Hesaraghatta wetlands

With close to 300 species recorded, the Hesaraghatta wetlands north of Bengaluru is one of the important wintering sites for tends of thousands of migratory birds that winter every year. In addition, its open grassland, marshes and the waterbody needs to be protected from various corporate interests which invariably have an eye on such open lands and acquire it for “development”. Invariably, such “development” neglects many local communities who get walled out of such commons as the land gets privatised. Often, the step to getting it privatised is to first declare it as “wasteland” etc.

The Karnataka Forest Department has put up a proposal to declare it as a conservation reserve. This is an important first step at securing the land and granting it State protection…even if the FD might eventually have a poor track record in preserving the “commons” character of the land…that is someting one will have to keep on working with them on. However, the choice is between an exclusionary State entity and private land sharks and the former is always the best choice, given at least the accountability framework that State entities fall under.

Now the responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the Karnataka State Wildlife Board, a statutory authority headed by the Chief Minister of Karnataka with members from multiple departments including the Forest, Policy, Social Welfare and Animal Health departments, and also including scientists from Zoological Survey of India, Wildlife Institute of India (Dehradun) and Botanical Survey of India and non-governmental members.

Sadly, the board is missing individuals with proven track-record of conservation on-ground or one of the several wonderful ecologists that are from Karnataka and have worked extensively across multiple protected areas. Nonetheless, the existing board has a big responsiblity of ensuring that they stand up against commercial interests and secure the future of the birdlife and wildlife that depends on Hesaraghatta for our future generations; for aesthetic interest, for ecological interests and of course as a small contribution in our efforts against climate change. Fingers crossed.

Explore the wonderful birdlife in/around Hesaraghatta via eBird contributors: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L2525708

Prasar Bharati’s Flora & Fauna of India Series: Namdapha Tiger Reserve

My Youtube feed offered me a suggestion from one of the recent uploads by Prasar Bharati, the Indian government public broadcaster. It was a documentary film about Namdapha Tiger Reserve, nestled away in the north-eastern corner of India with “pristine” but peopled forests. Literally within seconds, the film became uncomfortable to watch and as the 20-odd minutes of the film rolled by with very little of the flora and fauna of Namdapha, and a complete lack of mention of ANY local person, let alone a mention of the several tribes including the Lisu people who have lived for decades (if not longer), I thought of putting together my thoughts on the fillm in this thread.

The Biligirirangan Hills: Tracing history of the land, the people and the forests

A shorter edited version of this article appeared in JLRExplore in two parts (read part 1 and part 2). Thanks to Dr. Santosh Kumar (IFS) & S Karthikeyan for help and inputs.

The epic song and lyrics of Enjoy Enjaami communicate the intersections of slave labour and alienation from one’s land and the connectedness betwee a People and their land very well. Listen herehttps://youtu.be/eYq7WapuDLU
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Of babbers & bulbuls: BR Hills birds at the intersections of Biology Anthropology and Geography

At the 2021 edition of the Karnataka Bird Festival held at BR Hills somewhere neatly between the damp squib of a first wave (in Chamarajanagar) and the severe second wave, a small F2F gathering with online streaming of talks was organised. I did a broad sweep of birds of br hills overlaid on how the hills’ unique geographical location and social history.

Recording of the talk at the Karnataka Bird Festival at BR Hills

More than a fantasy