Sunday, July 5, 2015

Relaunching camera trapping, call for volunteers

KANS is relaunching its camera trapping exercise after a long hiatus. This is the report of the first trip. We need volunteers to keep this going.

Camera Trapping Trip Report - Tholuvabetta

Date: 4th July 2015
Location: Tholuvabetta, Kempereddy (?) Kere
KANS Volunteers: A. Prem Kumar, Girish Gopalarao, Rahul Gaur, Abhi
FD: Forester Munirajulu, Forester Kathiravan, FG Arumugam
Spot: Bank of a water hole
Signs found: Hoof marks of Gaur, deer and elephants, scrape marks by elephants on trees around the water hole
Local hearsay reports: hyena, sloth bear

Rahul Gaur, in spite of having missed the fork to TVS factory and having proceeded towards Anekal before he realized he was on the wrong road, was the first to reach on his Duke at the agreed meeting point of the volunteers - the quintessential Koot road junction. Girish and Abhi came in their Maruti Swift and joined Rahul shortly and they had their breakfast.

Meantime Prem, filled up The Ratel's tank and joined the rest of the party a bit later.

After a light breakfast at Ramakrishna lunch home, all KANS members went to the field office to pick up the CT and park the extra vehicles.

The volunteers proceeded onwards to the FRO, Denkanikotta. They met Ranger Munisamy and after a brief discussion on various locations decided to setup the CT at Tholuvabetta. The Ranger showed some earlier pictures of the place which did indeed looked promising.

He assigned two Foresters, Munirajulu of Denkanikotta Town and Kathiravan of Tholuvabetta, to accompany the volunteers.

After a brief wait for Forester Kathiravan to get ready, the convoy consisting of an anti depredation vehicle of the FD and The Ratel proceeded towards Melur. The Foresters had a stopover for breakfast on the way, just outside the town. At Melur more FD staff, both uninformed and plainsclothes joined the Foresters on some FD business. There were some incomprehensible heated arguments but eventually the convoy proceeded into the forest only to stop a short distance from the gate at the fork of Gullatty road.

A large number of villagers were seen cleaning the grasses growing on the ditches by the side of the dirt road. There was a vehicle belonging to the state govt dept providing medical care to tribals parked on the Gullatty road. Forester Kathiravan asked the villagers to stop working and had a heated conversation over the phone with some other dept person about sending people into the RF without prior permission. Only after the villagers all made a move towards the gate did the convoy proceeded further.

The convoy crossed two villages and parked at the end of the second village. Here the Foresters recruited some villagers to accompany the group and everybody proceeded towards the water hole after a brief discussion on the best approach. The villagers took the group through their village and fields beyond which the forests began.

A senior villager lamented at the thick bushes of lantana that had grown in the last few decades. The thorny bushes were all along the jungle trail. He recounted with lament how during his father's time these were meadows where the villagers would graze they're cattle.

After a gentle trek of 1.7 KM the group reached the destination and started noting the signs of animal activities. Fresh elephant, gaur and deer hoof marks were found as well as elephant scrape marks on trees that seemed old and well worn, indicating that these trees were frequently used by the elephants for scraping mud off their backs.

KANS volunteers scouted around the water hole for a suitable perch for the CT with a promising vantage point. Finally a small tree was chosen on the bank which stood between two approach trails to the water.

A villager climbed the tree to secure the CT at a height and small stones were placed between the CT and the tree trunk to angle the CT downward such that the animals entering the water on either trail could be captured.

The group returned after surveying a nearby well that serves an old Maramma temple and promises by Forester Munirajulu to take care of a day's worth of food for all the villagers who volunteer to clean the well. The villagers also requested cementing the floor in front of the stones representing the goddesses but the Forester denied permission staying that this was beyond his grade and that the villagers would have to request the DFO.

KANS volunteers split at the village and proceeded back by themselves. A hearty lunch of was had at Hotel Padmavathi at Koot road junction post which the volunteers went to KANS field office to get their vehicles. The volunteers split from there towards their homes.

