The World Around
Ecology, Conservation, Wildlife and beyond.
Signs in Nature with Chandini
On a sunny saturday afternoon, over some banana cake, ‘Signs’ nature workshop was conducted by Chandini Chhabra who is a Montessori teacher and nature educator. It was attended by enthusiastic young kids hoping to find dinosaur remains.
There weren’t any dinosaur carcasses lying around, but, the turtle shell, the emu eggshell, and the snakeskin sure did leave everyone equally awestruck.
The session started with groups of them marching and running down the trail, trying to one up each other over the number of animal signs that they could spot.
Once they had exhausted all possible options along the trail, the group sat down for a show and tell session where yet other specimens like a scorpion’s skin, snakeskin, rat snake eggs, a tarantula, and some porcupine quills were passed around and discussed. Conversations about Russell’s viper’s diamond patterns, snake handling, the tarantula’s exoskeleton, and sensitization towards wildlife took place.
The session concluded with the group making plaster of paris moulds of the much sought after- leopard, and otter pugmarks and happy, well-informed kids, who preferred discussing the day with their friends over leaving to go home!
“Treading Water” exploring a fraught relationship with development and nature – Divya Ragunandan and Brikesh Singh.
The topic for the evening was Climate Change and the tone for it was set by Divya, and Brikesh, both residents of Malhar.
The talk covered a wide range of topics from the quality of air during the golden age of development in Britain to the fundraising and deforestation awareness campaigns in India.
The story of the Peppered moths changing colours, from a white with black specks to complete black, to adapt to the soot covered surroundings around them, and thereby serving as litmus to where the world is heading in terms of environmental change, was especially fascinating.
Equally amazing to listen to, were the efforts of Brikesh’s campaign, when he lived on a tree to blog and campaign against deforestation, and the story of how this rocketed the number of signs on his petition – from 2 lakh to a million!
The questions looming over the talk were very important and personal ones, about building mental and physical strength, and ‘staying strong in the face of uncertainty’, and the speakers sure did both, lead and explain with example.
Following the Footsteps of Dr Salim Ali – Dr Subramanya
If passion projects were awarded, Dr. S Subramanya retracing Dr. Salim Ali’s ‘ Mysore Bird Survey’ trail, would take home all the prizes.
An ornithologist and scientist, he started planning this project over much more than a decade ago, in 2003. The project was actualised in 2018, when he retraced Salim Ali’s path, 78 years later, with the dates and time left unchanged.
From planning, to the charts of data comparison between his and Salim Ali’s findings, to staying in the same homestays as Dr. Ali did, to the picture of his entry in the visitors book from decades ago, his talk left the audience captivated as he took us through his project.
Birdwatchers and enthusiasts in the audience struck gold as Dr. Subramanya spoke about the timeline of bird watching from the origins to the present day scenario, change in technique and equipment in the past few years, and juxtaposition of technology and birdwatching along with its pros and cons. It was interesting to note that Dr. Subramanya played a key role in the establishment of the Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary at Ramnagara in Karnataka to save the habitat of the critically endangered Indian Vulture and getting GKVK Campus declared as a Biodiversity Heritage Site.
‘Processes and Presentations’ – Adarsh, Sangeetha, Chayant
On the last day of the 5 weekend Wild Malhar marathon, the morning session had people that attended the various workshops, like wildlife filmmaking, nature observation and nature journaling, speak about their experiences.
‘All’s well that ends well’, certainly did hold true in this situation as the enthusiastic participants presented their weeks’ worth of work to the audience.
During the course of four weeks, some had moved from their phones and had learnt how to use professional videography equipment, while others had written poems and notes, and sketched their observations from their nature walks and sessions.
“So you’ll be surprised, you’ll find them everywhere” wrote Suha as an ode to the moths that she had observed over the weeks, while another participant captured the bulbul nesting with her phone lens. All of this, further emphasized the underlying theme of the session as in how little is truly needed in terms of equipment while observing nature, and the best results are often the product of passion and patience.
Beyond Wildlife – Boots on the ground
The final session of Wild Malkar at Koota was titled ‘Boots on the ground’, with talks by Anand Krishnamurthy on restoration of degraded ecosystems, Madhuri and Nirmala on rights of rivers.
There were conversations on reducing firewood usage in rural areas, and about water security for wildlife. There was doom and gloom in the talk about effluents being dumped into the rivers and ecosystems, however there were also satisfied sighs when the lantana boilers, that use lantana instead of firewood to heat water, were brought up.
Both Anand Krishnamuthy’s and Madhuri and Nirmala’s results of restoration and conservation efforts put the spotlight on how positive actions, however small, make a big difference when done over a long period of time, by a large group of people.
A perfect ending to the first theme based month was a musical performance by Kamaan, Ruth, Krishna and Hari. They left the audience mesmerised with their witty lyrics and left all of us wanting for more.
Nanu, our chief curator of the Wild Malhar at Koota gave us a quick recap and thanked the team behind putting these amazing five weekends together, with about 42 different sessions. Co-curators, Sangeetha and Chayant also shared their views and Natasha closed the curtains for this theme, but not before announcing an exciting new theme coming up in March 2021. Stay tuned for that and more on these pages.