Thursday, August 27, 2015

A walk along the banks of Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore- - The Gems and the Glaring gaps

I watch with interest the large number of morning walkers on the walking path so well carved out along the cleaned part of the Ulsoor lake.  Some are engaged in conversation, most glued to the earphone, some exercising, some playing ball in a clear strip.   Cormorants splash around in the clean part of the lake, obviously there are fish in the water.   Their splashes arouse the curiosity of walkers who are new to the area.  Mobile phones go clicking.   Pariah kites circle around.  A single Brahminy kite stands out.  The number of Brahminy kites seems to have gone down.  I could spot only one in about ten days' time.

This blog is for all of those who do not have time/inclination to watch the lovely butterflies and other insects they pass by every day.  These insects are becoming rarer by the day and we in India are lucky that spraying of insecticides is not that widespread yet so as to kill them off for ever from our parts. Safety tests done in labs before marketing insecticides don't account for the long term poison accumulation that kills bees, and possibly many other beneficial insects.   By disregarding the threat of chemicals to tiny creatures, scientists warn, may be endangering larger ones like ourselves.

I call them Gems, because they are priceless in today's world.  Here are a few I could manage clicking.

Tailed Jay

To read more about this butterfly, go to

Common Castor

To read more about this butterfly, go to!/sp/765/Ariadne-merione

Plain Tiger

To read more about this butterfly, go to!/sp/744/Danaus-chrysippus

Silk cotton Bug

And now,  the Glaring Gaps of the Lake!

To reach the walking path I had to walk along a stinking sewer which borders the Lake for almost 1000 meters.   Sewage water kept spewing in from other parts of the lake as well.

The stinking sewer whose water goes into the lake

The pretty water Lilies blooming in the enclosed part of the lake did not prevent the steps of the step well getting strewn about with polythene bags and styrofoam glasses.   (Double click on the picture to see a larger image)

Marketed in the US under the name Styrofoam, EPS Expandable Polystyrene Foam (EPS) was invented by Dow Chemical scientist Otis Ray McIntire in 1941.  There are two main issues that polystyrene causes for marine (read lake) animals - mechanical and chemical.

"The [mechanical root] is very straight-forward," says scientists.   Oftentimes, we find polystyrene foam lodged in the intestines that causes blockages that can be lethal. If you think about how we worry about a mild blockage from eating the wrong thing, imagine eating a ball of Styrofoam. That's what some of these animals are doing."

Chemically, absorbent properties make EPS even more dangerous. "Polystyrene foams essentially act like little pollutant sponges, picking up and concentrating some of the nastiest contaminants in the water"   That's not just bad for the fish and the cormorants. It could be bad for humans.

My earlier article on Ulsoor lake "Bringing back nature into the city of Bangalore"

can be read at the link

Thursday, August 20, 2015

IWC Posters

At, we brought out two posters one about the Tiger and another one about pheasants, to create awareness about these little known, but beautiful birds of India.

The tiger poster subtly brings out the fact that the slogan "Save Tiger" takes on meaning only when we are willing to LISTEN to the tiger.   His needs are, diverse and plentiful prey base, territory and forest cover.   In short, biodiversity conservation is at the root of tiger conservation.  Creating awareness about the need to conserve our bio diversity is the mission of

The second poster is about a group of birds called pheasants, a family to which our National Bird belongs.  While the peafowl is protected and cases of poaching/hunting are rare, the others and lesser known pheasants are getting rarer and are probably on the verge of extinction.  The misnomer "game birds" attached to these birds does not help matters either.

We have brought out both these posters in the form of T-shirts which you can buy at our store

Buy them at a discounted price valid till September 11.   The coupon code is IWC150 for obtaining a discount of Rs 150 on the listed price.  Buy these T shirts and also choose from a large number of other designs which are available in our store now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wilderness Nepal

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Shooing away monkeys-You can't be serious!

The small back yard garden I have faces the biggest threat from troops of monkeys on the prowl looking for goodies.  Having gotten wise to their habits, we have been taking many precautions.

1. Never, repeat never, leave any door of the house open.
2. Never leave dustbins out.

3. Always cover your compost pit.
4. Never, repeat never, offer any food to them, even if a baby monkey steals your heart with its pranks.

So far so good.   But if you have ripening tomatoes/ bananas/mangoes in your precious bit of land which you call your backyard garden, how does one protect them?  Seeing monkeys carelessly tasting and throwing away your hard worked tomatoes and brinjals (grown organically and examined daily with such anticipation that will put many farmers to shame)  breaks any kitchen gardener's heart.  

So this time when the mango blooms appeared on the sole mango tree at the centre of my kitchen garden, many minds went to work to think of ways to protect the future mangoes.

Make a green house, said one.   What about the birds in the garden, how will they fly about?  This suggestion was vetoed out by me.
Light a firecracker with a big boom, came another suggestion.  This was immediately accepted.  So now on, whenever one was alerted about monkeys in the vicinity , a firecracker went off and monkeys scampered away.  The alert came from babblers and bulbuls who have made my garden their property.   But often the monkeys visited when we were not around and in stealth.  The half eaten vegetables strewn around were the only proof of their visit.

As the small mangoes started appearing, more human brains started worrying about their future.  "Only a couple of mangoes will survive, that too  with luck",  pronounced the koodawalla who looked at the tree with interest everyday he came to collect the garbage.

Cover each mango with muslin cloth, suggested our gardener after due deliberation.  We had tried this the the year before with little success.  The mangoes looked terribly unhappy at the imprisonment, for one.  For the other, monkeys figured out the mangoes were covered and managed tearing apart the covers.

Then one day, our maid came with two toy guns, one a fairly big one and another a  small one.  Tie this up high enough so that monkeys can see them from a distance, she suggested.  If scarecrows in fields can scare away birds,  the sight of the gun will scare away monkeys, she reasoned.

I was ready to try anything to protect the mangoes.  This suggestion seemed harmless to all concerned.  So we implemented it.

It is now two full months  since we put up the gun.   The monkeys pass through our garden once in a while.  They hurry through without looking left or right.  So is the scaregun working?  May be it is all too early to declare the experiment a success.    But then it can well be.  Monkeys are clever beings.  Many people have started using toy guns to scare away monkeys and they associate big booms with guns.  So may be ?

Here are some pictures taken today.  We are taking a chance and letting the mangoes ripen on the tree.  Hope the monkeys will leave them alone.

(Click on the photographs to see a bigger picture)

Friday, March 13, 2015