Posts Tagged ‘ntp’

NCF: Excellent work in Valparai on resolution of elephant-human conflict

July 29, 2014

When we went to Valparai in April 2014, I was able to meet Ananda Kumar, and of course, I know Ganesh Raghunathan quite well (though I’ve never been able to meet him at his “workplace”!)

Many organizations that I belong to are addressing this knotty problem of elephant-human conflict; the problem is particularly bad in the Ragihalli/Shivanahalli area of the Bannerghatta National Park, and yes, there have been fatalities there, too.

So, when I saw this documentary on the work being done by Ganesh and Anand, under the aegis of Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), I was very heartened.

here

is one of my FB albums from our last visit. I suppose that in the limited time Anand had, he could hardly touch the tip of the subject, but he certainly held us spellbound in that time!

I’d gone with the others to document something of the behaviour of the Lion-tailed Macaques, as I did in

this post

But the ecology of an area is a holistic picture, and certainly all the mammals, birds, plant life and human beings form part of the whole; the co-existence and the conflict are two parts of the same coin.

Thank you, Evanescence Studios, for producing this wonderful feature. It’s 16 minutes long, but well worth the time.

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Microbes are insults…

July 23, 2014

My friend Pallavi Singh wrote on FB:

“Aahna, upset with me over something, said with intense emotion – Mamma, you are a GERM!!!!
I suppose our paranoia over children catching infection is sooooo great, they believe these micro-organisms are truly abhorrent! I had a tough time stifling a chuckle!”

To this, a friend of hers. Avi Pratap Singh, responded with some verse from Ogden Nash:

“A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.”

So ofkose I decided to do my own Nashery:

“When for angry denouncement
She looks for a suitable term,
Yet feels it too rude
To call you, outright, a worm…
She’s understood now, that
She can say,”Oh,you GERM!”

Another walk in Goteborg, 130614

June 16, 2014

Advik put on the new anklets I bought for him, and looked more of a laddu than ever:

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Meanwhile, Sumana’s masala rice was excellent:

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The colours of summer beckoned us outdoors.

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Creatures such as this

DAMSELFLY

rewarded our outing!

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Wildflowers grew in their hundreds, adding beauty to the meadows.

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This looked like Queen Anne’s Lace,but was perhaps something else:

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Buttercups shone golden in the sun:

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Daisies daily:

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Honeysuckle spread its heady scent:

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Waterlilies bloomed in the pond:

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Ferns were lovely, too:

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A duck sat rock-still:

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Rain was not very far away, but held off:

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Mallard female:

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Mallard male:

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A baby

WHITE WAGTAIL

strutted about:

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while the mother brought food:

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GULLS

posed:

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JACKDAWS

with their white eyes were everywhere!

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A FINCH

female peeked at me:

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Then she watched a

BLACKBIRD

bathing:

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EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS

were everywhere:

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WOOD PIGEONS

walked along:

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EURASIAN MAGPIES

are the crows of this area:

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I saw my first

FIELDFARES:

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These are thrushes and behave exactly as our thrushes do back home, turning over the leaf-litter and foraging.

A

HOODED CROW

was a hidden crow, in the foliage:

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Babies were everywhere…these nymphs will grow up soon enough!

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Some acquatic flower that I don’t know the name of:

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The greenery was lush and inviting:

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A flowing stream:

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and a fish in it:

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The water in the stream made for an abstract picture:

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Look at the common birds that I’ve seen in Sweden

here

The FB album of the short walk

here

Journey to Scandinavia, 110614

June 12, 2014

I started from Bangalore International Airport, which looked beautiful in the middle of the night:

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I reached Paris CDG with a bad seat and no sleep, but at the departure gate for the flight to Stockholm, I was entertained by three children:

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They were busy having a luggage fight, while an infant looked on!

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A colourful caterpillar was also a neck-rest:

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CDG airport made a beautiful monochrome:

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We flew over the lush greenery of summer:

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The sea views were lovely, too:

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A highway snaked through the green:

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I arrived at Stockholm:

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It was as if this was what Sweden was telling me:

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Without Deepak’s help, I could not have managed those heavy suitcases. He was fitter by the time we reached the Vastare home!

