Once again I feel to write and Rampur is the place which appears in my thoughts.
As you pass through this essay, find yourselves in Rampur, the sweet little Tribal Hamlet with its forest and
wildlife to cheer you, appreciate simple life of these tribal people, maybe you will desire the proximity of
wilderness that exist in tribal life. Rampur lays just 4 kms beyond Udumpur on the Utnoor road that bisects Kawal WLS as it passes through jungle.
As I sense of the bus stopping at the very point, where a Tiger carved out of Wood and painted in yellow
and black, I have reached Rampur. It is funny thing that kids and even adults sometimes believe think they
saw a live Tiger as vehicles fly pass this point.
Forest at Rampur village.
Rampur hamlet stands in close vicinity of thick forest that Kawal ever has to offer.
The beauty of Rampur is dense bush edge coming very close to huts, the simple lives of the villagers, those
great hills of Islampur Range on the southern side and the Mysampet forest on its North.
Those little huts.
As I get down from the bus in rays of early morning sun, which enlighten the bush and everything around.
I love to shout Elliah Elliah facing towards the huts from the road even before the Bus engine is roaring to
speed ahead and even the dust has failed to settle around. Soon some dogs usually respond and bark uninterruptedly near the huts.
Elliahs hut is a few paces after the little slope on right side of the road. He lives with his wife and family in one of those uncomplicated huts. Some lady, kid or a girl usually rushes to send Elliah for us, as we wait watching birds, right on the road on those tall green massive trees. Minivets, Tits, Orioles, Flycatchers are active and as day proceeds the unmistakable Kluee-wip-wip Klueee-wip-wip calls of Crested Serpent Eagle tear the air and reach all around, usually the bird seen solitary in flight but seen in pair during the mating season. Have you ever seen its Crest upright stare in the wild? If not then consider that is one of the most capturing stare of the wild.
Elliah and his wife.
I have even gone Rampur just for the sake of fun and spend time at his hut with Akhil. On one such visit apart for Bird watching we saw the drama of a Frog caught in a Checkered Keelback’s mouth. The snake tried to gulp the frog for at least half an hour before it gave up. We heard the subtle shout of this frog in the dry fields, as we were birding and taking snaps of butterflies. That day Snake got something to eat or not I know not, but our Elliah cooked chicken and rice for us as we relaxed in the wooden charpoys near his hut.
A Frog in Checkered Keel Backs mouth. The tribal huts may number around twenty five in this hamlet.
Most lie on the left of the road and some on the right. There are few clearings which serve as agricultural
plots, seen lush green after rains, mostly with BT Cotton as crop and maize at times. Goats and cattle are
also seen around huts.
Recording the Migratory cattle.
Migratory cattle have been a regular problem here. As herders settle in small makeshift clearings with cattle
or goats and sometimes even both to destruct the forest around. Well Elliah as others there is a poor a Nayakpod tribal. I love his smile. He is lean tall person with dark complexion, clad in white dhoti and a shirt. Being a tracker he visits around and gives an account of Wildlife activity which we record.
I have gone trekking on numerous occasions all around Birsaipet Range with this guy. Although in his
fifties he is very silent on trails. He picks a Tiger trail or warns about a wild dog pug impression and traces
a Nilgai or Sambar’s din or clamor and shows animal to us without mistake. He is credited for helping us out of forest several times before black night arrives using short cuts during census and other critical trails. Generally very shy and silent unless you foul the way on a trial, he says something or if he finds something of Wildlife which might interests you. Those yellow teeth seen on occasion if his mood is cheerful grow into bursting laughs as well!
To witness, just go along with him on a forest trail. Once on a census evening in summer on trail to Uggimamudi I got a Tiger pug impression after concentrating along a trail for six kilometers. We put plaster of paris in the pug impression and went ahead to check a check-dam still three kilometer ahead, on the way back it was dark, to our dismay we found the plaster didn’t dry. I took Elliahs match stick, assembled some dry fallen leaves on back of cast and burnt them. Elliah suddenly realized the trick and laughed and laughed as he being dark was less seen and his teeth glittered in the available moonlight.
Tigers still exist and have always existed in forest around this village; the relocation of such villages as I
have said earlier can breathe life into Kawals forest. Well what I all have experienced wandering in forest with him is beyond this small essay. And how indebted we are to these poor tribal trackers is worth even greater than gold.
Kawal is usually a empty forest and we move long distances without discovering wildlife, but usually after
walking or driving far interior woods you are rewarded with sightings, which give a immense pleasure, like
a delayed fish gives joy to an patient angler, and embed as a memory for you. Wildlife by nature avoids humans and forgetting this we have left few places even in forest for them to peacefully exist!
I know unlike my other essay this portrays more on Rampur and Elliah, it is a deliberate attempt to acknowledge the kind service of Elliah and other such tribals, whose service has helped foundations of
great conservation battles across India.
I treasure Rampur equally as a forest, maybe because of less obliteration around it and some indescribable
beauty this hamlet possesses, which you need to reach there to fully appreciate.
Text and Photographs,