Adventure

Green Lake

'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity '
John H.Eickert

There is something about the smell of orchids when they bloom. The smell is springtime lingering in the air, and combining youth with hope. In Sikkim , north of Gangtok the Teesta River drains a large and rarely adventured region of the Himal. Most trekkers follow the path up through the yak pastures to the south side of Kangchendzonga up and past Yuksom. Few take the a four wheel drive up the river to the junction near Chungthang, then following the left fork and ending at Lachen. Lachen is a remote community with some interesting monasteries. It is also the jumping off place for a trek to Green Lake and the north side camp for Kangchendzonga.

Before we start for Green Lake , I would like to back down the Teesta to Chungthang. The right fork of the rough road there leads up past Yumthang over Gurudongmar La to Gurudongmar Chho. Gurudongmar La is the second highest motorable pass in India after Khardong La north of Leh. Near Gurudongmar La is Chho Lhamo, that lake is the source of the Teesta. The area around Chho Lhamo is being considered for national park status as Chho Lhamo Cold Desert National Park . I have never been over the pass to either lake, but have been told the area is remote and rich in wildlife. I am wishing a reader, may be able to provide me with more information. I hope so. This sounds like a place I would like to visit, especially in the spring if possible.

Sikkim is renowned for its orchid varieties so it would be important to time a trek to Green Lake , or a visit to Chho Lhamo, with the spring and the scent of flowering orchids. Of course, the weather is far better in the fall, but the meadows in spring are a riot of flowers and scents. I think it is worth it to brave the spring weather. The trek up to Green Lake from Lachen takes from 15 to 18 days and I am glad to hear trekking permits are once again being given. The trail is steadily up passing the villages of Tallem, Jakthang, and Yabuk. Above Yabuk, the trekker only encounters herder's huts and meadows of orchids. From Yabuk there is the need for one camp along the trail before Green Lake . The camping at Green Lake is spectacular. Be sure and spend days acclimatizing in Yabuk and perhaps again at the camp along the trail before reaching Green Lake . Above Green Lake , and hanging under the north face of Kangchendzonga is Zemu glacier. It is a nice day hike from Green Lake to Zemu for those who have acclimatized properly. All in all, the trek to Green Lake is a most wonderful experience as it is untouched and remote, most trekkers preferring the shorter trek to Kangchendzonga from Yuksom. The real reason for the trek may be the orchids; indeed, the villagers here refer to the area as ‘Nye-mae-el' meaning paradise! Absolutely! Cheers!

( Photograph of orchids by Susan Sharma )

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Right Answer to Quiz on Cranes and Storks

This month no one has given all right answers, thelittleserpentcatcher@gmail.com has given 8 right answers.

Right Answer toQuiz on Cranes and Storks

1.Siberian cranes once nested in W.Siberia and wintered in India. The last documented Siberian crane in India during winter was in the year……….
  • 1996
  • 1998
  • 2002

  • 2.The Bishnoi community in Rajasthan feed and protect the Krishnakraunch. The Sanskrit name “krishnakrauch” refers to
  • Demoiselle crane
  • Siberian crane
  • Sarus crane

  • 3.This stork is quite common in S.India nesting on ficus trees, electric towers etc.
  • Blacknecked stork
  • woolly necked stork
  • Lesser Adjutant stork

  • 4.The male and female of this species looks alike. The juvenile storks can be mistaken for openbilled storks from a distance. These are, ……
  • Greater adjutant storks
  • black necked storks
  • Painted storks

  • 5.The measured martial gait as it paces up and down gave it its name. This stork is seen in North & North.East India.
  • Adjutant stork
  • Wooly necked stork
  • Black necked stork

  • 6.The periodic movements of locust swarms cannot be referred to as migration because….
  • locusts are not birds
  • the movement does not involve return to the starting point.
  • the movement involves food gathering

  • 7.Of the 15 species of cranes, ……….are vulnerable to extinction.
  • 5
  • 11
  • 2

  • 8.Of the following places, where are cranes not found at all?
  • Australia
  • S.America
  • Europe

  • 9.Sandhill and Whooping cranes call ………..…..their home
  • North America
  • Japan
  • North India

  • 10.Forty species of migratory birds feature in a film by Columbia Tristar released in March 2004 –The film is
  • Fly Away Home
  • Follow the Leader
  • Winged Migration

