Milam Glacier

'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

I think the longer and more trying the trek, the more there is to gain. Not the gain from achieving an end, but the self-learning which takes place during the journey. The classic trek to the Milam Glacier under the shadow of the twin peaks of Nanda Devi is such an opportunity. The 16-day trek starts from the town of Munsiari after a long ride from Almora. Both villages are in Uttar Pradesh close to the border with Tibet. The trail winds downhill to Selapani and then up the Milam Valley, the Milam Valley all the more impressive because of the Gori Ganga gorge. The route follows the ancient trade routes between Kumoan and Tibet. This is one of the most regions of the Indian Himal.

The way is generally not steep but continuous with long periods of sustained walking. Bamboo forests line the route in the beginning, giving way to arid empty fields by the time the eastern summit of Nanda Devi can be seen. The trail continues up through rhododendron, fern, peonies, and hydrangea. During a rest stop, an astonishingly large butterfly landed and rested on my hat. My guide explained to me it was good luck to have one of the many and large butterflies become so personal during the walk up to Milam Village. I was flattered. Along the route to Milam Village is a side trek to a Hindu shrine named Naha Devi. Unfortunately for me, I did not make this particular side trip. Perhaps one of you has been to this shrine and could relate to me what I missed! Eventually the wide, well engineered trail leads to Milam Village. From this village it is possible to do a number of day hikes. Using Milam as a base, a stout trekker could visit Nanda Kund and Suraj Kund (both are beautiful alpine lakes), Milam Glacier, and Tirsul base camp, which is named Nitwal Thaur.

The Pachhu Glacier can be visited when at Nanda Kund in a long day. Don’t forget to take a rest day or two in Milam, meet some of the villagers, and enjoy the scenery. On the return trek, a different route can be taken. After crossing Brijganga Pass and the spectacular scenery of the Panchulis pinnacles the trail drops steeply down to Ralam. The trail then follows down the Ralam Valley returning to Munsiari.

If you crave a long, though not difficult trek, originating in subtropical forest where lizards watch the trail and ending at a remote alpine glacier with only birds for company, this may be the one. I like walking in the company of sharp white peaks. How about you? Almora can be reached via Ramnagar north of Delhi. Plan a layover in Ramnagar and spend several days visiting Corbett’s National Park. I hope each of you gets a chance to get out soon. Be sure and take the time, when you do go, take your time. I love India. Cheers.

Visit or call NumBum Adventurers at 406-777-2228

Amazing Facts About Wildlife

Photographic Trip to Dev Nagar and Kalsa valley

By Yasser Arafat

Last summer I was charged by an Himalayan Black Bear. I had a narrow escape. When I talked to my friends they ask why am I risking life going into the jungle. But then to me the jungle is what it is because of the danger and suspense at every moment; this is really the charm.

Making a machan, Sitting on it to photograph a leopard, Waiting hours before he makes an appearance from the dense bush - Can anything be more exciting than this?

This above paragraph is just to make reader feel how exciting is the jungle.

This year when I brought my still camera Nikkon F55 with 75-300 lens, I was after the serow and
was able to take 60 different shots of serow in its natural environment. has given me a platform to share my images of the wild with many other like minded people.

My first trip to photograph cheer pheasant and rufous throated partridge took me to the rocky upper portions of Uttaranchal. Ghoral and koklas pheasants were a bonus. Later I will move to lower parts which has got dense vegetation mixed with lantana. Quite a good place for kalij. And also wild boar, barking deer and serow.

I told my driver cum assistant Guddu that we would stay 3 or 4 days in Jungle for photography. I had been living in Jungle from childhood so there is nothing new for me.

We kept with ourself some potato, Onion, spices, Salt,wheat flour,Rice, utensils, sleeping bags but no tent. We decided against taking the tent since we did not want to carry a heavy burden- we planned to go far far into the forest this time.

