Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bandipur Roadkills campaign - 21 Dec 2008

Day: 21st December 2008
*Time: 4:15 AM*
Place: Gundulpet "Coffee Day"
2 Cappuccino's and one Assam tea were "washed down" the throat by 4 KANS
members to set the tone for the day. Saying bye-bye to sleep, we set off for
a long and fruitful day. (what a "relief" this one gave!)

*Time: 10:15 AM
*Place: Bandipura Check post (karnataka border)
Officer Names:Prakash, Satish and Chandu-- Trainee KANS Awareness officers
:) and Soumyajit (officer-in-charge)
Task: Stopping vehicles and educating people, while our almost Forest
officer look alike Soumyajit doing the vehicle "census"

Typical Dialogues:
"Excuse me sir/Mam , please drive slow, do not stop anywhere, do not get
down from the vehicle, and please do not honk, no music please"
*Time: 12:00 PM*
(The Probation completed Officers...)
Prakash: "Do you know at what speed you are driving?"
Driver: "No sir, I think 20-30 (in fact he is drining at 50+)"
Prakash: "Do you know what is the speed you are supposed to drive?"
Driver: "No Sir!"
Prakash: "40, you should not cross it and no honking, no music .. go..

On the other end..Satish handling things for KL, TN (the registration
numbers)- "There can be elephants in the forest, don't stop sir. "

Chandu: "Forest department rule says the maximum permitted speed is 40 kms,
do not let anyone, especially kids to get down.. Switch off the music till
you go out of the forest."

*Time: 4:00 PM
*Prakash:(no more questions)... "Oye maximum speed should be 40.., no
stopping , no getting down.. OK?? .. understood??
go..!"(annoyed with attitudes)

Satish: "There are elephants in the forest, be careful- this is for your
safety, they might attack you if you try to get down or do something silly."

Chandu: "No honking & over speeding, there is a squad few kms down the road
waiting to penalize, you better drive slow. "

Did you perceive the change in tone?? Blame not the amnesia! It came out
after witnessing the attitudes and lack of awareness in the people who drove
through jungle. We realized that just listing/reading the rule won't help
much, you have to show a bigger picture and we tried to sketch the same.
Let's switch over to few more things...

*Some "situations" we were "put in":
*1. One guy: "Sir, from where will the wild animals start ??" (you are in
the wrong place moron..Do you think all animals in the jungle queue up for
you to watch??)

2. Another fella:" Sir, is something happening in the jungle?Any wild life
movement "(what to say?? it happens everyday if only we allow it to happen)

3. (3 drunken fellas in an a/c maruti car):
Satish: "Sir, there might be elephants around, so don't stop,it's risky!!"
Feellas: "We can take care of elefant, no prrroblem, we will take
rishk..."(with half open eyes.... go get "crushed"- wish the jumbos are

4. Few people carried their big egos along, and one impatient fella who had
no time to listen drove over my toes and another one was about to crash into
Satish.(beasts in the forest!!!)

5.Some tourists: "..Oh we know it, we are from Coonoor!"- Another guy-"I
know, I am from Ooty!!"....(Does that make any difference??)

6. One cab Driver: "Sir, I have been driving on these road from past 6
years, but no body told me about these rules !!? "(no surprise, that's why
we are here!)

7. A bunch of guys were stopping on the road in the mid of the forest-
drinking and driving at 4 pm!! But when the forester checked their cars,
they managed to hide all bottles!! (is that what we call "bar-car-di?"?)

8. "Why should we switch off the music???(oops the animals can't understand!
somebody forgot commonsense back at home)..... Where can we see animals??"
(go to zoo man, there is no sighting-guaranteed scheme out there!!)

9. Few people are too generous to offer us money even before we start
explaining things- assuming we are guards creating a "situation"
there.(Corruption, tell me d place u haven't been..!) Couple others promptly
came down with RC book and license!! :)
10. After packing off for the day, on our way back, close to the bandipur
reception, we spotted 2 guys drinking openly stopping their vehicle in the
middle of the forest. Sadly for them, we aborted their joy and made them
move out of the forest. (Is it time, we rename the forest to

*Few appreciations:*
"You guys are doing a great job!!!... "
"I have a suggestion for you.... "
"Where are you based at? Can we have some details about KANS!?"
"Can we join KANS??"

