Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol.1 Issue VIII

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol.1 Issue VIII

Impact of our Tribals on our Wildlerness:
I was with the WWF team in a meeting with the Muduvans in the Chinar Wildlife Sanctuary. I was told that they had fled from Madurai about 900 years ago and have stayed in the forests ever since. They tie a white turban to remind that they are the king’s men. They are now classified as tribals. These Muduvan’s cultivate lemon grass and extract its oil called citronella. Lot of fire wood is consumed in the earthen oven used to extract the lemon grass oil. We were discussing the use of an alternate oven design for enhanced energy efficiency. After the meeting, I was asked to share my knowledge of wildlife.

I was surprised and replied that they should know more about wildlife as they stay in the forest. To my astonishment, I was told that they fear wildlife and would run away if they see an elephant. Slowly I realized that these people have stayed for more than 900 years in the forest, but they haven’t learnt to read from the book of nature.

The hills are ideal Nilgiri Tahr habitat, with the precipices protecting the Nilgiri Tahr from predators like leopards. The hills looked green from a distance. However, as I started climbing up, the scenario rapidly unraveled in front of my eyes. The forests and grasslands have been cleared up and lemon grass is being cultivated. No herbivore eats this lemon grass. So except for elephants that pass through the lower reaches of the hills, and the dung from a gaur herd at one place, we found no trace of wildlife. Entire hills have been cleared of forest for use as fire wood. It was shocking. I was sad by the devastation.

I was told that the Muduvan’s now understand that there are hardly any trees left in the forest. So they are now cutting the remaining trees to stock fire wood for future use. Some of them admitted that their stock will last for a few years, but definitely not more than 5 years.

I wish our tribal rights activists and NGOs understand the reality. Our tribals, except for the Jarawas and Sentinelese and perhaps one or two tribes more, are no longer tribals in the true sense. They have been harvesting the forest produce not for personal consumption but for commerce. Every household has got a TV. Naturally, they yearn for a more materialistic lifestyle, which their present livelihood can’t provide. The vices of our world, namely liquor, outraging the modesty of woman, gambling etc are becoming more frequent.

Is it not time for us to seriously undertake the relocation of villages and create inviolate spaces for our wildlife? I am convinced that relocation of villages is a win-win situation for our wildlife and the tribals, except for a few activists and middlemen.

IndiaWilds Forums:
We have been trying to save Telineelapuram a wetland in Naupada district of Andhra Pradesh. The Expert Appraisal committee on Environment Impact Assessment had earlier stayed the Power Project. However, they have managed to get permission from the ministry. The issue is now before the Supreme Court. This case reminds us of the need for detailed documentation of our wild places and wetlands, else they may fall a victim to the so called “development”.

Some of our interesting discussions in the conservation section:
Renaming National Parks as National Wildlife Preserves

Ecofriendly fishing by Abhishek Jamalabad

Wilderness Updates:
An update about Aiyur Forest Reserve by Siddhartha Gogoi

Elephants run over by trains in the Walayar ghat region by Laxminarayanan Nataraja

Wildlife Photography:
I am sharing a few links to some of the fine images shared by our members:
Crimson Sunbird Split the Prey by Kiran Ghadge

Talking to God by Subramanya CK

Grey belied Cuckoo by Chandrashekhar CV

Egyptian Vulture by AB Apana

Short-toed Snake Eagle Portrait by Ashish Parmar

Waterfall by Kiran Ghadge

Blue Mormon by Sumon Sinha

Some fine efforts using compact cameras:
Sunrise by Hari Har Raj Kalingarayar

Eel Ratnagiri – Vishal Bhave

Natural History:
Lantana and Langur

The challenges facing our wilderness and wildlife are enourmous. We need to strengthen the hands of champions’ figting alone in some remote corner of India. Look forward to your feedback and your action in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in this beautiful country. For other interesting articles and photographs please check:

We look forward to more inputs from you.

Sabyasachi Patra

(Circulated in August 2009)

Sabyasachi Patra
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