So at about one in the noon we packed our stuff in a scooter and headed towards a place called ALCHUNA, where we parked our scooter in the house of an aquaintance. From there we started our trek after crossing a small village THOOM. We were now in the upper part of the rocks where I felt certain that we will find cheer pheasant. But for us our first priority was to select a place to spend the night and soon we got one big rock safe from all direction and quite near to a small hill stream. I asked Guddu to clear the place and keep our things there. He was soon looking for firewood to cook a el and I went out to search for the cheer.

It was about five in the evening and after going half a km uphill, I saw six ghorals grazing in the open from about 200 yds. I tried to stalk them but it is near impoosible not to be heard - ghoral have very sharp ears. They were too alert and sensing my presence soon disappeared. Now I was more cautious on reaching on top of the mountain- I again saw 3-4 ghoral and one koklas pheasant surprised me when it flew downhill uttering the familiar sound kwank,- Kwank – kwank –
I remain there and wait to hear the call of cheer pheasants - the sound they make juist before roosting. After a long time, I heard a very faint sound I was not sure whether it was cheer or that of some other bird.

I came back to our resting place. Walking downhill was quite tough by the time I reached the big rock. Guddu had already lit up the fire and tea was waiting for me.

I told Guddu, early in the morning I will try to be at the place where I think I heard the sound of cheer.
We made potato pulaoo and slept for the night. Under that rock.

Once I wake up in the night and saw the fire had gone down. I put some fresh wood in to it and again slept
I woke up at 5 in the morning, made tea for me as well as for Guddu. It was dark and I wanted to reach the place before dawn. because it is habit of cheer they may not call in the evening but it is sure they will call in the morning. I reached the point where I thought, in the evening I heard the faint sound. Since it was still dark, I took a torch with me.

The familiar sound of night jar was there and I selected a place from where I will be able to hear the call of cheer from a long distance. After few minutes I herd the familiar sound of whistling thrush. This is a bird which goes to sleep late in the evening and first bird to call in the mornin. All on a sudden came a very clear call - that of the cheer pheasant. The call came from very far, from the mountain in front of me, twinhoo-------------- Twlnhooooo--------twinhoo---------twihe twhie----------Twhie----My excitement knew no end. My experience told me that they were five six in number. After a few seconds a again.the call came, this time from the right of the mountain about half a km or so away. I could also make out that there were koklas around as a koklas pheasant gave the call Ka---Ka---Kak---kak - a loud call which one can hear up to kilometer. Soon whole valley was resounding with kklas calls about eleven different types of call which meant there were more than 11 pairs of koklas. I have observed about koklas that not every koklas give the call and most of the time one male is accompanied by upto three females.

Amidst all the racous created by koklas I felt as if I heard the call of cheer pheasant above me. And when I faced towords little right. Yes! They were there, 150 mts to my right a little above, the place is too Rockey it is diffcult to move as it was still dark but again I heard their call, Twhenoo------Twhenoo------Twi------Twi-------Twi---------
I made up the mind to close the distance and slowly headed towards them. After giving the call for about two three minutes they stopped calling, mean while I kept listing the calls of Koklas one above me head totally stop giving calls and now the morning was approaching fast. Other birds have also started welcoming the morning Ghoral started sneezing above me he too have smelled me as the wind was blowing from me towards him. Next to me was a small ravine with small bushes and many a pine trees in the direction of cheer pheasant, I covered a distance of about 100 mts now the light was so, one could see the movement of a pheasant from 50-60 yds. Slowly I heard small stone rolling down towards me, I took two steps and taking rest against a big tree try to locate what has disturbed the stone, again I heard a faint sound from the same direction, Now the light was even more and I was planing to move towards the direction of sound I noticed some moment . yes! They were cheer---------- as they sensed my presence before I could have seen them , I was wearing, Green Jacket and Grey pant, and I was making very little noise but then also they spotted me and immediately started climbing uphill leaving me behind.
One, two, three----------Seven, yes! They were seven, soon I took some steps towards my right and entered the adjoining ravine and now I plan to reach above them and I was climbing up ravine, so as to avoid them hear me.

