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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Magical Kabini ...the stress reliever

Multiple Depressions in  Bay of Bengal / Indian Ocean  caused the rain gods to open up the sky on Chennai and Chennaites experienced   heavy downpour and flooding in most low lying areas to the extent the social media trolling about introduction of Ola Boat services. To escape the depressing moods  at Chennai and at home too  decided to pile on to two friends of mine who were driving down  from  Chennai to Kabini to rejuvenate myself.

 The time we started from Chennai there was no rains but then within a hour of the commencement heavy rains started lashing and this lasted for couple of hours  thereby delaying our journey time. 

For the first time in 22 years we saw flowing water in Palar river. The roads till Kancheepuram was bad but then after that a smooth ride indeed and i have to thank my friend who drove the entire route without flinching or discomfort though i offered to drive some part of the way.
Kabini is definitely is definitely a magical place and even my wife acknowledges it as the moment i plan a trip to Kabini my face is aglow with happiness and all the troubles in the world seems as though its nothing but manageable. This is one reason as to why i keep travelling to Kabini every now and then so that i retain my sanity. :) 

We had planned to spend quite some time at Ranganathittu bird sanctuary but then the heavy rains the previous days did play spoil sport and we left for Kabini with just about an hour at the bird sanctuary where we were able to capture images of  Tickle blue and fantailed fly catchers in addition to the pelicans.

At Kabini we were keeping our fingers crossed and were praying that it does not rain as the sky were overcast and lighting was dull. It did not rain and we are off for the first safari with high hopes of having sighting of the big cats ie tigers and leopard. On entering the forest were surprised that it was too quite except for chirping of bird and insects..... no alarm calls at all which normally happens when there are movements of predators in the forest. It was the same during the next three safaris and it was as though the big cats have migrated or gone into hibernation. With a hour left for completion of our last safari as we were moving around various trails in the forest suddenly our naturalist whispers Leopard on tree was a fantastic sighting by him for most of would have surely missed this guy even when our eyes were peeled on to the tree line as it was camouflaged in such a way that we would have thought it is a tree branch.

We did have the usual sightings of the Elephants, mongooses, Malabar pied hornbills and other birds in addition to the leopard. Pug marks and carcass smell kept on the edge of our seats hoping that we would sight the tiger but alas we did not sight any tigers this time.

So finally a elusive leopard sighted... this goes to prove the saying that Kabini never disappoints. Returned back to Chennai totally refreshed and charged to  face the coming days of challenges in life.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Let's see how more human can we be

Last few days most facebook users has seen unprecedented  social media movement with respect to the captivity of T24 aka Ustad for killing a forest guard. This movement has garnered support from all part of the nation and also internationally and there has been intense and emotional out pour in most of the threads that were there on the face book  for saving Ustad  and returning back into the wild. Most comments on these post were questioning the Tiger expert's comments and the nexus of businessmen & RTR authorities who were supposedly behind the secretive shifting of the tiger 400 kms away from Ranathambore. 

Subsequent High Court's dismissal of the petition filed by a wildlife enthusiast meant that T24 aka Ustad has to remain in captivity. It is indeed sad that the free spirit of the tiger T24 has been curtailed by the whims and fancies of the superior species..human being.
Reproducing an apt comment from one of the post "Okay, we have slapped a wild animal for being wild.... let's see how more human can we be "  (copy right PS Anand) . Humans are the second deadliest species in the world after Mosquitoes for the maximum number of kills
 Personally I have never visited any of the Tiger reserves other than those in South India and my stance for not visiting sanctuaries in north is not a recent one. I have never liked the idea of over 20 gypsies crowding a single tiger for the sake of photographing the animal. With the advent social media network and its reach to the masses there is a fierce competition among the photographers to gain social awareness for it does make business sense in the event for those who livelihood is photography. And hence there is a constant demand of posting better images or the wildlife from various parts of the country & world. Hence the crowding of the forests in places where no rules prevail. Last year i did object to one such incident at RTR on the social media network wherein a guide for additional tips from the photographers breaks all rules .... instead of taking my comment objectively i was abused by friends and supporters of the specific guide. Similar topics of RTR has been posted and discussed in lengths for several years but there seems to be no change in the attitude and functioning of RTR.
Now that this episode of T24 has brought forth so many like minded people together for a common cause of saving our wildlife let us all channel our collective energies in bringing out a change in the system and wild life  conservation .

Monday, May 25, 2015

Thoughts to ponder about the tiger Ustad !!!!