The most surprising thing or rather one of the highlights-- We met a warm
and friendly young couple who happened to be family friends of Donald
Anderson.They told that Don is living in EJIPURA. They are very happy to
know about the group and told us that they would join our group and took
Soumyajit's contact numbers and yahoo group URL. Let's hope something would
materialize soon!!

Hope, that sums up quickly how we dealt with people and their attitudes.
Overall, it's fun talking to so many people (count must be 500 vehicles).
It's a good feeling to educate people. We had a great time but we had our
share of irritating moments as well.But to witness the kind of ignorance
people displayed was appalling.

Drunken driving, over speeding, stopping, honking...we witnessed everything
that can be considered as "breaking the rule". But, What hurts me MORE is
NOT the ignorance of people-but the impatience, in sensitiveness and
attitude of the some of the so called educated class whom we interacted
with. Somebody tell them that the ego-filled, closed minds are not going to
help them !!

With the new year eve around, the drunken driving things is going to get
even worse! God save the wild. I wish we can suggest the DFO to deploy few
guards on the new year eve to check the drunken drivers. I am sure, a huge
"penalty" money is awaiting the Forest department which can be used for
other useful purposes(not sure where the money goes!)

Although we do not know how long the drivers and tourists remember the
guidelines, but now they at least know that there are few "guidelines" while
driving through the forest.

Kudos to our team -
*Prakash*- For driving most part of the journey with hardly one hour sleep
and the officer kindda look (shades+khaki shirt with half- folded
sleeves) that scared the hell out of few people out there!!(although

*Satish*- For coming down all the way from Chennai and sleeping in advance
on Friday evening to save energy for the program and handling Tamil and
Malayalam and for sharing the driving time!!

*Soumyajit*- Our officer-in-charge of the operation and who never showed
signs of fatigue and sleep despite of not sleeping the previous night and
did the vehicle count without a break!!

*Chandu- *For writing this report & clicking pics !:P

As we pass on the baton to the next group of volunteers, let me tell you-
Being a volunteer for this program is FUN with a little drama and
"surprises"(like the sighting of elephant and a calf we had) and you can
leave for home feeling better and ample reasons to smile!

Chandrasekar Bandi
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society


Bandipur Roadkills campaign - Jan 2009

The Bandipur Reserve Resort Forest
(no offence meant for resort owners)

Hello all and welcome to the Bandipur Resort Forest. This is one of those few places where you feel like "being at home". We had lots of attractions lined up for you and trust me all those makes an amazing package!! Without boring you much, let me brief you all a little about the mind blowing facilities and attractions one can experience.

The Bandipur Tea:

If you are a tea lover, we bet you never heard about BANDIPUR tea?? Move aside ASSAM tea, Darjeeling tea, we have our own best branded BANDIPUR TEA. You can choose this as welcome drink and we know your inquisitive minds wish to know how to prepare it, hence to soothe you all, we will share the recipe too!!

1. Reach Bandipur forest with all your friends and family playing loud music and screaming.
2. Drive through the forest and when you feel you are in the middle.. stop!!, Yes stop in the middle of the forest where you can find THICK dried bamboo or dried grass
3. Make sure the place is dry and had all dry twigs and dead leaves around.
4. Collect some leaves, lit fire and make temporary stove, boil milk, add ingredients.
5. Leave your brains behind and don’t worry about wind or forest or a bed of dead leaves around ready to catch fire that can demolish the forest!

You can choose it as a “welcome drink”! Some people out there found it tastier!???

Monkey Massage

Then, as you proceed we have a NATUROPATHIC SPA with a little difference. It provides special refreshing massage and naturaopathic treatment, usually done by 2 masters we had in the resort, a Langur-dada and the Bonnet dada.
To experience the offer, you need to do the below.
1. Get down in the middle of the jungle
2. Carry some eatables be it namkeens or whatever you eat or about to throw into bins
3. Go closer to our experts and try feeding them!!
You would get a bite on your body (can be any place) that feeds in the "secret" ingredients that makes you run crazy and drives you into "musth" mood. Remember we are not responsible for the "hospitlization" charges if any that you need to incur due to the “side-affects" of our NATUROPATHIC SPA.

