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Senses heightened on South American field trip

20 May 2015

Rachel Atkinson

An educational trip-of-a-lifetime for Krishen Chauhan  

Pic: Krishen Chauhan on his University trip to Guyana.  

When the opportunity arose for Krishen Chauhan to visit South America on an educational trip, he jumped at the chance.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student travelled to Guyana with eight of his second year geography/environmental management classmates to experience the exotic wildlife and to witness habitat conservation at first-hand.

During the two-week research expedition he waded through knee high mud to plant black mangrove seedlings, slept in a hammock and held an array of animals and insects. But for blind Krishen it was the chance to show how his disability did not stop his fantastic student experience.

“This was a wonderful trip and it’s something I’ll remember forever. Everyone made sure I was involved in all aspects of the research and the fun activities.”

The 20-year-old, who was born blind, said: “This was a wonderful trip and it’s something I’ll remember forever. Being blind means it’s not always easy to do things like this and adjustments have to be made but I’ve got to say my fellow students, my personal guide and the staff were excellent and went above and beyond. Everyone made sure I was involved in all aspects of the research and the fun activities.”

He added: “I had to use my other senses more but it meant I really focused on sounds, touches and smells. I got to hear macaws in their wild habitat, hold a large toad which felt bumpy and squeaked when it breathed, I smelt a millipede which gave off the aroma of almonds because it was releasing cyanide as a form of defence. I also handled a monkey’s skull.”

"My favourite part was definitely planting the seedlings in the mud because it was fun to get mucky but I know I was also making a difference to the conservation of a beautiful country. It really was a trip-of-a-lifetime.”

Krishen dictated his research findings on sustainable forestry and conservation in Guyana to his guide. These findings will help him write an essay for his final year degree studies.

He commented: “I never imagined I’d be kept awake by the loud sound of birds and howler monkeys calling while I was trying to snuggle up in my hammock. My favourite part was definitely planting the seedlings in the mud because it was fun to get mucky but I know I was also making a difference to the conservation of a beautiful country. It really was a trip-of-a-lifetime.”

Dr Kevin Butt, Reader in ecology, was one of the tutors on the trip. He said: “Krishen is a credit to himself. He got involved in all aspects of the trip and was a great team member. I know this has given him inspiration to continue his studies into habitat conservation.”