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Birding in a futureless forest*

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This story 'Birding in a futureless forest*' was published in News Letter for Birdwatchers, 41 (5), (Part I), 41 (6), (Part II), 2001. (*with Mr.Harish Bhat) ------- The silent Neriya stream flowing down the Western Ghats near Neriya village Travelling south from Karkala town, head quarters of Kudremukh Wildlife Division in the undivided Dakshina Kannada district, the view of Kudremukh part of the seemingly unending Sahayadri hill ranges gets closer as you appear Guruvayanakere village. It was Christmas time and the sky was haze free. The blue background to these Rainforest clothed mountains was spectacularly contrasting. Beautiful memories from our previous birding outings on these evergreen forest slopes and valleys were revived, every time our thirsty eyes glanced upon them. In a jeep, we travelled from Guruvayanakere to Belthangadi town after which we proceeded eastwards along the Mangalore – Moodigere road. We could not resist stopping regularly to watch the e

Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary: Mist covered hills, cloud-kissed forests

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This story ' Mist covered hills, cloud-kissed forests' was published in the Sunday Herald (Deccan Herald) on Dec. 25, 2005 -------- Though the steep western and southern edges of Kodagu district seem eternally inaccessible to the ‘not so adventurous’ due to their remoteness, the very thought of exploring these cloud hugged, densely wooded slopes and valleys always runs a thrill down the spine of nature lovers. I felt no different as the jeep crawled over slippery stones on the dirt track. It was just a matter of days before wandering monsoon clouds would gather strength to lay siege over Talakaveri- origin of the revered Kaveri and its surroundings. View on googleearth.com of the area being narrated about. Click here for a bigger map. The valley of clouds A sharp, sudden pre-monsoon outburst over head and all the valley wombs below were filled with clouds. Like cotton wool, they floated from one peak to another, the hill ridges piercing occasionally through

Save Woodpeckers

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This story 'Knock! knock! Who’s there?' was published in Young World, The Hindu, Mar 31, 2001 http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2001/03/31/stories/13311104.htm ------- It was just another pre-monsoon evening inside the tropical jungles of Nagarahole National Park. Panthers watching, deer fleeing, tuskers rampaging, and if goddess of luck smiles, glimpse of the jungle king, the tiger, -it’s all in a day’s walk during the annual wildlife census in this wild haven. Sitting in front of the beautiful Kallahalla guesthouse, I was absorbed by unending stretches of Teak forest ahead. I always wondered and questioned myself, what prevented these lofty trees from those millions of armies of wood boring termites and other insects, which satiate their hunger by eating into the very heart of trees? In a flash, a Myna sized bird broke my gaze to settle on the trunk of one of the trees. It was a woodpecker! It briskly moved up the tree in a circular fashion, hammering its beak and

Wild and Beautiful Ranthambore

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This story 'Wild and Beautiful' was published in Sunday Herald (Deccan Herald), Bangalore, Feb 27, 2000 ------ I was at the western edge of an expansive lake and the view from my jeep was absorbing. A number of sambar dotted the lake feeding on vegetation. A big herd of chital grazed at one edge of the lake, lifting their necks every now and then to watch anything unusual. Migrant ducks carried on their activity - disappearing in the golden water for a few moments, only to reappear some distance away swimming leisurely. A saunder of wild boar grazed at the junction of the marshy grassland and water body not caring about the alarm raised by the redwattled lapwing pair, disturbed by a probing mongoose. The sun was a few minutes away from turning this February sky into colours of various hues, after which darkness would rule this land of royal wilderness. View Larger Map As my eyes followed a flock of birds into the never ending sky, a huge noise was created by the wi

Save the sholas - grasslands

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This story 'Save the sholas' was published in Sunday Herald, Deccan Herald, August 19, 2001 ------ Shola-Grasslands are critical life giving vegetation. They are also home to extremely rich wildlife. But, unfortunately, these habitats are declining at an alarming rate due to region-specific causes. While tea and coffee estates have encroached upon many Sholas, many have been legally converted to agricultural areas. Relentless mining is another major cause. Urgent action needs to be taken to save this priceless natural heritage at any cost. From permanent ice fields in Arunachal Pradesh to the baking deserts of Rajasthan, there are about  many habitats in India and as many as16 types of forests. This ranks India among the nations with the richest and most varied biodiversity. Much of this priceless natural heritage is concentrated in the Northeast and Western Ghats, two of earth's 18 biodiversity hotspots and where most of India's rainforests a

Waiting for jumbos

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This story ' Waiting for Jumbos' was published in Sunday Herald (Deccan Herald), July 7, 2002. Author spends a day atop a tree in Bandipur awaiting elephants. And ends up watching every other kind of wildlife except the jumbos “ Be careful ,” advised Mr Pooviah, the sturdy Ranger of Bandipur, “ there is a lot of elephant movement around that water hole ”. The old van screeched to a halt near Sommayyana Katte on a late summer morning. Carrying our minimal wildlife gear and a bottle of water, I and clubmate Guru Prasad started walking towards the dried teak jungle, as the vehicle moved along the dusty game road. Though I was excited about being all by ourselves for a whole day counting elephants around a perennial waterhole, I was equally keen about finding a place to hide. A careful walk with one eye monitoring the waterhole and the other watching for any unwelcome movements towards us revealed the tracks of many herbivores including jumbos. The careful search also r

Mudumalai Wildlife Census 1998 – Memoirs of a participant

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The sun had just set in on 18th of December and the cold of the Blue Mountains was chilling. All the volunteers of the annual wildlife census of Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, 1998, had assembled at the auditorium near the elephant camp at Theppakadu. The census was funded by the wildlife wing of Tamil Nadu Forest department and was co-ordinated by Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association (NWLEA). The volunteers all of whom were members of NWLEA were mainly residents of the Nilgiris and a substantial number of them were from students of forestry college, Mettupalayam. The dynamic wildlife warden of Mudumalai and Mukurthi, Mr. A.Udayan, gave introduction to the census along with the methods adopted. i.e. line transect and block count. Mr. Ajay Desai, experienced wildlife researcher, gave details on counting tigers by pugmark method. After the deliberations, the volunteers were taken to Kargudi and rested at the Peacock dormitory amidst the beautiful teak forest.