MY “FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH A WILD TUSK”

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“Wild” is beautiful,adventurous and yet so enriching with great learnings..!!

It was last year (May-2015) during the heavy monsoons that I visited Mudumulai Tiger Reserve somewhere around early September for a workshop on Integrated Learning for the local NGO team members. It was around 7p.m. that I crossed the Masinagudi and was travelling to Gudalur. It was raining like cats and dogs. I was also feeling a bit cold and it was quite windy.

The driver had to maintain really slow speed since we were travelling in the midst of a forest. It was about to get dark in next 20 minutes or so, and I was just crossing my fingers that we reach to the place, soon.

Suddenly, the organization person who had come to receive me from Gundlupete, told the driver to stop the car and to my surprise there was this “huge tusk (Male Elephant)”about to cross the road. I was just startled at the first sight..!!For me, looking at this WILD ELEPHANT IN THE WOODS was absolutely amazing.This was first of its kind and so was feeling speechless. It was looking at us and we kept our vehicle really slow, so that we can see him for a longer period.

I was about to take out my camera, but the driver, cautioned us and said NO. The Elephant was moving his right leg which was an indication that he was about to run towards us. He was may be angry. Also there was a vehicle ahead of us, who had taken lot of pics and the flash light had made the elephant irritated.

I had no other option, but to capture this moment in my mobile phone. And here it is.But personally it feels very good to see wildlife pictures, but yes, it’s one of the most difficult things at times, since you are in the home of the animals. At the end would just like to say, “Adventurous yet so memorable.”Tusk

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I am alive..!!I am…!!

Early morning, just after my meditation I came out to take a walk and do some exercise. This is when I was travelling to Pench Mah tiger Reserve this August in 2015. I was walking with my camera just with a hope to see some flowers, birds and animals around.  At the same time I am a kind of a person, who moves with the spontaneity of my inner energy.  Suddenly the moment I was about to take my next foot ahead, I saw this piece of a dried leaf and found it beautiful.

I know there are so many lively things when we go to the forests but at the same time some very simple things, makes me feel attracted towards them. Thankful to the Mother Earth, who keeps on giving different shades, to our life just by mere observation..!!

This dried leaf looked so simple yet beautiful. Its pattern was still so appealing. The small knitted network was so alive and made me feel as if it’s greeting you.

It reminded me of the excerpt of the poem that I had read long back:

My leaf clings to the tree,
It is new to life,
Pure green,
Feeling as soft as skin.

My leaf falls down,
Ageing,
Changing,
Dying.

My leaf lives on the ground,
Swept away by the wind,
Feeling crumpled like used paper.

My leaf is dead,
From green to brown,
Soft to crumpled,
Spring to autumn.Dried Leaf

मुझे मेरे असली नाम से बुलाइये

मुझे मत कहिये की मैं कल चला जाऊंगा
क्यूंकि मैं आज भी आता हू

ज़रा ध्यान से देखिये,

मैं हर क्षण एक पौधे से जन्म लेकर टहनी पर दिखता हू,
मैं हर क्षण एक छोटे से पक्षी की तरह पंब्ख् फैलाता हू,
और अपने नए घोसले में गाना गाता हू,
मैं हर क्षण एक भवरे की भांति फूलो के दिलो को छूता हू,
मैं हर क्षण एक हीरे की भांति किसी पत्थर मैं दिखता हू,

मुझे मत कहिये की मैं कल चला जाऊंगा
क्यूंकि मैं आज भी आता हू.

मैं हर क्षण आता हू, हँसाने और रूलाने,
मैं हर क्षण आता हू, डरने और उमंग जगाने,
मेरे दिल की धड़कन मैं जो सुर है, उसी से मेरा जन्म हुआ है,
उसी से मेरी मृत्यु हुई है और उसी से मैं जीवंत हू,

मुझे मत कहिये की मैं कल चला जाऊंगा
क्यूंकि मैं आज भी आता हू.

