In our younger days, I remember we often spotted the “Neel Kanth” as it is called in india. “Neel” means “blue” and “Kanth” means “throat”, in the agricultural fields here in Punjab. At that there were no electrical transmission lines crossing the fields. There were trees and there were fields. It was considered auspicious to see it because its name is connected to God Shiva whose throat also became blue to due drinking of the poison which threatened to destroy the world. It is the mythology part.
Nowadays it is very difficult to spot this bird. The possible reasons could be the decline in its population and its semi migratory habit. Some literature suggests the deforestation, grazing pastures and pollution.
I think during summers it shifts base to some other place because I have not spotted the bird during all the summer. Last year during February and March, I spotted it sitting across the dry wood trunks, poles and electric transmission lines during the wheat maturing season.
Neelkanth or the Indian Roller Bird (Coracias benghalensis), is a member of the roller family of birds. They are found widely across tropical Asia stretching from Iraq eastward across the Indian Subcontinent to Indochina and are best known for the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. It sits patiently for quite long periods and then catches the insects etc and returns to the same spot. Once I saw it sitting on a big stone in a pasture. It will fly, catch its prey and revert back to that stone. These are some of its pictures.
One of neighbours in ONGC colony Dehradun gave us a cutting of a cactus like plant in March 2013. She told that the plant is called “Brahama Kamal” and is considered very auspicious in Hindu mythology. It is said that a lotus bloomed from the navel of Vishnu who is the greatest of holy trinity of Brahama, Vishnu and Mahesh or Shiva and Brahama was created on this bloom. That is why it is called Braham Kamal (ब्रह्मकमल). Kamal means lotus in Sanskrit
It’s scientific name is Epiphyllum oxypetalum. It is a very interesting and unique plant. It belongs to Family Cactaceae. It is commonly known as Night blooming Cereus, Queen of the night, Lady of the night as its beautiful Lotus like flower blooms late night. In India it is called as Brahma Kamal ( ) and is treated as a sacred plant. It is popularly known as Orchid Cactus as the flower has orchid like beauty and plant resembles cactus in habit. It is known by different common names in different parts of the world viz. Jungle cactus, Dutchman’s Pipe.
The plant is native to Sri lanka where it is known as Kaduphul ,it is believed that plant blooms rarely and that too late night. People in many places of India have been successfully growing it in the pots. At least I know of two people in Mumbai and Dehradun.
In the meanwhile, we shifted to Panchkula near Chandigarh and brought the plant with us. It began to add on branches but no flower appeared on it for two years. Then in the last week of July, a strange stem like structure covered with pink threadlike structures began taking shape. Firstly it grew straight downward from the tip of a blade of plant. Then the lower part began swelling and becoming like bulb. On the evening of second August around seven o clock the bud began opening and flower unfolding. By ten o clock in the night, it completely opened up to show a pristine white lotus. It was mesmerising to see it.
We were very excited as we were told that flower blooms for one night only and had a life span of 10 hours. In the early morning, we again observed it. It was still there but had begun to shrink back. In the noon, it completely became like a thread. But after three weeks it again gave another flower.
It is said to blossom during mid July to mid October in India. Let us see that if it bless us more times during this season.
Darwin, the father of evolution, had postulated that the species evolve constantly to adjust to the changing environment and climatic changes but this change is gradual in nature and takes place over thousands of years. But man is proving him wrong. Being an expert killer backed by technical advanced equipment, man is bringing rapid changes which are perceptible within much shorter time.Man is super predator and its peculiar hunting preferences are forcing many species particularly of fish and large sized land animals to evolve at a rapid pace than the nature would have done. There are stories of attacks by sharks on people venturing into sea and of being killed by lions or other carnivorous animals but they fade away when compared to the man. Scientists at the Victoria university at British Columbia in Canada who are studying the changes and the harm being brought upon the fauna by the man has termed the man as “Super Predator“
In general the man hunts the largest of the animals. For examples adults of lions and tigers to flaunt them as the trophies of their valour and skill as opposed to the hunting animals who generally go far the weakest and younger prey. Thus the man depletes the mature “reproduction capital” instead of the “reproductive interest” of the hunted species. For example, fish is caught in the nets and nets are so constructed as to retain the larger fish and filter out the smaller ones.
This is causing the the fish to mate early and produce the smaller broods. The size is diminishing. This is because the fish is also evolving techniques to survive and producing fish of smaller varieties which can pass through the larger net openings.
Man has hunted the sea creatures 14 times more than the sea predators and 9 times more than the land animals. Man is going for the bigger animals like sharks, tuna fish and marlin. This is changing the ecosystem at a much faster pace than nature.
Over Killing of the land predators has resulted in the increase of herbivore population. This increase is putting pressure on many resources and robbing the food from insects and birds which we cherish. And also resulting in producing the disease prone herbivorous animals.