Nature

All posts in the Nature category

The Call Of The Peacock…

Published July 13, 2015 by vishalvkale



I was initially not going to pen a blog on Wildlife Conservation, despite receiving a notification from Saevus Wildlife India; the reason : any article on so important and yet excusive a topic as this one has to come from the heart for it to be even remotely effective. I was not feeling the inspiration, the reason for the post; without that inspiration – no point in even participating, and being ineffectual. I had no wish to degrade the stellar efforts of conservationists by penning something uninspirational… and then… suddenly, from the deep recesses of my mind echoed a memory, a memory that will remain with me for as long as I live… the distinctive and unforgettably plaintive “kaiyon, kaiyon”… The Call Of The Peacock…
Birds I have heard aplenty; from the bulbul to the sparrow; but the call of the peacock… that is special; very, very special to me as an individual.  I lived for a full 4 years among a dozen, maybe more, free peacocks; they would strut around on the parapet of my rather large balcony, or play and strut around in the mango groves surrounding my residence… and every single day I would be treated to the fabulous and awesome call of the peacock. I tried listening to it on a youtube video – and you know something? No comparison; you have to feel, hear and experience The Call Of The Peacock, a free-spirited and free peacock, to truly appreciate the wonder of the Call Of The Peacock…

And then, I noticed that the Peacock is endangered {low risk}… and I recalled the memory of the only time in all those years I saw a peacock dancing and displaying its lovely beauty; a video is no comparison… I cannot explain it; the magic of the opportune moment as I was walking home from School, and chanced upon the peacock cannot be forgotten… Oh, for seeing that beauty and purity in the wild and free once again… just once more…  and there it was : my inspiration for this post… which is why I call this article, “The Call Of The Peacock”!

Indian Peacock,Ranthambhore National Park,Rajasthan
I can give any number of reasons for the peacock’s importance : from Religion to Culture, but I wont. If I state religion, then it means that we conserve only the limited organisms that have religious relevance as it is commonly understood. Separate matter that Sanaatan Dharm specifically teaches conservation and protection of all beings. Similar is the case for culture; but to me, the biggest reason : if these living beings, God’s lovely creations, were to vanish, we would be missing something truly wondrous, lovely and fantabulous.

Just think of a world where the only place you can hear The Call Of The Peacock is a youtube video… sad, a very sad place indeed! It is an experience, as the plaintive call echoes across the homes, woods and the environment, leaving in its wake a momentary vacancy, a hanging tantalizing moment of sheer silence… of, for listening to that “Kaiyoooo—n!” once more in the wild, as I did in Gwalior, the campus of my Aunts’ College… and for the period once again, when the peacock would strut around everywhere, fearless and confident that it is safe…

MOVING ON…
Conservation of wildlife isn’t just about the lions and the tigers of this world; everything is connected. Scientifically speaking we need to conserve for the perfectly selfish reason that for us to survive, we need to keep the ecological balance; you might say, what’s one more species when so many thousands have vanished? True, perfectly true. Just one thing : please identify that one single species, and the place where we stop. It will always be, what’s one species more or less? Until that fateful day when we will all remember that lovely Agatha Christie Novel :  And Then There Were None…

Not all of you will identify with scientific reasons; not all of you will identify with the peacock; you have to have lived that experience to understand the pull of the dance, and sheer power of The Call Of The Peacock. But all of us would have had some memorable interaction with nature : even if it is in your morning walk. Even if it is with the lumbering Elephant, the image of The Lord Ganesh… or even the Scary Cobra {To us, the Cobra is the Naag – which we worship on Nagpanchami}. Pray tell, what use is a Nagpanchami prayer if there are no Naags around? Is that anyway to show respect for the very image of whom we worship?

I hate to take recourse to Religion, but all adherents of Sanaatan Dharm are requested to recall whom we worship. Most, if not all, Gods we worship explicitly include associations with Animals or Birds, from the Mooshak of Lord Ganesh, to even the Peacock, who is associated with Goddess Laxmi if I am not wrong. And if we are not doing anything to protect them – or doing our utmost to not cause any further damage, or even try and maintain and improve the situation within practical bounds, what does that say of us as a people?

