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Indian rock python

Last year police officers in Karnataka, in south India, learned that ten terrapins and two turtles were being kept at a temple where they were being fed by devotees. It was kind of people to feed them, but sadly, they weren’t being given the right food. To make matters worse, they could never quite relax, because, like any shy wild creature in the presence of humans, they felt constantly on guard, so they were always stressed and never felt at home.

This past December, 2020, as soon as the officers learned that these animals were being kept at the temple, they stopped by to see firsthand what the situation was. They found ten Indian pond terrapins and two flapshell turtles that were living in cramped conditions, all in the same tank in the temple.

Normally, turtles and terrapins really love basking on top of rocks, where they can stretch out in the sun, but these animals had no rocks for basking. The temple authorities meant well, but they hadn’t realized that these animals really needed to be back in the wild. Both terrapins and turtles like to spend some time out of the water, terrapins even more than turtles. Both belong to the order chelonia.

Needing proper care

When the officers talked with the temple authorities, pointing out all the things that the terrapins and turtles actually needed to be happy, the authorities were very responsive. They immediately agreed with the officers that the turtles and terrapins should go to a facility where they could be rehabilitated and then released to live back in the wild.

On December 23 the officers took the animals to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Karnataka. The veterinarian there, Dr. Roopa Satish, carried out a thorough physical examination as soon as the animals arrived. Then they were put into an enclosure with clean water, a basking area, sunlight, and given a lovely dinner of fresh food.

Soon, with good care, their demeanor changed dramatically. They became very active, swimming about happily, feeding ravenously, and basking away to their heart’s content. Just being given the few things that they needed made a huge difference.

They were kept under observation for three weeks to be sure they were doing well, then government permission was obtained for their release, and they were all sent off together to live in a clean pond inside a protected forest where no fishing or any other human activity is carried out. At last, they could feel safe in their new home.

Back free in the wild

Thanks to the kind efforts of the police officers and the quick understanding of the temple authorities, the terrapins and turtles were able to get a new start in life.

And thanks to the good care and expertise of Dr. Roopa and the caregivers at WRRC, these innocent animals will be able to enjoy the rest of their lives living in the forest in peace, free, and glad to be back in the wild once again.

A python too

Also on the same day, on December 23, 2020, an adult Indian rock python was brought in to the WRRC. In the U.S., unfortunately, we often think of the python as an invasive species which is causing havoc with the local wildlife in the Everglades. Through no fault of their own, pythons have been imported into the U.S. to be sold as pets and then, when they get too big, are released in the wrong place, where they don’t belong. Of course, they’re not meant to be pets, and they’re not meant to be living out in the wild in the U.S. either. It’s good to remind ourselves that the python is really a natural animal that should be left in the wild – in its native habitat in India or in other parts of south Asia.

Fishing nets can be a big problem

This adult Indian rock python that was brought in December to the WRRC was in a lot of distress. She’d gotten caught up in a net, with her head and jaw all tightly wrapped up so she couldn’t move. Fishing nets can cause a lot of harm to wildlife. It’s easy to get tangled up in them.

Dr. Roopa, with the help of one of the caregivers, restrained and sedated her, and, working really carefully, she cut away the fishing net. Eventually, the python was completely free of the net, which must have been a great relief to her. She wasn’t injured, just really stressed. She was rehydrated because they were not sure how long she had been stuck in the net and hence unable to feed. Once she was free of the net, she was able to move around easily. Pain killer injections were given to her, and she was left to recover in a quiet, secluded enclosure.

Captivity itself is stressful for wild creatures. The python didn’t really feel much like eating, and so she refused to eat any food. After three weeks of observation to be sure she was all right, she was taken back out to the forest, to a lovely peaceful spot where there is no human activity like fishing or washing. Immediately, she felt a lot livelier. She curled herself around a tree – looking out through the leaves at her surroundings with curiosity, all ready to take up her life again in a safe wilderness, in the beauty of the forest.

All wild animals have an important role to play ensuring the balance of nature. They all need protection from human activity that can cause them harm and a chance to live out their lives in the wild, as nature intends.

It takes special training and knowledge to rehabilitate wildlife, and it’s an essential activity — not just for the animals themselves, but also for the whole ecosystem – and for the wellbeing of the earth herself.

Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.
WRRC – The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre,
Bangalore, India
– is licensed to treat and release back to the wild – birds, deer, monkeys, and other orphaned or injured wildlife.
– provides education and greater understanding that benefits forests, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.
How you can help
Click on the donate button and choose WRRC. Another great way to help is to send this link to a friend.
Bless you! Thank you for helping our wild friends!

© Forest Voices of India, 2021

Photo credit

© Indian rock python, after release, WRRC, 2021

Giving life to the earth, her people and animals – all over the world, East and West

Fatumata and Justice

Fatumata belongs to the Animal Kindness Club at her school in Liberia, and her little dog is Justice. Together, Fatumata and Justice bring joy to their family and their community, inspiring others to understand that animals have feelings, just like us.

All over the world, there are remarkable people, who against all odds, are doing their best to help those in need – both people and animals! In Liberia, one of these people is Morris Darbo, who, twenty years ago, in 2001, founded an amazing organization, the Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society.

In a country where there is much need, yet very few resources – the LAWCS brings children and animals together – teaching love, kindness, peace, and caring – just exactly the qualities that this world needs!

Their very active veterinary care program brings health and wellbeing to village animals, along with the message that animals are to be loved and valued. As well as conducting a spay/neuter program for village dogs, they run over thirty other dynamic programs.

In a wonderful example of what can be accomplished, the LAWCS travels from village to village, school to school – reaching out with the message of love and kindness, so that these children will grow up with love in their hearts and with a genuine appreciation of the innocence and beauty of animals.

Krubo and Bush

Here is the story of Krubo and Bush, from the LAWSCS website —
“Krubo is one of our Animal Kindness Stars in her school. Schools are now closed due to COVID-19 outbreak in the country. Krubo is now spending the STAY HOME preventive measure with her family in their little village. Krubo took her little cute puppy, BUSH to the river to bathe her. Both Krubo and Bush love one another. The power of Humane Education can change the entire world. The children are now finding happiness with their pets during this period of global pandemic.”

Little boy and dog

We do not know the name of this little boy or the dog, but we can be sure that wherever his life takes him, he will always remember, deep in his consciousness, that an animal is his trusted friend.

As is the case all over the world, in Liberia, Covid is making finding enough funding harder than usual … please go to their website https://liberiaanimalwelfaresociety.org/, and help, if you can, by giving to village children and dogs in Africa, Many thanks for your kindness!

Photo credit: © Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society, used with permission by Forest Voices of India.

By Tyag Krishnamurthy
Honorary Joint Secretary – Blue Cross of India
Board member – Forest Voices of India

Hunger has no pause button. Blue Cross of India perhaps had its busiest two months ever, starting at the end of March 2020 when the first of several lockdowns started. The entire ecosystem that street animals in India depend on for survival was upended by the lockdown. Their primary source of food – streetside eateries, restaurant discards and the largesse of passers-by disappeared overnight. To avert starvation on the streets, Blue Cross started a street animal feeding program the very next day of the lockdown announcement. The feeding program was internally code named ‘Karuna’ and the name struck a chord. ‘Karuna’ means ‘compassion’ in Sanskrit. The program was very critical, and so it was started despite a severe staff and funding shortage (as Blue Cross ran the rescue team, shelter, and hospital with less than 40% staff – all camped inside Blue Cross, while continuing to pay all the staff who were non-residents and unable to come in everyday).

At the end of the Karuna program (June 1, 2020), Blue Cross of India had cooked and helped serve over 100,000 meals to street animals (primarily dogs but many cats, cows and horses too), potentially averting mass starvation. Our feeding program started the second day of the lockdown and has covered many areas in the city. Till May 17th, the peak of the program, four batches of food were cooked every day. In total about 3,000 meals were cooked fresh every day while following strict hygiene and health safety protocols. We created overnight what we call the most critical ‘last mile’ – a network of citizen feeders, who became the backbone of this program in what has emerged as one of the best examples of deep community participation to care for animals in a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. At peak we had 150 citizen feeders.

