Charcoal makers of India

The poor of rural India can’t always afford gas to cook on, and very few have electricity. Often cooking fires are fed with coconut husks or leaves, sometimes with charcoal.

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There are many thorn trees in this area which have taken over from the indigenous trees. they grow quickly and are a menace. People are allowed to cut these trees where they grow on government land. Some take them home to burn, but others use them to make charcoal, which they then sell as a fuel.

A few days are spent collecting heaps of thorn bush.

They are then piled carefully together in a mound.

The mound is covered with earth, the fire is set by lighting green branches inserted into the mound so that the wood does not burn too quickly. This produces a good quality charcoal.

With no financial outlay necessary, making charcoal can give a huge boost to a poor family’s finances.

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Wild visitor at Lakeside

wild boar at LakesideWhile walking in our area of land set aside for wildlife this morning I met a local family.

Mum, Dad and baby wild boar were happily rooting away for breakfast. Although I wondered why they would be hungry after digging up some of the plants in our gardens last night!

Unlike boar that you might find elsewhere, these are not aggressive unless they feel threatened. On seeing (even hearing or smelling!) humans, they take off into the densest vegetation they can find. I always feel privileged to see them, but do wish they would not run away and hide before I can take a photo! Thankfully I have one that I took a few years ago. This photo was taken just after the dry season and before the new growth had come through. As you can see, this animal looked hungry. The boar I saw today were much better fed!

Boar can be a bit of a pest. Once Lakeside has settled for the night and no one is around they will come in and dig up the succulent roots of plants. It is just bad luck that the tastiest roots are those of the plants in our flowerbeds and not weeds!

You may see a lone boar (males tend to be solitary) or a pair. If really lucky you could see mum and dad with a family of little ones! Young boar stay with their mother until they are adult. In some places you can see as many as 20 boar in a group, although in this valley you are more likely to see less than 10.

The wild boar is the ancestor of the domestic pig and the two species will inter-breed. So, any feral pigs you may see on rubbish heaps on the outskirts of villages could well have some boar blood.

 Boars forage mostly at dawn and dusk and into the night so you are unlikely to see them during the heat of the day. They are omnivorous and will eat anything they find – grass, nuts, berries, carrion, roots and tubers, insects and small reptiles. They are also a menace for our ground-nesting birds as they will take both the bird and the eggs.

As the boar is one of the bigger mammals in the valley they don’t have many predators. A fox or local dog may take a piglet, but only the leopard will take on a full grown boar.

The lake is full!

We have had some good rain in the last week or ten days, and the lake is now full once more. It is a wonderful sight, all the more so because of the importance of this water for people in the local towns and villages.

If we are lucky the rains will continue for a few more weeks, the overflow from our lake will go on to fill other small tanks and lakes, and the water table will rise even further, to the delight of the farmers.

When you live in a country like India you realise just how precious a resource water is, and how important it is to preserve what we have.

I have just been out with my camera to record the lake, but then decided not to upload the pictures. After all, the photos I have just taken can never improve on the banner at the top of this blog!

If you want to see the view for yourself then you know where we are, and you will be most welcome!

 

Is India neglecting its responsibilities to wildlife?

The wild elephants are still in the area, but not too close to Lakeside.

The forest rangers say that they have just come looking for food and water, but in yesterdays Hindu newspaper environmentalists say that part of the problem is the destruction of elephant habitat and ‘elephant corridors’ in the Reserve Forest, which is forcing them to change their range.

Let me just emphasise: RESERVE FOREST, set up as a protection for wildlife and a buffer zone between them and humans.  Why is human encroachment allowed? I would hate to think that people turn a blind eye for money. Or maybe there are just not enough people to enforce the law – if so there are plenty of poor local people who might be glad of such paid employment.

I do hope that this is not another case of India neglecting her wildlife for selfish reasons.

Wild elephant in Tamil Nadu

Wild elephant in Tamil Nadu

How green is my valley?

At Lakeside we take our environmental responsibilities seriously.  We live in a beautiful place and want to keep it that way for ourselves, for our guests, for the locals and for the next generation.

Soma Basu of the prestigious Hindu newspaper recognises the work done by ourselves and the other ex-pats who live in the valley in a recent article.  She also describes beautifully just what a wonderful place this is.  I hope her words inspire you to take a holiday at Lakeside sometime!