The Ratel again had a filling drink on the way back.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Web of Life

Panoramic view of Belakere village
Belakere, a small habitat inside the Cauvery North Wildlife Sanctuary with no metaled roads leading to / from it, is surrounded by ineffective Elephant Proof Trenches and houses a small Government Primary School where around 20-25 children go to study and get their free mid day meals. Barely 30-35 KM from Electronics City in Bangalore you would expect to be able to reach there by following Google Maps directions. But you can't even find this place on Google Maps unless you know where to look for.
Elephant Proof Trench between Zero Point and Deverabetta
I first got to know about the existence of such a village earlier this year when I joined as a volunteer of Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (an NGO committed to the conservation of the forests in Melagiris) in a survey of the Elephant Proof Trenches (EPT) dug up by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to prevent the elephants from venturing out of the forests and into farm lands. These are deep and wide trenches that an elephant cannot cross. But the trenches tend to get silted up, or their walls can slide in, or some shepherd or cattle grazer can place logs across the EPT to gain access into the forests for their cattle, sheep and goats. Free fodder you see. That it is at the cost of taking away the food of the elephants and other herbivores of the jungle is not their issue. They don't own farms which might get raided by the elephants after all. Thus these EPTs are made ineffective due to the breaches through which the pachyderms can come into human habitats and thus the survey was conducted to help the Tamil Nadu Forest Department find these breaches.
The road over the hills to Belakere (from Gummalapuram)
Reaching Belakere is a tricky business. You can either walk, take a motorbike or take a four wheeler with a high ground clearance. Provided it has not rained. The terrain is hilly and the track is strewn with stones and soil. Lots of soil that can quickly turn in mush and stones that will be all wet and slippery in rains. And then there is the perennial danger of crossing paths with the elephants. Interestingly though, electricity reaches Belakere!
Our rides into the jungles to reach Belakere
So we, a bunch of volunteers from KANS, some children from TVS Academy, Hosur and their teacher, went to Belakere in two Tata Safaris, a Chevrolet Tavera and a Mahindra Scorpio after parking the hatchbacks in the Gummalapuram high school from where we were joined by the headmasters and the circle head for the National Green Corps. We drove very slowly and carefully since there was lot of loose soil and stones on the paths, with deep narrow gullies formed by the water from the rains in last two months since we went there for a recce.
Children of Belakere Panchayat Primary School
The children all welcomed us with their loud sing song chorus of "Good morning Sir" and there was a brief intro. There were less than 25 mixed age group children in total, with a few under aged children too, probably since there was no anganwadi (govt. preschool cum creche) in the village. It is a common practice nevertheless in the hinterlands to send the young child along with their older sibling(s).
Forming teams for the nature walk
We started the day's program with a nature walk wherein groups of children were formed, each with 4-5 children, led by a student each of TVS Academy, Hosur. The children from both the schools introduced themselves to each other and they were explained what was to be done. Unsurprisingly, the children all mingled within minutes and were eager to head out.
A stroll through the woods
The objective was to take a nice leisurely stroll through the village, their farms and thereon to the edges of the forest to collect leaves, twigs, fruits, flowers, interesting stones, etc. that the children find along the paths they walk through.
The children with their collection.
The children led us all through their village and I asked them to identify a few birds which were either flying nearby or calling from afar. And they collected quite a good lot of stuff only children have the innocent curiosity to find interesting. :)
