Archive for the 'Wildlife & Conservation' Category

23
Sep
16

Those were the days! 4

We’ve seen over time that countries that have the best economic growth are those that have good governance, and good governance comes from freedom of communication. It comes from ending corruption. It comes from a populace that can go online and say, ‘This politician is corrupt, this administrator, or this public official is corrupt.’ – Ramez Naam

I can, of course, talk about the harrowing time I had as Director of The Corbett Foundation – not the work, but the way the Board (in particular Rina Khatau) behaved and treated people; of assurances and promises broken; the way sycophancy was encouraged and nurtured to unbelievable levels; the arrogance and subterfuge; the nauseating hold the Khataus had over their employees. Why most of them were so servile and willing to be treated worse than guttersnipes is something I could never comprehend. I always felt that the Khataus never ever learnt or appreciated the fact that the stature they achieved was by standing on somebody’s shoulders.

But I choose instead to share some of the most glorious, enriching and satisfying moments of my life, even when things were going awry.

Continue reading ‘Those were the days! 4’

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29
Aug
16

Those were the days! 3

“If you look at great human civilizations, from the Roman Empire to the Sovit Union, you will see that most do not fail simply due to external threats but because of internal weakness, corruption, or a failure to manifest the values and ideals they espouse.” – Cory Booker

Sometimes it is difficult for me to differentiate between the 2001 earthquake and the 2002 Gujarat riots. The aftermath was catastrophic either ways. The events affected me in more ways that I can even describe.

I was as in Kachchh and survived, but had to leave as nothing was left of the Gujarat Nature Conservation Society’s field office.

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I was part of ‘Sabrang’ for a long time. Realized I had been branded a pseudo-secularist only after I was roughed-up one night. How bad things were became clear when I realized that the phone was tapped and my children were being followed. Had to leave Gujarat.

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Very much like a wild animal whose corridor of movement is slowly but steadily being eradicated I lived in the shadows of my nightmares keeping an eye out for further transgressions. Nothing much has changed even today.

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Continue reading ‘Those were the days! 3’

24
Jul
16

Living with the Tiger

When I am dead, my dearest,

Sing no sad songs for me;

Plant thou no roses at my head,

Nor shady cypress tree:

Be the green grass above me

With showers and dewdrops wet;

And if thou wilt, remember,

And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,

I shall not feel the rain;

I shall not hear the nightingale

Sing on, as if in pain:

And dreaming through the twilight

That doth not rise nor set,

Haply I may remember,

And haply may forget.

– Christina Rossetti

Sixteen years ago, deep within the forests of Binsar, on a bitterly cold night, I had finally finished making notes in my diary and was ready to call it a day.

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The other members of the team were already asleep. I got-up and quietly went around the old dak bungalow checking doors and windows.

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Came back and stoked the fire. Seeking warmth from the crackling fireplace and snuggled inside the sleeping bag, a face with large eyes peeped out at me.

Continue reading ‘Living with the Tiger’

19
Jun
16

Those were the days! 2

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15
May
16

Those were the days! 1

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”– John Muir

Once asked, as to when I embarked on my ‘wildlife journey’ – I was unable to answer because as-far-as I can remember, my earliest memories are predominantly about forests, travelling with my father and/or uncle (my mother’s elder brother), reading or just sitting – looking at nothing and everything and at the same time not missing anything.

My entire demeanour goes through a change from inside and being in a forest makes me cry – absolute and sheer joy – with tears that only I can see and feel. Something happens!

Most people (at least in India), when asked about their interest in wildlife, talk about being influenced by the writings of Jim Corbett. It cannot be denied that I too have thoroughly enjoyed reading Corbett and others but I grew up reading books written by my maternal grandfather.

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27
Feb
16

Tendua, Baghera, Guldār aur Dipdo!

‘…the real facts are that the leopard is a very important unit in the general scheme of animal life in India…. May the day be far distant – as it undoubtedly will be – when the name of the leopard will have to be added to the long list of wild animals that have been exterminated by the hand of man.’– The Jungle in Sunlight and Shadow (1934) by F. W. Champion

Contrary to what people presuppose, I reflect about leopards, what with F. W. Champion’s words ringing true. In the vein of other wild species this creature too is now being hounded out of its haven.  I haven’t been fortunate enough to sight many. Tigers, yes…………a fair number – with my best being 5 within a span of four hours. A tigress with 3 grown cubs and later (different location within CTR), a solitary adult male.

Leopards? I have heard their rasping cough; noticed their pug-marks but seen only 2 in the wild. It is not that there aren’t any leopards in CTR and surrounding environs. I know reliable people, like my trackers, who have seen them on tree tops. I have heard them in the North Zone area of CTR and photographed their kills in Rathuadhab. Again evidence of their presence in Binsar – courtesy kills and warning coughs. I may even erroneously convince myself that I fleetingly saw one in Pithoragarh.

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Continue reading ‘Tendua, Baghera, Guldār aur Dipdo!’

15
Mar
11

Dodda Sampige

“If a tree falls in a forest and lands on a politician, even if you can’t hear the tree or the screams, I’ll bet you’d at least hear the applause.” – Paul Tindale

The way events are unfolding, there may not be any forests left in India, for trees to grow and eventually fall on politicians!

Would it be asking for too much from our Chief Ministers, Prime Minister, President?

But I guess saving the very source of our continued existence on this planet is not a ‘progressively developmental’ outlook for our country’s fiscal stance. And anyway, once the gifted wilderness is gone our true natural wild-self will be too busy feeding on each other for any song of lament to be sung. So, I greatly value any opportunity to walk any forest before the last of our wilderness is callously wiped-out by an absolute lack of political will.

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Forests invigorate me. I breathe, feel, walk, listen and live better. All my senses pulsate and I remain enthralled by the magic that surrounds me…and I am at peace.

Last year, I travelled a little over 240 km by road from Bangalore to visit the Biligiri Rangana Hills (literally meaning – Lord Ranganath’s White rock hill). Also known as the Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary or simply BRT Wildlife Sanctuary.

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