“Perspective is the way we see things when we look at them from a certain distance and it allows us to appreciate their true value.” – Rafael E. Pino
After coming back to Kanha, a place, we call our ‘home’, the first thing that I heard about is the rain – how it has damaged roads and bridges, the overflowing streams and gushing rivers, conditions inside the park and what not. According to the official report, the tiger reserve has received about 1800 millimeters of rainfall so far, which is about 500 millimeters more than the normal average. A mandatory meeting with the park officials and forest department just before the opening date of the national park I realized how devastating it was when I saw some images from the park and from tourism’s point of view, it came as a huge blow, when the officials finally decided to keep the park closed till the middle of October for safety and security, when it was scheduled to be open for tourists from the beginning. They were absolutely right from their point of view because you can not take the risk of entering the park which hardly has any roads and bridges left with your guests and get stuck inside! It is a forest after all and those of us who enter the park every morning, evening, we know what it is like to get stuck inside. What was more irritating was the thought of not entering the park for a few more days, sitting back at the lodge, doing nothing. And rain was still not over.
Coming back from the meeting, I was not happy and when it again started raining it made me furious. To spend my time, I decided to take walks in the villages around, exploring the fields and small streams in search of something to photograph and occasionally cursing the rain. That’s all I could do to. During one such walk, I met a man from a village nearby and he offered me some tea at his house (yes, here in Kanha, complete strangers become friends, a part of your family, your house just like that). While talking, we were discussing about the conditions inside the national park and how tourism is affected due to that and then I wanted to know how tough life was for the locals in that rain. To my surprise, he smiled gently and asked me – Why do you think it was tough for us? I was bit taken aback and could not respond immediately. He realized my situation and told me how thankful he is to nature for the rain this year because it will help him to grow his crops in the best conditions. He explained in his simple language how rain brings a multitude of benefits to the earth, including watering wild plants and crops, creating streams and rivers after the unbearable summer, replenishing the water table and creating healthy negative ions. Rainwater has a higher level of oxygen and is free from harmful minerals and additives found in tap water. And for the first time in my life, an ‘uneducated’ man from an unknown village of Central India taught me the most important benefit of rainfall is its redistribution of fresh water in the water cycle. He asked me to talk to anyone around me in the villages I go or anyone I meet and everyone will tell me they have no complains for the rainfall here. He even told me that the best of them will grow three crops this year because of this. It is true that many locals here are associated with the tiger reserve in some way or the other, but it is also true that during the monsoon they all grow crops and earn a good amount from it.
Perhaps the pain of not getting a chance to enter the national park as early as possible was so much that I completely stopped thinking about the rain from the nature’s point of view. A little chat with a wise and humble man just helped me to see things from where it should be seen. We love this forest, our backyard, my office! And what is a forest without her trees and plants which are autotrophs or obtain all their nutrients from the environment around them. Rainwater plays an important role is this function. Rainwater is the most natural way for plants to obtain moisture. Plants use the moisture in the soil to replenish the water lost through transpiration and if there is no water in the soil, the leaves will wilt and the plant will fail and eventually die. Rainwater builds up the moisture levels in the soil and assures a healthy plant.It frees nutrients and minerals in the soil the plant needs to survive. Heavy rainfall also helps many plants and trees to get rid of several fungus and harmful insects species. As a naturalist, I always believe a forest is more important than the animals that live there. It is because of the habitat, the eco-system the forest is providing, the animals are there. Rainfall contribute to the earth’s weather systems, seasons and the survival of all plant and animal life. The best we can do is to adopt the pace of nature and her secret is patience.
Flame of the Forest Naturalist