By Mixbah Zaffar

The mysterious sounds, the horror scene, the sweating of whole body. I felt he was the angel of death, who had come to depart my soul. Red eyes, black, white face, small bearded patches, wide open mouth. Ahh! I couldn’t figure out if he was smiling or making me feel worse. Don’t know who he was! But the image of innocence; of horror that reflected simultaneously from his face was quite surprising. I could feel the distance that fell short with each second. I gazed at him, as he tried to make an eye contact for a long time. His appearance dragged me to some different dimension of my past. He reminded me of my mistakes, sins; my pious deeds too. He made me calculate my perfection. I was like, what is my overall gain? What I’m gonna be in my future? Do I serve the motive of my life or I’m just living superfluous? What if this is an angel of death; come to take me over? What he gonna do with me? Make me feel the reality or fly with my soul? The whole body sweating, forelimbs trembling with fear, heart sunk, heartbeat increased, eyes blurred; tears started to flow. I felt like my breath fell short with time. Head flew above the marks, my soul was just pointed with a giant fork; itching me. I gathered up my courage, helped myself to stand up on my own. As I stood up, I took few steps ahead and approached him. Sunk heart, thousands of questions in my mind, trembling hand, I forwarded it with all my strength; touched his mysterious face. All I could feel, see, say was, “Oh! It’s a Laughing Clown!”

Mixbah Zaffar, from Jammu and Kashmir, India, is a class XI student who loves to write.

Advices From Dumbledore You Should Live By

1. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

2. “The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”

3. “Curiousity is not a sin,” he said, “But we should exercise caution with our curiousity…yes indeed…”

4. “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”

5. “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.”

6. “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”

7. “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”

8. “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”

9. “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”

10. “People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”

11. “Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.”

12. “There is nothing to be feared from a body, Harry, any more than there is anything to be feared from the darkness … It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”

13. “Those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.” 

Malayan Giant Squirrel Disappearing, Could Vanish After 2050

A study by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has projected that the numbers of the Malayan Giant Squirrel could decline by 90 percent in India by 2050, and if urgent steps are not taken, the species could be extinct in India in subsequent decades.

Malayan Giant Squirrel
(Picture Credit)

Considered to be a forest health indicator species, it is disappearing and may by the middle of this century no longer be found in the forests of India’s Northeast, to which it is native. Currently found in parts of West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland, destruction of its habitat could restrict the squirrel to only Southern Sikkim and North Bengal by 2050, according to the ZSI.

Only 43.38 percent of the squirrel’s original habitat in India is now favourable to it, says the study; by 2050, the favourable zone could shrink to 2.94 percent of the are the species was meant to inhabit. The ZSI study says the health of the species is critical as it indicates the health of the forests it inhabits.

The species is listed as Near Threatened on IUCN’s 2016 list (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and it is protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act.

The population of the squirrel in India declined by 30 percent over the last two decades. While the forest area in the Northeast increased by 7172 km² from 1987 to 2013, the region lost 628 km² of forests over the two years that followed.

According to the study, the Malayan Giant Squirrel and its habitat are under threat from deforestation, fragmentation of forests, crop cultivation and over-harvesting of food, illegal trade in wildlife, and hunting for consumption. Slash and burn jhum cultivation in many areas of the northeast contribute to the destruction of its habitat.

“We hadn’t studied giant squirrels comprehensively in this country so far. When we carried out this study, we realised that the Malayan Giant squirrel was fast losing its territory to human settlements and crop cultivation.”

“If the government does not come up with a conservation management plan, for the Malayan Giant Squirrel quickly, we may lose the species altogether in India.”

“The population of the species also indicates to us the health of the forest, of the vegetation and plants in the forest, on which the species feeds, as well as that of the other symbiotic species that inhabit the region.”

— ZSI Director Dr. Kailash Chandra said

The Indian Express, Friday, December 4, 2020

Malayan Giant Squirrel

Ratufa bicolor, also known as Black Giant Squirrel, is one of the world’s largest squirrel species, that has a dark upper body, pale under parts and a long, bushy tail. It is diurnal, arboreal (tree dwelling) and herbivores.

Of the roughly 1.84 lakh km² of the squirrel’s range in Asia, about 8.5 percent is in India. It is also distributed through Southern China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, the Malayan peninsula, Sumatra and Java. It is found mostly in evergreen and semi evergreen forests, from plains to hills at elevations of 50 m to 1500 m above sea level. In India, some 20 percent of the population of the species is found at elevations between 1500 m and 2700 m.

India is home to three giant squirrel species. The other two — Indian Giant Squirrel and Grizzled Giant Squirrel — are found in peninsular India.

Indian Giant Squirrel
(Picture Credit)
Grizzled Giant Squirrel
(Picture Credit)


90-ft long Ecobridge In Uttarakhand To Help Reptiles Cross Jungle Roads

A 90-ft long ecobridge has been made by the Uttarakhand Forest Department on Kaladhungi-Nainital highway in Ramnagar forest division of Nainital district to ensure the safety and protection of reptiles while crossing busy jungle roads.

The 90-ft ecobridge on Kaladhungi-Nainital highway | The Indian Express

This bamboo-jute structure is 5-ft wide and 40-ft high and can bear the weight of three adult humans. The highway has been built by local contractors over a period of about 10 days.

The highway, being the main route to Nainital, remains busy especially in the tourist season. Under high speed vehicles many monitor lizards, snakes, rodent squirrels, monkeys and other reptiles and animals get crushed. The brigde is an initiative to help these animals cross busy jungle roads.

The brigde, which will be put in sight of four camera traps, will be studied as a model by the Forest Department, Ramnagar Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Chandra Sekhar Joshi said.

“We are experimenting. We want to create suitable conditions for reptiles and other such animals so that they can use it. We want to create a micro-environment for them on the bridge,” DFO Joshi said.

Forest staff would patrol the area to ensure tourists do not try to use the bridge for selfies, he added.

The Indian Express, Monday, November 30, 2020

Bivash Pandav | Conservation India

While returning from Nainital in November 2010, I came across these road kills. The langur was first killed by a vehicle. Some time in the night, while a red fox mother with her grown up pup (a female) were presumably scavenging on the kill, they met with the same fate as the langur. I took this photograph early in the morning on the Nainital-Kaladhungi road. (– Bivash Pandav)

Conservation India, Thursday, August 2, 2012