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On the bus from the airport to the Central Station (from where Deepak and I took a train to Goteborg), I couldn’t help clicking, in spite of drooping with fatigue:

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A nearly-full moon rose:

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I loved the sleek look of the trains:

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The station, too, was so pretty!

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Sumana’s kitchen was as hospitable and inviting as they both are:

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I was dead tired by now, and closed my day!

Gothenburg in English is Goteborg in Swedish, pronounced “yotheburi” (thanks, Sumana!)

Let me close with these beautiful sculptures in the Goteborg Main Square:

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For photos of the journeys, see my FaceBook album

here

and

here

is the garden of the home that Deepak and Sumana live in!

Day 7, VTP, Kudremukh: Sat, 240514

June 2, 2014

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

WHITE-BELLIED WOODPECKER:

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I got the id of this tree, Gordonia obtusa, from Arun Kumar. Apparently it is in the tea family:

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Here’s the entire tree:

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the

HANUMAN LANGUR

in the summers develop a slightly golden coat to go with the dry brown of the sere leaves:

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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.

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The obligatory group photos followed:

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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:

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Meanwhile, we spotted a

CHECKERED KEELBACK:

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but that little snake didn’t deter us from wading, swimming, and boating in the river!

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We were jampacked into the JLR vehicle, on the way back to Kalasa, I snapped this lovely building:

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We stopped at “Ganga Tea Point” as Basava had told me the tea was excellent there. Here’s a little shrine:

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The new leaves of the Peepal tree nearby were beautiful!

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I was rather sceptical about the quality of education at Kalasa:

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We walked up and down the single road of Kalasa town, and these two beautiful homes caught my eye:

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This was a small eatery:

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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:

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I went over to explore the temple of Kalaseshwara,

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and took this flash photo of the rathas inside the shed:

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The temple was at one end of the single main road of Kalasa:

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Here’s the view from the temple steps down the main road:

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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:

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Prasad wanted to be a non-conformist, and sat on the other side!

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I enjoyed this sign:

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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

Day 6, VTP, Kudremukh: Fri, 230514

June 2, 2014

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

TWO-TAILED SPIDER

outside my tent:

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Here she is, a little closer:

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

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

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

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

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

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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

Bhagavathi Nature Camp, Kudremukh, Karnataka, 18-240514

May 31, 2014

The

Bhagavathi Nature Camp

in Kudremukh, Karnataka, is situated about 23 km from the nearest town of Kalasa. This was our base for a week during our Volunteer Training Program, run by the Karnataka Ecotourism Development Board (KEDB) and Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) along with the help of the Karnataka Forest Department personnel.

The camp comprises several tents with delta-roofs, on cement bases, which are very comfortably appointed, with 3 beds in each tent, an attached toiled (mine was a Western toilet), and hot water provided between 8am and 10am each day.

Tent

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The generator is run from 7pm to 10pm each evening, enabling visitors to charge their various gadget and camera batteries.

Here’s how the tent looks from the front, as some of us gather for a photo:

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There is a large dormitory (no separate accommodation for men and women) here. There is, however, only one toilet for 14 beds. The rates are proportionally lower:

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Here’s the entrance gate; the camp itself is at a distance of 1km from here.

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At a distance of 0.7 km from the camp and 0.3 km from the gate, is a point where BSNL mobiles work. As of now (May 2014) no other mobile networks are in operation here.

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The watch tower, about 0.5 km from the camp, is a great feature, offering good views and sometimes a great birding experience at canopy level in the large trees nearby. It is opposite the nursery maintained by the Camp.

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The classroom shamiana from the watchtower. Our classroom sessions were held in a shamiana specially put up for the occasion; though we joked that it looked like a festive wedding “pandal”, it provided the necessary space for all of us to gather, and a dark area for screening of slides. It did get a little stuffy during the very hot weather, but it was very useful indeed.

