Adventure

Trekking in Sikkim

'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

28,169! Kangchendzonga is the third highest mountain on earth. Kangchendzonga is in the Indian province of Sikkim along the western border with Nepal. Of all the base camps for the earth’s highest mountains, the trek to Kangchendzonga is the shortest and most spectacular. The name Sikkim can be translated different ways, the Lepchas called it Nye-mae-el or ‘Paradise’, the Bhutias named it Beymul Denjong or ‘Hidden Valley of Rice’, and the Tsong name Su-khim means ‘Happy House.’ I hope the aspiring trekker understands the basic concept. No matter the name or meaning, this trek is a startling contrast of abundant orchids, ancient monasteries, feisty roosters, and shimmering glaciers. Indeed, in the province of Sikkim are over 660 varieties of orchid, some found at elevations exceeding 10,500 feet.


The trek into Kangchendzonga National Park begins in Yuksom and should take 8-9 days. The journey ascends through forests and orchids on a good trail. The trail leaves the rhododendron forest above Dzongri on the second day. Here, the forests give way to yak pasture and the nomadic herders who tend them. I will never forget passing through the small village of Thangshing. While walking through, I was escorted by a feisty little rooster with black feathers, orange throat feathers, and a vibrant red comb. He followed along pecking at my heels and crowed from a short stonewall as we continued up the trail. Upon our return through the village, he seemingly waited for us and repeated the performance. I had hoped to spot some blue sheep in the high pastures along the trails; instead, there was this hilarious encounter with the feisty rooster. The turn around point on this trek is a pass, Gocha La, and one of the most spectacular mountain views in the Himal. The entire eastern face of Kangchendzonga is close enough to be felt as you stand at the pass amidst low pungent juniper trees.


The trek from rice fields to yak pastures is short and at times steep, but very doable. Treks can be arranged in Gangtok and are self-contained. This is the finest trek in all the Himal for the adventurer on a tight time budget. Be sure and use five full days for the approach to help with rapid acclimatization. It is important to be in good health for this magnificent trek. Because of the diversity in terrain on this adventure, there is a corresponding diversity in wildlife. In the lower fields and forests, there is an abundance of birds and butterflies. Higher and farther, the stark alpine landscape holds fewer species making sights, sounds, and smells of the return trek even more dramatic. Recently, I have had many would be adventurer ask me about SARS. As always, it is important to take precautions and not to court risk, but do not let your fears dictate your plans. Also important is to take the time and go this year; there is no reason to wait. Take the time and then take your time!

Cheers!

Visit http://www.numbum.net or call NumBum Adventurers at 406-777-2228

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Answers to quiz on Trees

Last month no one has given all right answers, but j_deshpande@yahoo.com and suhaskum@sancharnet.in have given 8 right answers

Right Answer to Quiz on Trees

1.A tree brings down the temperature of a place by losing water through transpiration. The temperature loss is upto
  • 2° C
  • 4° C
  • 10 ° C  

  • 2.A 100 foot tree can absorb approximately gallons of water through its roots in a single growing season
  • 11000
  • 1100
  • 100  

  • 3.If one hectare of land is left without green cover, the amount of fertile top soil taken away by the wind and water every year is
  • 5 kg
  • 20 kg
  • 24 kg  

  • 4.When in flower, this tree is either entirely leafless or left with some leaves on lower branches. A red coloured gum exudes from the tree which is largely used in medicine and in tanning & dyeing. The leaves serve as plates. What is this tree?
  • Flame of the Forest
  • Indian Coral Tree
  • The Pagoda Tree  

  • 5.The bark of this tree is covered with sharp, conical prickles which disappear with increasing age. The fleshy petals of the flowers are eaten by birds & squirrels. The fruits ripen and open while still on the tree. What is this tree?
  • Bhendi Tree
  • Silk Cotton Tree
  • Java Cassia  

  • 6.The flowers of this tree are streaming clusters of bright yellow blossoms which hang from its branches. What is this tree?
  • Queen of Flowers
  • Jacaranda
  • The Indian Laburnum  

  • 7.The leaves of this tree resemble the imprint of a camel`s foot; being joined together in the middle each leaf looks like one of Siamese twins. In fact the Latin name for the tree was given by two 16th Century German botanists who were identical twins. Theses trees grow all over India.
  • Semul
  • Gulmohar
  • Bauhinias  

  • 8.A tropical evergreen, related to mahogany. Has potential in the fields of pest management, environmental protection & medicine.
  • Neem
  • Teak
  • Peepul  

  • 9.Nature was left untouched by humans at various spots that dot India`s countryside. These sites owe their existence to
  • Forest Laws
  • NGOs working for tree conservation
  • Sacred Groves  

  • 10.Trees help reduce the effects of global warming by...
  • drawing water from the soil.
  • increasing oxygen concentration in the atmosphere.
  • reducing Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.  

