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India’s Wild Life – Fight for survival

India a land of incredible diversity is also blessed by the extreme diverse bio diversity. During Imperial era it was the most favourite hunting ground for Europeans who used to come here for its exotic fauna & serenity. Yet India’s diverse wilderness areas encompass far more. In addition to rainforests, they include moist and dry deciduous forests, thorn forests, deserts, mangroves, grasslands, and coniferous forests in the Himalayas, not to mention a variety of freshwater and marine habitats. India’s diverse landscapes are home to numerous threatened and critically endangered species, including the Asiatic lion, Asian elephant, tiger, white-rumped vulture, Asian one-horned rhinoceros, and water buffalo. Many species of deer, antelopes, wild dogs, cats, and bears also live here. Resident primates include macaques, the hoolock gibbon, slender and slow lorises, and the golden langur—one of the world’s rarest monkeys. Besides mammals, there is a vast and diverse array of reptiles, amphibians, and birds, some of which are still unknown to science.  The expeditions were also being lead by local Kings for big game hunting. Once available & roamed in plenty Indian jungles were full of life where the Lord & the King roams freely sharing their own spaces where people survives harmoniously with the beasts. As India moves towards achieving her independence the laws & importance of conservation has become a new driver for nationalism the first attempt was made to protect Indian Wildlife was through the Elephant Preservation Act passed in 1879. The first abode of bio diversity which was granted protection was Gir National Park which is also a last home of Asiatic Lions, once used to be hunting ground of Nawab of Junagarh is now protected & was initially conserved & preserved by the then Last ruling Nawab of Junagarh “Nawabzada Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khan Ji” in the early 20th century now since the King of the Jungle had got protection then how can the Lord of the jungle remain at the back stage it was ultimately in 1936 by British Govt in India declaring 1200sqkm forest in United Provinces at the foot hills of Himalayas a terrai region famous for its natural habitat for Tigers was made protected as Hailey National Park. When India gain independence & the wounds of partition started to showing the bio diversity was affected the most by the big game hunting during this period realizing the state of her valuable heritage was given protection finally under the famous Wild Life Protection Act of 1972. At the turn of the last decade of the 20th century India has now become an open victim of hunger of the Far East markets which resulted in the huge demand & poaching activities widespread, this not only made our forests empty & scarce of wildlife now taking its toll especially on the Indian National Animal “ Bengal Tiger” by the start of 1990s’ their population dwindled from 100000 to 80000 in 1950s’ to 20000 in late 1980s’ by the end of the 20th century India now left with only 4000 Tigers & handful of other wild fauna. With the introduction of Project Tiger, Project Rhino & Project Elephant Indian somehow lived up to the expectations of hope for the future generations. But by the end of first decade of 21st century the situation has became more critical & laws a failure. With the pressure of population increasing  & Indian Government finds solution for economic prosperity & food security there is hardly any scope left for the survival of the once roamed in abundance the Indian bio diversity. The latest hustle & stiffness is now for the Asiatic Lions & Tiger Poaching which is now has become a hot topic of debate between the respective state governments & national interests. If we want to save our wild life we have to work together & eradicate the corruption from our system which hinders the execution of laws & conservation responsibility. With the clearing of the entire Tiger population in the reserves like Sariska & Panna the future looks more bleek & reminded us the extinction of Dinosaurs.

The critically endangered species in India, as identified by the IUCN and WII include the Jenkins Shrew, Malabar Large-spotted Civet, Namdapha Flying Squirrel, Pygmy Hog, Salim Ali`s Fruit Bat, Sumatran Rhinoceros, and the Wroughton`s Free-tailed Bat. The list of Endangered species in India include the Asiatic Lion, Asiatic Black Bear, Desert Cat, Great Indian Rhinoceros, Hispid Hare, Hoolock Gibbon, Kashmir Stag, Lion-Tailed Macaque, Malabar Civet, Markhor, Nayan Ovis, Nilgiri Leaf Monkey, Pygmy Hog, Andaman Shrew, Andaman Spiny Shrew, Indian Elephant or Asian Elephant, Banteng, Blue Whale, Capped Leaf Monkey, Chiru, Fin Whale, Ganges River Dolphin, Golden Leaf Monkey, Hispid Hare, Asian arowana, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Hoolock Gibbon, Indus River Dolphin, Kondana Soft-furred Rat, Lion-Tailed Macaque, Markhor, Marsh Mongoose, Nicobar Shrew, Nicobar Tree Shrew, Nilgiri Tahr, Parti-coloured Flying Squirrel, Peter`s Tube-nosed Bat, Red Panda, Sei Whale, Servant Mouse, Snow Leopard, Tiger, Wild Water Buffalo, and the Woolly Flying Squirrel.