After coming back to the school the teams started making things out of the stuff they picked up. A tree out of twigs and leaves, a camp site, etc. And by this time the children had broken ice with the all of us and were quite enjoying all the attention and novelty. And then it was time for all the adults to admire their creations. :)
Pictures of Flora & Fauna on a lanyard being distributed to the participants.
This was the perfect time to rope in all the adults present for the next activity, Web of Life. Everybody, including the adults, were asked to stand in a big circle and each one of them was given a chart with the picture of a tree/plant/grass or animal/insect/fish/bird on it, with a lanyard to wear round the neck.
It was so beautiful to see the elder children helping the younger ones put the lanyards round their necks. There was a lot of laughing when even the teachers, headmasters, forest department staff and KANS volunteers started wearing the charts.
The oldest and the youngest members of the Web of Life!
The highlight was the octogenarian joining the game and standing right next to the youngest of them all, who incidentally got an Elephant. There was quite some cheering and laughing at that. :)
Children were then asked to identify the flora & fauna they had all got. And then beginning with plants, the children were asked what/who ate (preyed on) them. At this point a spool of twine was passed around to connect the food to its consumer. From the flora we moved onto the eaters of the herbivores, and so on until we connected every living thing to the other as a web.
The big Web of Life.
Soon we had a huge web of crisscrossing twine and everybody could see how we were all interconnected. Fabulously too! And now came the final act. To show the grim consequences of the dastardly acts of man to rip out the forests in the name of progress.
When man destroys the forests, the Web of Life begins to shrink.
First the children representing the trees and plants were asked to leave their end of the twine and sit down. Next children were asked to identify which are the animals that could no longer survive due to unavailability of their food. Now these children had to leave their end of the twine and sit down. And after that the animals dependent on these felled animals. Soon nothing much was left except the tiger and man. Top predators of the food chain. And without food, they too perish. A serious concept very beautifully explained to the children. And when asked what they learnt from this activity, pat came the response - forests are our life. Mission accomplished!
Quiz in progress
There was a lunch break where free mid day meals, cooked in the school premises, was served to the children. Post this Girish, our project lead, conducted a short quiz where the children identified different animals, birds, reptiles shown on the laptop screen. A correct answer was rewarded with a Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate. And soon everybody had a chocolate in hand. ;-)
The returning TVS Academy, Hosur team.
This was immediately followed by a movie show on Nagarhole National Park that ran for an hour. And then it was time for the team from TVS Academy, Hosur, to leave after enriching the lives of us all. Thank yous were exchanged and byes were told.
KANS President Sanjeev distributing the books to the children.
Finally Sanjeev, president of KANS, distributed a book on animals in Kannada to all the children. A few were given to the headmaster of Gummalapuram school to be kept in their library.
Ragi mudde, saaru - our lunch
But that was not all, we were invited by a village resident for a sumptuous lunch of Ragi Mudde (huge balls made of boiled flour of millets) and saaru (spiced up stock of boiled leaves) along with avarekai palya (fried beans and leaves tempered with seasonings). And then it was time to disperse. We KANS members stopped for a while in the jungle for our committee meeting, on a lookout for elephants which were apparently being driven over to Tamil Nadu side by the Karnataka Forest Department, we did hear loud crackers being burst. Then we went to the Gummalapuram school to pick up our vehicles and dispersed from there with promises to take this model to other schools in the Melagiris.