मैं एक मेंढक हू,जो ख़ुशी से पानी मैं तैरता है,
और मैं एक साँप भी हू जो एकांत मेँ उसी मेंढक का भक्षण करता हू,
मेँ यूगांडा मेँ रहने वाला एक बच्चा हू,
मेरी त्वचा और हड्डिया है , मेरे पैर बैम्बू की लकड़ी की भांति लम्बे और पतले है,
और मैं हथियारों का सौदागर हू, मेरे कंधे यूगांडा मेँ आतंकी हथियार बेचते है,

मुझे मत कहिये की मैं कल चला जाऊंगा
क्यूंकि मैं आज भी आता हू.

मेँ १२ साल की एक लड़की, एक कश्ती मेँ शरणार्थी हू,
जो समुद्री डाकू के बलात्कार से अपने आपको को समंदर मेँ फ़ेंक देती हू,
और मेँ एक समुद्री डाकू हू,जिसका ह्रदय प्यार को देखने की क्षमता नहीं रखता.

मुझे मत कहिये की मैं कल चला जाऊंगा
क्यूंकि मैं आज भी आता हू.

मेरी ख़ुशी एक बसंत ऋतू की तरह है,
जो फूलो को अपने स्पर्श से प्रफुल्लित करती है,
मेरा दुःख एक नदी मेँ आंसुओ की भांति है,
जो अपने आपको चारो समंदर मेँ पूरा खली केर देता है,
ताकि वो भर जाये

मुझे मत कहिये की मैं कल चला जाऊंगा
क्यूंकि मैं आज भी आता हू॥

मुझे मेरे असली नाम से बुलाइये,जिससे मेँ आपके दर्द को सुन सकू,
मुझे मेरे असली नाम से बुलाइये जिससे मेँ आपके ख़ुशी को देख सकू
मुझे मेरे असली नाम से बुलाइये ताकि मेँ उठ सकू,
मुझे मेरे असली नाम से बुलाइये ताकि मेँ दिल के दरवाज़े खोल सकू,
और हमदर्दी का हाथ बढ़ा सकू॥

मुझे मत कहिये की मैं कल चला जाऊंगा
क्यूंकि मैं आज भी आता हू॥

पल्लवी गांधालीकर (हिंदी मेँ )
कवि (थिच नहत हन्ह) वियतनाम

Picture Courtesy: Kolitha Dissanayaka

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“Story of Sharduli-The Tigress”

Review of Maikal  Pahado ke Bagh:

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Book Name- Maikal Ke Bagh

Publications-Eklavya

Language-Hindi

Support-Hemendra Kothari Foundation

 

The story of “MAIKAL KE BAGH” is a fiction written by Subhadra Majumdar. The story is about the animals specially Tigers who are residing in the nearby hills of Maikal which is located in the forest of Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh is currently having a highest number of Tiger Reserves just like Maharashtra. This includes Satpura, Kanha, Panna, Bandhavgarh, Sanjay-Dubri and Pench Tiger Reserve. These forests are blessed with the most diverse collections of flora and fauna and that’s what makes it really very special and unique. Within these forests there is a range of  Maikal Hills. Maikal hills are range of hills between the Mandala and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh.

The story speaks about the emotions and life of the animals within the forests who also share the life, the way humans live. These animals also think, feel, sense and respond the way we humans do. They also have a say when different situations come in their life and the interesting part of the story is, that the author has tried to be very creative and imaginative, yet connecting to the chords, made it possible to share their emotions and sentiments in the most natural ways.

The story is about a tigress named “SHARDULI” who is a young, radiant, sharp and extremely strong and her 3 cubs (Golu, Motu and Chotu) The story revolves around their lives, how these cubs grew up in this Maikal forest, what kind of encounters they face, how humans perceive them and their responses to humans, how they manage different challenges and overcome their own fears till they become adult tigers and how they still have the same love, affection, care and warmth for each other the way humans have in their relationships. It once again reinforces the fact of life that we all are born with this beautiful life and it’s really important for us to know that each creature on this life is the creation of Him, and so we need to respect it and nurture it the same way, the way we do it for any other species.

