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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

In the interest of other animals

How should we as humans value and relate to other animals? When we use animals in research, in zoos and aquaria, as food items or body parts, as specimens or experimental models, as pets, as machismo-inflating trophies to be bagged, or just as objects for entertainment, do we fully understand their needs, their welfare, their […]

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 […]

Ecotourist, tread softly!

Humans have always looked upon everything in nature as resources. Forests continue to provide us a staggering range of raw and finished products. Wildlife too, are resources. And there are different ways of using these resources—we hunt deer for meat, trap tigers for skin, poach elephants for ivory. We cut trees to cook dinner, to […]

Living on the edge

You are Mallesha. A fifty-six year old farmer. You live in Maguvinahalli, a village on the northern edge of the famous Bandipur National Park. Every year, at the end of summer, you till your meagre 4 acres, sow some jowar and some sunflowers. For weeks you work in the baking heat. Once the monsoons arrive, […]