Originally published at

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

EPT Survey at Javalagiri - 14/06/2014

Kenneth Anderson nature Society once again rose to the occasion with the help of enthusiastic volunteers to conduct a survey of the EPT (Elephant Proof Trench) at Javalagiri Range of CNWLS, along with the officers and staff of the Tamil Nadu Forest Dept. The survey was carried out in response to the request KANS got from the District Forest Officer of Hosur Forest Division.

The purpose of the survey was to examine the EPT and document the health (capacity to keep elephants away) of the EPT. This has been necessitated due to the alarming number of elephants venturing out of the forest into patta lands, townships, roads etc. in recent times.

Some facts:
  • Nineteen volunteers from KANS participated in the survey.
  • Eight teams were formed to cover approximately 50+ kms. of EPT.
  • Each team was accompanied by a Forest Guard or a Watcher.
  • Each team covered on an avarage 6-9 kms along the EPT.
What is an EPT?
  • Typically an EPT sits between the forest and Patta Land (agricultural land).
  • EPT is about 4 to 5 Ft. wide by about 6 to 7 ft deep.
  • Meant to prevent Elephants crossing across to the agricultural land from the forest.
  • At places where the trench cannot be dug (due to granite surface), a stone wall is erected. 
Modus operandi of EPT survey

  • Team walks along the EPT.
  • Members examine the EPT for its effectiveness in keeping the elephants on the intended side and not allow it to cross over.
  • If the EPT is found to have been compromised (reasons below), then the team does the following:
    • Take GPS coordinates of the place.
    • Take photos.
    • Write description to indicate what has gone wrong and what could be done.

Reasons for EPT losing its effectiveness
  • EPT losing its steep sides due to erosion.
  • Elephants kicking mud into it deliberately in order to get across.
  • Villagers filling portions of it in order to get their cattle across for grazing.
Participant list
  • Mr. Ulaganathan, DFO - Hosur Forest Division
  • Mr.Anand, ACF - Hosur Forest Division
  • Staff of Hosur Forest Division
  • KANS
    • Prem Kumar Aparanji
    • Rahul
    • Soundaryavalli Madhugiri
    • Brijesh
    • Tarsh Williams
    • Jyotsna
    • Sabari Giri
    • Akshay Devendra
    • Abhinandan Murthy
    • Kiran Nagendra
    • Ram
    • Rochelle
    • Girish
    • Manjunath
    • Sanjeev Kumar SR
    • Prasanna Vynatheya
    • George Tom
    • Jobin
    • Suresh
Misc Notes:
  • Food arrangement was exceptionally good, thanks to the TN Forest Dept.
  • No mosquitoes in the forest IB.
  • Slightly cloudy neither too warm nor cool.
  • Evening at the forest IB was very pleasant with each sharing their wilderness experiences.
DFO Mr. Ulaganathan with the aid of videos explained to the group the problems associated with Elephants straying into human habitations. He also mentioned that there is a large herd of elephants that have gone across from Melagiri crossing NH7 and are holed up in Andhra, and that he would need our help to drive them back to Melagiri. It seems the elephants need to be driven across 50 kms of agricultural land and human habitation and that it would be a tricky affair. Leaving the elephants there would mean death to them ultimately due to food shortage and inbreeding.

Please see the photos here:

Prasanna Vynatheya

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Illegal Checkdams in Bettamugilalam

To,                                                                                                                                                          Date: 25/05/2014
Thiru. Lakshmi Narayan, IFS
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden,
Tamil Nadu Forest Department,
Chennai  - 600 015

Copy to:
  • District Forest Officer, Hosur Forest Division
  • District Collector, Krishnagiri
  • Sub-Collector, Hosur
  • Range Forest Officer, Denkanikottai Range, Hosur Forest Division
Sub: Illegal Checkdams affecting Cauvery North Wildlife Sanctuary
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS) is a wildlife NGO registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975. We have been actively working with the Hosur Forest Division for the last 6 years on various issues pertaining to wildlife conservation and related matters.
During our visit in April 2014 to a region called Bettamugilalam, located near Denkanikottai, Krishnagiri District, we noticed that in almost all the farm plots, the farmers had dug bore wells and were drawing water using diesel motor pumps.  Upon enquiring, the farmers said that they have been doing this for the past 3-4 years.
The impact is that the streams that flow through the villages are going dry[1].
So, in order to improve the water table, they have created several checkdams along the stream by placing sacks of sand [2] and boulders[3].
We would like to bring to your notice the threat from such activities:
1.       Bettamugilalam is located in the Cauvery North Wildlife Sanctuary. It is surrounded by the Reserve Forests of Aiyur, Sameri, Marandahalli, Toluvabetta and Galligattam. The streams that originate in these forests flow from one to the other through these villages [4]and eventually flow into the Panchapalli reservoir. The Checkdams are in violation of Section 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 which states that:
“No person shall destroy, exploit or remove any wild life including forest produce from a sanctuary or destroy or damage or divert the habitat of any wild animal by any act whatsoever or divert, stop or enhance the flow of water into or outside the sanctuary, [5] except under and in accordance with a permit granted by the Chief Wild Life Warden, and no such permit shall be granted unless the State Government being satisfied in consultation with the Board that such removal of wild life from the sanctuary or the change in the flow of water into or outside the sanctuary is necessary for the improvement and better management of wild life therein, authorises the issue of such permit”
2.       With streams in the forests going dry, Elephants have been occassionally visiting the villages in search of water. If these streams are not restored to their natural state, then, in the coming days there could be an increase in the human-elephant conflict in this region.
Therefore, in the interest of both the people and forests, we request you to take appropriate steps to restore the natural flow of the water systems and maintain the hydrological balance of this fragile region by closing and preventing these illegal Checkdams.


