Monday, July 16, 2012

Saree power - keeps bisons at bay


The tamil month of ‘Aadi’ has begun and over the last few years, shops have successfully campaigned ‘discount sales’ – now, one would find it too difficult to wade one’s way through T Nagar and sure would have more stress to the purse with women on a shopping spree during these discounted sales !

The majestic Indian Bison, also called gaur (Bos gaurus), is a large bovine native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The word gaur (Sanskrit: gau) is cognate with the English word "cow" - cognates are words that have a common etymological origin.  The population of Gaur is reportedly on the decline due to loss of habitat.   Gaurs are the largest species of wild cattle, bigger than the African buffalo, the extinct aurochs, and wild water buffalo.

Last month its stroll made big news – Bison’s day out screamed newspapers as on 31st May 12, the bull showed up at the runway – a leisurely stroll on the tarmac causing and panic and raising question as to how it managed to gain entry into a highly restricted area like the runway.   It reportedly was around 0600am and just half an before the scheduled arrival of the Doha Mangalore AIE flight. CISF and other police personnel too joined the search to bring the animal from its hide out in the valley. In the melee, the terrified bison moved from the valley into the nearby forest.  After enquiry, wildlife experts concluded that the animal in question is a bison and not any “beastly ghost”. It was finally put on record as “the Indian bison, an ox trespassed from the jungles”.


Standing over six feet tall, Gaur, the Indian Bison is reckoned as the fourth largest living land animal. As a herbivore, it prefers the safety of forests with an inclination to subsist on low rolling hills. Occasionally, the gaur ventures to the grasslands to add variety in its menu.  Karnataka Govt. has  given its consent to grant land for Indian Gaur Conservation BreedingCentre at Koorgalli on the outskirts of the city.  The Govt has allocated 100 acres of land for the ambitious project of Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens under the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK). The aim is to conserve different stocks and breeds of the Indian gaur in an exclusive forest-like environment, away from human interference.  Once the centre is set up, zoo authorities will go by the orders of the higher-ups on whether to shift some of the gaurs from the zoo or bring new ones under the animal exchange programme.  

Meanwhile, the gaur population  at Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) has increased significantly during the past few years as the forest personnel have successfully checked poaching by hunters from Kerala through continuous vigil from their permanent camps in the highly inaccessible evergreen forests. Forest fires were breaking out frequently and were being attended to by Forest personnel, later  a careful examination of the data collected during these incidents revealed that over 90 per cent of the fire in these areas had occurred either during August-end or September, i.e., ‘Onam season.’  It further brought to light that the forest fires had been created wantonly by poachers from neighbouring Kerala to divert forest personnel’s attention after entering the sanctuary from Kerala for their main activity of Indian gaur poaching.

On a different platter, read an interesting report in ‘The Hindu of date’ -  which mentions that ‘Hanging saris along the fence of farm lands is very effective, but it is not a practical solution on a large scale”

An effective solution of keeping wild bisons at bay.  The report states that “there  has been a great demand for old saris in and around Kodaikanal. They are tied along the perimeter fences of farmlands and gardens. If one wonders how these old saris are useful in farms and gardens, here is the answer. They keep Indian gaurs at bay. When this correspondent visited Pannaikadu on Vathalagundu — Kodaikanal Road, a large number of saris were found tied along the fence of a farmland. The animals may hesitate to enter the farmlands mistaking the display of different colours of saris as some concrete buildings. This technique has helped the villagers to keep the gaurs away, says Arun Shankar, vice-president of the Palani Hills Conservation Council.”

It is reported that Indian gaurs straying into the estates and gardens in Kodaikanal town and the nearby villages are a recent phenomenon. Disappearance of grasslands in the forest areas due to plantation of invasive species such as eucalyptus, pine and wattle and poor forest management have led the gaurs to search for feed in the town. – and Mankind often finds ingenuous methods to keep animals at bay – and sarees does it this time
 Photo courtesy: the hindu.co.in.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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