wildlife awareness should be the primary idea

I have always believed in the fact that one should not reject an idea or opinion just because you don’t like the mouth. Hence when someone “great in wildlife ” gives idea and suggestions, I do lend my ear.

However, I also believe that such opinions take a toll on the awareness amongst layman. Many people complain about forest department inefficiency in managing the forests. The forest department or the people working in close association with the forest department lacks one thing tremendously for sure, outreach and opinions. I read one article long time back that Amitabh Bachchan is the most popular star even in his fading acting years because he reaches out to people. Not only he keeps a track of events going in the current environment, but he lets other people take a sneak peek into his life also hence people, young or old, feel connected. How did he master this art when many of his contemporaries and many powerful leaders inspite of being on twitter all the time couldn’t get a genuine understanding of people?

The history of forest management dates back to the Mauryan empire. Before that yes in our religious texts the reverence towards the forest and its inhabitants were there. But can one conserve what we reverend? If so was the case then snakes must not have been under threat or for that matter the harmless sarus crane. The forest management of Indian resources use must have been in the mind of the British who brought many “management plan” across India. Still, we can’t rule out the contributions of many Englishmen who highlighted and protected our parks like F.W Champion who would do his duties to show off the forest for hunting of tiger yet would deliberately avoid areas of tiger existence. Probably Valley of flowers would have been unknown to us had it not been for a foreigner. Yet management of forest comes with a legacy to the Indian Forest Services and hence the increase in areas under protected areas (PA) is a contribution of the Services only. The politicians have their own agendas every year. All our honorable prime ministers have contributed to Indian wildlife conservation in someway or other apart from the supreme support provided by Mrs Indira Gandhi but yes , for most of them natural heritage conservation is not the primary agenda. But if India has increased tiger reserve number to 50, guess we are doing our bit in bringing the forest under priority flag. Many people out of the ego and their vested interest would not accept the increase in tiger number a thing to applaud, Agreed. But a well thought design of umbrella species -habitat conservation and to protect the forest by declaring it tiger reserve is contributing in its own big way.

I believe appreciating what we have and contributing, engaging in the betterment of the science and species should be our criterion. I attended a meet in which panel was to discuss the loopholes between the functioning of two major giants in wildlife conservation: the bureaucrat and the scientific community. it seems management and the scientific community is always at loggerheads when they should be joining hands. As a third party, I could see that they were unable to conclude anything on the panel itself! This is sad. No one can deny that for the best management of a protected area the two hands should meet. Even the activist and NGO’s who think about saving the wilderness should be together with science and management. Throwing stones at each other and stating as if it was in my hand I would have done the job better and differently is a very wrong logic.

Coming back to the mouth I referred to in beginning. In a well-read newspaper his article came and while reading it I realized its an idea with many loopholes. However, when an activist or researcher speaks anything in media, a big onus of the general awareness of the public lies in Him/Her. Bureaucrat mostly refrains from the statement because they represent an institution and are answerable to many people. But a famous activist says and if His/Her idea and statement (no matter he/she is stating if without a well thought discussion with the panel of specialist or with a backing of science) has a much greater impact on the community. This tilt towards a human is not a loss in anyone’s eyes as he/she will get money and popularity benefits. But it gives a major setback to the efforts of people working in conservation with very meager salary.

Management, science and activism need to come together but not for their own individual benefit. For the benefit of fast depleting forests.For the love of trees and its essence come together!

