Wildbuzz | Mighty python freed | punjab | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Wildbuzz | Mighty python freed

punjab Updated: Oct 29, 2017 15:29 IST
The python before being released at Sukhna wildlife sanctuary

The python before being released at Sukhna wildlife sanctuary(VIKRAM JIT SINGH)

Reversing the policy of caging for life wild specimens rescued from the Punjab wilderness, Chhatbir Zoo authorities released a massive Rock python in a suitable habitat at the Sukhna Wildlife sanctuary (Kansal) on Saturday afternoon. This was undertaken after clearance from the UT chief wildlife warden Santosh Kumar. The python, which measured 12 feet and weighed 35.6 kg, was rescued by a zoo team on Wednesday from Mubarikpur (Dera Bassi), near the Ghagghar river. The zoo had last month released into the wilderness a female leopard rescued from Kukanet (Hoshiarpur), the first big cat to be liberated from the zoo after years of adherence to a policy that doomed leopards to perpetual captivity.

“The python was very big and conspicuous and would have run the risk of incurring people’s anger in an open jungle area. Therefore, we felt it should be rehabilitated in a protected area having water, bushes and burrows where it can have the best chance to survive and breed in freedom,” Punjab PCCF (wildlife), Dr Kuldip Kumar told this writer. The rehabilitation at Sukhna sanctuary was supervised on the spot by zoo field director M Sudhagar and DFO (wildlife), Roopnagar, Vidya Sagari. “Under central zoo authority guidelines, a python should be released into the wilderness within three days of rescue. This is the first python rescued from outside the zoo and rehabilitated in the wilderness,” Sudhagar told this writer.

Nainsukh’s painting of a hawk hunting a shelduck, c. 1735-’40. (Photo: SIR COWASJEE JAHANGIR COLLECTION, MUMBAI)

LOTUS and THE HAWK

Of all the migratory birds that winter at the Sukhna Lake, photographers are strongly drawn to Ruddy shelducks. Their orange, brown and yellow hues are invariably loyal to eye-catching photographic endeavours. The first of the shelducks, two in number, descended at the lake on Thursday. Nearly three centuries back, Nainsukh of Guler (Kangra) rendered a mysterious painting of a shelduck downed by a fierce hawk, who brooked no resistance. Reckoned among the most original painters of the 18th century, Nainsukh had correctly identified the victim duck as a “chakva”, the persisting vernacular name for a shelduck.

In his book, ‘Nainsukh of Guler’, the eminent Chandigarh-based art historian, Prof Brijen N Goswamy, evokes the hawk’s deadly embrace of the duck at a lake edge in the painting, underlining nature’s dictum that force prevails and innocence is lost, in the end. “Having pounced upon his prey in mid-air and having forced it down in that dramatic, swift fall that hawks are celebrated for, the hunting bird is about to peck at the neck of the hapless duck, his claws firmly dug into the duck’s belly and his eager, fierce bill open for the kill. The duck is flat on its back, wings outspread, feet clawing the air, its graceful neck turned in a last, feeble gesture of resistance... Nainsukh catching alike the glory and pathos of the moment.” Turn the painting over and Prof Goswamy draws attention to the ignored inscription rendered on the back in Nainsukh’s hand.

Couched in poetic terms, the painter’s subtle sensuality is revealed in the fear the hawk strikes in the breast that he must rake as a royal right. “It (inscription) speaks of a small, powerless bird like the chakva reaching for cover under a large, lotus leaf as the hawk approaches... the state of the timid, newly-wed Nayika, the navodha, is likened to that of the little bird. Quite obviously, the painting does not literally render the scene visualised in the words, but a clear suggestion is raised,” writes Prof Goswamy.

(The author can be contacted at vjswild1@gmail.com)