Fellow travellers in the forest

Many of the forests that I have roamed over the last two decades would have been much poorer places had it not been for some special people who knew the forest and shared their knowledge of the wild, showed and taught me things with utmost generosity.  These people from indigenous communities in Arunachal Pradesh have…

A Journey in Wancho Land

One time in November 1997, on a break from the drudgery of lonely PhD fieldwork in Pakke, I travelled with Japang, who was my guide/assistant/friend to his village in eastern Arunachal. He is a Wancho from the far-away village of Konnu in erstwhile Tirap district (now Longding district) near the Myanmar border. I justified the…

A forest returns

A tall and lone semal (Bombax ceiba) tree stood in the middle of a large swampy area filled with the Torani gach (Alpinia allughas), known as ginger-lilies. Elephants love eating these plants. The soil was wet, soft and your feet could sink into its squishiness. There were small pools with greenish algae and the water…

A plant called Paris

  Way back in April 2004, on a walk to Motijheel and Gibbons’ Land in Namdapha, we came across a beautiful plant. It was a herb and had two tiers of leaves in whorls and the flowers seemed to have spidery tendrils. Quite a beauty and unusual. Photo: Saravana Kumar Sara, the ace photographer with an eye…

Crouching chowkidar, leaping tiger

November 2012 It started calling from around 2:30 pm. And kept on at regular intervals every 15-20 minutes or so. Imam and I had tea on the veranda of the rest house. We figured the tiger was maybe around 500 m away. Then we decided to go for a walk on the track through the…

Journeys in Arunachal

Travelling in north-east India can be an amusing, exhilarating experience or nerve-wracking and frustrating depending on your frame of mind and your stars. Murphy’s law applies – so just bear in mind that if anything can go wrong it will, but then again it may not. As a wildlife biologist who has spent many years…

It never rains in Spiti

3rd – 10th September 1995 The bus was hurtling its way down the rain and hail-washed mud road near the Kunzam pass when I realized that it was actually snowing lightly. Sitting cosily ensconced in the relative comfort of the Himachal State Transport Roadways bus, I felt a great thrill watching the lightly falling snow…