Sitting still under the tamarind tree...

At your workplace you *have to stand out* from the rest to be successful. But in the jungle, you *have to blend in* with the surroundings and be almost invisible to be successful. I spent some time at a watering hole near sathyamangalam last week. On the first day, a few researchers & I reached the watering hole around near Sathyamangalam at around 3:30pm. A couple of minutes later 4 elephants(2 Adult females and 2 calves) came to the hole for a drink. Although very close to the highway, this is the only water source for mos of the animals in that area. The sun was a bit harsh, we hadn't settled down in a vantage point yet, being a Sunday there was a lot of traffic on the highway (visitors to the nearby Bannari temple) and the elephants were aware of our presence. With all this the chances of getting good pictures were quite slim. I did shoot a few picture but wasnt very happy with the results. The herd left quite soon and we waited for another 30 minutes before deciding to move on. We had to reach another village by nightfall. I'll write about that experience in another post.

A couple of days later I came back to the watering hole at around 1 in the afternoon. The sun was up and the temperature rising, and I was pretty sure the animals would need some hydration. I found a huge tamarind tree and sat under it. I was wearing camaflouge clothing and had seated my self on the ground facing the pond. But the most important thing is I sat *still*, for the next 4 1/2 hours. My back started to hurt, I had pins and needles in my foot, my neck and shoulders started to get a bit sore but it was all worth it. The experience was amazing.

It was like reading one of Kenneth Anderson's stories. The entire jungle was almost oblivious to my presence, there were birds, insect, mammals (small and larger ones) all of them at peace doing what they wanted to do and totally undisturbed by my presence. I saw some paradise flycathers, jungle fowls, bablers, flamebacks, mynas, caucals and a whole lot of other birds along with elephants, deer and monkeys.

A short while after I settled down under the tree, a herd of cheetal came for a drink. They are one of the most sensitive and shy animals in the south indian jungles. So wary of surroundings and ready to call alarms and flee at the slightest sound. They pay so much attention to detail and are always on high alert. When a herd of deer move across the jungle, they first check for signs of their predators and man is not a natural predator of these animals. So when a herd some, they dont explicitly check to see if man is present there. But then again, anything they cant recognise as safe is considered unsafe. So that's where humans scare them. Coming back to the pond, a herd of spotted deer or cheetal very cautiously approached the water with a couple of stags standing guard on either side while the other members move to the water. The stags came in last and kept watch while rest of the herd quenched their thirst.

The strain in sitting like a statue really paid off at that time, the deer was completely unaware of my presence and got really comfortable in the water. They came in groups every 15-20 minutes and I had the time of my life sitting under the tamarind tree. Each deer had such a distinct personality, some of them curious, some extra cautious, some responsible leaders, some playful kids etc.

Spotted Deer

Spotted by the Spotted

Finally came the elephants and since they dont have very great eyesight, they didn't mind me stretching my muscles once in a while. As long as they were thirsty and I didn't make much sound they stuck around.

Family Drink

They came they drank they left. They left me a memory of a lifetime experience. So close with wildlife, it was unbelievable. I had a chance to observe these magnificiant animals from just a few metres away. I really wish these forests and animals last for future generations. Let our children not learn about these animals the way we did about dinosaurs. Save forests & wildlife.

Wildlife Conservation

How do you see the below picture- As "The elephant crossing the road" or as "The road crossing the elephant's path"? How do you see it?

One of the most important aspects of wildlife conservation and reducing man animal conflicts is the perception. Its how we see the problem that half solves it. Why live in the forest and then complain that the elephants are damaging crops or the carnivores are stealing pets? In my opinion, the solutions are not electric fences, country guns, trenches or traps, it is giving teh animals their space we staying off that space. This what wildlife biologists and conservationists are trying to achieve in the western ghats. IAWS is one such team that is working towards wildlife conservation. If you'd like to help us to help wildlife, then here's where you can learn more about us. All Donations are eligible for IT exemption under Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax act & additionally you also get an exclusive guided tour in these forests and get to see some of the finest wildlife in our country.

A new begining for ramaranai

All my pictures from the sathyamangalam forest division are thanks to this hamlet (Ramaranai) and the Indo American Wildlife Society. Ramar Anai is a small enclosed tribal settlement, which is located in the Bhavani Sagar forest range of Sathyamangalam forest division, which lies between 11°.595228 N. and 77°.04235 E. Tribals who are living here belong to “Kurumba” community, their settlement covers an area of 38 acres in which 13 families live.

The Indo American Wildlife Society (www.iaws.in) is a non profit organisation that aims at conserving biodiversity.( IAWS strongly believes by helping the tribal and improving their standard of life will automatically lead to conserving and saving wildlife since they are the primary party who is concerned on the Eco system of the forest. Further by providing the education and alternative livelihood would get the awareness of the nature and wild life and this will positively help them to conserve the biodiversity both direct and indirect ways.

The construction of houses for the 13 familes in ramanai was started on Sunday (21st sept). This is a big step in terms of luxury for the villagers and an even bigger step for IAWS in terms of saving the forests. What you see in the below picture is the "Bhoomi Puja"

If you think you can support IAWS in saving the forests & wildlife, we are more than happy. Check out our website for more details.

Let your children not learn about Tigers & Elephants the way you did about Dinosaurs. Save forests & wildlife.

A new beginning for Ramaranai Tribal settlement