Friday, April 23, 2010

World Earth Day

To mark World Earth Day yesterday, let me share a wonderful quote by great naturalist John Muir.

" A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jerdon's Courser

What is it, one may ask ? It is the name of a bird, an endangered bird in India. As for how it got its name, Wiki says "The bird was discovered by the surgeon-naturalist Thomas C. Jerdon in 1848 but not seen again until its rediscovery in 1986. This courser is a restricted-range endemic found locally in India in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh. It is currently known only from the Sri Lankamalleshwara Sanctuary, where it inhabits sparse scrub forest with patches of bare ground."

The Hindu in last August 09 reported the story of its sighting thus.

"The sighting of the critically endangered Jerdon’s Courser, a ground bird found in scrub jungles, after many years has come as "major boost" to the conservation efforts of wildlife activists and environmentalists, to save the species.

Two Jerdon’s Coursers were spotted by BNHS scientist Rahul Chavan and his local assistant Rahim in the core area of Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh on the morning of August 6, 2009.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden at Hyderabad, Hitesh Malhotra said, "This excellent news is very reassuring. We all need to increase efforts for the protection of Jerdon’s Courser with renewed vigour."

The sight of this rare nocturnal bird has come as a major boost to the conservation efforts for this near-extinct species, according to BNHS.

"It is a big boost to our conservation efforts, particularly to add some land to the Sanctuary, which the proponent of the Telugu Ganga Canal had promised," BNHS Director, Asad Rahmani said.

BNHS has been conducting field research on Jerdon’s Courser for the past years to help conserve the species, in collaboration with UK-based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Andhra Pradesh Forest Department, University of Cambridge and University of Reading, funded by the Darwin Initiative.

P Jeganathan of Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, who is a part of the Jerdon’s Courser Project, said that the recent sighting indicates that these rare birds exist in the area and further efforts are required to locate them in more places.

RSPB's International Officer for India Ian Barber said, "Jerdon's Courser is clearly a bird on the edge of existence. Although there is a great deal of international co-operation to prevent this bird's global extinction there are many pressures, especially habitat loss that could force the Courser into oblivion."

The ongoing research work of BNHS and RSPB in Andhra Pradesh aims to gather more information about its ecology, breeding habits, distribution and habitat use.

The survey is in progress in different areas in and around Sri Lankamalleswara Sanctuary. Automatic camera traps are being used to get photographs of this elusive bird and track strips which retain the foot prints, mainly to detect its presence, a BNHS release said."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two Interesting History Finds

"An inscription of Aditya Chola I (871-907 AD) has been found in a dilapidated temple about a kilometre from Pattisvaram near Kumbakonam by research scholars of Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research, Tiruchi." For more see

Vijayanagara King Sri Krishnadevaraya's throne remains an unresolved riddle to historians. Where does it lie now?

Was it used by Sri Krishnadevaraya's successors after his demise in 1530 A.D., after a 21-year successful rule described as the golden age in medieval south India?

Or taken away by Bahmani sultans after Aliya Ramaraya, son-in-law of Sri Krishnadevaraya, suffered a crushing defeat at their hands in the Tallikote battle in 1565?

However, according to Dr. K. Krishna Rao, an authority on Sri Krishnadevaraya, the throne is very much in Hampi. Dr. Rao's research recently took him there and he “chanced upon” the throne in the famous Virupaksha temple, the place where, historians say, the coronation took place on August 7, 1509.

The throne, resembling a highly embellished chair used for grooms and brides at marriages of celebrities these days, was made of pure silver and full of engravings.

Now, it is being used by archakas as the peetham to place “ammavarau,” the consort of the presiding deity, Lord Shiva, he said.

Dr. Rao said the archakas gave him the tip-off with great reluctance.

Unlike all other structures destroyed by the Bahmanis after the war, the temple remained intact. Shaivite soldiers formed a sizeable chunk of the Bahmani army which participated in the Hampi devastation but they spared the temple as it was dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thought to ponder

I chanced upon this quote and immediately thought best to share it. Life is not always black and white, the extremes, but mostly gray.

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity." -Gilda Radner -actress and comedian (1946-1989)