Wildbuzz: grief, love and redemption

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The Northern Goshawk, or Baaz, the state bird of Punjab, finds resonance not only in the history, culture and religion of the subcontinent, but it is a bird that has resisted the falcon. pilgrim in the worldwide practice of the art of falconry. No individual in contemporary history has done more to popularize the Northern Goshawk than Helen Macdonald, who wrote an account of his relationship with a female Northern Goshawk, Mabel, in H is for Hawk. Brutally honest, the memoir brimming with emotional richness has stirred the souls of naturalists.

Macdonald, an Englishwoman, has lost her father. To get rid of the stranglehold of grief and the grip on healing, Macdonald began training a difficult goshawk as she wanted to immerse herself in a creature that knew neither remorse nor emotion. “As she tries to go through a deep and deep sorrow .. With the taming of the hawks, Helen is untamed, in a book with a love deep in her heart,” is how her book has been expressed.

Female goshawks can be enigmatic, charming, and loyal to the trainer like a companion dog, with flashing lemon-yellow eyes that turn orange with age. But the avian hunter is pure brutality when unleashed on hares and pheasants. The Northern Goshawk pinches live prey with its talons and tears off its breast during malicious “open heart surgery”. Tracking the picturesque English moors with Mabel, Macdonald wrote: “Everything was gone except that quiet, woodland scene. In which I intended to let havoc and murder escape. Helen and Mabel would share the prey that the latter slaughtered.

The book won awards and was made into a popular BBC series, Macdonald went on to become a celebrity, appearing in Vogue. “Goshawks are the Christopher Walken of birds … not extraordinarily intelligent like dogs or parrots, but they have phenomenal tactical intelligence, like the way they use the winds to attack, like a military operation,” Macdonald said. . as told.

A female Gharial before the rescue of an Abohar water channel. (PHOTO: PUNJAB FOREST AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT)

Gharials, free to move around

The critically endangered species, the gharials, are all set to continue swimming against the tide of extinction in the Punjab section of the Indus system.

The Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Department will release 25 gharials near the village of Miani in the Beas Conservation Reserve (BCR) on December 5, 2021. This will bring the number of gharials released into the BCR to 95, and the fourth of these captive-bred lots Gavials released since that historic day of December 25, 2017, when 10 Gavials were the first to taste the silvery ripples of the Beas. Miani village falls under Dasuya tehsil of Hoshiarpur. The location chosen for the impending liberation is considerably upstream of the Harike Dam, 104-112 km as the Beas meanders. The release sites of the four lots have progressed upstream since 2017, as a few Gharials were dragged into the Harike dam and either died or were washed away by the canals and reached the areas of Abohar-Muktsar, at 60-70 km downstream of the dam. The lives of the Gharials swept downstream from the dam were endangered. However, the department was able to carry out their rescues from the system of canals and minor drains. The other factor, which resulted in the selection of the Kula Fattah forests on the banks of the Beas near the village of Miani, is that the section of the river here enjoys relatively intact habitat and sits on a long chain of islands. Islands are essential for gharial reproduction and protect against turbulence in water levels.

The litmus test for the Punjab gharial reintroduction program will be reached when the released gharials begin to breed. Until the department first published gharials in 2017 on beas, the species was extinct in the Indus system. Of the three river systems dominating the subcontinent, only the Brahmputra remains devoid of Gharials. The Ganges system was the first to support reintroductions.

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