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



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