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Young World

Treks and tracks

Text and pictures by T. ANANTHA VIJAYAH

The laws of the jungle cannot be broken. To do so, would upset the ecological balance of the environment.

An early morning view from the Bangithapal guest house... dry sandy grasslands.

"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her," said Wordsworth.

A visit to a National Park is a revelation. My recent visit to the Mukurti National Park was one such. The programme, arranged by the Annamalai Environmental Society, Pollachi, was a trek from Upper Bhavani dam to Sispara Pass near the Kerala border of the Silent Valley. The distance was estimated to be 30 kms.

Shades of green... a shola.

Reaching Upper Bhavani, the Forest Official had to check our identity as the government is very particular about preserving the fragile environment. The catchment area of the Upper Bhavani had deer, tiger and other carnivores.

The crystal clear water of the brook was sweet and cool. When I tried to scoop it up in my hands to quench my thirst, I disturbed the silt at the bottom. On seeing this, the forest official, also our guide, demonstrated how best we can drink from the mountain streams. He bent down to drink straight from it like the deer. We had our lunch beside the brook. Another time the forest officials refused to let me bathe in the brook because human body odour might affect the animals.

The forest official gave us instructions so that the normal routine of the animals and birds was not disturbed.

Trekkers' delight... the path into the woods.

We had with us nature lovers, and an expert in environmental conservation and an avid bird watcher, Mr. Muhamed Ali from Mettupalayam to guide us on the trek and identify bird species. We encountered the Nilgiri Laughing thrush which is endemic to that area.

Standing at a precise point on the border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala was a great experience. We had seen only name boards and signs. The real land divide captivated me. The border devoid of vegetation checks the spread of forest fires. We found traces of elephant, bison, Nilgiri thar, tiger and wild dogs.

A spot of blue amidst the brown.

Silence plays a vital role in nature watch. A soft utterance attracts the attention of a deer miles away and they turn towards us and watch for any hostile movement.

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