Sunday, April 29, 2007

A step forward

From the day I started trekking inside the jungles, it has always been a bother to me, that the people who protect our forests, the lower staff, the tribals and the daily wage earners do their duty under most excruciating circumstances. While most of the circumstances are due to the nature of the job, some can be relieved with the co-operation of concerned individuals. It was at Bandipur last September (2006) that I made a promise to the staff of one particular range that I would help them. The range faces torrential rain during monsoon and is biting cold during winter. My promise to the staff was to provide them with protection from rain and cold = wind cheaters.

My efforts to collect money/sponsors in this regard has been the biggest failure of my life. I approached corporate companies, my friends, relatives etc. Things were promised. But then I guess, these promises were never meant to be honoured. My reasoning for the broken promises - environment and nature are not a major concern for many. Well if this is the case then it is a wrong notion. If we cannot show a little more concern towards nature and the environment we live in, we are heading towards disaster. I do not think it is necessary in this post to enlighten people about the effects of global warming, deforestation and the extinction of wildlife. All the above have a direct impact on our daily lives. It only takes a little open mind to perceive the reality.

I was brought out of my dream (about sponsorships) when a guard from the same range called and talked to me. These people had so much of faith in me and my words. They were sure that I would meet them with the wind cheaters and were looking forward to seeing me. The sheer affection and hope these people had in me, shook me to my roots. With help from one single individual, I just went and bought the wind cheaters and distributed it.

The distribution was under the graced by the DCF - Bandipura - Mr.Renga Gowda , accompanied by the ACF - Mr.Devaraj and the DFO - Mr.Basavaraju. A fitting place - the distribution was flagged off right in the midst of the forest - in an intersection.
Standing left to right - Mr. Basavaraj DFO, Prakash, Mr.Renga Gowda DCF, Joy, Puttanna, Puttuswamy ( the guard receiving) and Mr. Devaraj ACF.

To sum it up - all of us were happy. To see the pleasure and tears in the eyes of these grown men, men who take on poachers, who risk their lives on a day to day basis and protect our national wealth has been a very very humbling experience.

I have the task of now, giving them as much as support as I can, irrespective of whether I can garner support for it or not.

Cant finish this post without thanking those few brave men who stood by me in my efforts.

Kannan - for mentoring me and introducing me to the world of nature. My whole world has changed after Kannan's entry into my life. Prior to his contact, my knowledge of the animal kingdom was only through books and satellite television. Today, the little knowledge I possess, is due to his tutoring.

Armstrong - for the number of times he came along to see samples and in physically carrying the wind cheaters.

Sajjan - for giving me the impetus to translate my thought into action.
Prakash - for the co-ordination between the DCF, AC, DFO etc.
The brothers duo Subash & Santosh - for their touching hospitality.

Vaitheeswaran - who did his best in getting me the wind cheaters.

And the most important - S.Sriram - Sir, Thanks for standing by and listening to my rantings and ravings. Thanks from all the staff of Bandipur - your wind cheaters are the talk of Bandipura.

Oh, just before my detractors start defaming me, the left picture shows a handful of staff who were present in the range on that particular day, wearing the wind cheaters. Guys, all it required is in all probability lesser than what you spend on night out or lesser than a meal in your favourite restaurant.

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