The Karuna program also galvanized many new citizens to think about the starving animals, and many such pitched in with food cooked in their own homes, on days when Blue Cross was unable to provide meals. With the easing up of lockdown since May 17th and opening of most areas, we have now ramped down, but continue to feed in those non-residential areas which are still not open.

Volunteers step up

Vignesh, an animal lover from Tiruverkadu ranks at the top of the Blue Cross list of citizen community feeders. He has fed over 8,300 animals from the food donated by the Blue Cross since the initiative began the day after the lockdown. Kind-hearted people like Vignesh, Devi (in Ambattur, feeding over 5,800 animals) and Sowmya (in Puzhudivakkam, feeding 5,300 animals) have been the backbone of a long list of 150 citizen community feeders.

Aaditya, a resident of Tambaram who was home-cooking and feeding street animals in his neighborhood, started as a community feeder. After just a few days he signed up as a full-time volunteer for the Blue Cross and has spent entire days distributing food on one of the four routes operated. He says, “I thought to myself – if it was so tough for me to cook and feed 50 animals, how complex it would be for the Blue Cross to do this for thousands! So, I decided to help.” Many new volunteers like Shrey and Bhargav signed up during the peak time of the program to help, while other long-time volunteers like Neelakantan and Vaijayanthi have been regularly helping with food distribution.

150 citizen feeders

Vinod Kumar, General Manager – Admin, Blue Cross of India, says, “On the day of the lockdown, the first thing we did was to change our helpdesk announcement, urging callers to feed the strays on their streets. Our feeding program started the second day of the lockdown and has now covered many areas in the city.” At the peak of the program that lasted till May 17th, four batches of food were cooked every day – Hotel Green Park helped with one batch, while the in-house team at Blue Cross’s Guindy campus cooked the other three batches including one for the 1,800 odd shelter animals. In total about 3,000 meals were cooked fresh every day while following strict hygiene and health safety protocols. “Much of this is made possible with the support of our donors and patrons like Help Animals India based in Seattle USA, Four Paws International, HCL Foundation and local support from Aavin, Jain International Trade Organization, Aranya Foundation and Tamil Nadu Animal Welfare Board, who have donated in kind,” adds Vinod.

Velu TM, Manager – Special Operations and one of the key people in the field says, “We initially began feeding animals ourselves, in non-residential localities, but realized it will not be feasible to cover more areas with our limited personnel. We created a network to help, with over 150 citizen feeders, who we supply the food to every day on four different routes that cover many localities of Chennai. At its peak the reach of the feeding program spread as far as Puzhal Lake area in the north, Tiruverkadu in the west, Sholinganallur along Old Mahabalipuram Road and Selayiur/Tambaram in the south. Some community feeders also pitched in with food cooked in their home, on days when we’re unable to provide meals.”

Cooking and more cooking

Dawn William, General Manager – Disaster Management and Rescues who was managing the back-end cooking at Blue Cross says: “Our day started at 3 am as we had to cook many batches, load up, leave early and finish distribution/feeding before it gets too hot outside. Our kitchen ran without a break for nearly 50 days of peak demand as we need to care for and feed the hospital and shelter animals in Blue Cross too with very limited manpower. We never thought we could muster the manpower or the cooking capacity to pull off this operation, but every available employee and volunteer stepped up; every available resource went into dealing with this emergency.”

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Editor’s Note: Dogs in India are generally not fed packaged food. Instead, food is cooked for them. As you will notice from the photos, it is made mainly from rice with other ingredients and supplements added; it is very healthy.

Blue Cross of India runs a very active spay/neuter/anti-rabies program (please see below). It has paused during the lockdown, but it will resume just as soon as it is possible to do so.

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Photos: Velu TM

© Text and photos, Blue Cross of India, 2020 – published, with permission, by Forest Voices of India.

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Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.

How you can help

Blue Cross of India

– Is the first, the largest, and the most widely known of India’s modern-day animal shelters
– Blue Cross’s ambulance service rescues thousands of animals every year: dogs, cats, cows, pigeons, and others.
– Blue Cross’s spay/neuter/anti-rabies program for community dogs is the longest, continually running such program in the world, beginning in 1964; it has lowered the numbers of dog bites in Chennai and has dramatically reduced incidents of rabies there – for some years down to zero.

