A Mysterious Migration: Local Exodus of Common Albatross at Aralam

Thousands thronging in exodus: Common Albatrosses at Aralam

They come down to Malabar from the soaring heights and misty mountains of Kodagu and spread themselves all along the streams of Kottiyoor and Aralam forests.  After the spectacular flight formations and dazzling mud puddling on the banks of the wooded rivulets and cascades they move further south east to the Nilgiris.  It happens towards the end of winter or at the beginning of every summer.

A Malabar Giant Squirrel in Aralam santuary

The creamy yellow winged flickering and fluttering Common Albatross butterflies are a delight to the eye especially on the banks of the forest streams.  Local species like Chocolate Albatross, Blue Bottle, Painted Saw-tooth, Five-bar Sword-tail and Common Jay or even the occasional Blue Mormon join them for short distances in their epic voyage.

Tiny Grass Blue in Aralam

I observed this year’s count with Jaime Chithra on 12 and 13 February 2011 at Valayamchal Forest camp in Aralam Sanctuary.  Experts like V C Balakrishnan, Balakrishnan Valapil, Jafer Palot etc. lead the survey.  We saw thousands of Albatrosses in a few hours in the morning.  We could also see some other butterflies and birds on the margins of the count.

Brown-breasted Flycatcher at Aralam

Because of the climatic changes and over monsoon in the region there is a drastic decline in the number of birds and butterflies visiting the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary which is the life line of Kannur district and Malabar at large.  Despite the heavy rains the streams emptiying into Valapattanam/Kuppam river like Cheenkannipuzha and Bavalipuzha are also lacking in sufficient water flow.  It is getting clearer that this green and wet area of Malabar is also facing severe drought threats and drier spells in the immediate future.

Tamil Yeoman at Aralam

An Unethical Trend Paraded  as Scientific Study

Another alarming and unethical practice that is marring the nature-study and butterfly conservation paradigm is something called ”butterfly rearing”.  This is a complete unethical intervention in the organic order and complex processes of nature and the web of life at large and could cause devastating effects in future ecology and genetic equilibrium.

Green banks of Cheenkannipuzha: Riperian forests in Aralam

The fundamental premises and practices of butterfly rearing and ”life cycle study” are against bio-ethics as it intervenes in the autonomy and ecological rhythm of nature without even anticipating its environmental consequences.  It could be identified as a naive violence, a criminal invasion and an ignorant aggression on the eggs and hatched larvae of the butterflies.  Its a sustained sadism of the occult and obscurantist sort presented and paraded naked as pure science and experimental inquiry.

A skipper butterfly in Aralam

The hungry watcher/photographer or self presumed  ”scientist” manipulates the eggs and pupa according to his whims and fancies to get photos and to break the records in hatching and rearing. It has deteriorated into an obnoxious competition between the rearing lunatics!

Like moving clouds: Albatross migration groups in flight

The tragedy is that it is done at the coast of our fragile ecosystem and its sensitive life balance.  It is a blind mad race that people lacking ecological  and ethical literacy crave at.  Think of ornithologists collecting the eggs of endangered birds and rearing them in their backyards or studios for a more exotic close shot or a complete video, or just to break the records in home-reared birds!!

Glad-eye Bush Brown at Aralam

According to the exponents of this fascist Eugenics it is a harmless pass time and some of them even ascribe “scientific study” facades to this mere voyeuristic and scopophilic  perversion which is morally and environmentally catastrophic in the long run.  It is also vital to remind the authorities concerned that the public fund which must be earmarked for developing the conservationist culture and bio-ethics among the people, especially the young student generations must not be misused for this kind of unethical and aggressive-absurdity that is a common shame in both the realms of nature and culture.

A red dragonfly near Cheenkannipuzha at Aralam
Mud-puddling Common Albatross, Common Jay, Blue Bottle... at Aralam
A huge forest tree in Aralam sanctuary
A Cerulean butterfly at Aralam
A raptor in Aralam sanctuary
Jaime hiding in the labyrinth -like roots of a huge forest tree at Aralam
Orange-headed Thrush at Valayamchal, Aralam
The team at Valayamchal Forest Station, Aralam
A damselfly at Aralam
Jaime crossing the river Aralam

2 thoughts on “A Mysterious Migration: Local Exodus of Common Albatross at Aralam”

  1. A very nice perspective but a rather harsh attack on nature enthusiasts. While it started out with the casual biodiversity observations that you made, which I really appreciate, the next part of the article slightly went off the ground. You made many great points with the changing climate and its impact on the biodiversity, your observations are vital, but then you flipped the coin and made butterfly rearing a rather serious concern than climate change!

    While I take your point-of-view into consideration, and I respect that you observed and voiced the competition among butterfly rearing, I am very much surprised that you chose to target butterfly rearing over butterfly specimen collectors or worse still – poachers! Just for your information, butterfly rearing has harmed no species until now, where as poaching has had a very bad impact on their survival.

    As far as butterfly rearing is concerned, it does not harm, nor endangers the survival of any species. It is in fact a boost to butterfly populations, if released into the wild.

    “The hungry watcher/photographer or self presumed ”scientist” manipulates the eggs and pupa according to his whims and fancies to get photos and to break the records in hatching and rearing.”

    These words are offensive, backed by no proof what-so-ever. You did not even clear what “manipulations” stand for – do you mean that the eggs are injected with colours to make them look beautiful? Do you mean the place where the egg was laid was manipulated so as to take a better photograph? Or you do you only mean the egg was photographed by bending the plant a bit? If this is manipulation, then I don’t know how you watch wildlife documentaries without complaining about manipulations (watch The Great Migrations, especially the Monarch butterfly documentary by BBC). What’s crazy about the above accusation is that you were more worried about manipulating the eggs and pupa, without physically harming them, and not cutting off of the plant and leaves!

    This brings me to the next paragraph, where you say it is done at the cost of our fragile ecosystem. I partly agree on this, because I would rather think twice before cutting off a plant – but most often only a stem is cut, leaving the plant to regenerate again. The next sentence is absurd. You are comparing insects to birds. Besides the difference in these two Classes, there are laws that do not allow a person to possess eggs of an endangered bird, but, although killing a butterfly is against the law (a really important point which you completely overlooked), there is no law that makes butterfly rearing illegal. And just to clear further debate, laws are in place to protect a species, backed by research.

    Lastly, and once again, I am more concerned about the young generation killing butterflies and keeping them in their books, rather than rearing them. In fact, many students are made to collect insects as a part of their Entomology courses across India. They not only kill species illegally, but they kill so many, that it certainly has an impact on a small ecosystem. Instead, would you support this, or would you, like me, rather have these young minds try to rear butterflies instead of killing them to earn a mark or two?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.