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clamour for plastic

In recent times media is flooding with views about plastics and its ban. Some just cry about hypocrisy others come up with a genuine suggestion to address the root cause of plastics. However since I am an “accused activist who supports plastic bans”, i feel obliged to bring out some points of how to handle this crisis.
In the wildlife field, I came across tribal communities whose past generations were dependent completely on the forest. Now once you move them out of the forest and bring them into the mainstream, they are completely lost and many times the effect is seen on their mental and health well being. Like handing over the community cooking gas cylinder when they are used to timber. Recent times breaking the dependency was adopted by sulabh shauchalaya program too. The shift is difficult but looking at larger good cause it’s not impossible. And its damn difficult for ignorant to get used to technology and science advances but it won’t be difficult for us advanced to revert back a bit.
Similarly, when we talk about reducing plastic usage it can be obtained slowly (a bit speed up way for sure looking at the bad condition of our planet). I am talking about sustainability which can be brought in the picture by training oneself over a period of time. By being careful of bringing a bag whenever you go out shopping is not breaking your dependency on anything but will make you more careful and disciplined only. Its very true maximum things we get from big brand products to small thelawallah bhaiya are wrapped in plastic. But anything which seems impossible for you to change right now don’t focus on that. For starter, focus on things which is not very difficult.
We love to eat chaat from our local chaatwalahbhaiya even though the poor guy offers in the plastic plate and not pattal. I asked him can you pack if I bring my own dabba? He said why would he mind if i can take that much pain? I can carry my own plate and spoon too!Why should I bother if few people find it funny? I care for planet and I can do this much. I dont buy mineral water bottle ever (as I believe most of them are not pure anyways) yet if I am dying of thirst I would drink water from wherever I get but other than that I skip plastic waterbottle, colddrink. Easy! as I am not dependent on it.I believe we women are contributing to these plastics more than men. Most Men use single soap for face, body,head but us women want multiple plastic bottled cosmetics. Hence guilty I am slowly shifting to a single soap for bathing. It doesnt make much difference (shampoo for dull hair, oily hair blah blah is nonsense!). I cant force people in my family to not use plastic bottle (apart from making them aware of the bad effects), yet I try to use the accumulated plastic bottles in the house for planting as many saplings as possible.
All I say is bringing a shift slowly but eventually. Every day put effort and then you will realize its a disciplined life. The big brands won’t shut down their plastic packaged products unless demands get low. If by forcing the government we could have achieved anything then we all know ill effects of cigarette has it been banned? It’s not out of business because of demand. You start refusing plastic bag, straw plastic packed bakery cold drinks then only the plastic will faze out or the big companies will come with an alternative.
You may have milk also from paper carton to feel good about your contribution yet how will you avoid the cow munching away to glory on the plastic bag? And if you think that plastic in food canal of Gau Mata won’t affect your health (if you are vegan) then there must be some other way omnipresent plastic will creep in your life. The choice is in your hand.

Children Activity and environment

I have a nephew with whom I love to spend time. Already a Recycle-reuse-environment pro, he loves if any activity is for nature and importance of environment conservation.

This summer vacation I taught him few things at regular interval. First was a small act of decorating a waste glass bottle and using it for money plant growth. We clipped a money plant sapling from just below one of the node of the full climber. We placed this sapling in the bottle filled with water and changed water after 10 days. In a month time, we had nice roots in this bottle money plant sapling. Now was the time to transfer the sapling with roots in the soil.

We went to Chaayos a tea parlor where we get tea in nice mud cup. My nephew asked the shop lady’s permission to take the used cup back home. The lady happily wrapped it and gave us the used cups. Our money plant now has a new home! least cost maximum happiness in kiddo.

Our young environment warrior. The next task he wants to take up is the preparation of paper bags and spreading awareness about not using plastic! A bit of guidance is necessary for these kids to think big about the environment.

bird encounter

Look what we have on 1st June in Delhi! screaming and shouting the beauty red-naped Ibis as it is were shying away from my camera and mating behind the

pole. The pair landed on pole, with loud noise and immediately mated behind the pole. Post that one individual moved in front of the pole and was pecking on the metal stand for whatever possible reason.

Dating exotics (talking about the environment)

“A very well designed airport is Indira Gandhi International Airport” so I am told by maximum Indians. Yes for shopping (which were duty-free) and the 24×7 crowd in the airport, I agree it presents itself as one of the most happening airports in the country. Yet what is very well planned means for maximum people? I came to know that the artificial garden and plantation of trees of another habitat categorizes it as very GREEN and planned airport. Honestly, I can tell you it is a huge wastage of space, especially seeing date palm trees in Delhi gives me a sad feeling of being in a middle east city and not my INDIA.
Why do we Indian prefer exotic so much? Delhi is a city of many trees but Date palm. Those wastelands outside the airport are not used for landing flights then why are they covered with finely manured grasses and the stupid small size date palm which doesn’t even provide shade to any human being or car? Why this land was not used to plant many native trees and area be used for parking cars too? We had been a sustainable country so why are we so happy to imitate Dubai kind of cities which give importance to money and malls? And when the government wants to do green planning who decides to plant date Palm?
I worked in Okhla Bird Sanctuary which had a very nice extended and porous habitat on many sides of the wetland. Apparently a park was being built in its vicinity by our Chief Minister of that time where illogical damage to habitat was done. On Honorable Supreme Court direction, the government was asked to plant many trees to overcome the cost. Now the government brought many saplings and thousands of laborer to plant “Ficus” trees in the closest possible vicinity. The poor plant which needs space to breath and thrive died a very sad death. Our loss? We could have had a big patch of forest which would not only provide habitat to birds of the wetland but would have reduced the air pollution and heat dominating that part of NCR. Inside the cemented park (which i never visited) it is said that over 37000 date palm trees were purchased for many thousands of rupees (one date palm was bought for 25000 rupees!) from Middle East. The government invest such huge amount of money and don’t even feel like asking an ecologist for pro and con of it? Not spending a single penny they could have easily planted pipal which is native and acts as soil binder. The romance of Government authorities with Date palm is obnoxiously high priced as well as present least contribution to environment. Some journalist wrote that date palm serves as host tree for Baya birds. Honestly any bird or animal need habitat to survive not an exotic plant sitting in middle of nowhere! Now also we have green expressways everywhere in NCR. Planting exotic trees and not taking care of the nutrient and water for these trees, they present a stunted growth. The weak root and shoot break off easily when the tornado comes. Also the wide lane and small trees on the side does not prevent the fog too. Native trees in large quantity is the need of the hour. Far gone are the days when trees were needed just for aesthetic purpose. I sat in garden space of Amity University and felt the grass not natural. I realized that it WAS ARTIFICIAL. The poor kid sitting next to me and having a bum which was quite acquainted to the grass realized on my insistence that he had been sitting on artificial grass all these while! So much for the aesthetics…….
But this is not about keeping your feet devoid of the feeling of touching the grass. This is not to enjoy bird chirp while you sit below the shade of the tree and enjoy life. If you want no ground breaking tornado or earthquake, if you want to prevent the car from burning in direct burning sunlight, if you want to breathe clean air, if you want fewer accidents in fog then plant native cheap priced trees. If you don’t want any of these then keep dating an exotic.
Personal venting out of a frustrated Indian ecologist”

