A tiger for every season

Tigers, as a friend had once put it, have found a way to silently pad their way into a million hearts. She may be right, for how else can you explain, why people bundle up in layers and layers of fabric in the coldest of seasons, putting themselves through an early morning routine in wretchedly icy cold conditions 'companioned' often sadistically by cold winds to get a glimpse of the stripes? or, why else would people travel in 45 degrees of pure hellish heat routinely getting scorched by the sun to yet again watch this magnificent cat in it's realm?

It has to be a certain degree of charisma with a spoonful of mystery and of course a tumbler full of beauty and sheer majesty that shimmers down to the tail, whiskers,  a shade of ochre and stripes with rippling muscles that is the tiger.

Tigers are beautiful yes but during my time spent in the forests I have come to realise that the way they look seems to change with the change of season. This, however is not a scientific ob…

Maximus the explorer

In the deep, dark, sultry forests of Southern India, the weather had changed, the usually still forest, started swaying to a steady breeze and the forest floor was hit with tiny drops of rain. Unusual weather thought the herd, but then it was a special night, for the herd’s favourite female was due to give birth. 

By the time he was born, the forest was drenched with rain, with the trees looking happy and green and everything in the forest seemed to be either singing or calling or croaking with the prospect of a lovely new day. 
That’s when the sun too decided to make an appearance to bathe the freshly washed curtain of green. And as the sun hit a dense clump of bamboo, that’s when she saw him for the first time, but what caught her eye, was not the tiny trunk or the perfectly formed round ears or the tiny eyes. What made her trumpet with amazement were the objects on her son’s feet, shining in the morning light. “ Come here, little one,” she said calling softly, while the newborn calf …

How the summer compliments a forest

Bandhavgarh is a riot of colours and calls right now. True to it's nature, the summer has turned the grasslands yellow, the Mahua has turned a delicious red, the sun and dust play havoc, while the Sal appears as green as a tree would after a heavy downpour. The leaves which the Sal has shed, hit the Earth noiselessly, a beautiful brown, trod upon by the magnificent chital, with the male calling out incessantly announcing a summer worth mating. The langurs observe interestedly sitting in a sheet of cotton offered by the Silk Cotton Tree, the white of which blends in with the silver appearance of the langur.The Brainfever bird, whose call is symbolic of summer flies calling hysterically from the safety of the 'mahul' and perches on the liana which looks gnarled with the heat. With the call of the Peacock and deer echoing through the forest and the changing colours of the trees, water seems to be the only constant till we chance upon it now covered in a haze of green, politel…

Divine vehicles (Part 2)

In continuation to the deities and their spectacular 'vahan's worshipped in India.

The Blackbuck, 'vahan' of the wind god or 'vayu'. The Blackbuck is probably associated with the wind god owing to it's speed and agility. The buck looks like it's flying through the air when in motion, thereby posing as the 'vahan' for 'vayu.'

The Ram, 'vahan' of the fire god or 'agni'. A powerful god in Hindu mythology, agni is considered to be as powerful as Indra some texts even pronounce him to be Indras' twin. A messenger of gods, agni is usually a symbol of  important rituals be it a wedding, a havan or a normal religious ceremony in a Hindu household.

Considered to be the mouth of the Indian gods and goddesses, a lot is given to agni for well being and new beginnings also known as a sacrificial fire. It is probably due to the sacrificial nature of agni that the Ram is associated with him as it is considered the ultimate animal o…

An illustrated guide of the Pantanal - Part 1

Illustrations are the best form of visual observation. I feel that  they help us best understand the subject in question. In humans it may help us understand  body language,  expressions and emotions. In animals, it helps us understand every muscle, colour, texture  and sometimes even their behaviour, camouflage and habitat. To that effect, I have tried to bring out an illustrated guide to different forests, starting with the Pantanal in Brazil, where I was lucky to observe a whole range of biodiversity, the true nature of which I was only able to appreciate once I had outlined them in my sketch book.

Be it the colourful disposition of a Toucan 

To the brilliant purple-rust plumage of a tiger heron 
The unhurried gait of a river otter 

Divine vehicles!

Nature worship has always been an important part of Indian culture. With 'Peepul' trees being worshipped as the epicenter for learning and knowledge, they are also regarded as the abode of the god ' bada dev' worshipped by certain tribals in Central India. However the most important instance of animals in Indian religion, more specifically, Hinduism has been the role of animals as the 'vahans' or vehicles of the Indian gods and goddesses. While the reason for why the concerned animal is associated with the  particular god/ goddess may not be always known, some of them have beautiful logic to them.

For example, the Goddess Durga also known as 'shakti' is associated with the tiger or lion ( the cat species varies according to region) as the big cat epitomises strength, power and a protector against all evil. Which is where the concept of 'baghesur' or the tiger god also comes up. Wherein a lot of villages worship the cat in form of a tiger/ lion …

The quest to save, has us fighting each other, everyday.

"How will what you are doing, help save the forests?" - Generalisation of human opinion.

The world already feels somewhat of a battleground what with fights for space, money,  opinions and emotions raining down almost everyday  much like this torrential downpour. The only difference is, the rain, we need. The fights, we don't. So why do I suddenly feel the need to philosophise about fighting? it is because, in my time as a 'wildlifer' I have seen more people fighting each other rather than fighting for the species in question. They fight  about what the other is doing wrong rather than what is going wrong for the species in question. Why is it necessary to pin point loopholes in another person's attempt to save the species rather than mend the loopholes in the system  that has brought  this species to the brink, where it needs to be carefully guarded lest it disappear, appearing only as dusty souvenirs in shops or books where it's shelf life will probably…