Other Attractions

If that was not enough, we have a “Drink-while-drive” scheme, where through out the “resort” you can throw your beer or any liquor bottles and drive at your “will” testing the limits of your speed-o-meter. Remember we are not responsible for any freaky accidents.

For the sake of devotional souls we have a "feed-d-animal" scheme where you can get down in the middle of the jungle and feed the chital and sambar around and feel that you are a "kind-hearted" and treat it as “alms”. We are not responsible if you feel guilty when you realize that one of them was killed because you disturbed their natural food habits and make them stay close to the road ending up as road kills!

For the "i-have-been-there-seen-there" kind of photo lovers, we had a scheme of CLICK-ANYWHERE where people can get down wherever they want in the forest and pose for photographs proving Darwin’s theory of "evolution" by reminding people that we still have our ancestors (read apes & chimps) traces in us, which comes out only during forest visits! But, we are not responsible for tusker attacks!

So, come visit us and feel refreshing!!!..

So, if you managed to read this till here, didn't you think at some point of time that I am insane and wrote rubbish and wondering what this article is about? But these appear to be the hidden rules of the forest as perceived by our public. People are treating it as a resort, but not national park!

Fun apart; let me tell you that we WITNESSED all those schemes that I detailed above during KANS-4th Road kill awareness campaign in BANDIPUR in JANUARY. The mindless tea makers, the stupid drunken drivers, the benevolent animal feeders who make the monkeys and langurs sit on road expecting every vehicle to be potential source of food. Some throw food at them, some of them pass it to their hand, others calls them up and offers, someone gets down and get closer and ends up being chased away.

At one moment we saw a line of 10 cars stopping in the middle of the forest and magnanimous people getting down and feeding and posing with chital!! What a stupidity!!? Now, don't blame the forest department! They are understaffed and overloaded. What can they do when the netas are not interested in taking care of them??

Again, don't blame the netas, after all, we are the one's who elected them. But hey, don't blame people completely. I feel it is partially because there is zero awareness and partially due to the "attitudes". Like what my friend quotes- when humans are least concerned about other humans around, how can one expect them to be sensitive towards animals? I would say chances are as good as spotting a 'native' tiger in Sariska! This is precisely the reason why we are trying to educate people about the behavioral ethics in the forest.

After stopping close to 10,000 vehicles and talking to more than 20,000 people over the past 4 months, we realized how badly our public needs this kind of education/awareness. With every campaign we are resolving ourselves to do it more often and with more vigor. It's not about which NGO do we belong, it's not about whether Kenneth Anderson wrote fiction or truth, it's not about who inspired us to head jungles... but all that matter to us is.. -What can we do to the precious precious jungles which gave us this air to breathe, the food we eat, the inexpressible joy we perceive...which is shared by any nature lover around the world be it Kenneth Anderson or Jim Corbett. All are a Band of brothers in this good world of conservation, taking different paths like the way we all are doing it on our own small ways! So let's pray and hope that our jungles are safer and our efforts are blessed!

A team of 12 volunteers joined the campaign in January delivering instructions in English, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Bengali. I am sure every one went back with a pool of memories and a well-lit inspiration to pass on the message to their friends and family as well. Someone sent their wife to home town to catch up time to volunteer, some one heeded nothing to parents concern of driving all night, Couple of guys drove all the way on the bike from Bangalore daring chilling cold skipping the sleep, Someone came from Chennai, Some came from close by place squeezing in whatever little time they had in between running their businesses. Someone came all the way from Kerala, someone made sure they did their bit before flying out of the country…. & the stories goes on..
Kudos to the spirit of the volunteers and finally someone is volunteering to make a trip report at almost midnight!(self-pat)

P.S: We thank the forest department officials, KANS committee, our volunteers and supporters. Also, special thanks to Sudhir Shivaram & Giri Cavale of INW ( for stopping by (or stopped!!? :) ) and passing their encouraging words beside showing us the precious 800 mm bazooka