The story gives a powerful message to all the readers about how important it is to maintain and protect the different species of animals because if they are safe, forests will be safe. And Tigers are the most crucial species since they are the top carnivores. If there are tigers in the forests, it means that all the other animals are present in the forests, which is a good sign of healthy forests.

The Maikal forests, is blessed with variety of flora, dense Teak forests, creepers, first and second level canopy and fauna that starts from Tigers, Leopards, Sloth bear,Cheetal, Squirrel, Snakes of different species, Elephants, Wild dogs, Peacocks, monkeys, Hyena, Wolves and many more.  The story caters to how animals interact with each other when they see humans. The very intense deep conversations between Sharduli and her cubs when they see some herd of Cheetal & deers, when they see humans looking at them and are dying to have one sight of them and different situations when they have to take a decision on some issue. In the story there is a mention of the “Baiga and the Gonds” which are the tribal communities of this region. These tribals are not afraid of tigers and all and stay in harmony with them to a great extent. The way they know tigers, the same way tigers also know them. Typically the way humans believe in some Forest Goddess, similarly in this story also Banjarimata,is, is someone whom thee animals and birds strongly have faith in. This Goddess takes care of the forests.

In the story there are humorous critical comments on humans also. The best example of it is in a forest, there is lot of discipline between the animals who stay there. Once when some tourist comes and when they see any big animal, like a Tiger or a Sambhar, they will start shouting and screaming. It’s the very excitement of humans, which probably they just can’t control. To this incidence, Sharduli cub speaks to her brother, “Why they come and shout like this in our forest? Don they understand that this forest is a home of so many birds, animals and insects. We get disturb by their noises.”

Story then moves with different shades of life as it happens in normal human lives. Sharduli, the tigress teachers her cubs to hunt slowly, takes them along with her, where ever she goes, so that they see her and learn the hunting skills.

The story from end to end portrays Sharduli as a fighter, who is not only a courageous tigress, but who has given some of the best tigers to these forests, and nurtured her cubs like the best guide and parent  and also had a soft heart of a mother from within.

Here, in the story we also see the whole aspects of energy cycle shared by the author in a subtle manner. She says: “Animals know that the people who come to the forests in the morning are good and come only to see us. They take own images and go but the ones who come at night, don’t feel trustful and then why they come at night?” The very energy of the animals can sense that there is something not correct. And having that sense, speaks a lot about the universal concepts that the God, has created and reminds us once again whether it is man or animal both are blessed with a strong mind, some conscience and they operate from within and take things ahead.

This story talks about the value system and ethics also in animals. For example there is a time when all the animals of the forests arrange for a meeting. And one rule was nobody will attack their predators till the meeting gets over. Though a tough thing but a lot of respect for agreements that all animals had set amongst themselves.

Broadly to cut the story short and summarize it we can say that this fiction takes us into the actual lives of animals and connect us to their lives in a great way. The later part of the story is all about how Sharduli, moves away from her cubs, due to some challenges and then meets her eldest son, who has become the King of another forest and how they help each other and comes back to Maikal forest. Sharduli was lost in some other forest and after lot of hardships she manages to come back to Maikal and meets her cubs. Only one is left now-Golu.

A beautiful story, yet narrated in a very simple language with lots of liveliness. The characters appear to be very real and takes us into the story deep within. Illustrations are few and makes u feel connected to the forests and its life. Emotions are something that the author has really worked on in the most appealing manner, with classical instances.

Worth reading book for children and adults who like fiction and are interested in wildlife stories.

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A fiction that speaks about a radiant, strong and charismatic tigress named Sharduli and her life full of adventures, new experiences, overcoming challenges, living life fully and having a big heart for her loved ones.

 

Exquisite local Art and its future: A Question to reflect….!!

Art work done by ANKUSH.

Art work done by ANKUSH.