  • Please try our quiz for the current month on Leopards

    Endangered

    Nicobar Megapode - Megapodius nicobariensis

    The Great Nicobar Island is the southern most island of Andaman & Nicobar archipelago and also the southernmost part of India. Geographic isolation of these islands has resulted in high degree of endemism.

    Nicobar megapode, a threatened species, is endemic to this island.

    The Nicobar megapode is heavy bodied bird of the forest floor. Most of the megapodes are brown, blackish or grey in colour. Bare skin on the face and neck may be coloured yellow, blue or dull red. Though they can fly, primary movement is by walking. They build incubation mounds in sandy areas on the coastal forest. The megapodes do not hatch their eggs by sitting on them. The parents defend the mound while eggs are incubating inside. Monitor lizards and humans are the greatest threat to these eggs. IUCN lists Nicobar megapode as a vulnerable species. Wildlife Institute of India and the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History have been studying this species in detail.

    Wildlife management in the islands aims at protecting and conserving the biodiversity and their representative ecosystems. Protected areas cover about 30 percent of the Nicobar Islands, and only 14 percent of the ecoregion’s native forest has been lost.
    Proposals to make the Nicobars a major tourist destination pose a major potential threat in the future, along with road development and the rubber and cashew trade.

    ( Photograph of Nicobar megapodes by Dr. K. Sivakumar, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun)

    Forest and trees

    Mango

    Compiled by Priti Sawant

    English name: Mango; Hindi name: Aam; Scientific name: Mangifera indica

    Mango, a popular evergreen avenue tree, known for the best fruit in the world. This fruit of the summers have been one of the favorites from the times of lord Buddha. Moghul Emperor Babur has described it as beauty of the garden in Babur –nameh (1525).

    The Hindus and the Buddhists consider mango tree sacred. Lord Buddha was once presented with a grove of mango tree under which he used to rest and since then the Buddhist consider the tree holy.

    According to a Burmese legend, a gardener presented Buddha with a large mango fruit. The fruit was cut and got ready for Buddha to eat by his favorite disciple Ananda. Later, Buddha handed the stone (seed) of the fruit to Ananda to plant it in a suitable place. When Ananda planted the stone as directed, Buddha washed his hands over it and suddenly a beautiful white mango tree sprang from it, bearing flowers and fruits. This story is represented in a sculpture at Bharhut.

    Hindus consider the plant of great religious significance. Symbolically the plant is Prajapati, lord of all creation, therefore, on all religious occasions, Hindus use its leaves as spoons for pouring libations.

    Villagers in India believe that the mango tree puts forth fresh leaves at the birth of a son. Mango leaves are festooned across the doorways of a house where a marriage is performed in a hope that the young married couple will beget a son.

    The origin of a tree is seeped in mythology. An enchantress was pursuing the daughter of surya, the Sun God. To escape her, the girl threw herself into a pond and turned into lotus flower. A king saw the flower and wished to possess it. But before he could take possession of it, the enchantress burn it, and from the ashes of the lotus flower, arose the mango tree. The king saw the tree full of fruit, and desired it. When the fruit ripened, from it arose the daughter of Surya whom the king recognized as having been his wife in an earlier birth.

    Uses: Rich is vitamin C, the fruit is effective against sunstroke in summers. The twigs, being antiseptic, are used like toothbrushes for oral hygiene.

    News and Views

    News & Views


    News…………

    Pune initiative

    Watching butterflies is one of the best ways to develop an appreciation of the natural world. Most of us have memories of happy childhood days spent watching butterflies/moths coming out of silvery and golden pupas. Jayant Deshpande, leader of our Pune chapter, is himself an avid butterfly watcher and has been presenting slide shows of his collection of beautiful photographs in various schools/organizations in Pune. But his pet project has been developing a butterfly garden for his son's school. The garden has now become a proud part of the school's curriculum. In the school's own words

    " Colorful and wild butterflies adorn the butterfly garden developed in the school. The aim behind this garden is to allow the children to observe the various developmental stages of butterflies, and thus get acquainted with the various ecological aspects around them. ......................................Many thanks to our parent, Mr. Jayant Deshpande for setting up this garden for us "

    Read more about the butterfly garden by clicking on http://www.myshala.com/

    All of us at IWC are proud of what you have achieved Jayant! If anyone wants to start a butterfly garden in his/her area Jayant will give expert advice on how to go about it. Photographs of butterflies and moths by  Jayant Deshpande can be viewed at the link

    http://www.wildscapes.net/ImageList.aspx?t=p&id=203

    Online story contest " Tiger"

    Our new story contest is now online. We had a good response for the elephant story contest. Put on your thinking hat and write a story online for the tigers of Ranthambhore! There are prizes to be won too! Click here to enter the contest.