Satish Pari Baskaran, Guruprasad Timmapur, Prakash Matada, Rajesh Mangat, J. Balamurugan, Arunava Das , Anantharaj MS, Soumyajit Nandy, Rakesh Gupta, Vasanth, Arun and ChandraSekhar Bandi

ChandraSekhar Bandi
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society


Bandipur Roadkills campaign - 21/22 Feb 2009

The team reached the Kekanahalla Check Post around 10.00 AM on Saturday morning, before reaching the check post the team picked up two trespassers walking on the forest road without the knowledge of the unforeseen dangers. They were picked up and dropped in Bandipur Reception Center; they were also educated about the consequences. In between Bandipur and Kekanahalla we found few patches of land being burnt out due to forest fire.

After reaching the forest check post at Kekanahalla the team started distributing the pamphlets carried by Mr. Soumyajit and Mr. Rakesh Gupta, we also explained the vehicle drivers about the need for wild life conservation, Do’s and Don’ts while driving in the forest range. About 80% of the people the team stopped showed interest in the conservation of wild life, and approximately 10% of the drivers neglected and the rest 10% bluntly replied that they knew every thing and they were regular travelers. However, the team ensured that every vehicle passing through the check post were stopped and the sound systems in the vehicle were switched off and requested to drive their vehicle at a maximum of 40 km/hr speed. These activities continued till 7.15 PM and in that time span approximately 850 vehicles passed through this check post.

After the dinner around 9.30 PM the team set out for a patrolling in two cars up to Gudalur. On the way we sighted two groups of Gaurs and few spotted deer and Sambar deer. This went up to 1.00 AM midnight. (Note: Mr. Soumyajit and Mr. Rajesh spotted Leopard in the bush which others could not). We also noticed forest fire was blazing on top of a hill, on the way to Mangla village.

On day two we set out for a safari ride around 6.50 AM we found many fresh tracks of Tiger and Leopard, its seems to be lot of activities that has happened the previous night, we also visited one of the Anti Poaching Camp (APC) and spoke to the Watchers, we understood from them that there was a need for drinking water and sanitary facility, we also observed a dried well, which on pumped could not let out anything other that hot air. If this is the situation for the watchers, imagine for the wild animals it is really pathetic, tears welled in our eyes without our knowledge. We could see nothing but the burned vegetation. The green has turned into black ash, water holes had dried up expect for very few still left with some amount of water. I hope this could provide some life to the wild animals till the next monsoon.

With this pain we came out to Pugmark, Jungle Lodges and Resorts for breakfast. Then the team moved towards Gopalswamy Hills, the way was very painful, the destruction of the forest fire was un-imaginable as it has washed away the heritage of the green lands. From the top of the hill deep in the valley we could see fire erupting like a volcano, the smoke was reaching the sky looking like a bridge between the land and the sky. The fire was very huge and was spreading quickly. We could see it was burning away the landscape within hours. We felt helpless and could do nothing against it, and kept watching. The fire was spreading from both the sides destroying the valley. We could also spotted two small patches of smokes just starting up the fire on the other side of the hill. The Forest Guards in Gopalswamy Hill didn’t seem to be much interested in that, we were not sure whether he had informed the department about the fire. Also we could not understand their intentions, like whether he was deliberately neglecting or felt the same helpless like what we felt.

On the hill, we understood that there were been movement of wild life prior to the destruction of the forest fire. We were able to trace foot prints and scats of gaur, elephant, deer, leopard and tiger.

At last we decided to leave the hill around 1.00 PM with the heart full of nothing but the pain.

However this camp was successful in bringing in awareness of Wild life Conservation among the public passing through the sanctuary. Photographs of the forest fire have been taken as a proof.

Team : Soumyajit, Rakesh Gupta, Harish, Ananth, Vasanth, Satish Pari, Dr Rajesh, Bala, Dr Paul, Tarun Paul, Divyan Paul and Prince Rahul.