But I digress; let me not take recourse to religious imagery exclusively. Think of the wonder of The Blackbuck – and those sweeping horns and elegant horns; if you have seen that sight; if you have been lucky enough to spot the beauty of the Blackbuck in the freedom of a national park, you are a lucky person. The Blackbuck does not have any brute strength – but just as The Peacock symbolizes beauty and purity, to my eyes The Blackbuck symbolizes sheer elegance, grace, demeanor and speed. The elegance of the Blackbuck  can teach us how to live, and that we don’t need brute power – but rather, we should be having Grace, Elegance, Demeanor and Blinding Speed of reaction…

Blackbuck,Velavadar National Park,Gujarat
Again, that is a sight to be experienced, not in a zoo, not in a video – but live. You have to feel that confidence, that grace and let it percolate into your being; you have to let yourself go into the moment, dissolve into your environ and your surroundings, and live that moment… let it become a cherished memory; you have to love that moment, and if you do, if you can let yourself go and immerse yourself – you will get a treasure trove of fabulous memories, and a lifetime’s worth of practical lessons, all just from watching the grace of the Blackbuck… or listening to The Call Of The Peacock…
Asiatic Elephant,Rajiv Gandhi National Park(Nagarhole),Karnataka

Or indeed, the immovable and staid movement of The Elephant. If the Peacock can teach us purity and beauty, if the blackbuck can teach us grace, speed and elegance – The Elephant can teach us to be staid and immovable; permanent – just as our land and our history. In each Indian City I have lived in – The Elephant has been a permanent visitor, and I have spotted Elephants in each city. Sadly, I am yet to experience the Elephant in the wild, as a free spirit; unlike the Blackbuck and The Peacock, both of which I have been extremely lucky to have experienced.

But The Asiatic Elephant, to call it by its right name? Never. Not even once; the only memories I hold of it is the captive animal, in chains, or as a tamed animal – not a free spirit, not a wild and roaming huge creature of the environment; the juxtaposition of the two free experiences –  Peacock and Blackbuck, as compared to The Elephant in its captivity holds a big lesson for me. But more pertinent, if there are no Elephants, it wont make a difference to us – {what’s one more, isn’t it?} – but it will take some small bit of the uniqueness out of our cities, and some small part of the charm out of our nation…

One  – The Blackbuck, from The Wild; one – The Peacock, which has lived among humans for years, just requiring a wooded area for the sustenance of the birds; and one-  a captive, yet which adds infinite charm to our cities. Three examples, from three experiences from three divergent walks of life. If these weren’t there, there would not be much of a material difference to me immediately; but somewhere, somehow, my life would have had  a lot less  charm in it, and some memories, cherished memories would not have taken place…  good enough reason for me to start caring a whole lot more for the environment, and the endangered species. I want my son to have the same experiences and joys that I did as a growing child…

Sad part is, in the modern concrete jungle, these experiences have now all but vanished, like…
The Call Of The Peacock…


 I am participating in the Save the Species contest for the book “Capturing Wildlife Moments in India” in association with Saevus Wildlife India,  read the reviews for the book ‘Capturing Wildlife Moments in India’ here

Advertisements

Book Review : Capturing Wildlife Moments In India

Published May 15, 2015 by vishalvkale

“Capturing Wildlife Moments In India” : The title, for this once, doesn’t say it all; in fact, it doesn’t suit the book. Reading just the title, one would think that the book is a set of photographs, a set of images to be leaved through…nothing could be farther from the truth, for in your hands is an experience, a lifestyle and a trigger for your desires and your imagination… welcome to one of the most captivating and invigoratingly refreshing reads I have encountered in a long time; welcome to the lanes of my memory, my unfulfilled desires and my views on this one of a kind book!
PNG Image

THE AUTHOR {From the book}
Ashok Mahindra is a Chartered Accountant who qualified from England and Wales and from India. He retired as Co-Chairman of Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, and as Senior Partner of A.F. Ferguson & Co. in 2008, after a career of 39 years. Ashok Mahindra is now a wildlife photographer. Through his 120 photographs in this book he has shown the rich heritage and range of wildlife and its habitats in India. In addition, the book indicates the continuing threat to wildlife in India and sets out how it could be more effectively preserved.
THE REVIEW
The book sets out to, in the words of the author in the preface, create a greater awareness of the danger to the wildlife in India, and to promote the preservation of that wildlife. Its highlights are, as the marketing of the book claims very aptly, the images, which are a treat; but there is more, much, much more – from the practical to the experiential and from the mundane to the esoteric;  “Capturing Wildlife Moments in India” contains 120 photographs of animals and birds of India, photographed from visits to over 30 parks,sanctuaries and other locations…