    Vatavaran Film Festival

    India's very own environment festival calls for entries!

    Second year in succession, this event is being organised by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) with support of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt of India. “Vatavaran 2003” is all set to roll from 18th –20th November 2003.
    Renowned personalities from various other fields including environment, wildlife cinema and media are closely involved in organizing the festival. Starting July 2003, a chain of pre festival events like seminars, film screenings, exhibitions and talks will be organized to culminate with the film festival in November 2003. “Vatavaran 2003” festival will also be taken to other cities like Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata through our partner agencies like Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Sanctuary Asia, National Museum of Natural History (NMNH).
    Eight National Awards with total prize money of Rs.6,50,000/- will be awarded to outstanding documentary films. A special category “Best documentary film or Animated film” produced by children for effectively communicating their view on natural resources or wildlife has also been included. Prize money of Rs. 50,000 will be awarded in this category.
    The organizers add…

    " As a modest initiative, last year's “Vatavaran 2002”, was a roaring success and 100 entries were received. This year too, we hope such a spirited response from filmmakers, organizations, TV channel, and other organizations.

    In this perspective, we solicit your support for:
    · Participation in “Vatavaran 2003” – India’s Exclusive National Environment and Wildlife Film Festival.
    We request you to block you dates to be part of the most happening event of the year - “Vatavaran 2003” on
    November 18-20, 2003 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

    · Kindly send films (entries) or facilitate by forwarding this information to other film-makers, organizations, TV channels etc.
    · Kindly publicize the film festival through your network.
    · Provide link to “Vatavaran 2003” website from your website.
    Last date for recieving entries is July 31, 2003."

    Centre for Media Studies (CMS)
    Research House
    Saket, Community Centre
    New Delhi 110 017
    Phone : 91-11-26522244/55, 26851660, 26864020
    Fax : 91-11-26898282
    Email: vatavaran2003@cmsindia.org
    Web : www.cmsindia.org/vatavaran2003


    And Views……..


    Interesing thoughts from Adrian Caddy: ( courtesy: http://www.wildlife-film.com/)

    There's a good and reliable old maxim; United we stand - divided we fall. And my fear is that we are at risk of the second bit. For many years I have sold, co-produced, devised and licensed programming and projects to just about every media species in existence - and I hope I have tried to protect the security of every idea/programme despite frequent and hideous piracy and subterfuge. But jealousy and OVER-protection runs through conservation groups as well as producers, broadcasters and distributors - and this works against us. So here is a revised e-mail that I sent to Tana Herbert of the Wildlife Awareness Foundation after we met in Missoula last year.

    ……………Excerpts

    Dear Tana

    Let's look at enrolment and reward - using the techniques of multi-branded marketeers. To get the population of ANY community/demographic today aware and enthusiastic for conservation matters (without sounding or seeming dull) we need to get a discerned but WIDE range of figures on side - all ages, colours, backgrounds and stories.

    I suggest we set up an umbrella organisation, a bit like an airline alliance. We would invite people to join a NETWORK of bodies connected to environment protection via their connection to one or other first choice (i.e. a member of NWF gets a special deal to become affiliated to WWF, WAF, WDCS, RSPB, IFAW etc ) - and thereby invite participation in membership levels and merchandise programmes to work similarly to air miles or bundled channels on cable....

    The membership would be invited to "adopt" schemes and programmes to be taken to communities without TV (or affordable mass media) as you do with the WAF. In return, adopters will get coveted certificates, badges, regalia and recognition depending on their level of commitment (A bit like the IWFF and its "animal groups" to reflect the level of Festival sponsor. See www.wildlifefilms.org).

    Members would get a combined newsletter or periodical magazine, plus special membership and passes to appropriate venues such as museums, parks, zoos, events etc. Members/participants would also get the chance to enter the 'MOCs'; Members Only Competitions. Prizes could include photographic safaris to Africa, Alaska, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia etc - Good TV possibilities anyway, if we tie it up carefully.

