January 15, 2014
As we step into the beginning of yet another year, and take stock of the conservation efforts both by the public and private sector during the last year, we wish to inform all wildlife enthusiasts that all is not lost in terms of safeguarding and protecting biodiversity and wildlife in India. The conservation efforts are slowly paying but a lot more needs to be done in the coming years. However, when it comes to the conservation efforts in the state of Karnataka, the situation is changing for the worse; due to tremendous pressure exerted on the land towards urbanization and Industrialization. This has resulted in the degradation of natural resources and loss of wildlife habitats. More importantly, there's been a steep decline in common back yard birds because of habitat loss and fragmentation.
In this article we thought it appropriate to highlight a few vital aspects on Sacred Groves which will enable school children as well as college students to connect more intensely with nature and also contribute more efficiently in terms of conservation strategies. Our objective in writing this article is to stimulate the imagination of youngsters on a simple theme namely " Commercial Truth Vs Sacred Truth ".
Sacred Groves are patches of forests protected by local communities who usually dedicate the forest to a local deity. Sacred Groves are ancient groves that are deeply respected by the local communities because of their religious beliefs and traditional rituals that run through several generations. We request people from all walks of life to visit one or the other sacred grove just to understand the wisdom of the locals in protecting their forest wealth without any written rules.
In India approximately 13, 700 sacred groves are recorded from 19 States. From Karnataka, Sacred Groves have been reported from the Districts of Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Shimoga, Uttara Kannada, and Udupi. These local sacred groves are untouched habitats famous for harboring many threatened, endangered and rare herbs, shrubs of medicinal importance and also wildlife. Depending on the place of origin, they are called Devara Kadu, Nagabana, Bhoota Bana, Pavithra Vana. They may be called Devrai in Maharashtra, Kavu in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Sarnas in Bihar and Oraans in Rajasthan.
Every village or a few villages put together allocated a small tract of land exclusively for the propagation of the native forests. long-established, with special emphasis on people's participation and community linked decisions binding on the entire community irrespective of hierarchy comprised of one of the oldest forms of forest conservation. The Tribal chieftains or Village heads had tremendous insights on the functioning of the entire forest ecosystem so much so that they realized that a small man made disturbance in one part of the forest would result in the breakdown of the entire biotic community which in turn would affect their very own livelihoods. Hence these men of wisdom and integrity with their council of ministers paid undivided attention in formulating a vision in conservation of biodiversity, Rain water harvesting and protecting wildlife.
Villagers looking after a sacred grove will reveal that the forest is very sacred and many of the unwritten rules are followed by one and all in letter and in spirit. It is deeply engrained in the minds of people that the well being of the forest has a direct influence on the prosperity of the entire community taking care of the sacred groves. Destruction of the forest or robbing the forest of its wealth will bring about a curse not only to the family but will endanger the entire community in terms of natural calamities, failure of crops and high levels of pests and diseases. Each sacred forest has its own set of rules; some prohibit any human interference while others allow for the collection of leaf litter as fuel.
While sacred groves are found all over the State, for instance, Bidirammana gudi (Tiptur), Salumaradamma (Tarikere), Hongelakshmi (Tumkur), Kadamba (dynasty of Mayuravarma who ruled Kodagu), the Kodagu district is special because it has a devara kadu in every village. Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts have naga banas in most villages. Every village in the district has at least one devara kadu. The tradition of tree worship has its roots in the Vedas, where the ficus tree has been described as housing the fertility spirits of the mythical gandharvas and apsaras. It is not that these types of sacred forests are present only in India. Similar forests exist in Africa, parts of Asia, America, Australia and Europe.
We have posted a few pictures of the Brahminy Kite that is a very commonly observed in and around Mangalore. The Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus), also known as the Red-backed Sea-eagle, is a medium-sized bird of prey , which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards and harriers. They are found primarily in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia.
It is believed that the name Brahminy results from their association with the Indian God Vishnu. To the Iban of Malaysia it is the bird God of war. The Brahminy Kite's presence is an omen to guide them in major decisions such as warfare and house building.
It is relatively easy to photograph these birds at close quarters with an inexpensive camera because they are very tolerant to humans. The Mangalorean community is very fortunate to have large numbers of these birds in and around Mangalore.
There is still a debate regarding the Brahminy kite as to whether it is a bird of prey or more of a scavenger? To be honest we do not have the answer yet ! We do hope you find the pictures entertaining and will take time out to learn more about the bird's behavior.
One last thought...Is Commercial truth giving way to Sacred truth in all spheres of life?
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