Tag Archives: br hills

Goodbye Jadeswamy

“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 Profile Jadeswamy e1492661564160 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's last checklist, a day before he died (September 2, 2017)

Jadeswamy’s last checklist, a day before he died (September 2, 2017)

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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”.

One of several Elephants that Jadeswamy photographed in BR Hills few months back

One of the several Elephants that Jadeswamy photographed in BR Hills a few months back (Photo obtained from his Facebook feed)

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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”.

Painting with a broad brush: Stereotyping “tribal” identity

Yet another “tribal” story in a national newspaper. Based on my reading, the story is based on the seizure of a consignment of ghee packets at a forest checkpost by the department. Clearly this indicates that some of the ghee packets under a government scheme are finding ways into private markets for sale. Several reports abound about such “hand-outs” entering private markets. Often, these instances are cited as reasons for not giving subsidies or hand-outs. Without going into that larger policy argument, there’s a finer point to be made here on how the “tribal” identity gets typecast in news coverage.

From my letter to the Editor of NIE,

But, is it fair from this information to come to an all-encompassing title that paints all tribals in BR Hills with the same brush? In my opinion, journalists should put more effort into stories. For example, what kind of intermediaries are involved in organising such elaborate siphoning away of these food products? Often various intermediaries siphon away such hand-outs. Even, if ALL tribals were doing this, is it not the responsibility of the reporter to go a bit beyond this story and find out why? Is it not fair to at least interview/ask some tribal leaders/individuals for their opinion and reflect in a story? If a few members of a community/caste of people X residing in (say for example) Mandya were to do the same, would you write a story saying “People of Caste X from Mandya selling ghee for booze”. I would think not. Then why would you sanction such a story on “tribals”.

For a reputed national newspaper of NIE’s credibility, I would have expected higher journalistic and editorial standards.

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Of absurd letters and misplaced priorities

It is not too rare to see very bizarre letters. In fact, there have been letters unearthed from over 2000 years ago from the dawn of writing itself often written by people who wanted to complain about services or to authorities. More recent funny letter compilations abound on the Internet, many of them quite lame leave letters supposedly written by staff of  IT companies around Bangalore. But, this letter I chanced upon at one of Karnataka’s tiger reserves (BR Hills) definitely takes the cake on absurdity and ad-hocism, let alone other  more serious issues with the letter like making a mockery of people’s rights for starters. Continue reading

Birds of BR Hills

If you came for the checklist of birds of BR Hills, directly scroll to end of this post.

Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve

Map of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve showing BR Hills (marked as BRT WLS on map), north of the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (marked Tailaimalai RF on map) and through Sathyamangalam, contiguous with Bandipur and Mudumalai Tiger Reserves (Image from Wikimedia Commons)


My journey with the Biligirirangaswamy temple hills (BR Hills) is an old one. It was during my medical school days, nearly 15 years back that I first went to the hills on a then trendy Yamaha RX 100 (2001 monsoon months). At the time, the frequency of buses were few and Veerappan was alive. Continue reading

Work at BR Hills!

BR Hills from Krishnayyanakatte reservoir

Vivekananda Girijana Kalyanal Kendra is looking for an MBBS doctor to work at their 20-bedded hospital and community health programme at BR Hills. The doctor will be a part of a community healthcare delivery team in charge of outpatient work and fairly light inpatient work. Continue reading