Hasty decisions in labelling T24 aka Ustad as man eater by Tiger expert Mr. Valmiki Thapar. But then being a tiger expert he would know that the actions of Ustad are not that of a man eating tiger. He has never stalked or attacked human beings for his meals in spite of having maximum human intrusions in form of pilgrims going to the temple on foot. Mr. Valmiki stated that he had insisted that Ustad be put in zoo after killing of two villagers in 2012 and partially consuming too. Once a tiger tastes human flesh they start to like the salty meat and thereby start preferring human flesh and become man eaters. Whereas even though it is supposedly stated that Ustad has partially consumed human flesh of the human kills he has not killed humans till recently and that too because he was surprised by the guard.  Now my question to the expert is “Why did Ustad not kill humans till date from 2012 in spite of heavy human traffic in his territory?? Why suddenly Ustad is termed dangerous and need to be put away??
A similar human corollary to the tiger incident “A burglar enters you home and you would surely take actions to protect your property and in course of fight kill the person. Are you termed a killer?? I am sure you would say no but in case of an animal that killed because man intruded into its space you term it a man eater. This is an unfair judgement by experts and authorities of RTR!!!
Moreover it is not still conclusive proved that T24 is responsible for the human kill, for immediately after the killing of Mr. Ramphal, other guards & a writer  who were around noticed another male tiger there T72 aka Sultan in the vicinity and was suspected of killing the guard. The blame was shifted on to T24 just because he came back to the spot and was sniffing the bloodied area…
All felines/ canines are having a keen sense of smell and yes they would investigate if that smell of blood is in their territory.  Forensic investigation of the area would have clearly indicated as to what had happened on the eventful day and which tiger was involved and this was not done, instead statement made earlier by guards and few other persons were changed few hours later implicating T24 aka Ustad and the reasons for this change is unknown. This incident on the whole is quite murky and is filled with so many controversies and the affect party is the Tiger Ustad who cannot express himself.
I have seen so many comments where the person is saying that this being done to safe guard the forest foot patrol and pilgrims but then are they ensuring the safety of those people by taking T24 out of the equation now. Who takes the responsibility if the T72 now kills couple of pilgrims or a forest guard?

We may be armchair activists without venturing on foot patrols within the forest or know the ground realities, but then the villagers and the forest guards knew of Ustad’s notoriety and suspected kills by him yet continued to go about their works without a worry till date. Why?? (This is a question to expert who stated that T24 has to be put down) 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Choices- is it made out of free will?

The hottest topic few days back was " My Choice" a Homi  Adajania's  directed video featuring Deepaka Padukone, made waves those days and has over ten millions of  views on the You tube  . The video has taken the social media by a storm  and there were intense debates happening on the pro's and con's of the subject . The video talks of women empowerment and choosing to live their lives as they please. This message is not being accepted by many women in India, for they do not have  a choice in choosing the life they want to lead and this is quite evident from outpour of comments on twitter, face book and blogs by women themselves.

But then is your life really the choice you have chosen with free mind ?? Majority of human beings  lead their life based on choices they take due to family pressures, a. sense of duty or for love or to the job they have . So what's so great about few urban bred women on a slick video saying it is their choice to choose their profession , to sleep with anyone or the get drunk  and to wear anything .Is it really so??? No its a false facade being put up by those women and I am sure they are not really happy the way their lives is progressing. It is fashionable and cool statement to make among your peer group that you are leading your life as per your choice though it may be someone else's choice.

Millions of women in the villages and by lanes of the cities in India don't have a choice in their lives and they take orders in every step of their lives and abide by it for the sake of their families. So what happens to " My Choice" for these women who are emotionally blackmailed by the family. The prostitutes are not in the world's profession by their choice ..they have been forced into the same and now it is their way of life .

Men do want to live their life by their choices but it never works out like that for  them as  they are bound by their families, friends, office and society and the choices they take has relevance to these factor. People in Iran had no choice but to lead the life as chosen by Muslim clerics once Ayatollah came back into power in that country in late seventies. Life in many of the middle eastern countries in not what one wants to lead but have no option but to live the way it is chosen for you by others.  Take for instance me... I would love to be in India along with my family and to lead a comfortable retired life engaging in my interests but then no  for i had to be away from home working my ass off in a god forsaken place in the just so that I earn handsomely and the family can lead a comfortable life and all commitments are met.

 " My choice" is not exactly my choice :)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Couch Experts

"Empty pots make more noise" is an apt description for the couch experts and I am sure most of you would have come across one such expert in your lifetime. The topic could be anything in the world and you can see quite a few of these special people commenting in social media networks or jumping into the conversation stressing their point of view without having a total knowledge of the topic under discussion. I keep following wildlife and nature on the social media networks and there has been so many topics that has been extensively argued or commented and the experts are good in their comments but then they keep tending to dump all faults on the authorities without out giving any thoughts of the ground realities that exists in the discussions that is being done.
Image Courtesy Google Images
One incident comes to my mind right away about a Man eating tiger that was shot dead in Nilgiris ranges and this topic was raging on both Facebook and Twitter with scores of people just blaming the forest department of not capturing the animal and commuting it to a zoo. To be frank even i have queried the decision to kill the man eater instead of the capturing the same but then in this particular incident i chanced on a post by a facebook friend who is a retired forest officer and while going through the post and its comment i came to understand the other side of the story (authorities) wherein there are so many factors involved that needs to be considered which we as ordinary citizen are not aware of while we make our comments.

It is very easy for all of us to sit in our air conditioned office/home and pass comments on the operations that is taking place on the ground... be it a cricket match, a football match or the hunt for the man eater without an iota of idea the actual conditions in the field. In short the people who are not experts needs to give constructive comments instead of negative or abusive comments that seems to be the trend. We in India have many other factors that has direct implications to any specific issue right from political angle, unscrupulous persons and there is no point in just commenting and winning likes on a post. It is said if you are not happy with what is happening then get on the ground yourself and try to change that is happening instead of crying foul .... this will not happen for who wants to leave the comfort and security of their spaces and be faced with ire of scorned persons. 

This is my opinion and is not directed at any person or group and any such inference if any is by the reader :)