Kawal: In the Rain.
“Forests have forever fascinated me and wilderness has intrigued my curiosity. But experiencing Kawal transform in rains has always been a special experience”.
In this trip we witnessed the nature’s transformation in full rage. Green shades were all around, with insects buzzing, frogs croaking and also birds feasting on grubs. Larvae were seen transform into butterflies and lot’s more.
We loaded our Jeep with minimum rations of rice and dal and went to Gangapur in Kadem Range. As we drove on the road from Jannaram towards utnoor, butterflies in hundreds were seen migrating towards south.
A Langur’s Skull.
Our stay was planned in an old antique building which is now used as base camp of 8 forest guards. After cooking and eating dal, boiled eggs and rice we started to explore forest around Gangapur. Gaurs had come very close to us we heard them yet thickness of bush in hills made sighting impossible.
Giridhar, Vasal Ramesh, Gangaram, Shakar and Chendu were my accomplice. Next morning we drove to Morripeta and had trekked along Cheekman River to Palaragodi. We eat bread and jam near Cheekman River which has some flow going thanks to recent rains.
Grey Headed Fishing Eagle took wing overhead and we trekked all along the river. The fruit bearing Jamun trees were found,the water plants were multiplying in pools along with plankton. Small fishes and tadpoles swelled in these water pools.
On the rivers left was Wasepalli Forest of Pembi. The villagers at Palaragodi were pleasant and welcomed us, the Patel offered black tea. Later our dal and rice was cooked there. They asked us why they were not getting rains? to which I replied because you have lost all Tigers! They didn’t understand then we explained how destructing forest and wildlife can induce climate changes affecting rains.
They lost faith for any compensations from Forest Department for Cattle Killed by carnivores. They have been doing and are bound to poison carcasses! It is shameful that we continue to lose carnivores to this evil practice.
On our way back we trekked through forest which was easier compare to walking in River bed.
Bronze backed Snake.
On reaching jannaram we got information of a cow killed by a Leopard. Next morning we found it difficult to trace exact point but with help of GPS we reached the exact point. Nothing much was left a skull lay there with few shreds of torn body lie around.
I spoke to local beat officer and asked him to complete the report and panchnama, Later DFO assured me payment will be made soon. DFO also agrees that compensation cannot be delayed, he wants to put more posters for awareness in Kawal and around neighboring hamlets where cattle might get killed by carnivores.
On one evening of my trip Shankar and I took the newly appointed trackers to forests beyond canal near malial. We did little birding, Pied Cuckoos, Falmeback Woodpeckers, Mynas were commonly seen.
Importantly we discussed in length about how to go about wildlife tracking, anti poaching, forming informers inside villages for curbing local hunts and vigilance, their queries were answered too. We got to see Barking deer and Peafowls on our drive back.
Eggs and Mating Frogs.
Also I happen to spend some time in Kalpakunta on my last day, it was mystical in the morning mist.
The hills were covered in mist, the frogs made so much croaking that we couldn’t talk.
A Seprent Eagle was indolently moving on a distant branch of a high tree. A pair of Wolly necked storks sat on huge tree next to us. I drove little further spend some time beyond Rampur to call it a day!
In this trip it was heartening to see Chendu and Giridhar collecting data and monitoring the activities of trackers. They will need more support, volunteering and help from us in coming months. It was a very pleasing trip and I am inclined for spending more time in Kawal pretty soon!
Text & Photos by Asif Siddiqui