To help, click on Donate, and choose Blue Cross of India.

Many thanks for your kindness!

Please send this to a friend as well.

Peace and blessings!

Telling right from left is not difficult, but then if you never quite got the idea to begin with, it certainly would make life a lot harder. There are a lot of concepts like this that we all take for granted, but for some children, a few extra hours of instruction can make all the difference for the rest of their lives.

In a large room, filled with brightly colored objects, the students who attend the Saraswathi Kendra Learning Centre are able to fill in these gaps in their understanding. Mrs. S. Niraja, the senior psychologist, makes learning fun. With a radiant smile, she leads students around the room as they do exercises that will help with some basic concepts – like telling left from right, or forwards from backwards.

Every student at Saraswathi Kendra is related to as an individual who has special talents and abilities. They learn to do, with pride, what they are good at. Those who can do standard subjects like mathematics, English, or history are taught those subjects. Those who have other talents are taught whatever they can do well. All the students study yoga, art, music and dance and some excel in one field of study or another.

Finding each student’s special talents

When they graduate, many go on to university. The confidence they have acquired at Saraswathi Kendra helps them on their way through life. The arts require talent, but not necessarily academic ability. Many Saraswathi Kendra students excel at sports and become soccer or cricket stars. Some pursue a career in classical dance or singing, or as a musician. They are able to contribute to society and lead meaningful lives when they are able to develop the God-given talents that are uniquely theirs. No longer frustrated or self-conscious, they spread their wings and soar.

Dr. Tulsi

Dr. Tulsi, a lovely little dog who has been trained as a therapist makes regular visits to the school. She puts the children at ease, and they are able to communicate with her in a way that they would not with most adults. Dr. Tulsi makes no demands and has no expectations. She is sweet, accepting, and friendly, which helps a lot to dispel any social difficulties.

From frustration to excellence

One boy that Mrs. S. Niraja tells me about, was having great difficulties before he came to Saraswathi Kendra. He was always angry and had no friends. Feeling frustrated, he found it hard to get along with others. After a short time at Saraswathi Kendra and much individual attention, his teachers discovered that he had an amazing ability to design robots. He could design robots and then build them. Tested for his aptitude in that field, he showed a high level of intelligence. After six years at Saraswathi Kendra, as a young man, he is now on track to have a successful career and a fulfilling life. He has many friends, and his smiles have replaced frowns.

In India, schools are not free and are not paid for by the government. In order to operate, the school must charge fees. At Saraswathi Kendra, many of the parents are able to pay for their children’s education, but some are not, and their children’s education is paid for by the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, which runs the school. All the children – paying or non-paying – are treated exactly the same, and no one, except the administration, knows which child is paying and which is not.

Every student is given a bright chance in life and a way to excel – according to their own special gifts and abilities.

During the pandemic, a program of virtual instruction has been developed and is being used throughout the rest of this year and beyond if it is needed. There are some challenges, of course, but it is working well. The students are making progress and look forward to going back to their classes as soon as it is safe to do so.

By Sharon St Joan
Forest Voices of India

© Forest Voices of India, 2020

Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.

How you can help

The CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation operates several schools, including the Saraswathi Kendra Learning Centre for students with learning disabilities.

As well as running excellent schools, the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation conducts a great many other programs. A few of these are
– nature outings and ecological studies for high school students,
– joint projects to restore small forests,
– bazaars and training sessions to empower women to start their own businesses,
– workshops that bring back to life the unique painting skills and other art traditions of tribal peoples.

You can help by clicking on the Donate button and choosing the CPR Foundation.

Passing this link on to a friend will be a great help too!

Many blessings and thank you so much!

Five miles south of the city Tiruvannamalai, which lies southwest of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, can be found the forest grove of Pavupattu. An oasis of peace and beautiful trees, it was the first of 53 sacred forest groves restored by CPREEC (CPR Environmental Education Centre).
Thirty years ago, the grove came to the attention of Dr. Nanditha Krishna, Director of CPREEC; she and one of CPREEC’S officers, Mr. Selvapandiyan, went to visit the grove and found it very rundown. Over the course of many months, Mr. Selvapandiyan, who was the manager of the restoration project, spent his time first interviewing local elders in the nearby village of Pavupattu, to determine which were the trees that had once grown naturally in the grove. Then he set about doing the work of restoration.

