Author: deen

The celebrated neighbours

The celebrated neighbours

Resumed the roadkill survey after quite a gap. I was on my usual trajectory in Old Valparai, when i was forced to deviate.

The Govt. school i have mentioned in my earlier post had all its pupil in the front yard . They were out (they are more often out than in) waiting for the teacher to come and open the school. The frantic waving from a distance soon turned into a wave of excited children. They told me (all at once) about their sighting of the Great hornbill near their school. Responding to their interest towards the bird in the last interactive session, i had told them all about its peculiar nesting habits. I was delighted to hear one bunch of kids mimic the call, the other describe what it was doing a third explaining the way it gobbled up the fruits. It looked like the hornbills had turned into a celebrity neighbour.

Now i am exhilarated to work on the picture cards for a hornbill story that i developed. Meanwhile, i asked the students to describe and observe at least 3 animals in their surroundings.

Pinning the tail of the Hornbill, blindfolded
Pinning the tail of the Hornbill, blindfolded
Laughter, as the tail goes helter skelter
Laughter, as the tail goes helter skelter
The Valparai Times

The Valparai Times

This is an update on the happenings and indulgences of the indigenous people of valparai rainforest restoration research station.

Everybody in town from bus drivers, doctors to vegetable vendor have been asking me the same question – “Where is Swati?”.

Swati is finally back…..and no one is more glad than Anand. Since the Rufford grant has been transfered into her account Anand has been complimenting her (mostly on her new hairstyle) even when she is not around. Anand is at the verge of starting a marriage bureau to fund his elephant project. While Swati is carefully using her grant money to develop sophisticated equipments for her research.

A scat drier custom-made by Swati for “Swati's lab”

The look alike of Shankar Raman is currently out of range to really say what he ‘s up to. The Ubuntu King is off to Chennai to probably colonize the computers there with Ubuntu. He is the only person talented enough to show us a hippo in Sholayar dam. Jegan on the other hand is on his solo honeymoon at his native land, courser country. So we really don’t know when to expect him back or to expect him at all. Elani is recovering from the Greek dinner party she threw, which i must say was amazing!

Mutual admiration – Kalyan and Harsha
Mutual admiration – Harsha and Kalyan

World famous when not doing the above, is busy looking for his foot wear all around the world and dodging pit vipers. Of course in his spare time he is doing what he does best. Meanwhile, Divya the local ‘world famous’ is busy getting her perfect silhouette shots, fighting crime and knocking thugs on the head.

Krishnan and Denesh, our field assistances have been collecting rainforest seeds for the nursery. Now they have found a new source of seeds in dairy milk’s fruit and nut chocolates.

Ninja has been taking tap dancing lessons lately on our roof, she is also busy defending her territory. Coming to pets, our base camp has a new pet – He’s a toad living in our back yard and can beat any thorny devil at eating ants. We plan to translocate him to our ant-infested kitchen.

When i am not scratching or inventing new species of bougainvillea or blue poppy here, i try to get students to draw leopards, hornbills or any animals present in this landscape.

A drawing of a Leopard and hornbill by a student of the govt. school i mentioned in my previous post
A drawing of a leopard and hornbill by a student of the govt. school i mentioned in my previous post

The highs and lows of a roadkill survey

The highs and lows of a roadkill survey

I had the pleasure of accompanying Eleni during a couple of mist-netting sessions in the past week. Its monsoon now, and every place is teeming with life. Its a good break for me to look at live animals and cheer up my spirit, also a great chance to explore new places.

Calling frogs and this huge malabar pit viper, safely crossing the road just made my night.

frog calling

Malabar pit viper
A meter long malabar pit viper.

The last couple of days i have come  across a few unusual deaths. Like this beautiful green vine snake that was intact and an striped coral snake. The most common snake road kills are shieldtails that are so camouflage on roads, that its hard to predict their presence. But this green vine snake sadly seems to have been killed during broad day vine snake road kill

Mid way, on one of my road kill transects is a primary school that always has little inquisitive faces peeping out of doors and windows, following my every move. On my first few transects, i found these children stealing out of school and watching me from a distance. As i get a little closer, they move further away and watch.

Shy children running out of frame
Shy children running out of frame.

Some persuasive talking helped get rid of the shyness. In the following days they started hanging out with me on reaching the part of the road near their school. After getting invited to a couple of their cricket and chat sessions, i felt compelled to add their school to the list of schools for conservation education. These children are extremely inquisitive and not to over-look naughty, with an enthusiastic set of teachers at school. The 1st program at their school is scheduled for monday (10.8.09). I look forward to future on-road and off-road interactions with these children.