Apart from the critically endangered and the endangered species in India, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and Wildlife Institute of India also identified several species as vulnerable in India. These species include the Asiatic Wild Dog, Banteng Bos javanicus, Brow-antlered Deer, Brown Bear, Brown Palm Civet, Clouded Leopard, Common Otter, Ganges River Dolphin, Gaur, Goral, Grey Indian Wolf, Himalayan W-toothed Shrew, Himalayan Musk Deer, Himalayan Shrew, Jackal Canis aureus, Andaman Horseshoe Bat, Andaman Rat, Argali, Asiatic Black Bear, Asiatic Golden Cat, Asiatic Wild Ass, Macaque Monkey, Back-striped Weasel, Barasingha, Bare-bellied Hedgehog, Blackbuck, Brown fish owl, Central Kashmir Vole, Dhole, Dugong, Eld`s Deer, Elvira Rat, Eurasian Otter, Fishing Cat, Four-horned Antelope, Gaur, Himalayan Tahr, Humpback Whale, Indian Giant Squirrel, Irrawaddy Squirrel, Jerdon`s Palm Civet, Kashmir Cave Bat, Kerala Rat, Khajuria`s Leaf-nosed Bat, Kolar Leaf-nosed Bat, Lesser Horseshoe Bat, Mainland Serow, Malayan Porcupine, Mandelli`s Mouse-eared Bat, Marbled Cat, Mouflon, Nicobar Flying Fox, Nilgiri Leaf Monkey, Nilgiri Marten, Nonsense Rat, Pale Grey Shrew, Palm Rat, Red Goral, Royal Bengal Tiger, Rock Eagle-owl, Rusty-spotted Cat, Sikkim Rat, Sloth Bear, Slow Loris, Smooth-coated Otter, Sperm Whale, Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel, Sri Lankan Highland Shrew, Stumptail Macaque, Takin, Wild Goat, Wild Yak and the Lesser Panda. The species like the Indian Wild Ass, the Leopard and the Red Fox have been identified as the `Threatened Species in India`.

The Biggest lost of Wild Life is the extinction of Indian Cheetah once roamed freely & found in huge numbers last shot in 1947 was the worst loss at the very start of the new independent era. It is said that Mughal Ruler Akbar used to have the 11 cheetahs as pets. Acts like Forest Rights & Produce Act introduced in early 2000s’ meant for the protection of Wild Life & for Tribals living there are necessary in this modern stage where existence of every specie is important as humans.

A little information about the rainforest

The rainforest has a unique diversity and exuberance and this plays an important role for life in the rainforest. As much as 7 % of land in the world is covered by rainforest.

2000 millimeters of rain falls in a forest at least 1 year.
50 % of the rain forest comes from evaporation from the forest vegetation.
10 meter water level can vary in a waterway depends on rainfall.
In 5 minutes, it fell 6.3 cm rain in Portobelo in Panama in 1911, which is world record.
1/5 of world’s river water are found in the Amazon.

On 1 hectar rainforest….

  • Grows 200-300 different tree species
  • There are 734 tribes in Ecuador. It provides 13 to 14 square feet for each tree.
  • There is formed about 22 tons of new plant mass each year.

The oldest rainforest is believed to be 60 million years.
The tallest trees can be 80 meters high.
It was found 7780 species of trees native to Brazil. In Iceland, the number is 3.
300 meters long vines winding up through the canopy.
A mahogany uses 100 years to reach full size.
Canopy forms a canopy of leaves 20 to 40 meters above the ground and this is where you’ll find most of the wildlife.
As a common mahogany, taking the tree with the 28 other trees and it’s illegal.
1% sunlight reaches the forest ground.
It was picked up 296 million tons of iron in 2007 from the world’s richest iron mine in the middle of Brazil’s rainforest.
50 million people are believed to live in the world’s rain forests.
155,000 of the 250,000 known plant species are found in rain forests. Over half of these plant and animal species thus belong at home in the rainforest.
Less than 1 % of the forest trees and plants have now been scientifically studied. Despite this, strains ¼ of the active substances used in medicine from rainforest plants.
The insect, walking stick that was discovered on Borneo has a length of 56, 6 cm, making it the world’s longest insect.