Mr. Selvapandiyan recalls that at the time, there was a severe drought in the area, which meant that there was no water available. They had to bring in water from outside in trucks, to use for planting all the trees and also as drinking water for the work crews. It was very hot work in the warm months of southern India.

All the trees that can be seen now planted on the acres of the grove, are green and wonderfully healthy. Just a few of the larger trees had existed earlier. In the thirty years since Pavupattu was restored, the people of the nearby village of the same name have faithfully taken care of the grove. It is clean and well-kept, with no trash or litter, a lovely, serene place, home to a few dozen resident monkeys – and to the huge votive statues that the people have had made to offer to the deities of the grove. There are small temple structures, and standing on platforms, or sometimes grinning from behind trees, are the remarkable folk statues, especially of huge white horses, and sometimes the figures of guardian spirits in human form – all constructed of painted terracotta, one of the unique folk arts of Tamil Nadu.

Throughout India, there are forest groves – in the hundreds of thousands, though sadly, the majority have fallen into disrepair over the centuries. Some have disappeared entirely, swallowed up into shopping malls or other developed land, or perhaps simply lying idle, as waste land, occasionally visited by a few devotees who worship the remnants of a sacred site. A few have been maintained over hundreds or thousands of years.

These are the original spiritual sites of the local people of India. They are groves of trees because the trees themselves are believed to be especially sacred, and the people see them as home to the guardian spirits and the deities who live on the sacred land among the trees. Wherever the groves have been preserved intact, it is entirely due to the devotion and tenacity of the local village people, who have protected their groves against all the onslaughts of modern development.

In the past, every Indian village had a forest grove, which was the heart of the spiritual life of the people. The trees could never be cut down, the animals and birds could not be disturbed. Sometimes it was even forbidden to gather dead fallen branches for firewood. The land was sacred and could not be used for mundane purposes. Where they still exist, the forest groves are wonderful repositories of the animals, birds, and plant life of the area. Some species can now only be found in the forest groves.

CPREEC, with each of the 53 groves they have restored, has taken great pains to study the area and to learn from the local people the exact species of trees that used to grow there so that they can be replanted, restoring the grove precisely to its original state. CPREEC provides the funding for the work and carries out the project, hiring local people to do the work. After three years of renovation and support by CPREEC, each grove is turned over to the village, and the local people undertake to preserve and maintain the forest grove which has traditionally always been theirs.

Preserving and restoring these beautiful and peaceful places of greenery and sacred trees, habitat for many kinds of birds and wildlife, is profoundly significant – first of all, for that grove and for the plants and animals who live within the grove and the people who live nearby. And, on another level, what could be more important than restoring and maintaining a small part of the planet earth? Each grove stands like a shining beacon, a reminder of the beauty, grace, and living nature of the earth and all her children.

© Forest Voices of India, 2020

 

Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.

How you can help

The CPR Environmental Education Centre
(CPREEC)
in Chennai, India

– Safeguards water

– Revives tribal arts

– Runs ecological study projects for students

– Restores forest groves – planting trees, improving water sources, and providing places of peace and joy for both wildlife and village people.

To help, click on Donate and choose CPR Environmental Education Centre.

Sending this link to a friend is another great way to help.

Bless you for caring!

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Forest Voices of India conducts charitable fundraising services that relate to promoting awareness of tree and environmental conservation and promoting research, education and other activities relating to the environment.

When the kind people in the village of Kokkrebelluru in south India took a look at the two fledgling young birds who had fallen from their home in the trees, they knew right away that serious help was needed. It wasn’t going to be enough to just feed them and take care of them until they recovered. The right wing of each of the little birds was drooping, had broken in their fall, and just wasn’t going to get better by itself.

Soon they were able to organize a car to take the fledglings on the two-hour drive to the Bannerghatta Rehabilitation Centre, the WRRC, near Bangalore, for some expert veterinary care.

When they arrived, the little ones were looking tired and not too well. Falling from one’s home is traumatic – after all, it is losing one’s home and one’s family, plus sustaining an injury. And the road during parts of the drive was a bit bumpy too.

