Shriniwas Joshi

Posted at: Mar 6, 2017, 12:35 AM; last updated: Mar 6, 2017, 12:35 AM (IST)

I believe that most of my readers, like I, have read ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling during their childhood. Remember, the man-cub Mowgli who was raised in the jungle by wolves and Sher Khan, the tiger, and Baloo, the bear (see sketch) and their adventures.Recently in a seminar at Shai Ropa, Kullu, organisers had kept a session on jungle tales coming from the mouths of those who spend most of their times in jungles facing and protecting the wildlife and thus swung me back to the golden days of the jungle book. They were the uniformed segment of the foresters who do wildlife conservation and protect endangered animal and plant species, along with their natural habitat.Roshan Lal, Deputy Ranger, explained how he saved monals from the clutches of leopards several times. Monal weighs about two kg and makes a small meal for the leopard. The bird tries to hide in bushes and the leopard jumps on it there or crouches itself by the bushes and preys. Roshan Lal made it a point to shoo monals away to an open area where they could save themselves from the predators.Monal is the state bird of Uttarakhand and was that of Himachal too till 2007 when western tragopan (Jujurana) replaced it. Its hunting in Himachal Pradesh has been banned since 1987. Till then its crest feather was used as decoration over Himachal caps. Roshan Lal said they had to keep eyes on the poachers within the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) or in eco-zone. There are about 2,100 monals in the GHNP according to monitoring done in 2009.Bhupendra Singh, Deputy Ranger, said an instance when a drunkard told him that at a particular place, a man was buying a colourful bird (see photo) from another for Rs 80,000. Bhupendra Singh went to the spot and rescued a western tragopan from being sold. The bird was injured probably it happened when being caught, so he used oil and turmeric on its body and sent it to Shamshi Ayurvedic Dispensary. It was alright in a couple of days when it was freed in the jungle.Kashmir Singh told an instance when a bear came out of its enclosure at 1 am at a place different from the GHNP. His focus was to check that the bear did not go out of the protection boundary into the civil areas. He took a battery of lathi-wielding people with one wearing a protective leather jacket. He saw the bear descending the steep at 4.30 am. He got ready and flashed a stream of torch lights towards its enclosure. It resisted in the beginning but then followed the path of the light and entered the enclosure whose latches it had already broken. He closed the door and kept it shut with the help of rocks. He could win this war against the bear in about four hours during a wet night.Rakesh Kumar said taking rounds of the GHNP with two men and a woman, he saw a brown bear walking on the other side of the river. It walked parallel to us for about 200 metres and we all were tremendously terrified. The bear then took a turn and went away. All senior officers told Rakesh that the brown or grizzly bear was less dangerous than the black one. But when I googled, I found this note, “Brown (or grizzly) bears tend to live mountain forests but they evolved in treeless habitat that influenced their behavioural response to perceived threats. They are more likely than black bears to defend themselves when threatened. A black bear’s first line of defence is retreat but grizzlies can be very aggressive.” Who is correct?Usha Thakur, Lenin Sharma, Ramesh Kumar, Mahesh Chandra and Indra Singh Pathania also shared their experiences with those present.The jungle tales disclosed that the uniformed services of the Forest Department have to be ready ever to face any situation that arises from somewhere or nowhere.

TAILPIECE

Bashleo Pass was one of the earliest places of the GHNPCAS that inspired Dr Tony Gaston (Canadian) to work for the biodiversity conservation of the park. — The writer is a retired bureaucrat

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