Oil palm expansion in forest and traditional agricultural lands, Mizoram

The march of the triffids

“In temperate countries, where man had succeeded in putting most forms of nature save his own under a reasonable degree of restraint, the status of the triffid was thus made quite clear. But in the tropics, particularly in the dense forest areas, they quickly became a scourge.” —John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids In […]

एक फोटो खीछो

In Hindi by Swati Sidhu अंकल, कहाँ से आ रहे हो ? ऊपर उस पहाड़ के टॉप से l मतलब कहाँ से हो ? चेन्नई से l झूठ बोल रहे हो ? (हँसके) अरे नहीं तो l मेरे पीछे मेरे दोस्त आ रहे हैं, उनसे पूछ लो l यहाँ क्यूँ आए हो ? पक्षी देखने […]

Take our photo

“Uncle where are you coming from?” “From top of that mountain” “No, where are you from?” “From Chennai” “You are a lying” (giggling) “No I am not lying, ask my friends coming behind me” “Why you have come here?” “To watch birds” “What is that?” “It’s a camera” “Take our photo” (giggling) Read this in […]

Why Mizoram must revive, not eradicate, jhum

There is something extraordinary about the cheraw (bamboo dance) performed during Chapchar Kut. The dance is unique, elegant, and spectacular, but it carries a deeper connection to the land and lives of the people, particularly to the remarkable practice of shifting agriculture (or jhum) which subtly encapsulates the dance of the bamboos themselves on the […]

Blowin’ in the wind – II

Cross-posted from View from Elephant Hills From a boat on Assam’s Deepor Beel—the freshwater lake lying south-west of Guwahati, the largest city in India’s northeast—you can look east past thousands of waterbirds and a carpet of floating leaves to see the city’s seething, smoking garbage dump. Under spotless blue skies, a thin brown haze blankets […]

Forest_OilPalm_MizoLow

Perils of oil palm

The Economic Survey Mizoram 2012-13 made a bold claim. After quoting the Forest Survey of India’s (FSI) State of Forest Report 2011 that 90.68% of Mizoram is under forest cover, the Economic Survey claimed, literally in bold letters in a box, that the State’s forests have suffered serious depletion and degradation due to traditional practice […]

Birds on a wire

This is a longish account of a long drive from Bangalore to Kibber in the Trans-Himalaya. Notes I kept during the 10 day journey are largely conversations I had with myself but also with my partners in travel, and are used here to share what we experienced, saw and spoke of during this journey across […]

The Gaur and the Gourmands

Nothing in nature goes to waste. This was what we documented by setting up a camera-trap at the carcass of a dead gaur. On 23 December 2012, the staff of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department found a dead young adult gaur on the boundary of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve and a tea plantation. In the […]

மயில் வதம் – தடுக்க என்ன வழி?

சமீபத்திய (21-12-2012) தினசரிகளில் திருச்சி அருகே மயில்களைக் சிலர் கள்ளத்தனமாக வேட்டையாடினர் எனும் செய்தியைப் படித்ததும் அதிர்ச்சியடைந்தேன். வனத்துறையினர் மயில்களைக் கொன்றவர்களை கைது செய்தனர் என்பதை அறிந்த போது நிம்மதி ஏற்பட்டாலும், மறுபுறம் கவலையாகவும், கோபமாகவும் இருந்தது. கொல்லப்பட்டவை 11 மயில்கள். கொன்றவர்கள் யார்? ஒரு ஓய்வு பெற்ற காவல்துறை உதவி ஆணையர், அவரது மகன், ஒரு முன்னாள் இராணுவ வீரர், இன்னும் ஒருவர். எதற்காகக் கொன்றார்கள்? அவற்றின் கறியை சுவைப்பதற்காக. மயில்களைச் சுடும் போது அது […]

Of tamarind and tolerance

An edited and shorter version of this article appeared in The Hindu Sunday Magazine on 17 June 2012. For centuries, long rows of grand tamarind trees have marked our roadsides, particularly in southern India. The wide, old roads radiating from Coimbatore city, in particular, had long rows of grand tamarind trees on either side. One […]