness at Camp Hornbill for two nights and 3 days. Four teams received this prize and so we were eight and all of us boys.

Let me now tell you more about trip, on 7th afternoon after travelling for about 8 hours by a bus from Delhi we reached the Camp Hornbill. After that we all got refreshed, kept our belongings in the tent which looked exciting during the day and had our lunch. After the lunch we were told what we have to do. After that we went for a nature trail. In the trail we saw many birds, trees and pugmarks and scent marks of different animals and even a muntjac horn. Back in the camp we had our evening snacks and gathered for the ‘Yuleep Manan’ session by Dr. Sumantha Ghosh on the fauna of the Jim Corbett National Park and he did mammals the first day. The night was dark as there was no electricity in the camp located in the jungle. The only light other than the one from the ‘Chaupal’ came from the lanterns lit in the surroundings. My excitement disappeared and I was scared to sleep in the tent after dinner as we were not supposed to take the lanterns or light the torch inside as this would welcome the insects. Inside the tent was pitch black and I had started to see some kinds of shadows peeping in the tent from the thin mosquito netted window. I was wondering why on earth I got this prize and told my friend Navaneel “is it a prize or a punishment?” Luckily for us Tazrina ma’am, our teacher, stayed with us in the tent and I had a sigh of relief.  We woke up at 5:40 am in the morning and it was very cold. After having milk and cookies we headed for Birdwatching tour escorted by Pankaj sir down the riverside where we saw many birds like Crested Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Red Whiskered Bulbul, Red Vented Bulbul, Oriental White-Eye, White Browed Lapwing, Wagtail, etc. After that we had our breakfast and soon after we were taken for Nature Hike where we travelled through the forests in the hills. It was an amazing experience. When we reached a place for resting, all of us played in the stream which was very cool. While returning we crossed the river four times. After we reached the camp we had our lunch and bathed as we got dirty while playing in the stream and crossing the river. After a little rest we were engaged in lepai activity with cowdung and mud in the outdoor campsite. It was a real fun to wash our hands after that.  In the evening we went for Kyari village walk where we saw a spotted deer, some zebus (cow) and buffaloes. Back from walk we gathered for Dr. Sumantha Ghosh’s delivery on birds and reptiles of Corbett. It was an interesting and interactive session. We had our dinner and guess what? The second night we were shifted to mud house from tent which had light and even an attached toilet. I love snakes, and was happy to see a milk snake which was our guest in the mud house. I had a comfortable sleep. We woke up early in the morning and again went for birdwatching escorted by Naveen sir in the forest where we saw a Jungle Owlet, Crested Serpent Eagle, Himalayan Bulbul and Black Crested Bulbul among many others. After having our breakfast we went for adventure sports which I could only dream of and never thought I could do. At first we went for ziplining to cross a river, after that there was vertical ladder climb (for which I did not go) but climbed a tree house with a simple ladder instead. Finally we had bodysurfing in which we had to float in a canal which had current and was very cool. It was an amazing experience, altogether different and thrilling. After this we came back to the camp, packed our bags, had our lunch and with a mixed feeling started for Delhi.

I realized how wrong I was when I thought it was a punishment on the first night in the tent. It was a real prize-a prize to treasure for life. I have made new friends Safal and Kartik from Amritsar, Arishta and Jatin from Udaipur and Shivats and Dhananjay from Chennai and have brought back sweet memories home. The trip has made me more confident, self-dependent and matured and would like to thank WWF and Explorars India for this wonderful opportunity.

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