“Sir, pls confirm if yellow-throated bulbul is seen near forest IB”
This was his last message to me a few days back. Jadeswamy was checking with me if the bird he saw was indeed the bird considered globally threatened and seen only in stony parts of several south Indian hills. He was watching it near his house in BR Hills. Of the identity there was no doubt; on asking the description of the bird, his message clearly showed his keen observation skills, and his eye for detail. He said “sir, the throat and full head is yellow and when it’s flying around end of tail prominent white spots”. Although first reported (from BR Hills) in literature in 1995, the bird was missed during the survey of the region by Salim Ali. Later records are few and far between.
Jadeswamy Madaiah was a keen naturalist and a wonderful human being. I met him as one of the Soliga people, Kalyan had selected to train as a naturalist for Gorukana. Kalyan had rightly found in him a deep sense of awe about wildlife and natural-history, as well as an attention to detail. His ability to spot large mammals like Elephants at a distance, or tiny and beautiful birds and his enthusiasm to interpret these to the visitors to the hills was unmatched. His entrepreneurial skills too were exemplary. His keenly followed social media posts show a deep interest in wildlife and environmental issues. Jadeswamy also cared a lot for his community, often lamenting about the difficulties that his fellow Soliga people face in overcoming various disadvantages. His investment in learning English was a part of his drive to overcome these generational disadvantages and “stand up on his own feet” (as he used to say). Be it a nesting bird, or the time when mothers have delivered in his car on the way to hospitals, his social media updates were a snapshot of what life is in and around BR Hills. Over the years, his interest in birds had blossomed into a great interest in eBird, possibly the first Soliga birder to come onto an online birding platform. In a recent interview to Birdcount India, Jadeswamy set a birding goal for the coming months to “take a photo of the Yellow-throated Bulbul, which is seen in BR Hills.” He also aspired to be a “good/top birder from Chamarajanagar district”.
Earlier today, Jadeswamy, breathed his last, leaving behind two wonderful daughters, whom he loved more than anything and his wife, whose work as a nurse, he was proud of. Hundreds of well-wishers and friends of his gathered around VGKK hospital in the hills on hearing the news of his demise. I heard that most of the people from near and far had gathered, ranging from Soliga Sangha leaders, to naturalist friends and various other residents of the hills. His untimely demise leaves a void in many lives beyond his loving family. All I can say at this time is “may his tribe flourish”.