MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
If one picks up the trail of litter and vandalisation of migratory bird placards/posters put up by the Forests and Wildlife department at the Sukhna lake’s Bird Walk, the spoor is unmistakably that of educated, well-to-do youths. These are not unlettered hooligans, so impoverished by poverty as to be entirely relieved of moral and civilised sensibilities.
Look at the branded litter that lies strewn at the walk: Carlsberg beer cans, Kinley mineral water bottles, Nestle chocolate wrappers, umpteen chips’ packets, etc. A fire lit next to the haven for birds revealed that the colour supplements of a leading English daily were used to fan and fuel it to a suitable warmth. Last winter, when the department put up a spotting scope for watching migratory birds, young boys and girls wreaked havoc. The obscene graffiti these youths imprinted on bird posters with sketch pens revealed acquired skills of handwriting, grammar and diction!
“Our posters of migratory birds such as the bar-headed goose and ruddy shelduck, etc. were torn and gaping holes punched through. Boys wrote sentences in English with the most obscene or suggestive content and also made dirty drawings on the posters. Such acts were carried out when we would go for lunch,” informs Kulbeer Singh Gill, a department official. Ultimately, officials had to maintain a closer watch on the posters than on visiting birds.
What has compounded matters this winter is that cops cannot patrol the walk in their golf carts as the breach near the regulator-end ‘bundh’ has not been bridged properly by the engineering department. That has left the walk open to the most odious outpourings of youthful exuberance by our ‘educated’ lot.
The neelgai or Blue bull is the biggest of Asian antelope species and a voracious feeder on crops. Residents of Panchkula’s Sector 25, that lies across the Ghaghar river and is flanked by jungles, were taken by surprise when along with the normal retinue of stray dogs, cattle, cats, etc. a male neelgai was seen rummaging in an open dustbin late in the night. Travelers on the road from Nada Saheb gurdwara, past the Morni T-point and towards Sector 25 would also have occasionally noticed a female neelgai feeding on garbage and pious offerings put out for monkeys by the roadside. Two months back, a rat snake was rescued from a dustbin outside a house in the same sector.
An assured supply of uncovered garbage turns wild animals into habitual feeders. A few sambars at the nearby Shivalik Golf Club, Chandimandir, punctually visit the garbage dump next to the clubhouse. Once there, the sambars feed like cattle and turn unmindful of human presence.
Wild animals do harbour a tendency to go for ‘easy food’, not to mention its ‘novel and tasty lure’ and the attendant hazards of swallowing plastic bags etc. The belief that animals are driven to search for food around human settlements because of habitat disturbance may not always hold good.ANTI-SUN UPRISING
Photographers delight in silhouetting wildlife and people against a setting sun. Popular subjects are camels or the silken grace of gorgeously-attired women in the Thar Desert. Black bucks profiled in the grasslands or wetland birds making haste for tree roosts are also favoured by the roving lens. It was, therefore, nothing short of novelty to savour Rahul Verma’s image of ants marching against the ‘dying’ cosmic orb.
Verma is an employee of the department of posts. He does not use sophisticated DSLRs and lenses worth lakhs of rupees but an ordinary point-and-shoot camera. His images may not be of high technical quality but they are different, imbibed with some action and embedded with the hint of a deeper story. In March, one of his frames of a forlorn Rose-ringed parakeet peering through the iron bars of a cage — suggestive of an inmate on prolonged death row — was selected by National Geographic for its online picture galleries.
I asked Verma how the magic of his lens had come to lend a relevance to the inconsequential ants and made them stand up to the mighty sun. Says Verma, “I was relishing an Amul chocobar in my hometown in Jalandhar. I put the chocobar stick down after finishing the icecream and noticed three ants crawling over it. I held the stick in my hand against the setting sun and clicked. Later, I cropped my hand from the image to give it the desired finish.” And voila!