July 6, 2007

Travels across the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve - Part I

Covering an area of 5520 sq km was never going to be an easy task. But the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve represents a microcosm of the vast forests of Southern India with inclusion of all the forest types and high degrees of endemism. The region encompasses several protected areas and large stretches of reserve forests that straddle three states, namely Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

We had set out to do a count of honey bees across the biosphere reserve and in the process, had chalked out an elaborate plan to undertake the count. This project seeks to understand the behavioral ecology of bees, spread, nesting sites and relative abundance across the region. This project would ultimately lead us a greater understanding in the role bees play in forest pollination and also study whether bee populations are healthy in the region.

When we started…
Looking at the map of the biosphere, it was apparent that there was a large area to be covered and also that we will not be able to include all forest regions in our study. So, we devised a sampling strategy and selected the prominent protected areas as well as some reserve forests. And, then we set out.

Starting from the Rajiv Gandhi National Park or Nagarhole National park, we moved downwards to cover the Silent Valley national park as well. And in the process, nature taught us many valuable lessons that shall remain embedded in the hearts of the team member for the rest of their living memory.

I will be travelling and writing more about the places we went to and our experiences of a lifetime in blog entries, therafter...