Laxmeesha Acharya

Kenneth Anderson Nature Society

1. Bore-well next to a stream that has gone dry
2. Checkdams made using sacks of sand

3. Checkdams made using boulders

4. Map showing the streams (in blue) flowing through Bettamugilalam

5. Blocking of stream from flowing into the forest

Petition to recover encroached land along Cauvery

To,                                                                                                                                                          Date: 04/03/2014
Thiru. T.P. Rajesh, IAS
District Collector

Thiru Ulaganathan, IFS
Conservator of Forests
Dharmapuri circle

Thiru Praveen P Nair, IAS

Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS) is a wildlife NGO registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975. We have been actively working with the Hosur Forest Division (Hosur FD) for the last 5 ½  years on various issues pertaining to wildlife conservation and related matters.
One such issue has been a religious congregation of thousands of people at a place called Dabguli, which is located on the banks of the Cauvery river in Urigam range. We had initially noticed a large amount of waste at this place during a bio-diversity survey that KANS was carrying out in the Hosur FD in 2009-10. We met the organisers, who had been holding this festival from around 2007-08. In 2011, we convinced them to shift from using silver-lined plates to eco-friendly leaf plates. In 2012, with active assistance from the Hosur FD and Police, we began frisking the visitors for liquor and plastic.
This year the festival was held on February 1st and 2nd and the Hosur FD mobilised a large contingent of Foresters, Guards and Watchers, drawn from Denkanikottai, Anchetty and Urigam ranges, to manage the crowd. KANS would like to thank Mr. Ulaganathan (DFO, Hosur FD and CF,Dharmapuri) for taking up this initiative and for personally monitoring this activity the entire day.  
KANS would like to draw your attention to some concerns pertaining to this festival.
Majority of the visitors have utter disregard for forests and for the jurisdiction of the forest department.
  • Around 230 vehicles (auto-rickshaws, cars,tempos, tractors, buses etc.) were counted at the Manjukondapalli check-post on the first day. An equal, if not more, number of two-wheelers also passed through the check-post. The vehicle density increased from evening onwards till mid-night. This is despite the Forest Department banning entry into the forests after 6.30 pm
  • From previous  years, we have noticed that nearly 4-5 tractor loads of wood is collected from the forests for cooking, without permission from the Forest Department. Also, such uncontrolled removal of wood defeats the intention of activities carried out by the Forest Department such as creation of fodder plots, afforestation etc.
  • No permission has been taken from the Forest Department for conducting the festival at this scale, which is conducted not just within the temple premises, but spills onto a much larger area.
  • The temple itself has grown and additional permanent and semi-permanent structures have been built in encroached government land. The organisers have plans to re-build the temple in a grander scale.
  • The forest road leading from Belpatti village to Dabaguli APC has regularly been levelled to ease the vehicle movement, not just during this festival, but throughout the year. There is an increase in crowd visiting Dabguli ever since restrictions have been imposed in Mutatti in Karnataka due to it being included in Cauvery WLS. This was claimed by one of the organisers, who said that he was happy that more people are visiting Dabguli.
JCBs are used for levelling the road, without Forest Department permission.
  • The waste generated during the festival are collected and burnt in large pits dug in the river bank. The remaining waste (paper, plastic, glass etc.) and the remains of the burnt/partly-burnt waste gradually finds its way into the river. Since there are no sanitation facilities within the temple premises, the visitors (thousands of them) relieve themselves in the river and in the forest. These pollute the air, soil and water and thereby severly effecting the river ecology. Also, this is same polluted water that is drawn downstream for the Hogenekal drinking water project.
  • Even on days other than the festival, the temple is open and music is played by the family living at the temple, thereby permanently driving away wildlife from this part of the Reserve Forest (RF).
This part of the forest is very important because,
  • The entire stretch of 40kms of the Cauvery river in the Hosur Forest Division is inviolate, except for Dabguli.
  • The areas between Uganiyam and Dabguli are prime-habitat for the Grizzled Giant Squirrel.
  • HFD has dug EPTs all along the northern boundary with the intention of diverting the movement of elephants towards Cauvery. So, it is vital that the forests around Cauvery are left undisturbed, else there will be cases of Human-elephant conflict coming from these areas also in the future.
  • Increasing numbers of Tigers are being sighted in the Cauvery WLS in Karnataka in the ranges exactly opposite to Dabguli. So, there is a very high possibility of Tigers moving into Melagiris in the coming years.
With so much at stake, we cannot allow Dabguli to turn into a popular, dirty, noisy pilgrimage center.
The Kestur RF notification (Fort ST. George Gazette No 137, dated:09.03.1887) gives Right of way to a width not exceeding six yards in width and is allowed only for men, cattle and pack animals over the path from Kestur to Dabbaguli. Hence vehicle entry can be banned or restricted.
The Bilikal RF notification (Fort ST. George Gazette No 341, dated:23.05.1887) specifies an area of 100 yards by 5 yards for the temple. Therefore, the remaining structures can be easily demolished by the Forest Department. There is a Supreme Court ruling (SLP No. 8519/2006) which does not permit construction of religious structures in public places and has directed the District Collector to take action on unauthorized structures already in place. The RF notification also states that for organising the assembly of people at Dabguli, a notice ought to be given to the Forest Officer. Since no such notices are currently being given to the Forest Department, all the festivals happening at Dabguli can be termed  as illegal and hence banned.  
The Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882 and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 provide absolute protection to forested area from all factors causing degradation, depletion and destruction of wildlife and wildlife habitats. In the spirit of maintaining the law of the land, we request you to take appropriate and immediate steps to protect this region.    