Number of vehicles/pamphlets distributed: 825

Pics at 5th Bandipur Campaign

Harish Kumar S
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nagarhole Speed-breaker painting activity - 1st Jan 2009

KANS, true to the cause of conservation, has a large and varied activity base. This time around, the members and volunteers of KANS decided to build on their Roadkill Awareness Campaign by painting about 30 speed-breakers in the 35 km. stretch of forest road inside Nagarahole (a.k.a Rajiv Gandhi National Park).

So we collected some artistically inclined people and also some with previous painting experience and bundled them into three cars and we were off to Nagarahole for a date with the bumps. En route we did manage to try and explore two new routes to Coorg, but failed miserably, one at the hands of a railway gate and the other at the hands of the new police strategy against terror movements – road blocks that drivers cannot possibly see until they go straight into them and therefore render all vehicle stopping equipment useless…

After navigating a road full of R’s, i.e. rabbits and rats, and avoiding adding them to our already bloated dinner menu, we arrived at the check post at 5 A.M, only to be greeted with the rather shady noise of 5 men in a tent. Once we approached, they moved toward the check post hand-pump and proceeded to wake up all the inhabitants of the check post and the jungle with that ghastly early-morning noise that would have driven any jungle dweller up the nearest tree.
It’s a wonder how some people really miss the din of the city and endeavour to replicate thee racket of a concrete jungles in our wooded jungles.

After their ‘family ablution’ we had the fortune of a silent jungle dawn and at 6 A.M, the guards at the check post let us through. As though quietly forbidding, and at the same time wooing us, the forest opened out in a surreal shade of pale grey and light green. To add to this, the dew methodically set about getting all over the windshield of the cars and clogging it up. However, onward we went into this majestic forest that boasts of a fantastic predator-prey relationship in the hope of catching a glimpse of the King of the Jungle, the tiger.

A short way through the forest, we encountered the first of the many road humps that we needed to paint over the course of the day. The drive through the forest was a fantastic experience and we did manage to get a moment of adrenalin in when a couple of bison careened off the road and into the surrounding thicket in front of our car. The bison were huge to say the least and exacted a fair amount of awe from us.

We were told by the two cars following us that a tusker had made himself quite friendly by chasing two cars behind us. Unfortunately, it took the inhabitants of the car much less time to realize that sometimes even opposites don’t attract than the poor tusker and he had to be left to his fate…

Next up, the actual road hump painting activity. Our able President, Laxmeesha Acharya, who had defied the giants of sleep, fatigue and conversation throughout the night, was up fresh and jovial as he began to mix the paint as a bartender would cocktails. Somewhere at this point, the front left tyre of Hari’s car decided that it wanted to make use of the ‘exchange offer’ with the spare tyre and proceeded to unceremoniously puncture itself. Talk about tyre suicide! Repaired, we rejoined the team on their ‘paint my love’ journey…

Painting the humps wasn’t the big time consuming activity we perceived it to be, but rather a quick one with a factory line operating – a broom, a stone layer, two painters and two facilitators-…and soon the bleak road was transformed into a black and white strip that must make most film cameras a joy to behold.

Must mention here that the forest guards were of immense help, directing the rather sparse traffic away from the fresh paint and the vulnerable painters by the wayside.

This particular group of volunteers was made of young and middle aged folks with a great interest in improving the visibility of forest awareness. Another point worth noting is that a young chap in the midst of his exams, made this trip with us.

Nagarahole is famous for its Dholes (Cuon alpinus) and they did not disappoint us. These deceptively docile looking creatures were spotted at the Kalhalla Range on either side of the road. At about the same time, a couple of Giant Malabar Squirrels (Ratufa indica), another flagship of Indian mammals, appeared out of seemingly nowhere and began a game of hide-and-seek with each other, all the while providing us with a fantastic view of their daily lives.

The painting activity was rather quick and by 14.00 we had worked up a huge appetite for lunch. The cook provided some much needed nourishment and soon the team was ready for the next piece of action.

At this moment two busloads of people from a college in Bangalore burst upon the scene and blasted all our eardrums. Immediately they pounced upon the safari vehicles just like a tiger would on its prey albeit without the fuss and mess.