Rafflesia Flower Arnoldii in Southeast Asia can be one meter in diameter, making it the worlds largest.

World Rainforest Nations:

  • Brazil – 4,715,000 km2 (55% of the country’s area)
  • DR Congo – 1,330,000 km2 (57%)
  • Indonesia – 848,000 km2 (45%)
  • Peru – 686,000 km2 (53%)
  • Colombia – 606,000 km2 (53%)

 

Felling of the rain forest continues despite all protests. 2/3 of the world’s rainforests have disappeared since the mid 1800’s, and the pace is not lowered. This year approximately 13 million hectares will be folded down. There are about 4000 square meters per second.

Felling of the forest 2000 – 2005, by country:

  • Other countries – 31%
  • Brazil – 27%
  • Indonesia – 17%
  • Myanmar – 4%
  • Zambia – 4%
  • Tanzania – 4%
  • Nigeria – 4%
  • DR Congo – 3%
  • Zimbabwe – 3%
  • Venezuela – 3%

Yusufzai – Tribes of Afghanistan

Yusufzais are one of the largest Pashtun tribes. The majority of the Yusufzai tribe resides in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. And now sindh as URDU speaking. They are the predominant population in the districts of  Dir, Swat, Mardan, Malakand,Swabi, Buner, Shangla and in Mansehra and Battagram, they are known as Sawati. Other Yusufzai colonies can be found in the inner city of Sialkot and Lahore, arriving in the 13th century. There is also a Yusufzai clan of Dehwar tribe in the Mastung district of Balochistan who speak Persian with some mixture of Birahvi words. The name Yusafzai originates from Yusuf who was the younger son of Manday along with his elder brother Omar. Both died young and left behind only one son Mandanh. The descendants of Yusuf inhabit Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, and Malakand while the descendants of Mandanh live in Swabi and Mardan. The closest neighboring trive to the Yusufzai’s are the Alizai. Yusafzai speak the northern variant of “Pukhtu” with the hard “kh” replacing the softer “sh” of southern Pashtun tribes.

History: They migrated from Kandhaar when Mirza Ulugh Beg was governor. He succeeded his father, Shah Rukh, who was a son of Timur (Taimur-e-Lang), in 1446 A.D. In the time of Babur, who first came to Kabul in 1504 A.D., Peshawar had been colonized by Afghan tribes, such as the Swatis and Dilazaks. On his second visit, fourteen years later, he found the Yusufzais had spread into Swat. The current settlement of the Yusufzais must have come about after this time.

The Yusufzai took much of their current lands from the Afghan Dilazaks and Swatis, after a single decisive battle fought on the plains between the villages of Gadar and Langarkot. Babur helped subdue the tribes fighting the Yususfzais, using matchlocks for the first time against the Jahangiri sultan, Mir Haider Ali Gebri of Bajour. In previous battles the armies of Babur where never able to defeat the Yusufzai. In one instance Babur sent an army of 100,000 against the Yusufzai with elephants only to have the entire army almost completely routed.

Wars & Notable Personalities:

The Yusufzai tribe came to Swat in approximately 1450 and began fighting with the Pushtun tribes of Afridi, Swati and Dilazak. After several bloody battles between the Tanolis and the Yūsufzai, Tanoli Sultan Ameer Khan was killed while fighting with the Yūsufzai at Topi (near Swabi). The Tanolis were pushed to the eastern bank of the Indus. The Yusufzai tribes ruled northern India for centuries. The British army tried to take control of the Yusufzai parts of northern India but were defeated. The Yusufzai have fought the British in the 18th and 19th century, especially the clans of Swat and Black Mountain of Hazara. The battle of Ambela, Sura took place in 1863. Bakht Khan Rohilla (1797–1859) was the nominal Commandar-in-chief of Indian rebel forces in the Indian Rebellian of 1857 against the British East India Company. He too was a Yusufzai.

Demography: Three sections of the tribe, the Hassanzai, Akazai and Chagharzai, inhabit the west slopes of the Black Mountain, and the Yusufzai country stretches to the Utman Khel territory. The population demographics of Yusufzais is unknown but there are more than 3 million Pashtu speaking Yusufzais. The main districts of Yousafzais are Mardan,Malakand, Swabi and Dargai. The large populations of this tribe are also found in Northern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Small proportions in Burma, Nepal.