Laxmeesha Acharya
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society

Copy to:
Range Forest Officer, Urigam Range, Hosur Forest Division

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Melagiri Bird Survey 2014

Melagiri Bird Survey 2014, the first comprehensive study of avian biodiversity in Melagiri Hills was conducted on 1st and 2nd of February, 2014. Over 40 bird watchers including expert camp-leads from different parts of South India, and an equal number of department staff participated in this effort.

Participants were given a brief orientation at the main camp in District Forest Office, Mathigiri, Hosur on 31 st January, 2014, after which the teams dispersed to their respective base camps. Twelve base camps were selected in such a way that all representative habitats and altitudes are covered and they are well spread-out.

A total of 48 transects were conducted across the 12 base camps. This amounted to over 130 hours and nearly 200 kms of surveying, in which a total of 7191 birds of 216 species were recorded. This includes 29 species which are being recorded for the first time from Melagiri Hills.
Significant recordings inclueed Nilgiri Wood Pigeon and Dark-sided Flycatcher from Kodekarai, Lesser Fish-Eagle, River Tern and Oriental Darter from the riverine areas along Cauvery, Painted Stork from Panchapalli near Chinnar river, good population of Blue-winged Parakeet from 8 out of the 12 camps, Besra, Lesser Yellow-nape, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Oriental Turtle-Dove, Oriental Scops Owl , Indian Blue Robin, European Bee-eater, Common House-Martin and Hair-crested.