On the safari, the folks managed to bring back most of the city noise so much so that not even a combined effort from the driver, us and an elephant unit (mother + calf) could do much to quell the racket that left us, and the elephants, with a mighty headache…

The mother and calf were very shy and disappeared into thickets immediately, but the mother being alarmed and concerned for her young one, did let out one small note of alarm. Just goes to show that all that these animals want is to be left alone.

We did see some interesting sights in the jungle, but did not come face to face with the Mighty One and left with a heavy heart, something that we wish to amend next time around.

The road hump painting activity was geared at increasing human and animal safety in the forest as well as increasing visibility for KANS. It was an effort that all of us made worthwhile and we hope to assist the people of the forest, the forest officials and the animals themselves to retain their rightful land and not perish in any way that has to do with human negligence.

Quick Facts
Number of speed breakers: 40
Distance: 35 Km
No. of participants: 12

Naren Damodran
Committee Member
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society


Understanding man-elephant conflict

Background of the project:

1. Elephant crop raiding is an important issue in all elephant forests abutting human settlements.
2. Maximum claims faced by forest departments seem to be from elephant crop raiding and deaths caused by elephants coming into conflict with humans.
3. The pressure to keep crop raiding claims down seem to be one of the reasons for the elephant ping pong that happens at the Bannerghatta-Kempatahalli corridor, where TN and Karnataka forest departments drive elephants across state borders. This was a statement made by a forest range officer of Thally-Jowlagiri range when Anand and Sanjeev met them for uniform distribution recently.
4. The victims of crop raiding are mostly subsistence farmers and the loss of income causes enormous hardships to poor families.
5. Nightly vigil maintained by village folk creates a stressful situation for the men and breeds antipathy towards animals in general.
6. All possible efforts need to be taken up to reduce conflict situations between humans and elephants.

A possible solution:

1. Chilli fencing is a strategy that developed in Africa to address similar human elephant conflict situation.
2. Elephants have an acute sense of smell that is said to be 150 times more powerful than humans. The pungent odour of chilli is an effective deterrent to elephants. Three methods of utilizing the property of chilli seems to be prevalent:
1. Use chilli as a border crop to deter elephants from entering fields.
2. A fence made of ropes coated with a mixture of ground chilli, tobacco and engine oil is erected to ward of elephants.
3. Cakes made of elephant dung and chilli are burnt at night times. This cake is said to burn upto eight hours emitting pungent smoke which drives away elephants.
3. ANCF carried out trials of the engine oil, chilli and tobacco coated rope fences at Gulhatti area close to Aiyur reserve forest. The results were summarized like this:
1. The chilli fence experiment at Gulhatti village was successful in controlling 80% of attempts by herds and bulls.
2. It was more effective against the herds (95%) than the bulls (50%). Since, it was effective overall for 80%, it is still recommend to use this technique but should be restricted during the reproductive (flowering and grain) stage of the crop to avoid elephants to get acclimatized.

Extent of the problem in Melagiri hills:

1. Elephant is without doubt the flagship species in the melagiri hills. A sizeable population of resident elephants said to number around 150 heads according to FD sources are said to exist here.
2. Frequently elephants from Bannerghatta range are driven into this area and this year the figure of elephants coming in from Bannerghatta is thought to be around 150 to 200 heads.
3. Elephants also cross over from Kollegal and Kanakpura forest ranges by swimming across the Cauvery river into the area.
4. Almost every local farmer complains that elephants are aware of the harvest seasons and promptly present themselves to eat up the crops.
5. It will be interesting to find out whether this happens because the elephants do not have sufficient food within the forests, or whether they just prefer to munch a free meal!
6. Human deaths caused by elephants are a regular feature every year.

