Daroji - A prelude

Daroji is a small village in the Bellary district of Karnataka, also known as the hot bed region as the weather here is too hot to say the least and of late all the mining barons with their heavy machinery have savaged the entire region so much that finally the Supreme court had to intervene to stop this madness. The damage has been done considerably and I wonder how many years / centuries it would take for it to be set right (being positive that it can be set right!). Another problem that is evident here is the politics and the influential people who more or less control all the mining and have ‘billions’ stacked in their kitty, very much evident by their jazzy lifestyle armed with heavy bodyguards, fleet of high-end suave vehicles and not to miss helicopters, jet ships, luxury trailers too! Phew!

In spite of all these, there are some pockets in the region that are thriving (albeit, how long…?) in terms of nature and we should be grateful to some of the ‘brave’ selfless people who are fighting it out every single day against the land mafia, encroachments, mining mafia and all the wrong-doers in preserving what is left and also educating the local people and importantly students on the importance of conservation. Samad Kottur, a wildlife activist, Santosh Martin, honorary wildlife warden of Bellary district and Pompayyaswamy Malemath, a local politician and wildlife activist are few names that pop up immediately who are doing a thankless job against all odds, all for the love of nature and preserving what it left!

(Image: Deepa Mohan; L-R: Pompayya, Santosh & Samad)

An excerpt from Deepa Mohan’s article on the thealternative.in says “One of the most successful efforts in the field of conservation in South India is the effort for Sloth Bears at Bellary, Hospet and Hampi in Karnataka. Today, the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary stands as a heartening reminder of what sincere individual effort can accomplish against powerful and moneyed forces.

The hilly areas surrounding the Hampi region are believed to be the mythological ‘Kishkinda’ valley where Jambavantha the Bear (obviously the Sloth Bear) lived. Following the efforts of former Minister and Congress leader M Y Ghorpade, the state declared 5,587.30 hectares of Bilikallu reserve forest as the Daroji Bear Sanctuary. The area is also rich in iron ore and mining which became a huge, unregulated, and depredatory industry here. No ethics or guidelines were laid down or followed in the unbridled plundering of the land’s resources and the Sanctuary was under serious threat as the vested interests in the mining industry combined brute muscle power with high finances.

I had been to Hampi earlier but never to Daroji or Kamalapur and a email invite from Deepa ensured that would happen. The green cartoonist Rohan, Samrat, Thara, Manjula, Rama Warrier were the others in the troupe and we had 4 awesomeness days of birding, bear’ing and doses of heritage, all in a single package.

(Image: Deepa Mohan, some of us with Santosh/Samad/Pompayya)

We did birding along the canals and fields, thanks to Pompayyaswamy for his guidance, his spotting skills are excellent, we visited the Daroji sanctuary and saw plenty of bears licking the jaggery paste, we went around the heritage Hampi site and had a sumptuous meal at the Mango tree, thanks to the doctors Nagraj and Arun SK for that outing :)

Keep an eye, plenty more to come...