Wildbuzz: PM kills black bucks
Two weeks back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted photographs of himself clicking a restless, caged tiger at a Chhattisgarh safari. Social media wits alluded that Modi was sending a political message that he was unafraid of tackling tigers. But cynics declared that Modi was, in fact, riding a tiger by escalating tensions with Pakistan on the LOC and the border.punjab Updated: Nov 13, 2016 12:32 IST
Two weeks back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted photographs of himself clicking a restless, caged tiger at a Chhattisgarh safari. Social media wits alluded that Modi was sending a political message that he was unafraid of tackling tigers. But cynics declared that Modi was, in fact, riding a tiger by escalating tensions with Pakistan on the LOC and the border. The domestic political constituency, ahead of the Uttar Pradesh polls, would not let the 56-inch chest Modi dismount from the tiger’s charge as the tail had been set afire by belligerent fans!
The cautious among India’s strategic thinkers felt that moving up the escalatory ladder of confrontation with Pakistan would eventually cross the latter’s nuclear red lines and call into play the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons such as Nasr and Shaheen missiles. Named after the iconic falcon of the sub-continent and revered in the poetry of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the Shaheen would swoop on the charging Indian tiger! In the ensuing nuclear
Armageddon, only cockroaches would survive, warned the prophets of doom!
Demonetisation led to another twist to the tail. Modi was patted for ‘killing crores of black bucks’, unlike Salman Khan who poached antelopes and went to prison. But the worry is that Modi’s use of high-powered weapons to kill big, bad black bucks may have winged and wounded many common doves (read common people), who were caught in the cross-fire. The doves are stranded without cash and rendered insecure with regard to the cash savings they had hoarded to make their little nests comfy. The wise crows added to the doves’ discomfiture by gossiping loudly that some of the big bucks may have escaped, having got early wind of Modi’s hunting plans!
The play of wild words laid bare the truth that time’s passage makes for strange bedfellows in geopolitics. In September, Russian troops conducted a military exercise with the Pakistan Army. Not only did the exercise imply that Russia had exorcised memories of the Pakistan-sponsored Mujahideen resistance to USSR’s invasion of Afghanisthan in the 1980s but it rattled a tested ally, India, for whom Pakistan is the proverbial bugbear. A foxy quip on Pakistan’s emerging ties with Russia went, thus, from the ‘Bear Trap’ of the 1980s to the ‘Bear Hug’ of 2016!
GLORY OF SOARING HAWKS
Nature lovers among the fraternity at the Chandigarh Golf Club enjoy a ringside view of avian migration. Flocks of migratory waterfowl in V-shaped formations soar over the greens to their headquarters at Sukhna Lake. The sharp-eyed among golfers can pick the species, especially the larger ones: Greylag and Bar-headed geese, Ruddy shelducks and Great cormorants. Avian scientists have decoded the benefits of V-shaped formations: energy conservation in channeling air resistance, as also ensuring coordination and tracking of fellow birds during the long haul it takes to cross mighty mountains and vast continents.
Fighter aircraft also benefit from the aero-dynamics arising from V-shaped formations. Last Sunday, golfers were regaled by an exotic V-shaped formation. Six Suryakiran pilots flying the Hawk Mk 132 aircraft of the IAF’s 52 Squadron (Sharks) put on a special aerobatics display over the greens just after 1pm. A detachment from the IAF’s Formation Aerobatics Team was rehearsing in the region for the November 10 ceremony at Ambala where the President’s Standards were presented to the 501 Signal Unit and the 30 Squadron (Rhinos), the latter armed with the strategic, SU-30 MKI.
Later that Sunday evening, a few golfers got to meet two pilots, Suryakiran Synchro Leader, Wing Commander Ashwin Thakare, and Team Leader, Wing Commander Ajit Kulkarni, who had dropped in for a shot at the ‘Beer and Golf Festival’ held on the club’s lawns. The pilots, hosted by the club’s honorary captain, Lt Col KS Thandi (retd), revealed scintillating videos of the aerobatics shot on their smartphones from the cockpit and shared a colourful IAF brochure on the Suryakirans. But what took the breath away was the revelation that in the tight V-shaped formation flown over the club, the distance between wing tips of flanking Hawks was just 3.5 metres!
A fine habitat for Rock pythons, which is a near-threatened species, is the scrubland jungle just behind Sukhna Lake. Specimens upwards of 15 feet have been observed here living peacefully and breeding well. Though these mighty serpents are under great threat in the non-protected jungles due to their easy visibility and the irrational fears they evoke in wood-cutters, settlers, graziers etc, the Sukhna jungles provide pythons with safety and the services of burrowing creatures like porcupines and jackals. Pythons do not dig earth themselves and lay eggs in abandoned burrows. Burrows lend a conducive ambience for egg hatching, conceal eggs from mongooses and monitor lizards, and turn into a hibernation shelter as temperature drops.
I discovered this well-concealed burrow recently while wandering through the Sukhna scrubland. Though I had seen bunches of python hatchlings in June in the area of this particular burrow, I had not been able to trace the burrow at that time. The python’s spent egg shells in the burrow’s depths were wonderful relics of reproductive vigour in one of nature’s many unvisited museums. Naturally so, because one would have to tunnel through cobweb-laced vegetation and grovel in the earth before arriving at the museum’s door..