After going about 60-70 mts uphill I thought now I am above them so I took out my shoes even socks to avoid making any sound it was really difficult to move bare footed due to rocks.

My camera was in bag lens attached to it every thing was ready. And as I crossed the ridge and moved towards the ravine where I last saw the pheasant, looking for them, now camera on my hand , there Was a big pine tree log on the ravine I wanted to sit their and wanted to hear any sound made by the pleasant. But before I take any decision , I saw in front of me standing the big male cheer pheasat staring me as if surprised by my sudden appearance. Pheasant must be about 20 ft from me and as my camera was on Auto and there was a rock to a little right and in between me and that cheer pheasant and firstly for first two there minuets I couldn’t able to focus the pheasant most of the time my camera was focusing that rock. Which was also as big as cheer. But at last I was able to Change the switch to manual and now the pheasant too had started moving slowly and keep uttering the sound kwink-------khink-----kwink. And I kept bracketing the pheasant on cameras frame, and one by one I was able to click 11 times as fast as I could, and seeing my movement they also started approaching the undergrowth leaving my camera un able to focus on. And soon they disappear in to the cluster of bushes, two of them were big ‘one male and one female other five were small, I was happy that I was successful the very first day in my mission.
I returned back to place where we spent our night and told Guddu that I have successfully taken the photograph of cheer.

Yasser Arafat, Watching wild life has been a hobby for Yasser. Having completed his MBA, Yasser has now devoted himself to do something for the conservation of endangered wild animals and birds of Himalaya. His field experiences of the pheasants and wild animals of Himalaya are shared with members of through photographs and observations.

Answers To Quiz Of The Month

Answers to Quiz on Frogs and Toads

This month no one has given all right answers. has given 8 right answers.

Right Answer to Quiz on Frogs and Toads

1.Frogs are bio-indicators because…….
  • their eggs actually absorb water and any pollution it may contain
  • their skin absorbs oxygen and water
  • both the above  

  • 2.Frogs are collected from the wild for .............
  • environmental indicators
  • medical research
  • both the above  

  • 3.The noise a male frog makes is unique because ……….
  • the call helps to attract flying insects for food
  • the call attracts females during the mating season
  • the call indicates the onset of rain  

  • 4.The tail of a tadpole
  • is reabsorbed into the body
  • drops off when it begins to turn into a frog
  • is eaten by other frogs as an important source of food  

  • 5.Difference between a frog and a toad is …..
  • frog is an amphibian while toad lives on land
  • frog eggs are in a clump while toads eggs are in a chain
  • frogs skin is moist and smooth and have non-webbed feet  

  • 6.Frog legs are a delicacy in many countries. From India the main species exported is
  • painted frog
  • common tree frog
  • bull frog  

  • 7.A frog`s diet consists of…..
  • water absorbed through their skin
  • algae and plant matter
  • anything that moves and can fit into its mouth  

  • 8.In this species of frogs, a fully formed froglet hatches out of the egg
  • bull frogs
  • tree frogs
  • black toads  

  • 9.This species is seen only in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka .............
  • Malabar gliding frog
  • Pretty bush frog
  • both the above  

  • 10.This rare frog is reddish brown with black streak through the eyes. A black lumbar spot is the identifying feature
  • pretty bush frog
  • fungoid frog
  • spotted leaping frog  

  • Please try our quiz for the current month on Quiz on Parks Sanctuaries of India

    News and Views

    News & Views


    Our chat topic for October 03 was "amphibians". October also witnessed a "once in a century event" in the world of amphibians. The discovery of a new species and family of frogs by Dr. S.D Biju( India) and Dr. Franky Bossuyt ( Brussels). Nasikabatrachus Sahyadrensis ( meaning the snubnosed one from Western Ghats) belongs to a species that existed in the age of the dinosaurs. Its closest relatives live in Seychelles, 3000 km south of Indian peninsula, providing yet another piece of evidence in support of the theory of continental drift.