the tree of our ancestory

I used to be amazed to see pipal tree growing from a crevice of the house. My mother would say one should remove it else it has the power to break the wall because its roots are very strong. However, she would neither herself uproot it nor let any of the family members do it too. According to her a potter who works with soil or an agriculturalist should uproot it. I realized that the tree has some religious significance and uprooting it is a bad omen.

In the current generation,  we expect how many of the kids to actually recognize the traditional trees? These trees are native to India and not only helped the religion survive on it for various traditions, it kept our soil rooted, provided habitat for many birds and reptile alike. If we see around us, Pipal, Bargad, Neem, rudraksha seems very elusive to most of the colonies. The date palm, Gulmohar, silver oak or maybe the commonest thin Ashok tree seems to suffice most of the “greenery”.  Why are (especially Hindus) we failing in keeping these sacred trees survive even if it is just from the religious perspective? Hinduism is a sustainable practice and not just regular temple visitations and hitting someone on the head for the sole reason of proving ownership of mundane things of the past (I did mean temple position, cosmetic surgery, pushpak vimaan, evolution…….). How many of these Hindu extremists actually plant these significant trees or hit on somebody head for cutting the tree down I wonder? Well, I am not further drifting from the topic but I wish some of these Saffron (a color I love) clad people get enlightened by Tree and their God relationship. (A person not having religious and mythological belief can peacefully ignore)

Pipal treeashwattha/ Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosais said to have provided refuge to Lord Vishnu.Ashvattha is a name of Shiva and Vishnu (combined). Said to be the origin of Saraswati river in Puran and the same is mentioned in Mahabharata where it is called Plaksha Prashravana.its symbolic of fertility and protection hence women seen doing 7 circumambulations around it. (Even Budha attained knowledge below it).

Banyan/ Vat vriksha/ National tree of India ( Ficus benghalensis): Lord Shiva as Dakshinamurti (the teacher) sat below it. In pralaya, Lord Krishna is said to have survived on the banyan leaf. Savitri brought her husband Satyavan life back under this tree (Vat Purnima is celebrated in its honor).

Dhaak/Palaash: the trifoliate leaf represents Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma.

Bael: Skanda Purana mentions that it originated from the sweat of Lakshmi/Parvati. It is offered to Lord Shiva.

Neem: Associated with Sheetala Devi and cures smallpox (now gone 🙂 )/chickenpox

Ber: Shabri offered the fruit to Lord Ram

Ashoka: Sita stayed under this tree in Lanka

Parijata: Krishna gifted it to his wives. Lord Visnu and Lord Hanuman are said to be seated under the tree.

Mentioned here are just a few such trees who has the reference to Hindu God. Many of these trees are out of sight from most of the urban landscape. Some tree can be found in or near temples. But like most of the festival losing its significance for the dearth of right place and things for the offering similarly the religious significance associated with the sacred trees are getting lost very quickly. Some years back I saw many ladies doing chath-puja at a water canal near an agricultural field in Dehradun.Within few years the built up came up on the same agricultural field and the sight of ” Chath puja” is nowhere to be seen now. Many of us riding the religious bandwagon if actually respect the culture and tradition and really want to pray to our Gods then just planting and preserving the native trees would be the best way to worship. All the “Hindu” pro men moving with a “danda” to separate every young couple on valentine day just to prove the cultural and traditional values of Hinduism, should ask that couple to plant a sapling or at least water one! If one has to distract a couple better it should be the constructive distraction and in the process, I will have more tree around me and in turn more birds!