As a person I was not a big time “Art- lover” though I appreciated Art, culture and crafts alot. During my childhood, I travelled to enormous places within India and visited to places that are the masterpiece of some really old arts,crafts and culture. India is a nation where you will see limitless traditional art and crafts whether you go from north to South or from East to west. Rajasthan is famous for its royal heritage and craft work, Gujarat for its textile production and handicrafts, Assam for its beautiful silk work, textile work and Manjaa ( woven mat) and South India for its temples- Dravidian style influence and crafts and textile industry.

When I think about Art its not only limited to a small paining or a hand made piece of craft. For me its spread over is limitless and endless. There is so much more that we can add in it through our creativity and aesthetic ability. Even when we speak, read,write,dance,sing or play or do other things, there is a natural element of art within all this. When I was small I used to spend my time looking at the potterer making clay pots. The beauty in their hands was something I used to envy but then I used to think when I will grow up then only I can do it. (Though it never happened..!!)

The reason what made me write this blog for myself and others,comes from my own need to connect with art and culture more. From last few months I had been thinking about it, reading articles about the same and was talking to some of my friends. What moved me more was that India has one of the best art forms available globally, but then how can we really make sure that every artist and craftsmen in our nation is earning sufficiently. And if they were earning well, then we would not had seen some of the basic art forms vanishing from our very culture.

The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) includes education of traditional crafts in their course curriculum to maintain this culture. Despite these efforts, the roots of these crafts, which are the rural craftsmen, are in decline. Rising costs of materials and supplies have placed many of these craft communities in financial struggle. A recent article in the Times of India predicts the price of steel to rise between Rs 600 and 1000 per tonne.On the other hand, statistics from the All India Handicrafts Board show that craft export has risen from 23 crores to over 9000 crores since the past 50 years.With rising economic and political issues in India, the craft sector is struggling to uphold. Although an interest to retain the culture of crafts is seen in designers and institutions. There are many non-for profits that are coming up to help them, but there are handful in numbers.

I recently made a short trip through the Wildlife Conservation Trust to Ramtek (Nagpur)  where I got the chance to visit some schools in the buffer zone of the Pench Tiger Reserve. The sarpanch of the Lodha school was quite an active man,whom I met there. He shared with me about the government school and last years’s floods and the disaster it did to that village and also some of the neighboring villages.

There I was surprised to see the art work done by students in minutes with the help of the leaves (Type of Bamboo)  that are of no use and are found in that particular idea surrounding that territory.

Here is the actual story and the person who inspired me to write this: Ankush Madavi is now an alumnus of Lodha Upper Primary school, studying this year onwards in Nagsen high school, Nagpur. However, 3 year a ago his life was on a different path altogether. Ankush lived in Sitapar village that falls under the Bhandara zilla. Both his parents had died when he was eight but he continued living with his relatives in Sitapar. He quit his studies and used to spend his time loitering about in the village and doing small chores for his relatives. Ankush once decided to live with his sister in Lodha for a few days. It was then that Anil Rathod spotted Ankush sauntering about aimlessly. Rathod is the Head Teacher of Lodha Upper Primary school and lives in the village itself. He believes in community development and always helps the villagers in their time of need. He visits the homes of the students studying in his school regularly and has put many efforts in strengthening the School Management Committee in his school. Rathod asked Ankush to join his school instead of wasting his time. Ankush reluctantly agreed to attend school after Mr. Rathod asked him a few times. Rathod noticed that it was difficult for Ankush to stay in school as he was the least interested in the curriculum that was being taught. Rathod then started to encourage him to pursue extra-curricular activities like sports and began using his skills. Ankush then started taking an interest in school and this new found interest reflected in his grades. He became a regular student and got a lot of attention and appreciation for his skills in sports and handicrafts. He studied under the watchful eye of Rathod for three years in Lodha before moving to Nagsen to continue his education. He still visits Rathod and helps with the school if required as his way of giving back.