    November to April is the best time to visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
     John Eickert of NumBum Adventures tempts the readers with his trekking account to Milam glacier under the twin peaks of Nanda Devi.

    The tiger contest is still on. The tigers at Ranthambhore are known to be most casual towards tourists. Yet in this audio visual they sure seem to tell a story.

    Members speak

    Mail From Anil K(kumar) Bheemaiah(b)anil bheemaiah <>
    Director world peace resonance.

    I am interested in

    a) Wild life information elib, mite network so that conservation monitoring can be done by monitoring

    b)species wise population clocks

    c)Study of herbivore plant synergies and plant genome conservation belt, with the side effect of providing
    wildlife migration corridors.

    I request information on like minded people ongoing projects so that the above can be implemented.

    anil K Bheemaiah

    and Views…………..

    South Africa has been sitting on a time bomb for a long time, and this bomb was created by unscrupulous businesses, which had either no consideration or no passion for the environment. It has been a matter of wealth first, environment later, instead of balancing the two. As usual, when business is unchecked, it exploits the natural resources as much as possible at the expense of the environment.

    For our country to succeed with environmental management, all South Africans, especially the environmental experts and businesses need to constantly develop environmentally sound technologies so that the environmental challenges we create with our production processes are appropriately addressed. This calls for an awareness and education drive.

    South Africa is the third most bio diverse country in the world. We recognize biodiversity as a national asset and encourage sustainable use and management of this asset through benefit sharing and participation of communities. In fact, there has been a decline of medicinal plant species in the past few years. I am trying to raise funds for projects to assist the proliferation of the useful and economically important species. In one of the projects, we are encouraging local people to plant more trees. And in another one, we are especially encouraging women to plant indigenous trees and fruit plants in their homes and surrounding areas.

    Rejoice T Mabudafhasi, South Africa’s Deputy Minister
    of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

    Tips On Beauty Without Cruelty

    Cleansing Creams

    Deepika Vohra served as the head of the Department of Beauty Culture at the International Polytechnic for Women at New Delhi. She also ran a beauty clinic at Delhi's Vasant Kunj for some time from where she relocated to New York for five years. Exposure to the world capital of beauty and cosmetics gave her an opportunity to compare the Indian beauty industry with the razzle dazzle of the New World. Reading and researching beauty culture has always been a hobby with her. The tips for beauty given below were selected from her repertoire of nature based recipes which are time tested to deliver.

    How do you recognize your skin type?

    NORMAL SKIN is finely textured with no visible pores, spots, or blemishes, soft and velvety to the touch, and unwrinkled. Normal skin has to be treasured and preserved, as it is liable to change, if neglected.

    OILY SKIN is caused by overactive sebaceous glands that give rise to large open pores. Larger pores, in turn, lead to blackheads, blemishes and acne. The appearance of blackheads and blemishes is due to clogged oil and dirt in the pores which is not removed instantly by cleansing. Oily skin begins to have an oily shine within a few minutes after wash or make-up. This makes it difficult to hold make-up. However, oily skin has an advantage of ageing very slowly, but deep cleansing must be thorough.

    DRY SKIN is a sensitive skin type which comes in blotches, tends to peel off easily and feels tight after a wash. Lack of moisture results in dry skin and this skin type is more prominent around the eyes, mouth, lips, sides of mouth, and forehead. Cleansing, toning, moisturizing form an integral routine of this type of skin. Dry skin is highly susceptible to diet, extremes in weather and harsh perfumed skin care products. Dry skin also has another disadvantage. Wrinkles appear faster giving you a prematurely aged look. A generous application of moisturizer will produce a skin which would be on par with the 'enviable' peaches and cream complexion.