  • Please try our quiz for the current month on Wildlife poaching

    Burning Issues

    Dumping Of Industrial Waste

    By Susan Sharma

    PESTICIDES

    There are about 250 industries including the prominent ones like Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. (FACT), Hindustan Insecticides Ltd (HIL), Indian Rare Earths Ltd etc., mainly chemical ones, in a town called Eloor in Kerala. They manufacture a range of chemicals--petrochemical products, pesticides, rare-earth elements, rubber processing chemicals, fertilisers, zinc/chrome products and leather products. Many of these industries are 50 years old and employ highly polluting technologies. The industries take large amounts of fresh water from the Periyar and in turn discharge concentrated toxic effluents after little treatment. This has led to large-scale destruction of fish in the river and has done extensive damage to the paddy fields and other farmlands in the region.

    Greenpeace collected samples of water and sediments from an adjacent creek and soil from the nearby wetlands. Its detailed analysis found that the water at Eloor contained 100 organic compounds that included DDT and its metabolites, endosulfan and several isomers like hexachlorocylcohexane, a persistent pesticide.


    RADIOACTIVITY

    People living near the Jadugoda mines in Singhbhum district of South Bihar have severely been affected by uranium radioactivity. The Jadugoda mines have been yielding uranium for a long time, which is used in nuclear research in the country.

    Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) has been dumping waste products in a nearby pond and it has led to sickness of many tribal people who use the pond's radioactive water. A medical team sent by the state government has also reached a similar conclusion and recommended that the inhabitants of the area be shifted at least five km away from the mines and the tailing pond. This recommendation has not been implemented.

    The environment committee has in its report lamented the lack of proper security arrangement/fencing in the area in view of the fact that uranium mining comes under national security. Ironically, UCIL has received ISO 14001 certification for environment management system.


    POISONOUS GASES

    Even 20 years after the Bhopal disaster, the polluted site of the abandoned factory , bleeds poisons daily into the groundwater of local residents. Bhopal is an ongoing disaster. Union Carbide refused to provide full information regarding the nature of the poisoning which meant that doctors were unable to properly treat those exposed.

    Dow Chemicals, Union Carbide's new owners, refuses to accept responsibility for the on-going health problems in Bhopal . Nor has it attempted to deal with the large stockpiles of dangerous poisons left behind by Union Carbide or the toxic legacy that is still ruining people's lives. Yet it nevertheless claims that it has "done what it needs to do to pursue the correct environment, health and safety programs."


    MERCURY

    The main reason for groundwater contamination in places like Gujarat (Vatva, Ankleshwar and Vapi) and Andhra Pradesh (Patancheru, Medak) is the industrial practice of pumping untreated effluents into the ground through bore wells. Even contaminated effluent flowing through rivers and streams or rainwater percolating through contaminated soil (at sites where toxic wastes are dumped or land-filled) can leach into the groundwater. Rainwater also absorbs mercury vapours in the atmosphere from far-off sources. Mercury has been detected in the water (ground-water and surface-water) in the vicinity of chlor-alkali industries using the mercury cell technology and in the vicinity of dyes, paints and pigments manufacturing units that use mercury-based catalysts in their manufacturing processes.

    To avoid a mercury disaster in the near future, industries using mercury in its processes should immediately shift to non-mercury alternatives.

    The thermometer factory in Kodaikanal belonging to Hindustan Lever saw heavy dumping of mercury bearing scrap by local scrap dealers who bought the waste from the company. Community action by aware citizens got the company to ship back the hazardous scrap to U.S from where the same had been imported in the first place. For the first time health problems of workers exposed to mercury fumes were also addressed.

    Endangered

    The National Bird of India

    Samar Singh , President, World Pheasant Association - India.

    It is evident that the fascination for the Indian Peafowl had spread to other parts of the world several centuries ago and it was taken to various countries in Asia, Africa and Europe at different times, mainly by the invaders and traders. There are reports of these birds in the palace gardens of the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Roman Emperors and even the legendary King Solomon, whose throne had attractive peacock images. When Alexander invaded India in the third century BC, he took back with him to Macedonia several Indian peafowl. There is an interesting Greek myth about the origin of the peacock's colourful tail feathers, according to which the favourite bird of Hera, wife of the mythical hero Zeus, was a peacock and she was responsible for placing on the peacock tail the eyes of the hundred-eyed giant Argos, when the latter was slain in a battle. In early Christian art, two peacocks facing each other represented the souls of the faithful drinking from the Fountain of Life and there was a Christian belief, ascribed to St. Augustine, that the peacock symbolized immortality of the soul, since its flesh did not decay. Even in China, the peacock was considered a symbol of beauty, dignity and rank and was made the emblem of the Ming rulers. In modern times, the Indian Peafowl has been coveted by several zoological gardens in different countries and some of these birds were also kept in the premises of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

