From the balcony of my room I had a view of four magnificent waterfalls and absolute dense green jungle. In the campsite there are numerous snakes and all other creatures which live in perfect harmony with the guests. We actually saw a Vine snake on a tree about 3 meters from my room. We had an orientation session first. Niramal Kulkarni explained about the ventures and activities of MRS. The lunch was a stunning one. An amalgamation of rustic Kokani cuisine with a hint of French cooking. Chicken, fish, mutton curies in coconut gravy, fried fish, rice bhkaries, local red rice and sol-kadhi. Who doesn’t have an appetite for such a delicious food after night long journey!
Our trails taught us a lot about the current scenarios (political) that hinder the conservation and also many technical aspects of wildlife research. MRS has a beautiful collection of data charts that give practically all details about the rich wild heritage of the region. The interns working there are very enthusiastic and open a treasure of knowledge both during the slide shows and on field. The first trail took us to the chief highland plateau where MRS is currently working on snakes and caecilians. A moderate trek for half hour takes you to this place from the MRS.
We were warned to carry dry bags and raincoats with us, to good reason also. Just upon reaching the top we were lashed with torrential rainfall which drenched us to the bone. We actually could feel the force the rain drops had as the battered down on all our gear and selves. After this ten minutes standstill and suffer affair the weather opened up to a beautiful sunny afternoon. Scourging the plateau we spotted an amazing collection of small animals. Bright coloured fresh water crab, a pied bellied shieldtail (snake), a caterpillar trying to save its eggs from ants, a scorpion and millipedes were the show stealers. Motherly love exsists even in the small creatures. MRS also runs the Pit Viper Expedition every year to study the behavioural and habitat patterns of pit vipers (snake). On coming back to MRS along with some hot tea we had a session on the use of various field record equipments used in wildlife research. it was mesmerising to see the dedication of the MRS team to fight all odds and work tirelessely towards conservation. They have successfully stopped mining in the region.
The night trail on the first day was also a rewarding experience. We saw two colour morphs of Malabar Pit Vipers, a Bronze Backed Tree snake, Dobson’s Burrowing Frog, dozens of Malabar Gliding Frogs, Prashad’s Gecko and my favourite a Cicada with its molt amongst many others. the serenity of the jungles here and the melody of thousands of insects, nightjars and the pure dark black night make you rethink your definition of peace.
The starry sky (if there is no overcast) gives you a feeling of truly being a small part of this giant universe. It is a sight to behold and remember for all the days that you spend in the busy and bright night life of cities. The night definitely gives you all the rest that you need without any disturbance from the other small world that we dwell in. This is such a remote and beautiful place which has no mobile connectivity. That means no emails from the office to throw deadlines and no calls to remind about the overdue and pending tasks. It is a bliss that only a fortunate few will experience. And I am one of those few.