There was an early-morning “Malabar Whistling Thrush” walk, the highlight of which was the sighting of the Blue-eared Kingfisher.
Sarath made a presentation on the tiger, the facts and figures of this charismatic animal. There were several inputs from VMR, regarding recent findings and theories.
VMR then talked about the Wildlife Protection Act and its ramifications, enforcement, and otherwise. Rather than a dry disposition, he showed the participants the other side of the Act...the ways and means that poachers and traffickers adopt, and the measures the Forest Department takes to counter them. The Forest Department is hobbled by limitations such as jurisdiction; the poachers are not limited in any such way. He showed the photographs of sandalwood being smuggled, especially “Rakta Chandana” or Red Sanders, as well as other trees like teak and mahogany. He mentioned how Red Sand Boas were trafficked for as much as Rs.20 lakhs each, during the Bellary mining boom. Other trees such as Durvasane mara, Saptarangi Selicia chinensis, were also being poached.
VMR talked about poachers-associates/ Carriers/ Middlemen and buyers, and the nomadic people..Pardhi, Bawaria, Bahelia, Banjara, Kalbelia, Kanjar, Sapera, Gujjars, Bangala...central to northern Indian tribes, called Khanabadosh, who are repeat offenders. The Bawarias rule now; they are from Panipat in Haryana.
The presentation was an eye-opener in the almost Bollywood-gangland-style operations of these poachers and criminals, and the way the Forest Department has to deal with old criminals and constantly arising new threats.
Every evening, there were informal sessions with VMR, Sarath and the participants, where a lot of information was exchanged, and a lot of bonding happened!
Finally, certificates were distributed to all the participants, who thanked both the staff and team of Bhagavathi Nature Camp and the team of KEDB and JLR for organizing and conducting the course so well. The participants dispersed with great goodwill, some of them staying back to enjoy the waters of the Bhadra river, and going down to Kalasa together and taking the overnight bus to Bangalore.
The day started with some great bird sightings from the Watch Tower, including this
I got the id of this tree, Gordonia obtusa, from Arun Kumar. Apparently it is in the tea family:
Here's the entire tree:
in the summers develop a slightly golden coat to go with the dry brown of the sere leaves:
Back at camp, the RFO's and Forest Department personnel of all the 3 ranges: Kudremukh, Someshwara, and Bhadra, were introduced, and they were the people who gave us our certificates.
The obligatory group photos followed:
As the van to take us back to Kalasa was only in the evening, we had time to enjoy the check dam at the Bhadra river, which flows by the Bhagavathi Nature Camp. Here's Prasad, sketching the scene:
Meanwhile, we spotted a
but that little snake didn't deter us from wading, swimming, and boating in the river!
We were jampacked into the JLR vehicle, on the way back to Kalasa, I snapped this lovely building:
We stopped at "Ganga Tea Point" as Basava had told me the tea was excellent there. Here's a little shrine:
The new leaves of the Peepal tree nearby were beautiful!
I was rather sceptical about the quality of education at Kalasa:
We walked up and down the single road of Kalasa town, and these two beautiful homes caught my eye:
This was a small eatery:
I liked the photo of the Malabar Gliding Frog at a photo studio and went in to meet the proprietor, Sudarshan, who said he had little cutouts of them:
I went over to explore the temple of Kalaseshwara,
and took this flash photo of the rathas inside the shed:
The temple was at one end of the single main road of Kalasa:
Here's the view from the temple steps down the main road:
While we waited for the Bangalore bus, we sampled the food on many of the eateries on the main road (which, along with the steep twists and turns the bus took on the return journey, made many of us sick!), and then sat chit-chatting on the steps of the temple:
Prasad wanted to be a non-conformist, and sat on the other side!
I enjoyed this sign:
We bid adieu to Kudremukh, Kalasa and the Western Ghats, and went twisting and turning on our way down to Bangalore...the end to a very instructive and interesting training program!
Click here for my FB album of Day 7