Aug 8, 2010
Summer holidays is a good time to plan a perfect holiday and most of us draw up plans to visit hill stations, tourist spots or visit holy places. Our ten day summer holiday (May, 2010) pilgrimage took us to the important wildlife sanctuaries inside the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve, which is incidentally, India’s first biosphere reserve. We walked hand in hand with nature in the wildlife sanctuaries of Kabini, Madumali, Bandipur, Nagarahole, and the bird haven at Ranganthittu. Thanks largely to the efforts of Ashley Rasquinha who drove all the way from Pune with family (Sneha, Aarav & Nikita); this memorable trip was both educative and informative.
A summer visit to these National parks is rewarding, because one can witness at close range large herds of elephants, gaur, sambar and deer quenching their thirst from the shrinking water holes. Believe it or not, we were witnesses to hundreds of wild elephants and gaur grazing peacefully along with cheetal and sambar; a stark reminder of the Masai Mara wildlife migration. It was a feast for nature lovers. In a few pockets, the wildlife feel so secure that it is not unusual for big game to pose for photographs. The forest guard’s strict supervision has ensured the safety and preservation of the hundreds of species of native and endangered birds, animals and reptiles for which the biosphere is famous for!
IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Global warming is turning 35! Not only has the current spate of global warming been going on for about 35 years now, but also the term “global warming” will have its 35th anniversary next week. On 8 August 1975, Wally Broecker published his paper “Are we on the brink of a pronounced global warming?” in the journal Science. That appears to be the first use of the term “global warming” in the scientific literature (at least it’s the first of over 10,000 papers for this search term according to the ISI database of journal articles). Global warming is heating up the planet and is shifting nature’s delicate balance. No longer can we predict with certainty the seasons of the sun.
Matter of fact , a few decades back, the threat to wildlife came from the barrel of the gun but in the 21st century, not only the big game but a vast majority of the wildlife is driven to extinction as a direct consequence of mans exploitation of forest wealth. There is no end in sight to this tragedy. The imbalance created by mankind has also resulted in global warming and the impact of climate change is more on wildlife. The wildlife population is under constant siege from the vagaries of nature and the erratic weather patterns has brought about a radical shift in the migration and breeding populations of both birds and animals. The wildlife has to handle weather at its most extreme. Research clearly indicates that in today’s world, migration coincides with drought and breeding of birds coincides with peak monsoon often flooding and washing away nesting sites. In addition to these pressures, a lack of political will in establishing green zones is contributing to the decline of wildlife population.
We are made to believe that mating in the animal world is a simple matter. ---Not so! Every species, no matter big, small or tiny, need to have elaborate courtship displays and mechanisms of breeding. Often breeding takes place when the temperatures are just right. Animal behavior is completely in tune with the seasonal availability of food and the resulting weather pattern. The time of giving birth coincides with the season of plenty. However, the past decade has witnessed phenomenal changes in global weather patterns. Irregular weather is becoming routine. Prolonged drought in summer with increased temperatures favors’ the rapid multiplication of species like wild boar creating an imbalance in the ecological pyramid. Many varied forms of life have vanished and a few of the dominant species like elephants and gaur are migrating to agricultural land because of the scarcity of food. This in turn is resulting in human wildlife conflict. Wildlife may not be able to adapt to this sudden and rapid climate change, nor will they be able to migrate to more suitable areas. We need to realize the gravity of the situation and make sacrifices to arrest the speeding up of climate change. Because, ultimately global warming will become the single most environmental and social issue of our time resulting in the wipe out of wildlife species that are an important part of our food chain.
Innovative approaches to conservation like organizing a team of responsible citizens engaged in the adoption of green pastures and converting them into wooded forests are essential to further wildlife conservation goals. Another way of going about it; is the adoption of reserve forests acre by acre by leading industrial houses by way of providing salaries and state of the art equipment to forest guards so that their needs are taken care of. Yet another approach is to pay farmers incentives so that they grow forests in part of their lands, something on the lines of Agro forestry. This approach is adopted in the west and has met with great success. Certain ecological zones inside the Western Ghats should be declared as special zones of significance and natural beauty.
Daiji world has been in the forefront when it comes to conservation of the earth’s biological riches. We are grateful to the entire team of committed and dedicated staff and Management for giving us a platform to showcase our work to the rest of the global community.
OBERVATIONS RECORDED AT THE NILGIRI BIOSPHERE RESERVE:
• More and more families from North India visit the south to learn about wildlife conservation.
• Parents accompany their children with relevant books which help in identifying the correct species of wildlife. In case of doubts, children do not hesitate to ask the well qualified wildlife experts
• Game wardens are prepared to exchange ideas with respect to conservation. ( They admit to the fact that the forest department has made mistakes in the past and the same need to be rectified with the help of common citizens )
• Wildlife resorts pay special emphasis to treat their guests with a video of the surrounding flora and fauna pertaining to the respective game sanctuary.
• The domestic cattle population adjoining the game sanctuaries has more than doubled resulting in a reduced amount of grazing land for sambar, bison deer and elephants.
• Whenever cattle graze they eat the grass from the base, unlike other wild animals which rarely overgraze their habitat leaving room for others.
• Domestic cattle also pose a direct threat to wildlife by acting as carriers of diseases like anthrax and foot and mouth.
• Cattle dung helps in the proliferation of weeds that has no benefit for wildlife; instead these weeds choke the growth of beneficial herbs and shrubs, there by spelling disaster to wildlife.
• Resettled villages around the periphery of the forests are cultivating land adjacent to the backwaters, resulting in significant loss of precious top soil, right into the backwater basin (Silting).
• In the coming years, with the expansion of settlers on the fringes of the wildlife sanctuary, human wildlife conflict is imminent.
A little less than a hundred years ago these pristine forests were teeming with big game. In those days, the health of the forests was measured in terms of the tiger population at the top of the pyramid rather than counting the population of deer at the base of the pyramid. Today, everything has changed. The forest is not only loosing wildlife but is also loosing trees as well as the mineral wealth in terms of ores. Mountains and hills disappear due to mining and take away the precious wildlife too. Tragically this story is being repeated throughout the length and breadth of the Country.
We are certain that every individual’s contribution is undeniably important to stem the tide of destruction and awaken the conscience of policy makers in keeping the forest green and wild. We also need to learn new ways to limit the impact of Climate change and preserve our planet by making responsible choices.
We would like to record our deep appreciation to Mr. Ashley Rasquinha M.S. (U.S.A), (Director - Production, ELECTROPNEUMATICS & HYDRAULICS (I) PVT. LTD. Pune.) for the wildlife photographs. Ashley is a friend of nature and devotes his leisure time for the conservation of wild life.
More Pictures.. Click Here
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