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 […]

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 […]

இடைவெளியும் இடையூறும்

அண்ணாந்து பார்த்துக் கிடந்தது அந்த அணில், சாலையின் நடுவில். அது சாதாரண அணில் அல்ல, மேற்குத்தொடர்ச்சி மலைத் தொடரில் வாழும் மலையணில். வண்டியை விட்டு இறங்கி அருகில் சென்று பார்த்தபோது அதன் முகத்திலிருந்து இன்னமும் இரத்தம் வடிந்து கொண்டிருந்தது, வயிற்றின் உள்ளிருந்து குடல் பகுதி வெளியே வந்து கிடந்தது. சாலையைக் கடக்கும் போது ஏதோ ஒரு வாகனத்தில் அடிபட்டு பரிதாபமாக இறந்து போய், அதன் வெண்மஞ்சளான அடிப்பாகம் தெரிய வானத்தைப் பார்த்து அண்ணாந்து கிடந்தது அந்த மலையணில். […]

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 […]

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, […]

Death on the highway

This article was published in The Hindu Survey of the Environment 2009 (pages 113 – 118) without the supporting footnotes. The original article with footnotes and photographs is reproduced here. Crunch! Splat! Thud! A daily massacre is occurring under the wheels of our vehicles. Thousands of lives are snuffed out tragically, instantaneously, and yet, we hardly […]

The road to Vazhachal

Vazhachal is a small rainforest-clad region in Kerala located near the Anamalai hills. It forms a contiguous stretch of forest extending almost 2400 sq. km. through Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary to the north and thereafter through Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and Eravikulam National Park. It is among the last wild habitats in Kerala where […]