Specific background and first hand information:

1. At the recent meeting with the FD at Hosur attended by Laxmeesha, Sanjeev, Anand Menon, Soumyajit, and Sudheesh, chili fencing was broached with the DFO. His support for this activity is very encouraging. We requested details of the areas facing the problem at the current time. We were given a report of 2 herds one numbering 5 and another numbering 30 which were active in the Udedurgam area. This is the same place where a person was killed just before the uniform distribution day. Also recently another person was killed a couple of days ago. It is reported that elephants travel nearly 2 kms from forest boundaries to raid crops. We decided to visit this place for a first hand account.
2. We went to villages bordering Udedurgam forest area and went to a small village called U-puram. The Bangalore Salem railway line passes just outside the village. Beyond the village at a distance of maybe 1.5 KM is the forest boundary. We were surprised to see patta land farms literally on the edge of the forest boundary. A few years ago 5 elephants were run over by a train on these very tracks not far from here.
3. An elderly lady and a young kid gave us a lot of information. The last visit of elephants to this village was 8 days back. Another lady joined up and showed us her house which is just along the railway line, where elephants had come and eaten up large bales harvested crops laid out to dry.
4. We were told that the person who was killed 25 days back had been gaurding his harvest laid out for threshing by sleeping on a nearby rock along with another person. On hearing the elephants, he had stepped down to fetch re-inforcements from the village, when he was pasted into the ground by the elephants.
5. We also gathered that pigs were another menace in this locality. The young boy then accompanied us to the last field bordering the forest.
6. The person present there told us that his last planting of vegetables was torn up by elephants and that he had recently replanted beetroot. He showed us the place from which elephants came in, which is literally like stepping out of the jungle into the field!
7. There was an ample collection of elephant dung in his manure heap to vouch for his account and also visible were elephant foot print craters in his paddy field.
8. A small gathering collected around us and we spent a while talking to them about the forest but did not ourselves venture into the jungle.
9. We were flabbergasted when he told us that there were camels in the jungles. He identified them as "Duppe" having long neck and long legs and being coloured like Laxmeesha's T-shirt. Later on being shown picture, he identified them as Sambhars, which seems like a reasonable error.
10. Other animals reported here were Sambhar, wild pigs, peacocks, chital, sloth bear, gaur and Leopards.
11. One more gent informed us that they had two kinds of leopards Mataka and Matakadu living here. One was large and the other was smaller. Once again we were surprised when he identified the Tiger as one of the Matakas. He was quite confident about his report and insisted that a group of herders were followed by this animal a while back. The general proportions of the animal described by him regarding height and size of head seems to indicate a tiger. Some of his own friends were skeptical, but our man was sticking to his story.
12. It is interesting to note that the person from whom two tiger pelts were siezed near Majestic area in Bangalore hails from Achettipalli which is less than 10 KM from this place. It is reported that he confessed to having got the pelts from Hosur area.
13. We were also told that a leopard (mataka) had killed two goats within sight of the field we were standing in. This field is surrounded by low lying rocky hills with good forest cover.

In any case we told the farmers that we would be back in a week or two with some experiments to control elephants. We gave a contact number to get in touch at any time if elephants were sighted. On the way back, we stopped to ask a person for directions and it was revealed that this person was the brother in law of the person killed 25 days back. He hailed from Kadur and told us that he could take us to the place and also to the jungle to show us elephants. We told him that we will take a raincheck on that.

We then made our way to Panchapalli Dam through Denkanikotta, which forms the other border of the Udedurgam RF. This is also listed as Sanatkumara Nadhi in old maps. Beyond the dam are hills which lead on to Aiyur RF and beyond.

At the Dam we ran into some fisherfolk who told us that they had just sighted some elephants on the jungles on the shores of the reservoir.

Proposed Plan of Action:
The recipe for making chili spray is pretty straight forward. This can be done with local materials. It is proposed to make a sprayable concoction to try out the field in U-puram village. Most things should be available at little cost. I am making a small batch of this spray as a test. This can probably be diluted with water and emulsifier.

Based on the modifications and success at U-puram, we can develop a strategy that can be scaled up to cover all conflicted settlements in Melagiri hills and beyond.

Sanjeev Kumar S.R
Vice President
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society


Uniform Donation to Forest Watchers of Hosur Forest Division

On 10th January 2009, Full uniform kits were distributed to 46 temporary watchers at Denkanikotta forest rest house today. This covers places from Urigam, Jowalagiri, Rayakotta, Denkanikotta, Anchetty and Krishnagiri. All these places figure largely in KA's stories. The kit included:
1. Sweater
2. Monkey cap
3. Cap
4. Socks (2 pairs)
5. Shoes
6. Belt
7. Shirt + Pant

These temporary watchers are soldiers of fortune and wardens of wildlife. They spend their lifetime protecting our wildlife and human lives from unfortunate conflicts and other dangers such as poaching and wanton killing. But, as the term temporary suggests, they do not receive full benefits of being a permanent arm of the Forest Department and hence are orphaned.

