05 August, 2021

Preening The Vista

The selfless activities of a band of villagers off Kota get Sarus figures soaring

Narendta Bisht
Preening The Vista
A few skeletal buffaloes chewing on dirty hay and a half-barren field dotted with yellow mustard is all 'Pappu' Sitaram Gujjar has to scrape by on this winter. The milk from his emaciated beasts just about helps this cattle grazer feed his large family of eight. In this lonely outback of Kota, Rajasthan, he faces hunger, cold and deprivation. But Pappu is a giver. His charity begins outside his home, as he feeds handfuls of jowar grain to a pair of Sarus cranes that lives on his patch of land beside the Chambal waters.

Each day while cycling 55 km to Kota to sell milk, this class 7 dropout leaves his bicycle by the canal to scan the fields for those tall red-headed cranes. After filling in his bird diary late at night, he lies on his khaat listening for the slow korr-korr of returning bird pairs, before allowing his tired lids to drop shut; content that the cranes have landed.

Pappu is part of a rural Sarus Protection Group which has banded together to help save these birds. The Sarus is enshrined in Indian myth and history—it figures in Valmiki's Ramayana, it...

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