Wildbuzz:A ban on dawn’s dew | punjab$regional-takes | Hindustan Times
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Wildbuzz:A ban on dawn’s dew

Dawn unfolds, receding star by receding star. Simar Onkar ambles down the Nature Trail at the Sukhna Lake Reserve Forest for his daily morning exercise.

punjab Updated: Nov 29, 2015 08:48 IST
The board displaying Do’s allows free clicking of photos
The board displaying Do’s allows free clicking of photos(PHOTO: SIMAR ONKAR)

Dawn unfolds, receding star by receding star. Simar Onkar ambles down the Nature Trail at the Sukhna Lake Reserve Forest for his daily morning exercise. He revels in clicking nature’s photos with his iPhone and then uploading these on social media with apt verses from diverse poetic sources to regale his cyber-mates with a ‘good morning’. Imagine then his consternation when a police constable accosted him one fine morning earlier this month, forbade him from clicking photos and directed him to first seek permission from no less a lordship’s bastion than the deputy commissioner’s office!

Onkar, who likes to remain on the very safe side of the law, then applied twice for permissions to indulge in photography at not only the reserve forest but the butterfly/peacock parks and botanical gardens, too. The applications were duly entertained by the office of the deputy conservator, forests and wildlife department, Birendra Choudhary, where they lie pending; the first one moved on November 19.

The application for permission to photograph flies in the face of the department’s two boards placed regally at the entrance to the trail from the Lake Club side. One board of ‘do’s’ informs visitors to “Feel free to shoot snaps with camera’’. There is no mention of visitors being required to seek photography permission prior to entry. Neither is there any pressing logic for visitors armed with a cellphone camera at the very least to undertake the rigours of applying for petty permissions.

Choudhary did not respond to calls or an email from this writer seeking clarification on the permissions issue. It was left to chief conservator, Santosh Kumar, to clarify and pre-empt the looming citizen confusion and babudom absurdities with the terse statement: “No permission is required for photography’’.

UPROAR OF BABBLERS

The mongoose bears a relieved look after defecating on the doormat! (PHOTO: VIKRAM JIT SINGH)

We have an Indian Grey mongoose as an unfettered tenant in our garden. It is one of the three pups brought up in a hole dug in our bed of chrysanthemums. Our ‘maali’, enraged by the digging, nearly blocked it but we were able to dissuade him. Much to my wife’s annoyance, the fellow also routinely digs up beds of budding winter blooms. The mongoose just loves to crap on our doormat, roll and rub himself all over, and then coolly sunbathe on it!

This mongoose species is Chandigarh’s State Animal. The presence of a mongoose does not necessarily mean there are snakes in the vicinity. It is a generalist omnivore, possessed with a sharp colour vision and has adapted well to urbane eco-systems. The slightest sound or movement does not escape the mongoose, whose confidence grows by the day.

Jungle babblers, who don’t spare a juicy insect or worm, are the most offended of our other tenants. They can’t stand the mongoose running amok under their very beaks, perhaps sensing an insect-like fate if the mongoose’s sharp teeth get to one of them. The other day it ambushed a squirrel after stealing around the shrubbery like a stealthy snake and was hounded to the garage by the babblers. It promptly dived underneath storage boxes to relish its meal.

If you can imagine ‘experienced’ ladies catching red-handed a voluptuous belle of their ‘mohalla’ in a compromising position with her lower caste beau, and the subsequent hurling of all manner of pious abuses, copious strictures from the scriptures, and hardy ‘jutis’, you would have some idea of an expression of self-righteous indignation and uproar of babblers on a quiet, hazy-lazy winter afternoon.

A RIFLE’S PILGRIMAGE

One of the most iconic sporting firearms of all time, Jim Corbett’s .275 Mauser boltaction rifle by John Rigby & Co of London, is destined to embark on a pilgrimage of the spots in India where it once brought down maneaters, including the Rudraprayag leopard, the slayer of 125 humans. Corbett shot the leopard at night on May 2, 1926, using a flashlight tied to his Rigby. After Corbett bade a farewell to arms, he had donated the Rigby to his publishers, Oxford University Press, and the rifle after a long journey of changing hands has ultimately come back to its parental home, the Rigby showroom at Pensbury Place, London. The world’s third oldest gunmakers, Rigby, have raised funds for the Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand, by auctioning across the globe 100 special, leatherbound sets of five Corbett books.

Rigby spokesperson Simon K Barr told this writer: “We are currently arranging a tour in April 2016 for the managing director of Rigby, Marc Newton, and myself to present the donation to the park in person. We are planning on bringing the rifle to India and taking it to some of the places mentioned in the books as a pilgrimage... to promote the good work Corbett did and what a great legacy has been left in the park. A donation of at least `13 lakh will be donated by Rigby.’’

Corbett tackled his first man-eater (Champawat), which killed a record 436 humans, with a shotgun and a Jones-action .500 modified cordite double-barrel rifle. He was then presented with a .275 Rigby (Serial Number 2,516) weighing 7 pounds 8 ounces, with a 25-inch barrel, and a 14 3/8 inch length of trigger pull. A silver plaque mounted in the butt stock was inscribed: ‘Presented to Mr JG Corbett by Sir JP Hewett KCSI, Lieutenant Governor of the United Provinces in recognition of his having killed a man-eating tigress at Champawat in 1907.’

Corbett had typically used a 173grain bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2,300 feet per second to slay man-eaters with his Rigby. As has been commented upon by connoisseurs of fine weapons, Rigby-Mauser rifles represented the synergistic confluence of Peter Paul Mauser’s design genius and Rigby’s gun-making brilliance.