    COMBINATION SKIN as the word 'combination' suggests it is mix of two different skin types on one face. More often this skin type is the result of a badly cleansed and neglected skin. It is easily recognizable as it is oily down the T panel, that is the forehead, nose, chin. The skin gets this oily look down the T panel while the rest of the face appear and feel dry. Combination skin needs scrupulous cleansing. It is a good idea to use a face mask for oily skin down the T panel and a mask for dry skin for the rest of the face. This method of treating the combination skin works ideally to give a perfect, balanced effect.

    SENSITIVE SKIN this type of skin is extremely delicate and vulnerable. It is easily susceptible to freckles, itchy spots and blotches. Dermatitis and allergies caused by chemical cosmetics are common problems of a sensitive skin. It is best to discontinue the usage of strong and harsh skin care products as well as perfumed creams and moisturizers

    CLEANSING CREAMS Herbal cleansing creams are light creams that remove embedded grime and stale make-up without stripping your skin of its natural moisture. Here are some easy to make cleansing potions.

    HERBAL CLEANSING CREAM Ingredients----5teaspoon olive oil 5teaspoon fresh coconut oil 5tablespoon cucumber juice 2teaspoon glycerin 4teaspoon beeswax A pinch of borax

    Method----Melt the oil and wax by the double boiling method. Warm cucumber juices, glycerin and borax in a separate bowl until borax is dissolved. Add the cucumber, borax and glycerin mixture to the oil and whisk the mixture till it thickens. Cool. Excess may be stored in the fridge.

    ALMOND CLEANSING CREAM Ingredients---5 tablespoons almond oil 1 tablespoon white wax 2 tablespoon lanolin 1 tablespoon rose water

    Method----Melt wax and lanolin by the double boiling method. Stir continuously. Slowly add rose water and almond oil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. May be stored in a glass bottle.Note--- For all cleansing creams, you may add a few drops of perfume of your choice once the mixture has cooled down.


    Urban Wild

    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!

    Urban Delhi is a place where a number of wild animals live in the concrete jungle of the capital city ( pun unintended). At the outset this may seem to be a strange statement- but after more than 35 years of experience in Delhi Zoo I have found this very true. Among the commonest ones are the Rhesus monkeys which inhabit the nooks and crannies of our city buildings. A large number are found around the main offices of the Central Government, near temples and also lately i the colonies of the city and surrounding towns.

    Monkeys enjoy a hierarchical society and depend on man to provide them with food in cities. Human beings especially those in the North of our country regularly feed these animals with fruit and other nutritious food. I have seen local folk carrying around bread, bananas, papaya, apples and 'paranthas' dripping in pure ghee in large bags to feed hordes of monkeys at different parts of the city.

    The animals come and wait at these spots for a handout.In the beginning they wait and accept food if it is thrown to them; soon they start demanding the eatables and if not offered, grab the food from willing or unwilling hands. In the above process, the next step is realization that a mock charge will cause the people to leave their bags and flee. The monkeys then run away with the booty. Often times seeing a group of monkeys, people, especially women and children get scared and open their eyes and mouth wide-which in monkey language means that 'I am going to attack you'. Monkeys retaliate on impulse and leave people badly mauled with multiple bites and scratches.

    The lucky ones escape with torn clothes. Monkey bites can cause rabies and hence need to be attended to immediately. Well-fed monkeys breed rapidly and can be a menace in large thickly populated areas. The reason why these simians encroach upon human settlements is not far to see.

    The scrub jungle around the city is being cut down for more and more dwelling places for city people. The displaced monkeys who have made the Capital's North Block their home, are a sight for any visitor to the India Gate. Simians walking boldly past uniformed naval officers and decorated Generals through the corridors of power is indeed a ludicrous sight. Tearing up official records is passé and no longer merits more than a passing mention in newspapers.

    Monkeys caught swimming in pools of cooling plants attract the ire of security men. Often we at the zoo are asked to capture these monkeys and house them at the zoo. They soon overpopulate our enclosures. Their relocation in jungles far enough to stop their returning is also not a solution. They love to return. Who does not want a free lunch? More about other urban wilds in my next article.

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