The book acts as a quick guide and a quick chronicle on places to visit in India – places where you can relax, and enjoy being one with nature, places where you can experience the full beauty of nature; places which are both famous, and not quite so famous. It isn’t a guide on what you can find in each place – this is not a tourist guide; it is more of a travelogue, an experiential and highly engaging travelogue on the wildlife circuit of India.
This is a book you can get lost in, and forget about everything; this is a book which you can just dissolve into; this is a book you can read again and again and then again; and each reading is bound to transport you into a differing reality, an engaging memory, an unfulfilled desire or a raging ambition. This is a book to make you pause in wonder at Mother Nature, and sigh in deep and heartfelt melancholy regret at the ugliness of the modern concrete jungle!
It states as an objective the conservation of wildlife, which it achieves in  a very different and indirect fashion; it kindles in you a desire to experience these sights yourselves, and a keenly felt regret at the meaninglessness of our metro lives and concrete jungles; that, to my mind, is a far better way of going about Wildlife Conservation – getting people interested in the wonders that Mother Nature has to offer us! It also acts as a to-visit list of the top wildlife  hotspots in India, places to visit, and introduces you to an aspect of India you would not have thought too much about
This is a book that hits you hard in the gut, and makes you face the futility of modern life, the meaninglessness of the corporate race and the pull of Mother Nature… as I said, this is an experience to be lived, so that your inner dormant desires are kindled, and a new joy can be experienced. This is a book that, given its wandering travelogue style and lack of focus on one area or theme,  takes you back to Mother Nature, and introduces you to its myriad wonders from Animals to Insects to Birds to Scenery, and from colours to joy all in one short sharp read! The fabulous interleaving of themes, with a Tiger on one page, then a Neelgai, or a mound of termites, or a mangrove picture, achieves the objective of keeping your attention riveted, making for a unputdownable book…
THE IMAGES


PDF
PNG Image
PNG Image
PNG Image
PNG Image
This is the frontispiece, the piece-de-resistance, as it were : the images are simply mind-blowing; they will take your breath away. The clarity, detail and framing of the pictures is one thing, which everyone will note; my request to everyone is try and merge & blend into the image and the captured moment, and experience it to understand… the patience, effort and planning that went into each image taken, the beauty of the moment and the sheer power of Mother Nature!
Here you will find the entire life cycle of the Large Cats, here you will find the life of the Tigers – how they live, their territorial habits in short and sharp comments on the images; you will find, for the first time, these large cats in their old age, as well as their resplendent youth; you get to understand the meaning of the immortal line by Kavi Neeraj : Umra Ke Chadhaav Kaa Utaar Dekhte Rahe in the lives of the tigers covered!
Here you will find the lovely and unbelievably scenic images that you will want to savour, and wish you had a copy for your desktop, laptop or mobile screensavers – a veritable cacophony of colours blending to create stunning beauty; like the Cormorants on Page 54, or the House Sparrow on Page 61, or especially the Blue Jay on Page 104, or the Red Junglefowl on Page 111…
But most of all, the stunning beauty of two mind-blowing images has the power to transport you into the book, into the location – one at the start, and one at the end : a stunning set of images of the Jungle… images of transcendental beauty, that kindle the joys and memories of your own visits {Pench, in my case} to the Jungle, and the memories of of the location of that wonderful number in Kabhi Kabhi – Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein, Khayaal Aataa Hai, such is the power of these images! The captivating beauty of these two images takes you into the forest, enables you to forget the world and blend into the magic of these images caught by this extremely talented photographer!

Just one request : the book is priced at Rs. 1450/-, which is a tag towards the higher side, and is targeted at a different segment; there is a market at lower price-points as well, people like me who love Books, who love the beauty of nature, and would buy these books at a more affordable price point. If the publisher or the Author is reading this, please make a note of this feedback…



It is being published by Oxford University Press(OUP) & Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS).The book will be available at most of the major retail outlets across India and also through online retail sites like Amazon, Flipkart etc.It will also be available for sale through the BNHS website and is priced at Rs.1450. 

This post is a part of the book review program of at Saevus Wildlife India in association with The Hemchand Mahindra Wildlife Foundation for the book Capturing Wildlife Moments in India