    As a result of consistent royal patronage over the ages, in India the peafowl has managed to permeate numerous facets of the life and culture of the Indian people from the earliest times and it has literally adorned everything that has been associated with it. This is amply demonstrated in art, architecture, sculpture, painting, metalwork, glass work, jewelery, ornaments, handicrafts, hand-loom, textile, literature, music, folklore and the traditions of almost all regions in the country. There are examples aplenty to show that humankind, over the ages, has been greatly fascinated and inspired by this gorgeous bird to give expression to highest levels of creativity in multifarious ways and forms.

    It is this remarkable attribute of ‘adding value' that makes the Indian Peafowl very special in India. Added to it is the fact that this is one bird that is known in every household throughout India and even the children get to know about it quite early in life. Perhaps one reason is that Indian literature in virtually all languages and dialects, starting from Sanskrit, is replete with references to the peafowl, particularly the peacock, in adorable terms and in a manner that no other bird or animal has been able to equal. The same applies to the folklore, songs and music of different regions across the country. However, it is noteworthy that even the English language has not escaped its sweep and impact. The expressions ‘peacockish' and ‘proud as a peacock' are often used, but there are several other ways in which the peacock has invaded the English dictionary and again ‘added value' in meaningful terms. Hence, we have colours that are called ‘peacock blue' and ‘peacock green', birds that are called ‘peacock bittern', ‘peacock heron' and ‘peacock pheasant', flowers called ‘peacock flower' and ‘peacock iris', a ‘peacock butterfly', a ‘peacock beetle', a ‘peacock moth', and even a kind of ‘peacock ore' and a type of ‘peacock coal'. Then, there is the well known ‘peacock dance', essentially a courtship display but also signifying the role of a dependable weatherman, heralding the onset of the monsoon from year to year and endearing the bird for obvious reasons.

    (Photograph; poster of film “Sarang –The peacock”)

    To buy this video CLICK HERE )

     

    This article is concluded

    Gardening for wildlife

    The garden lawn

    Ms.Promila Chaturvedi is a freelance landscape designer whose organization "Gardens India" undertakes a number of projects in landscaping and gardening.

    The lawn forms a strip of green sward to a formal garden-closely cut grass, and also rough uncut green stretch. The lawn is an integral and distinctive part of any garden

    How to create a lawn: The lawn should properly laid otherwise it becomes a source of worry and disappointment. So proper care should be taken while laying a lawn. The drainage is an important aspect of any garden to be taken into account. At the end of February or before monsoon the ground should be dug 18in deep. All the stone, weeds and other unserviceable material should be removed. Expose the clod of soil to sun for few weeks to kill the weeds and sterile the soil. Then break the clods, mix 10 kg well-decayed manure per meter sq. to the soil. Flood the area in February, or in monsoon after first shower let the soil settle. Remove weeds that have come up after water. Dress the area well before the grassing is done. Grass it with any of the following methods.

    From seeds- these days this method is rarely followed. For a hectare 30kg seeds are required. The seeds should be sown evenly and thinly on a windless day. The lawn should be covered with light soil and be watered with a nozzle in hosepipe with very light pressure. Few times cut the grass with scythe. Lawn mower should be used only when grass roots started spreading and well established. This is the slowest method for making a lawn. It takes three to four months for grass to cover the whole area.

    By dibbling- small roots should be dibbled at 4in distance when the ground is well moist. Water it. The grass roots will spread under the surface. The lawn will be ready in 3-4 months time. It will need frequent mowing, rolling and watering for good results. This is the usual method for grassing. It takes almost a month for the lawn to be ready.

    Turfing- turf –the pieces of earth with compact grass on them. It should be cut evenly in 1ft: 2ft size from the area where the grass is low, weed free and compact. These pieces should be spread on soil like a carpet touching closely and evenly each other on a well-prepared surface. The cavities should be filled by soil and manure mix. This method of grassing gives instant effect, though most expensive out of the three methods.

    After laying a lawn from any of the above methods, mowing, rolling, watering, manuring and repairing patches on regular basis will keep the lawn in good shape.

    The cost of laying a lawn varies from place to place and the competence of the party who is laying it. A gardener can also do the job but the results may not be very satisfying in a long run.