One of the spot-billed pelicans was a bit bigger than the other and had fallen earlier, he weighed 10 pounds (5 kilos). The smaller one weighed 6 pounds (2.89 kilos). Dr. Roopa Satish gave them pain killers, antibiotics, and fluids to rehydrate them, along with some antibiotics and anti-parasite treatment. Their wings were bandaged so that they would heal in the correct position.

Looking a bit brighter

By the next morning, they looked quite a lot brighter and were able to hold their heads up and look around. At first they were handfed, then after a week when they were a bit stronger, they began to eat on their own. Thanks to the doctor’s expertise, the kindness of their rescuers, and the excellent care given by the WRRC caregivers, they were soon full of energy again. They enjoyed their stay at WRRC where they gained a lot of strength and had time for their wings to heal.

They were in a big aviary, but it wasn’t quite big enough to practice flying, since pelicans are huge birds. After three weeks, their wings were unwrapped, and they began to use them again – at first just running and flapping. Day by day, they grew stronger, but they needed a place big enough to regain their full flying strength.

Getting ready for life back in the wild

It’s really essential that birds being rehabilitated be able to get enough exercise to fly perfectly. Life in the wild can be tough; flying requires a huge level of energy, and a bird has to be in perfect shape to be able to find food, escape predators, and be able to migrate. Because spot-billed pelicans are very large birds, the very best way for these two birds to get the exercise needed would be for them to go back to Kokkrebelluru village. There they’d be among other pelicans and would have room to stretch their wings, gain strength, and fly up into trees.

Kokkrebelluru isn’t just any village; it’s a very special village, in the Indian state of Karnataka, where the people have a remarkable affinity for the birds. The village is known for many miles around for the special relationship that the people have with the both storks and pelicans. The people care for them, make sure they are safe, and even sing songs to them to welcome them back after their migration.

So, the two fledgling pelicans were given a ride back to Kokkrebelluru to rejoin their flock and to spend some time gaining very strong flight skills. Thanks to expert care, they’ll be able to spend their lives in freedom back in the wild again.

The WRRC is licensed to rehabilitate wild birds and other wildlife. Whatever country you live in, if you should ever come across an injured or orphaned wild bird, you can get help for the bird by contacting a center that does wildlife rehabilitation; they will know how to care for the bird.

© Forest Voices of India, 2020

Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.

WRRC – The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre,
Bangalore, India
– is licensed to treat and release back to the wild – birds, deer, monkeys, and other orphaned or injured wildlife.
– provides education and greater understanding that benefits forests, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.

How you can help

Click on the donate button and choose WRRC. Another great way to help is to send this link to a friend.
Bless you! Thank you for helping our wild friends!

Photo credits:

These two photos are different spot-billed pelicans in India, not the same birds as those that were rehabilitated at WRRC.

First photo:Photo 177523154 © Wirestock | Dreamstime.com

Second photo:Photo 139463471 © Venkatajalandar A S | Dreamstime.com

About…

Photo by Arnie Chou from Pexels scenic-view-of-rainforest-927414-2

 

Forest Voices of India belongs to a global movement that is traveling across the earth.

 

A groundswell of people now look towards a renewal of our planet – not just in a physical sense – but also in terms of peace and justice, with a re-awakening and a re-focus on the life and well-being of all. It’s a re-focus on honoring the intrinsic beauty of the earth, remembering the art, culture and history of those who have gone before us, even in the distant past, who saw the world as one – one life to be revered and renewed – who saw in age-old teachings, in the principle of ahimsa – “do no harm,” an injunction to give life, strength and renewal to our planet and to all of us who call it home – the mountains, forests, rivers, and oceans, – the trees, the amazing birds and animals, each one a living being – and all the peoples of the earth, especially those who, traditionally, relate to the earth with kindness and gentleness, seeking her well-being – those who relinquish dominion and instead seek harmony.

 

Now is time for the earth, time for gratitude, for appreciation of the great beauty of the life of all of nature, time for restoration and reverence, time to extend a hand to others.

