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Showing posts from January, 2016

Barefoot Notes: Where are Kanha's vultures?

It is the coldest day of the year. I’m riding with Omprakash on his motorbike scanning for signs of one of Kanha’s enigmatic species – other than the tiger – the vultures. And there are none to be seen. We are scanning the Kanhari beat as three other teams scan different areas of Kanha known for their vulture populations. A beat is a small unit of a range, but it can be large enough for a team to explore within a few hours; and we have only two of those.
It is .7 degrees below zero, and the grass is white as bone. The frost grows on it like fungus, crippling the movement of Kanha’s singing grasslands and turning them into silent tombstones. I am cold and cursing myself for not bringing hand gloves along as my breath turns to clouds.
Our beat adjoins Kanha, from which the tiger reserve gets its name. It is one of the first villages to be relocated outside the park. Since then Kanha has seen a dramatic land use change. Agricultural fields gave birth to grasslands, and sal trees grew ta…

Three Seasons

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That yellow tint to leaves is forlorn. It is sad to see them shrivel, shiver, and fall off. I’m standing in front of a line of bamboo islands I’ve been watching for three winters. The cold January breeze helps them shuffle and shed their green coat – it is time, it whispers as it blows the leaves away onto the hardened ground. They say winters of Kanha are the shortest. But I found that we age faster in winter. Kanha’s winters are louder because of the rustling leaves, and the sound picks pace as the seasons age.
The longest is summer that proceeds winters with such subtlety that you don’t realise it advance like the winter – winter grips you through your bones, summers are hard to comprehend. No one — man or woman — feels an angel when the hot weather is approaching, stated Rudyard Kipling in the classic Plain Tales from the Hills. And it remains, and lingers, and makes one endure, or yearn, for a better season.
Then it happens, the sky bursts under pressure, rain tears through the …