Islands in peril

It is not often that our national newspapers carry informed and thoughtful articles about ecology and conservation, especially concerning our islands and coasts. The Hindu, taking a lead on this, has published a series of six articles in the Sunday Magazine spanning concerns in ecology and society in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The articles […]

Forest of the aliens

Like the proboscis of a malarial mosquito the Andaman Trunk Road pierces the Jarawa forest. The road carries a steady stream of vehicles, bunched into convoys with guards. By the road are heaps of stones and the claw marks of heavy machinery: the road will soon be wider. Just beyond, on either side, stretches the […]

The MSc High Altitude Techniques Tour

Published in the WII Newsletter in 1993 or early 1994 (Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun) “We at W. I. I.” I curse, “are nothing but a bunch of overgrown children playing at Cowboys and Indians. I mean, is this any place to be? The temperatures are so low, I am sure any decent thermometer would […]

The great rift

Like a deep gash from shoulder to chest, the Great Rift Valley plunges into the heart of Africa. In the landscape to the west, below a clouded sky, a Marabou soars above everything—vast plateaux with weaving rivers, steep-sided valleys spotted with shimmering soda lakes, and a landscape peppered with cities and settlements, farms and savanna. […]

Nobody’s heroes: our forgotten forest watchers

M D Madhusudan & Pavithra Sankaran It was an hour after dawn. Siddarama, a forest watcher, was walking to the Tiger Reserve’s headquarters from his village a good six kilometres away, when he heard the faint sound of voices. Suspicious, he approached quietly, and saw three men sitting by a stream, smoking and chatting. Two […]

A red flush of leaves

(By T. R. Shankar Raman and Divya Mudappa) Splashes of red dot the evergreen canopy, like blood on green canvas. The canarium, stately white and tall, holds a red flush of new leaves above verdant, multi-hued forest. Skimming spectacularly over the trees, a great hornbill brushes grandeur onto the canvas. In the company of hornbills, […]

Sentience for conservation

What would our life be like if we could see, but not discern? If we could hear, but not listen, and if we could touch, but not feel? How would we experience life if we could taste and smell, but not savour? What would we be like, as a species and as individuals, if we […]

When the wind cried ‘Mary’

On a visit to Chowra Island in the Nicobar archipelago in October 2008, on being told to wait until evening to contact my islander informants, I was passing time with an assortment of police constables on duty on the islands’ lookout-post. They were involved in an intense game of cards, while I sat around bored […]