Rathod’s belief in Ankush and other students make it possible for him to retain them in the school and succeed. His generous efforts and his confidence in the potential of the students have helped him instill in his students a certitude in their own ability and skill. The manner in which the students are empowered at Lodha to manage cultural events, library records, assembly as well as academics is unparalled in the neighbouring areas and almost all of the credit for this accomplishment has to go to Anil Rathod.

Interaction with Ankush on how he start this.

Interaction with Ankush on how he start this.

P.S. Its a SINCERE REQUEST to all of you who so ever reads it,if you think that you would like to be a part of the change and help Ankush, please connect with me. We all can help him with education and livelihood options.

“Enticing and dazzling Pench and its periphery….”

I got up at 4a.m. in the morning. Did my yoga and then was quietly waiting for the vehicle to come and pick us up. Finally the vehicle came up at 5.45a.m. when we were having a morning walk. This was my first time going to a Tiger reserve in the core. The idea of SAFARIS really make people happy but for me it was more to understand what are the issues in this tiger reserve and how we can resolve some of them through EDUCATION as the tool?

Lush Green Pench Forest.  Its the first monsoon of the year 2014.

Lush Green Pench Forest. Its the first monsoon of the year 2014.

The Pench Tiger Reserve is a 292.85 km² Project Tiger tiger reserve located in the Seoni District and Chhindwara District of southern Madhya Pradesh. This reserve is lush green, full of ]Teak  forest stretching from one part of Maharashtra to other part of M.P. The river Pench flows through it and divides the reserve into 2 different parts. Almost 3/4th of this forest falls under the Madhya Pradesh state and 1/4th falls under Maharashtra.Interestingly,  this Tiger Reserve is divided into 3 forst range: Karmajhiri, Gumtara, and Kurai. During my  4 hours in this dense forest, I could sight some Gaurs, sambhars, Spotted Deers in huge no’s (around 80-100 in a group),peacocks, monkeys,wild pigs, wild cocks, kingfisher,hornbills and a wide range of butterfly species. I could not sight any tiger since the rainy season has already started. It was an enriching experience for me to explore this forest during monsoons.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

                    Then I had some interesting discussions with the people from the communities who were staying near this   forest,   in  the buffer areas. I personally visited villages  which were a part of the buffer zones,  like Pipariya, Amazari, lodha,Pindkapar,Sitapur,Dahoda,Mansar, Salai and Devlapar and Pawni of Maharashtra and villages like Turia, Ambazari,Jeerewada,Awargani,Kurai and Khoka of Madhya Pradesh. It was indeed a very enriching and inspiring expeirence for me to understand conservation from a 360 degree approach. While I  interacted with so many villagers and students of the school,everyone said only one thing that they want development.

 

School Chale hum..!! Enjoying the monsoons and this doesn't stop the students from coming to schools. Excellent Attendance.

School Chale hum..!! Enjoying the monsoons and this doesn’t stop the students from coming to schools. Excellent Attendance.

Bumps in Thumbs Out..:)

Bumps in Thumbs Out..:)

 

Today these people are dependent on forests because there is no other means of livelihood and their survival is at stake.  Since their kids grow up attaining poor government education and hence can’t really go out in search of jobs outside. People in these forest still poach and hunt tigers, and carry the illegal affairs world wide and eat wild pigs by hunting.

Forests causes rains and water is required by all of us not only by the people who stay around the forests. So its our responsibility to make sure that these forests are well protected. For this we need to education the students and schools and communities how can we conserve our forests and why its important to preserve them? We also need to support the youths by providing them different jobs or by imparting skills  that will help them earn good money for their families. We need to make sure that the forest guards and officers are motivated enough and have the right equipment in place because if they are not safe,how will they keep the forests secure? We need to make sure that health facilities are available to people since many times man-animal conflicts results in serious injuries.

 

Core of the Pench Tiger Reserve

Core of the Pench Tiger Reserve

When I speak about “WE”,its everyone of us.Each citizen of this country. lets see how each one of us,can contribute in our own ways ( concrete ways) to preserve and conserve our “FORESTS AND WILDLIFE.

Courtesy:

Anish Andheria

Mr.Bobade