 

Regardless of what the future may bring and we cannot know the future, what is certain is that we can all help, in some small or large way – we can extend a helping hand “to the least of these” – not just humans who have suffered injustice, but just as importantly – the rivers and the hills, the birds who sing in the dawn. The earth has suffered, and it is time now to help when and where we can – not with a view to benefitting ourselves or our own future, but to give back to the earth, our mother, and to all her children.

 

Photo by Arnie Chou from Pexels

 

 

1024px-(A)_Valley_of_flowers,_Garhwal_Uttarakhand_India

 

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY – June 5, 2020

VIRTUAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW: CELEBRATE BIODIVERSITY

Gujarat National Law College, Gandhigram, Gujarat

 

By Nanditha Krishna

 

In 2002, the Indian Parliament enacted the Biological Diversity Act followed by the National Biodiversity Rules in 2004. The main objectives of the Act were the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. Earlier, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1973, and its 1991 Amendment provided for the protection of birds and animals, while the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, a vast improvement on the earlier Act of 1927, was intended to provide a high level of protection to the forests and to regulate diversion of forest lands for non-forestry purposes.

 

Biodiversity – or biological diversity – includes all the organisms found on our planet, the plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the different ecosystems of which they form a part. India is one of only seventeen mega diverse nations in the world, with over 85,000 out of 12,00,000 animal species in the world, and 45,000 out of 3,90,000 plant species. It is estimated that the world knows only about 17,70,000 species out of 5 to 10 million. We hardly know what we have, leave alone what we have lost.

 

Biodiversity is essential to the survival of every species, as each organism is linked to another in a fragile web of life. These form a food chain that links food producers to consumers, and maintains ecosystem diversity. The amount of green plants in any environment should be much more than the animals or insects that feed on them. Humans are only a strand in this delicate web of relationships. Every living creature is a part of a food chain. There are several food chains which, depending on the environment, could be simple or complex. But all food chains are fragile, and if even one link is broken, it sets off a series of reactions that could cause the collapse of the ecosystem. If predators are killed, the herbivores will multiply and eat up green plants and grains, leaving the land barren and unproductive. This is how a biologically-rich region like North Africa became the Sahara Desert. What would happen to public health if scavenger birds like the vulture were wiped out? Every species has its role, making species diversity essential.

 

Loss of biodiversity impacts immediately. There is the example of the genetic similarity of Brazil’s orange trees causing a terrible outbreak of citrus canker in 1991. The rapid deterioration of the ecology due to human interference is aiding the rapid disappearance of several wild plant and animal species.

 

Biodiversity is under serious threat in India for several reasons. Poaching and the wildlife trade are major national concerns, and all the international laws in the world have not been able to stop it. Habitat loss, caused by population growth and housing needs; pollution from sewage and effluents; the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers which is wiping out entire insect species on which are dependant birds that pollinate our plants; encroachment, siltation and eutrophication that are destroying wetlands; oil spills, toxic effluents and sewage, blasting and dredging, collection of ornamental fish, trawler fishing, nylon nets, destruction of coral reefs and hot water from nuclear plants which are destroying marine life; chemical pesticides, sewage and other organic wastes and sand mining that are destroying rivers; forests which are cut down for timber and urban use; mining of minerals and so on. There is no natural resource that is not under threat, leading to biodiversity loss.

 

As natural resources are depleted, there is less to go around, less to share. Economic, social and political problems are a natural corollary. Water, the most important natural resource which comes from hills and forests, is a source of discord today.

 

Loss of biodiversity is a threat to civilization, second only to thermo-nuclear war in its severity. The consequences could be quite incalculable. Other environmental problems like pollution, global warming and ozone depletion could be overcome, but not the erosion of biodiversity or extinction of species. Species once lost cannot be brought back.

 

The current Covid 19 pandemic, which has emerged from the wet animal markets of Wuhan, China, is the result of human interference with nature, the destruction of the intricate web of life and the loss of biodiversity. The virus always existed. Its predator is missing. Habitat destruction, air and water pollution, indiscriminate poaching and killing of wildlife, intensive farming of animals and the disappearing green cover have combined to cause global warming, climate change and now this destructive pandemic.