Badakhshan – Gem of Afghanistan

Badakhshan is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, consisting of 28 districts. It is located in the north-east of the country, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya. It is part of the Badakhshan region. Badakhshan’s name was given by the Sassanids and derives from the word badaxš (an official Sassanian title). The suffix of the name means the region belonged to someone with the title badaxš (analogous to Azerbaijan, Isfahan, Tehran, etc.). Feyzabad is the capital of Badakshan Province. Badakhshan is primarily bordered by Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province and Khatlon Province in Tajikistan to the north and east. In the east of the province a long spur called the Wakhan Corridor extends above northern Pakistan’s Chitral and Northern Areas to a border with China. The province has a total area of 44,059 km², most of which is occupied by the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges. Badakhshan was a stopover on the ancient Silk Road trading path, and China has shown great interest in the province after the fall of the Taliban, helping to reconstruct roads and infrastructure in the province.

Economy: Despite massive mineral reserves, Badakhshan is one of the most destitute areas in the world. Opium poppy growing is the only real source of income in the province and Badakhshan has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, due to the complete lack of health infrastructure, inaccessible locations, and bitter winters of the province. Recent geological surveys have indicated the location of other gemstone deposits, in particular rubies and emeralds. Exploitation of this mineral wealth could be key to the region’s prosperity.

Demographics: The population of the province is estimated at 823,000 people.The majority of them are Persian-speaking Tajiks. There are also

  • The following Pamiri languages are spoken in Badakhshan by certain populations of Tajiks:
    • Shughni
    • Munji
    • Ishkashimi
    • Wakhi
  • small Kyrgyz minorities
  • nomadic and semi-nomadic Uzbeks and Pashtuns, who migrate over long distances.

The residents of the province are largely Sunni, but many of the Tajiks who are speakers of one of the Pamiri languages in the northeastern districts of the province are Ismaili.

Sufism-Part 4 (Hazrat Baba Fareed r.a)

Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakar r.a. was born on the 29th Sha’ban in 569 A.H. [April 4, 1179 C.E.] in Khotwal, a village near Lahore [Pakistan]. He was a direct descendant of Hazrat Umar Farooq r.a., the second Caliph of Islam.
It is narrated that a miracle occurred before his birth proving his Saintship. One day, during the pregnancy of his mother, she wanted to pluck some plums from her neighbour’s tree without his permission, but the child in her womb (Hazrat Baba Farid) created a severe pain in her stomach that forced her to abandon the idea of plucking. After a few years after Hazrat Baba Farid’s r.a. birth, his mother lovingly expressed: “My dear son, during your confinement I never ate anything which was unlawful.” Hazrat Baba Farid r.a., however, smiled and said, “But, my dear mother, you wanted to pluck some plums from our neighbour’s tree without his permission when I had created a severe pain in your stomach which saved you from this unlawful act.”

Education: After he had completed his early religious education at the age of 7 in Khotwal, his mother sent him for higher education to Multan. Here he stayed in a masjid [mosque] where he learnt the Holy Qur’an by heart and studied Hadith, Fiqh, Philosophy and Logic under the tutorship of Maulana Minhajuddin. During his studies, Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Baktiar Kaki r.a. of Delhi visited Multan where Hazrat Baba Farid r.a. became his Murid (disciple) in the Chishtiyya Silsila. Upon the instructions of his Pir-o-Murshid, he undertook a tour of Islamic countries, for about 18 years from 593 A.H. to 611 A.H. [1196 C.E. to 1214 C.E.] he travelled to Ghazni, Baghdad Sharif, Jerusalem, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Mecca and Medina meeting many great saints and Sufis. After the demise of Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin r.a. the mantle of spiritual leadership in the Chishtiyya Silsila fell on the shoulders of Hazrat Baba Farid r.a. when Khwaja Qutbuddin r.a.nominated him to be his Khalifa or spiritual successor.

Besharat: It is narrated that when Hazrat Baba Farid r.a.visited Medina Sharif he was spiritually commanded by the Holy Prophet s.a.w.s. to visit Baghdad Sharif and meet Hazrat Abdul Wahab, son of Hazrat Ghaus-al-Azam Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani r.a. He was to receive some sacred relics from him. Accordingly, when he reached Baghdad Sharif, he received a box from Hazrat Abdul Wahab r.a. which contained the following holy relics: Two flag-poles which were used by the Holy Prophet s.a.w.s. in some of the battles fought by him; one wooden bowl in which the Prophet s.a.w.s. used to eat from; one pair of scissors and one turban which was used by the holy Prophet s.a.w.s.