    I would also seek out and enrol corporate sponsors to get behind a TV programme that I have been TRYING to get made for years. So simple - so cheap. Essentially a talk show, the guests can be from anywhere - entertainment, sport, politics, business, other talk show hosts - anywhere. THIS host is not so much interested in talking to them about their latest movie/album/campaign/game/divorce/deal - but in their favourite aspects of Nature's goings-on. The conversation is interspersed with clips from the best of... This deals with low attention span, makes the celeb look like a caring human being- AND, we have key players from the making of great shows as guests too .……………

    I'd use this as a vehicle to promote the "alliance" of organisations, and we'd provide the special guest with some cool and coveted regalia/clothing or whatever to pin their first badge on. The idea is to collect the entire range of associated i.d. that says you are an active and cool protector. (Am I trying to establish a new c –word instead of conservation I wonder? Coolservation? Coolserver? Probably not...) We make this show available in all languages possible (subtitling is cheaper and easier for the talking head sections) and seek corporate sponsors to put their names to the show AND the campaigns and promote the sales of videos and DVDs through the membership. For example, if you join at a level of $100 per year, you get 2 free DVDs and a discount card for all the other books and videos/DVDs associated with the organisation. The higher the membership level, the more you get from ALL affiliated organisations. ………..Vitally, we’d also need to include journalists and media owners who are prepared to make a difference……….

    Sorry this is running longer than most e-mails, Tana - but you might guess that I have an incurable enthusiasm for getting Nature elevated and PROPERLY respected in people's awareness. I often get to speak at meetings over here and use the line "It doesn't matter if you're Bill Gates, Bill Cosby, Bill Who or bill me next quarter - without safe natural environments, we're all equally on a road to extinction".

    All very best

    Adrian

    Caddyap@aol.com

    Poem

    Hey Man! It`s Not Fair

    In the beginning-there were, but
    only land, water and air on Earth
    And then there were Cells
    Breathing and Alive, these tiny Cells
    took several routes and through many evolutions
    came a creature-we call him MAN
    that land and the water and the air was
    for everyone-big and small
    - God wanted it that way
    But when Man came he drew lines on the earth
    made Continents, countries, states, districts
    and his own boundary picket fences
    the land became - my Land, my State, my Country
    and water became a commodity to be sold in bottles
    the air was adulterated with toxic fumes
    that is how man has treated
    God's Land, God's water and God's air
    And all breathing creatures are
    shouting silently - it is not fair, not fair.


    Suhas Kumar

    Zoo

    Ketching’ the Big Un

    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!

     

     

    Last time I wrote as to how I lost the fear of catching snakes. This can be some what risky if one does not have real knowledge about the snake he is going to catch.

    You know little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Sip not but drink deep of the Tiernean Spring.

    By now, I was a veteran ( so I thought) on catching snakes. This story is about catching the biggest of them all. I had a short stint at Singapore Zoo during my career, an experience I cherish till now. I had been on my rounds of the Singapore Zoo and all the keepers were hard at work looking after their day to day jobs. I was walking through a particular part of the zoo which had thick under growth. I suddenly saw some crawling in the bush in front of me, I thought it must be due to one of those small pythons which were quite common there, but something told me to look closer and lo and behold I saw our prized 12 foot long Anaconda, who had found a gap in its temporary enclosure and was making its way into the surrounding jungle, little knowing that it would find me or the other way round. Well, I thought here is a simple fat slow moving fellow and I who am an” expert” after catching a number of cobras, kraits and pythons - can easily snare this fat creature and put him into his enclosure without disturbing all the hard working keepers at their jobs.

    Little did I realize that this was a different cup of tea and I was in for a royal wrestling match for which I might have had to pay with my life. I caught the snake from behind his head and had to use both my hands- even then it was a real handful. In a trice the snake was all over me or so I thought and felt. He wrapped himself neatly around my chest and abdomen and with out any delay started his business. Each time I would exhale he would squeeze me that much. Again when I inhaled he would wait and keep what little air there was in my lungs. I would exhale again and the squeeze would intensify. At this rate I would not last too long, I thought to myself. He did open up his wide gape of a mouth but just could not get at any part of my anatomy, as I had grabbed the neck and held on tight keeping the mouth far from my body. Well this alternate squeezing went on and in spite of all my efforts I could not dislodge the snake and had to call for help. Keepers, gardeners, all came running to help the boss. Two of my keepers caught on to the tail and started to unravel the big squeeze machine and soon we had the snake straightened out in every sense of the word. Very soon he was dumped back in his enclosure and he sheepishly crept in to a nice convenient bush. I dusted myself and tried to gather up the remains of my tattered dignity, vowing never to handle a snake that size by myself.

    I how ever forgot this vow and caught a big Indian python all alone in the Purana Quila. But that is another story.





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