 

In this lockdown, people are celebrating the return of avian and terrestrial wildlife, or birds and animals in cities and in the countryside. Air and water pollution have decreased, while the North Pole’s largest-ever Ozone hole has finally closed. What humans could not achieve despite spending millions of dollars or rupees, Nature has achieved – a rejuvenation of planet earth. Humans are a very small part of the web of life, but cause the greatest damage. Celebrating biodiversity is celebrating Mother Earth.

 

I would like to end with a hymn to the tree and the forest from the Rig Veda (IX 5.10.):

The cosmos is a tree with a thousand branches…

The tree is the lord of the forest…

Which is a symbol of life that is self-regenerating and immortal…

 

And a Hymn to the Earth from the Atharva Veda’s Bhoomi Sukta (XII.I.26, 28):

Earth, my mother, set me securely with bliss…

The earth, which possesses oceans, rivers and other sources of water;

Which gives us land to produce food grains on which human beings depend for their survival;

May it grant us all our needs for eating and drinking: water, cereals and fruit.

Let us celebrate biodiversity by making time and space for nature, by remembering that the earth was made for animals and plants too. Ahimsa is non-violence in thought word and action, and non-violence to all creation would be the best celebration of biodiversity.

 

June 5, 2020 global online broadcast, World Environment Day, 2020:

https://www.wedonthavetime.org/events/worldenvironmentday

 

Hinduism and Nature, one of Dr. Nanditha Krishna’s recent books, can be found at

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0798KX6F3/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

Photo Credit:

Alosh Bennett / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Valley of flowers, Garhwal, Uttarakhand, India.

 

 

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Six months ago when they first arrived, the four birds looked bedraggled and had many missing feathers.

 

The four peafowl had been rescued from a farm and brought to the WRRC by a kind Forest Officer.

 

Among beautiful hills in south India, Byrakuru Village is part of the town of Mulbagal, the most eastern town in the state of Karnataka. There, the Range Forest Officer of the Karnataka Forest Department came across the four adult peafowl on a farm. They were being kept illegally, eventually to use for meat. In the meantime, their spectacular, beautiful feathers were being plucked out for use in decorations.

 

The Range Forest Officer drove for a couple of hours to bring them all the way to the WRRC, the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, near Bangalore, beside the Bannerghatta Forest.

 

In India, of course, peafowl are native wild birds – not meant to be kept in captivity or on farms. They ought to be living free, happy lives in the wild. Instead, these four birds arrived greatly in need of some special care and rehabilitation. In the beginning, they could barely fly at all, and, to make matters worse, they’d become habituated to people and were way too tame to be releasable. If they were released before they were ready, they might be captured again by people, or become prey for wild animals.

 

Fortunately, they were brought to just the right place and they’re in very capable hands. At the WRRC, which is licensed to rehabilitate wildlife, they are given the excellent care that they need to be able to fly free once again.

 

They have been placed in a large aviary together, where there’s lots of space. With plenty of room for exercise, they’re regaining their strength and growing back their flight feathers. At the same time, being kept away from people will make them shy, elusive and wild again. This is achieved by not interacting with them at all and keeping visitors away.

 

Every evening, though, they do receive amazing wild visitors — wild peafowl from the adjoining forest drop by to say hello, and they can watch each other, though separated by the enclosure. Naturally, these visits from their wild friends greatly help the peafowl to be wilder and to once again see themselves as wild birds.

 

more cropped peafowl.jpg

 

They are fed a good, healthy diet – a wide variety of seeds, fruits, vegetables and insects to acclimatize them to the food sources that will be available to them in the forest. Day by day, they are growing less and less dependent on human beings.

 

After six months at the WRRC, their flight feathers have grown in well, and their flight has greatly improved. However, they are still curious about people and don’t shy away from visitors. Hence, some more rehabilitation time is required. They still have a way to go before they’re wild enough to be released.

 

But that time will come. Soon, they’ll be back in the wild where they’ll join their new-found friends – once again to fly wild and free and live in the beautiful forest where they belong.

 

Photos: WRRC

 

WRRC – The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre,
Bangalore, India

– is licensed to treat and release back to the wild – birds, deer, monkeys, and other orphaned or injured wildlife.

– provides education and greater understanding that benefits forests, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.

How you can help

Click on the donate button and choose WRRC. Another great way to help is to send this link to a friend.

Bless you! Thank you for helping our wild friends!