Detailed analysis is available here:

KANS  would like to thank all the volunteers who participated, Hosur FD for their wonderful support and IBCN for supporting the Survey via Small Grant Programme.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Field Staff Training - Mudumalai and Nagarhole

KANS and Hosur Forest Division conducted a ‘Staff Training program’ at Mudumalai and Nagarhole Tiger Reserves from 24-28 August 2013. This was attended by the DFO Mr.Ulaganathan, ACF Mr. Soundarrajan, 2 Foresters, 5 Forest Guards, 6 Forest Watchers and 7 Anti-poaching Watchers.

Day 1: Arrived at Mudumalai by evening after some sight-seeing at Srirangapatna.

Day 2: Started with an early morning safari and reached a watch tower at Game hut. The staff were taken around and explained about the functioning of the watch tower.

Later, we visited  Imbrella Anti-poaching camp. Forester Rajendran from MTR explained about the functioning of the APC. This covered:
  • Staffing
  • Patrolling methods (what time they leave in the morning, beats covered etc. )
  • Recording of patrols (use of GPS, transfer data weekly with the DD, log books etc.)
  • Dealing with incidents like forest fires, human intrusions, hunting etc.
  • Life in APC (rations, solar lights, weekly shifts etc.)
This was followed by a Q&A by HFD staff with the Forester and interaction with the APC staff.

We then returned to the Theppakadu Log House where we were residing and after finishing breakfast, went on another another round into MTR where the Forester showed salt licks and some water holes. He explained how the water holes were prepared using natural materials, so as to blend with the environment.

Post lunch, we were taken to couple of other places around MTR and to see the fabulous Moyar falls.
Upon returning, we headed to the Theppakadu camp where the Deputy Director of MTR had organised a theory class. This talk was given by Mr. Kannan,Wildlife Biologist. A presentation was given on how protection and monitoring of Tigers and other species are done in MTR. The discussion was summarised by our DFO, who stressed that these systems should be introduced in Melagiris asap and protection should be taken up to the maximum extent possible.

Next, we visited Asarumattam APC in Segur Range. Its at a very remote place, almost 15 kms from the nearest road. The participants got to observe and interact with the anti-poaching watchers.

Day 3: Left for Nagarhole. The Nagarhole CF Mr. Gokul, had arranged for a safari, and we went on that and to the luck of all  of us, expecially the staff, we were able to sight a Tiger. Evening was spent in relaxing in the quiet environs of the forest.

Day 4: Mr. Chinnappa arrived early morning by 7.30 am and he gave a brief talk about his experiences from the time he joined Nagarhole in 1967 and till date. Subsequently, after breakfast, we all headed out into the forest. There was a bus and jeep that took us in and at various places we had to get down and walk and at each place Mr.Chinnappa explained various aspects of forests and field craft. 

These covered:
  • Identification of scat, dung and pellets and how to read them
  • Behaviour of animals, which live in groups and as individuals
  • Role of animals in keeping forests clean
  • Role of forests in water conservation
  • Jungle survival skills
  • Role of animals in soil conservation
  • Parasitical behaviour of some trees

As we drove around the forest, he also showed us ‘hadlus’ (swamps) where people used to earlier graze cattle and cultivate paddy. He explained how the people were tactfully relocated and today there are wildlife in these swamps at all times of the day. He also showed areas where forest fires had destroyed over 30 sq.kms. in the core area which had lead to eupatorium and lantana colonizing the burnt areas.

Overall, the stress was on impressing upon the staff not to take their work casually. There is a wealth of knowledge around them and since they are in the field all the while, they ought to observe and learn and not rely on outsiders for information of their forests. The stress was also on understanding the importance of forests for the securing the future of our children and the huge responsibility that is there on the staff in protecting these forests.

Back at the base, Mr.Chinnappa thanked the staff for visiting Nagarhole and expressed his wish to come to Melagiris again and see more wildlife than what he had seen during his last visit.

The staff too were motivated with what they had witnessed over the last 3 days in Mudumalai and Nagarhole. The challenge is to translate this motivation into action on ground.