    Under the shade of building or of a tree grass does not do well. On one very broad blade grass can survive the shade.

    Types of grass are the same for North or South India. It is only the choice of the person.

    Once the lawn is laid it does not need relaying for years.

    (Picture shows close up of Bermuda grass.)

    News and Views

    News & Views

    News…………..

    A Bright and Happy New Year to all our members. Let us pledge to renew our efforts to lead a life in harmony with nature.

    We are starting the year 2005 with the launch of a blog for IWC.com. This is an easy online journal where IWC members can share their thoughts and experiences on the weblog. (Only text, sorry, no pictures). Let us hear about the latest trip you made to a nature spot, a wild life film you watched or a book that you found interesting…………..Express yourself freely and give us your feedback on the e-zine articles, on our photo gallery and other features. Record experiences, insights, facts, campaigns ----- for teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

    Click HERE to view the blog. Log in with your email id and password to add your comments.

    And Views…………..

    “ …If we were to attempt the same research problems that those in the U.S do, we shall generally be handicapped due to want of money, facilities, and the pace with which the scientific machinery and enterprise moves here. The playing fields are simply not level- particularly in areas such as experimental physics or molecular biology.

    We can only hope to build a handful of centers with facilities that match those in the U.S. , given the resources involved. On the other hand, if we consider the rich biodiversity we are blessed with, an Indian scientist working, say on the biology of a local here is on par with one in America , Europe or Australia who is working on his local species.

    Our man/woman here can delve as deep into the subject as he/she can, find novel information, and when he wants special facilities available only elsewhere, these can come about through collaboration, time-sharing or other modes suited for that purpose. And he becomes a globally respected authority on the subject, on par with his colleagues elsewhere. This would bring about a higher level of confidence, self esteem and progressive advance in the climate of science in India .”

    - Prof. Raghavendra Gadagkar of Bangalore

    Zoo

    A Very Human "Tail"

    Toby Ninan retired from Delhi Zoo about two years back. With his varied experiences with the wild animals in the zoo, he is the right person to direct your queries to. Hear what Ninan has to say about his life and chosen career!

    Animals are very interesting but humans are quite so too. It was a very normal day at the zoo and there were just the mundane affairs to be attended to.

    I was wrestling a few files when I had a visitor who looked very troubled & anxious. He was an elderly man whose dress was neat but well worn and had obviously seen better days!

    I asked him to sit down and tell me what was troubling him and how I could help. This was a common occurrence in my experiences at the zoo; usually people would approach me for bits and pieces of mammals, birds & reptiles which ranged from feathers to bones, bits of sloughed off skin and other unmentionable parts of the anatomy of bears, tigers and what have you.

    Well this gentleman wanted something different. He wanted the dust from under a lion, a tiger and an elephant. This seemed easy enough but since there was a pile of paper tigers on my desk all of which were growling for immediate attention I could not oblige the visitor immediately. 'Aha' but what would he do with the dust from under the feet of so many denizens of the forest who were my charges? All these "dusts" were to be consigned to the flames of a "havan" and his son would get a smooth passage to one of those far off climes across the seven seas.

    I promised our dear worthy that come rain or shine no animal wild or otherwise would stand in my way of such a worthy cause and I would produce the required dust in a couple of days time as this is the time required for my friends to shake off the dust from their feet.

    A couple of days passed and true to myself I completely forgot all the promises I had made. Well, that day I was in a pensive mood and sitting on my chair and staring out at the great beyond of my beloved park when lo and behold I saw our friend coming down the steps resolutely making a beeline to my doorstep. I was shaken out of my reverie and shook myself and the grey cells up violently trying to find an "instant -dust-from-under-the-feet of what you know!

    The only way I could think of was this. I ran out with a sheet of paper behind my office and after offering a short prayer got three generous pinches of dust and packed these into packets put the initials "L' "T" & "E". As our friend walked into my office I was back at the desk with three packets carefully ensconced in the drawers of my desk. After the usual greetings I passed on the precious packets thinking that only the Almighty could help him.

    Three weeks passed. I was inspecting a monkey moat trying to think of ways to clean it up when our friend came charging up to me and nearly fell at my feet. My dirty shoes did not seem to bother him and he blurted out his tale-His son had just been offered a good job in the U.S of A and would be leaving for those beloved shores shortly!

    His joy was complete and I was left figuring out how the dust from under the feet of an alley cat inhabiting the piece of land behind my office could have brought out such a miracle.




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