Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seeing the Forests!

If you cut down a forest, it doesn't matter how many sawmills you have if there are no more trees. Susan George.

How perfectly put & yet we ignore the importance of forests even when we visit them!
Winter has its own charm in Knaha ! And I agree to it fullest ,though was a bit scary about the temperature which drop to sub zero at a times. Yet to visit Kanha is such a desire that it overcomes the fear of the cold & ultimately the wish to be in forest wins as usual! However chill the winter cold may be yet the forest never stops amazing you by the constant action happening within provided you should have an eye for it! And the fact that Kanha is a Sal tree forest mostly so the temperature is further down because its always green in compare to other forests where winter makes trees shade the leafs!

Each specie has got its way to tackle with cold but with their natural limitations most prefer to be in huddle & stay close & share the warmth of each others body! The owls are classic example,they will huddle in a hole of a tree & what a sight they make! Even the monkey cubs keep sticking to their mothers to beat the cold. Visiting forest in such extreme seasons shows us so many things & make us think how lucky we are for being human beings as we have so many ways to protect our self from the extreme weather! Though not all are lucky for eg the forest guards who have to patrol on feet or mostly by cycle in the forest exposing not only to the cold but to many a wild animals which can be dangerous if came across at wrong timing! Like you cycling right in the path of a mating couple of Tiger, the animal is very moody at such times & can attack any intruder! Imagine the helplessness of the guard whose only weapons are his two legs & how fast he can run or climb on a near by tree! Visiting forest for fun or for wild life seeing is one thing but living their for your work for life time is different ball game. I have never understood why the govt can provide proper infrastructure like good vehicles or proper attire with equipments to the guards on whom task like protecting the forest is depending! Very basic things like waky-talky or guns also are not with all guards leave apart things like battery operated bikes or vehicles! It always hurt my mind when I see the forest guards with bare minimum equipments or nothing! I With all due respect to forest department we need to improvise a lot on this front is a fact. And we expect the forest to grow & the animals to survive!

Same is with many local people who works in forest as labors for their daily survival. The visitors when they ask each other "sighting
hui kya?" A common question exchanged between the roaming tourists, means "have you seen the tiger?" It's unfortunate they unsighted such sights of people working bare foot in forest in cold & think of doing nothing for contributing to improve their condition & the list includes so called many VIP's from govt who can surely make the difference if the see with open eyes the forest & the people working in it! The term sighting is restricted to Tiger rather whenever any one asks me have I had sighting my reply is there is so much to sight that any time you spend in forest is less! The forest is never dead,its always alive with something & this one needs to look for with open eyes. Once you achieve that vision then the sighting is all around you & not restricted for the tiger only!

Another factor which concerned me is at Pench Tiger Project right outside the boundary of the park I saw boards saying many plots are available for sale & resorts are mashrooming around. With growing numbers of tourists at such places its bound to happen but important is we need to keep a buffer zone for expansion of the forests to accommodate species like Tiger. As to my knowledge each tiger has its own territory & if we need to increase numbers of tigers then we need to give the space which they requires! And each tiger territory is in a way life system in itself including plants & the prey animals like dear. When we say to conserve the forest its not just taking care of existing forests but to plan for their expansion also so as more & more land should come under forests! While making future plans of urban growth around the forests this aspect has to be taken in account which seems missing presently.

To achieve that one has to ask himself why are you visiting the forests? Does our trip ends just at the sight of Tiger? Again sadly most of the tourists visits places like Kanha for fun & don't feel any responsibility towards the forest. The laughter & the noise many groups make while moving through the forests is shocking ,as if they are on beach or in some fun fare & the only target for many is to see the tiger that's all! I won't blame the tourists right from the tour operators to guides to Gypsy drivers too even the tourism departments of govt all are busy in luring them on the name of Tiger! Naturally the person visiting is seeing for Tiger other than the sighting any thing in forest! Some where the system related to the forest needs to understand this & change the pattern of adverting forests. "The Land of Tiger" must be advertised as "The Land of Forests", so the visitor will be mentally open what he is going to see & then he can sight what is need of the time & the job of forest department will be much easier!

I think that's real meaning of visiting the forest or else its like visiting any urban shopping center, you go there shop & forget about the place once you are out of it! What we see that only will make us act & for that we have to learn to see the forest as whole & not just one Tiger as we can't save the poor guy individually but only making the entire surrounding survive can help  & that's we need to sight!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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