Thursday, August 1, 2013

Paradise Found in a Torrential Downpour

This afternoon I finally reached the first CES field station at Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu, and I never want to leave! Being in the city's and on campus at the university was definitely a valuable experience and a true exposure to the real hustle and bustle of India, but as soon as I stepped off the bus here I wanted to cry. It is so peaceful and beautiful and refreshing. Just being in the mountains is so exhilarating, and I fully understand how this natural beauty inspires the passion in ecologists to carry out their work. 

From the bus station,  the road to the village and station cuts through the national forest, where you have every chance of seeing a tiger or panther crossing the road. The elephant camp where I will be interviewing the mahouts (elephant caretakers) is also located just down the road. Three of the amazing animals ere carrying bundles of branches along the side of the road as we drove past, and it was a sight that just made me smile. Elephants are such fascinating creatures from their anatomy to their behavior, and its so sad to think that so many are killed yearly for their tusks and because of human conflict. I have been reading many articles concerning human-elephant conflict due to crop raiding and habitat fragmentation via the construction of roads and dams, logging, etc. Both sides of the story are important to understand since many human lives and livelihoods are taken as well as the lives of wild elephants. 

    The view from my cottage room of the Niligiri mountain range. This means Blue Mountains, and they are called so because of the rock found within them that appears blue and the blue flowers that bloom every 7-12 years.

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