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The shamiana was powered by this generator:

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There is also a Guest House, at a different area:

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A board indicates places of interest nearby:

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Another indicates trekking “rutes”:

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Many of us used the shamiana to get our gadgets charged during the daytime (this was a special occasion, generators may not be run during the day).

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The kitchen was run full-time for us; for other visitors, meals can be ordered and paid for. The staff were very efficient and the food excellent. Here is a rainbow vegetables of fruits to feed all of us:

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Here are the cooks, who really worked hard during our stay:

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Breakfast and dinner was served in the “gol ghar” area, like other resorts in Karnataka. Lunch was served in the porch of the dormitory, and tea in the shamiana itself.

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The camp is right alongside a checkdam of the Bhadra river, and it’s a great place to cool off and have fun. We only managed this, though, after our program was over, on the last day, while we waited for transportation back to Kalasa and home!

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I have provided a checklist of birds, mammals and others seen during our stay, on my post,

here

A wonderful place to visit, especially if you have your own transportation!

Day 3, VTP, Kudremukh: Tue, 200514

May 31, 2014

Day 3..My official account:

Tuesday, 200514, Day 3

Participants were taken on a drive to see the shola and grassland habitats, and visited Ganesh Katte, a high point amongst the hills. Post-lunch, Sarath talked about “Tools of the Trade” that a volunteer would require, such as a field notebook, a pair of binoculars, a field guide, and so on. A small explanation about binoculars was also given.

The Managing Director of JLR, Mr Sanjai Mohan, IFS, visited the camp along with Mr Avatar Singh, Executive Director. He also welcomed the participants and spoke of their privileges and responsibilities in the field. He also spoke of the history of the region, with the eventual closure of the Karnataka Iron Ore Corporation Ltd (KIOCL).

Sarath made a presentation about birds, touching on the various ways of identifying them and observing their behaviour.

*************************

The first sight that met our eyes as we came back from our walk for brefus:

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Of course, that had everyone exclaiming, and pointing, and Prathap clicked them doing that, and I clicked him clicking them doing that…
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I found some beautiful mushrooms near Kiran’s tent:

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We went on a drive:

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We went to Ganapathi Katte, and on the way, we saw this

CRESTED GOSHAWK

drying its feathers:

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this

SAMBHAR

couple made a delightful picture on the grassland slopes:

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Here is the view of our camp watch tower and nursery from Ganapathi Katte point:

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The rocky outcrops amongst the grass were dramatic:

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A butterfly came and sat on our van!

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I also caught a grasshopper who seemed to be wearing dark glasses!

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This little

JUMPING SPIDER

took a lot of jumping around by me, to get a good snap!

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Here we are at Ganapathi Katte:

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We were stung to the point of madness by these

CATTLE FLIES

but when I took a macro shot, one was so beautiful (it got blood out of Kiran’s arm!)

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Mating grasshoppers made a beautiful pic:

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So did a golden Dragonfly on a stick:

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Another view of the beautiful curves of this unknown wildflower:

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The buds and blooms of the

OSBECKIA STELLATA

flower,looked pretty:

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We trekked down to the place where the camera traps were being set up. The vegetation looked green and inviting:

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Gurudatt (with the camera-strap; he is based at Dandeli JLR) gave us a lesson about camera-trapping:

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After we returned, Mr Sanjai Mohan (MD, JLR) and Mr Avatar Singh (ED, JLR) visited us and interacted with us:

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It was another productive and enjoyable day.

For my overall account,

click here </a>.

Click here for my Day 3 FB album

Here’s a leech lying (in fact, standing!) in wait for us!

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Volunteer Training Program(VTP) , Kudremukh, Day 2-190514 (Monday)

May 31, 2014

Here’s my account of day 2:

Monday, 190514, Day 2

Dr Ramesh, the RFO of the Kudremukh range, made a presentation which started with the general concepts of Protected Areas, National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Reserves, such as Community., Tiger, Biosphere and Elephant, and then talked specifically of the Kudremukh, which he lauded as one of the best forest regions in Karnataka, as well as being grassland habitat.