Forest watchers constitute the lowest rung of the Forest Department and are directly involved in field activity. There are confirmed employees who get paid around Rs.7, 000 a month but a large number of them are temporary employees who are usually paid around Rs.800 a month. It is also a well known fact that the FD is usually understaffed and these people are expected to fulfill more than one role.

Needless to say, this pittance is hardly sufficient to take care of the needs of one man, let alone a family. These watchers live far away from their families in remote jungles and still carry out their noble duty. The low pay is a serious cause for dissatisfaction and low morale among these foot soldiers of the FD. Often the salary is delayed and sometimes kind Range Officers or the like pay these watchers out of their own pockets.

To give them their due and recognize their unwavering and diligent service to humans and animals alike, KANS thought it would be appropriate to present them with what they need most. In appreciation of their endeavor to support wildlife causes, KANS partnered with Hosur Round Table and Ladies Circle to arrange funds to procure these materials. While the Hosur Ladies Circle and the Hosur Round Table made up the chunk of sponsorship, members and good Samaritans from KANS too provided funds toward this.

1. Hosur Round Table 87 : Rs.20,000/-
2. Ladies Circle 32 : Rs.20,000/-
3. Sanjeev Kumar S. R. : Rs.1000/-
4. Santosh Kumar S. R. : Rs.1000/-
5. Dr. Arvind Raj : Rs.1000/-
6. Laxmeesha Acharya: Rs.501/-
7. Anand Menon: Rs.1000/-
8. Naren Damodran: Rs.1000/-
9. Karthikeyan Sivagnanam
10. Jayraman Kakarla: Rs.1000/-
11. Arul K Kulathmony : Rs.1000/-
12. Nanda Ramesh : Rs.500/-

KANS would like to specifically thank Mr. Ganesan, DFO who has provided his unstinted support time and again.
(Inauguration of the Uniform Kit Distribution by the Mr. Ganesan, DFO – Hosur Forest Division. Presided by Ms. Jyotsna, Chairperson Hosur Ladies Circle 32, Mr. Chandrasekhar Kutty, Chairman Hosur round Table 87 who were the principal sponsors)

(Pictured here are Ms. Jyotsna, Chairperson, Hosur Ladies Circle 32, Mr. Chandrasekhar Kutty, Chairman Hosur Round Table 87 and A.S Hari, Director, Publicity – KANS and the beneficiaries).

The uniforms turned out to be really smart and the watchers were quite pleased and proud to wear them. This small gesture will help show our appreciation of the efforts being put in by these people and hopefully should motivate them.

KANS, through its innovative contact programmes endeavors to enhance the lives of all those who are guardians of nature and also aid the cause of conservation.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

First-hand experience of man-elephant conflict in Denkanikottai

Some time in the early hours of Monday 9th February 2009, a young elephant and her calf found their way to the outskirts of Denkanikottai town. The commotion this caused forced this pair to walk down about 4 kms skirting a school, houses farms etc to a lake about a kilometer off the Hosur Denkanikottai road.

They spent the entire day waiting out the hot sun, calmly eating the lush grass around the lake and generally hiding in the cool rushes. A crowd gathered around them meanwhile and nearly the entire forest department turned up to control things.

The elephants displayed no nervousness or aggression. As the day cooled and the sun began go down, they calmly emerged from the water and made their way back to the jungles with some coaxing by the watchers and public.

It was nice to see the watchers attired in the uniforms provided by KANS. The huge pockets were very handy to carry fire crackers used to chase the elephants back to the jungles.

This was my first experience of wild elephants coming into contact with humans. There was no conflict as both the people and the elephants seemed tolerant of each other. However, such contacts are quite frequent and I am told that things can take a turn for the worse just as easily.

Sanjeev Kumar S.R
Vice President
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society