June 2nd, 2014


Day 4, VTP, Kudremukh: Wed, 210514

The official account:

Wednesday, 210514, Day 4

As several ranges were out of bounds, 5 Anti-Poaching Camps (APC) were selected, with BNC as the 6th one, for the participants to stay in overnight. Women participants were assigned to the Mining Area, and the other participants were assigned through a draw of lots. The 5 ranges were: Pandaramukhi 1 and 2, Sujigudde, Ganapati Katte, and Kurinjal.

Sarath made a presentation on Tracks and Signs, showing several slides of the various tracks, and other signs, that volunteers would look for, to read the “story” of what had happened in the jungle earlier. Several mammals and reptiles were touched upon. The importance of urine and fecal matter was explained.

Post-lunch, there was a presentation on trees, explaining the key id features volunteers should look for.

Participants then left for the APC’s, spending the evening and the rest of the overnight stay getting a feel of how the forest guards, the true foot-soldiers of the wilderness, work and live.


We started the day with this jewelled web on the fence of the nursery:


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I could not help clicking this tiny 8-footer inside the vehicle, too!


Click here for my FB album of Day 4

Day 5, VTP, Kudremukh: Thu, 220514

The official account:

Thursday, 220514, Day 5

Early in the morning, the volunteers went on Foot Patrols with the Forest Guards and watchers, and returned in time for lunch to BNC. There were a few minor incidents of falls, tiredness, and an unexpected encounter with feral cattle which charged! These experiences were much livened by an artist having sketched several scenes, a poet having penned some lines about the experience...and much shared laughter.

Post-lunch, the volunteers were debriefed, and exchanged notes on what they had seen, experienced and learnt. Many felt that the Forest Department personnel should be paid regularly, appointed as permanent staff, and provided with better equipment, especially footwear. Dr. Ramesh then explained some of the restrictions under which the Forest Department works, and about the preferences of some of the FD personnel.

Since several people were tired, there were no evening sessions.


Today was a day we saw several creatures, both in the air and on the ground..and Life Under Foot (and under an inch) was very much in evidence.

I started with this



An utterly beautiful, yet tiny, beetle caught my eye:


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Click here for my FB album of Day 5

Day 6, VTP, Kudremukh: Fri, 230514

The "official" account:

Friday, 230514, Day 6

Sarath started early with a session on Mammals. touching on animal classification. After this, Dr H N Kumara made a presentation on Conservation Crises, with reference to several species which went extinct. He stopped his presentation so that Dr N A Madhyastha, who needed to drive back, could address the participants about genera conservation, with special reference to snails. The presentation was then resumed and the topic of Lion-tailed Macaques touched upon in some detail.

Sarath then showed the volunteers several videos on bird behaviour from his extensive collection. Following this, Seshadri talked about Amphibians...frogs and toads, and several others. He then led a short “Amphibian Walk” for the participants, showing them various creatures on the campus, right along the path.


Today I got a


outside my tent:


Here she is, a little closer:


Prasad showed me his sketches and I snapped some of them:




(That's Ravi Koushik with the completed dinner!)

I caught K S Seshadri and Dr N A Madhyastha interacting with Sarath:


Dr H N Kumara talked about the Lion-tailed Macaques he's been doing research on:


In the evening, Seshadri led us on an Amphibian Walk and we looked at various interesting frogs and toads!


Already the penultimate day drew to a close and the next day would be the last of the program....!

Click here for my FB album ofDay 6

Day 7, VTP, Kudremukh: Sat, 240514

Saturday, 240514, Day 7

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:


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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

Love in the time of technology

There was a time when palm leaves
And birds, too, were used
To communicate between lovers
And ensure that their souls fused.

The post and telegraph service
Improved this somewhat:
One could be in touch with the Other,
Heart could call to heart.

But now it is the techno-age,
The age of "keep-in-touch":
To keep separated and sundered hearts
From missing each other too much.

She can quietly text him;
Await his return SMS;
In the silence of words that fly
Their loneliness grows less.

Can she call him? Can he call her?
Can they exchange some words?
Can she hear him? Can he hear her?
Or--just static, screeching birds?

It's said,by ancients, that love
Is conveyed through the eyes:
But if they're talking into a phone
Depending on sight would not be wise.

Video calls, then, are the answer!
Of each other they can have their fill.
The thorny of the part of the rose will come
Along with the internet bill!