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VMR gave a presentation to illustrate the value of photography in wildlife conservation:

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Post-lunch, S. Karthikeyan, Chief Naturalist, JLR, introduced the participants to “Lesser” life forms, and showed how interesting they could be. Heavy rain repeatedly interrupted his presentation but it was still an eye-opener to the participants.

The pouring rain brought down the temperature as well as the sheets of rain, and it was beautiful to see this

BICOLORED FROG:

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This ladybird isn’t alive; she’s been predated by a spider, but what remains of her is covered by raindrops:

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I wish I had names for some of the beautiful wildflowers we saw:

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This

JUNGLE PRINIA

hid amongst the rain-dripping leaves:

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A

COMMON PIERROT

delighted us:

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A lot of

GARCINIA GUMMIGATA

trees are being planted around the camp:

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I am unable to get the id of this beautifully flowering tree:

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The rain also brought out many

LEECHES;

here’s one on Basava’s finger:

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We saw the camera traps being taken to be set up (alas, they didn’t get anything much..that’s the way it happens!)

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This

HAWK MOTH

caterpillar had come out, too:

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I wish I had names for all the wildflowers we saw. Some, like this

OSBECKIA,

were provided by friends:

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Others remained unknown:

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I can’t get an id for these fruits and trees, either:

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The ferns looked beautiful, but we learnt later that

PTERIDIUM

(commonly called Bracken)

is an invasive species and is probably harmful for the ecosystem there:

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Karthik helped a participant get a macro shot of a Skipper:

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The landscape, as we went for our walks, continued to be stunning:

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From the distant slopes, a

SAMBHAR

doe looked alertly at us:

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Underfoot, a

FUNNEL WEB SPIDER

guarded her rain-bespangled web:

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A

SLUG

meandered along:

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Since the area is politically unsettled, an Anti-Naxal Unit van was often parked in the camp:

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click here

for my FB album of Day 2.

click here

for my overall account, list of birds and others.

Off we went for a good rest, to be fresh on Day 3….

Volunteer Training Program(VTP) , Kudremukh, Day 1-180514 (Sunday)

May 27, 2014

We (the budding volunteers of the VTP) reached Kalasa in the pre-dawn light:

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The promised pickup did not materialize, so we decided to take a local bus that would go past the Bhagavathi Nature Camp (BNC):

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Quite a few of us, at the entrance to BNC…we will become friends over the week to come!

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Sequestered…this was the only mobile connectivity point, near the gate, about 1km from the camp itself, and we were rarely able to access it, and even then, we needed the BSNL connection, which most of us didn’t have 😀

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Here’s a

COMMON CROW

welcoming us:

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The men got assigned to the dormitory (there was no separate accommodation there) and the lucky girls who booked there got a free upgrade to tents!

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The pic of the tent will appear in the post about the next few days.

Here are the trekking “rutes” from the camp:

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Er, my tent was called “Mecoque” instead of “Macaque”. 😀

The food was excellent throughout…Basavanna, of Bandipur JLR, took a lot of trouble over designing the menus!

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Wild turmeric bloomed everywhere:

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The watch tower near the camp was a great source of both bird and mammal sightings, and we sneaked off there whenever we didn’t have classroom sessions!

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Here’s the view of the tree nursery (where native trees are grown for afforestation) from the tower:

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The program started off with Sarath Champati (L), Dr Ramesh, the DFO (Kudremukh range) and VMR (R)…these two were our lead trainers.

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VMR(Er, Mr Vijay Mohan Raj) was known to me on

India Nature Watch

as a great photographer, long before I realized he was in the Indian Forest Service cadre, and a deeply committed one, too!

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Here’s Sarath. I’ve wanted to attend a training program under his guidance since 2006!

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Here’s a

MOUNTAIN IMPERIAL PIGEON

which started my “lifer” (first-ever sighting) list:

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Ain’t it beautiful?

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I’ve heard of the Smokey Mountains in the US and visited them, but this was right here, as the clouds rose from the valley:

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The first day was all about introducing ourselves and settling in. Read my short account of the sessions

here

To see photos of the first day of the program,

click here