Waiting for the oriole

Every morning from mid-September, I lie in bed hoping to hear it. Sometimes, it is early and my wait lasts only a few days. Some years I have to wait a whole month before the harsh call finally sounds. Like many of you, I live in an apartment building in a city. There are very […]

The circle of life

A few monsoons ago, a friend gifted us a small, succulent plant which had lovely red flowers. A couple of weeks after we had installed the plant among others in our balcony, when the flowers had fallen away, I saw a small red, white and black butterfly, called the Red Pierrot come fluttering in and […]

Staying legal, staying reasonable

“How many of you listen to music?” All twenty hands in the room went up. “How many of you share music with your friends?” Again, the twenty hands in the room went up. “And how many of you know that sharing music is a violation of the copyright law?” All hands stayed up. “Then, why […]

Conserving wildlife as if democracy matters

Since 2006, the environment ministry has demarcated and declared thirty-nine Critical Tiger Habitats—the core of our tiger reserves. Every one of them, wrote activist CR Bijoy recently, is illegal. To understand this extraordinary allegation, we need to step back in time, to our most recent “tiger crisis”. One morning in the summer of 2005, our […]

Wildlife beyond boundaries

The elephants stood at the stream’s edge. As the adults drank in measured trunkfuls, calves gambolled in the water. Just above them, on the slope, a large sambar stag emerged silently from the undergrowth. From a cluster of trees above came the scolding call of a giant squirrel, as a troop of Nilgiri langur foraged […]

The elephant in your coffee

Got a cup of coffee in hand as you read the paper this morning? Much of the coffee we drink in India is grown in the hilly, southern districts of Coorg, Wayanad and Nilgiris. To the east of these picturesque and popular holiday destinations is a vast tract of impoverished dry-land agriculture. Farmers here have […]

Keeping a culture of co-existence

Nagaraja Shetty did not want the day to dawn. It would mean that he could see exactly how much the elephants had taken. But the remorseless sun did rise, only to reveal a completely destroyed paddy field. Nothing was left of his meagre one acre. Starvation and deepening debt stared him in the face, but […]