Shrine & Chishtiya Mission: Because of political upheavals in Delhi, he was obliged to shift the centre of the Chishtiyya mission from Delhi to Ajodhan now known as “Pak Patan”. The Khanqah of Baba Farid r.a., with his patronage, became a great university of “moral and spiritual training.” Thousands of aspirants, scholars, dervishes and Sufis reaped benefit from this spiritual university. Hazrat Baba Farid r.a. reached the pinnacle of spiritual glory through extremely hard Mujahidas (spiritual striving) to gain mastery over the Nafs.

Death (Purdah): On the 5th of Muharram, during the Isha prayer [evening prayer] ] while in the act of Sajdah, [prostration during prayer] he uttered “Ya Hayo Ya Qayum” [O Self-Subsisting, O Eternal — two names of God] and with these words on his lips his soul disappeared into the eternal bliss of his beloved Allah. Immediately a “Nida” or Divine Voice declared: “Dost ba Dost Pewast” – Friend has merged into the unity of “Friend” (Allah). An old woman that was one of the devotees of the Saint presented a piece of cloth for the kaffan [shroud] of Hazrat Baba Farid r.a.. She implored: “I have not spun even a single thread of this cloth without having Wudu [purification]. I had prepared it for my own coffin but if it is accepted for the kaffan of this great Saint, I feel confident, Allah would be pleased with to pardon my sins and grant me salvation.” Hazrat Baba Farid’s r.a. son accepted this cloth as the Kaffan.

Murids: His Mazar Sharif [noble shrine] is in Pak Patan, Pakistan. Hazrat Sabir Pak, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Hazrat Jamaluddin Hansi rehmatulla alaihim [may Allah have mercy upon them] are among his favourite Murids and Khalifas. It is generally recognized that he had three wives and many children. Hazrat Baba Farid r.a. was indeed one of the most brilliant stars of the Chishtiyya Silsila and is held in high esteem by one and all.

Ferghana Valley – Land of Timur

The picturesque Ferghana Valley is located in the eastern part of Uzbekistan where the Timurs’ ruled & where the first Mughal King of India Babur lost his Empire; is the land which he loved the most & remebered till his death , the description of this serene heaven was also noted in his famous book Babur Nama. It is the most densely populated region of Uzbekistan, with almost a third of the country’s population. The diamond-shaped valley is 300 km from east to west and 170 km from north to south.
The mild climate of the Ferghana Valley allows a growing season of 240 days per year. The primary emphasis on the production of cotton, silk and other agricultural crops has turned a large part of the valley into an oasis.  With nearly 25,000 sq. km of fertile land, it is a great oasis surrounded by the Kuramin mountain range in the North-West, Chatkal mountain range in the North, Ferghana mountain range in the East, and the Alai and Turkestan ranges in the South. There is scarcely a hectare of uncultivated land, the primary crop being cotton. In ancient times, the exceptional flora of the region gave the Ferghana Valley the name “Golden Valley”.

The Ferghana Valley is divided into five regions: Ferghana, Andijan, Namangan, Khojand (located in Tajikistan) and Osh (located in Kyrgyzstan).  The Ferghana Valley is rich in a number of natural resources, including gold, oil, copper and other raw materials. The Sirdarya, one of the great rivers of Central Asia, runs across the valley. It is fed by more than 70 mountain streams. However, most of these streams are diverted for irrigation purposes and do not reach the Sirdarya. A nature exhibit is devoted to the wildlife of the area. Birds, including seagulls, pheasants and crows, are plentiful on the shores of the Sirdarya. The mountains are home to birds of prey, as well as bears, foxes, wolves, jackals, porcupines, badgers and red groundhogs. Several animals in Uzbekistan are included in the “Red Book”, a world-wide list of animals in danger of extinction, which was completed in 1980. It is illegal to hunt these animals. The first ancient settlements in the Ferghana Valley appeared 5-6 thousand years ago. It has been assumed that the Ferghana of the 6thc.-4thc. BC was in cultural contact with Southern and South-Western civilizations. The valley’s richness includes its millennia-old history and the traditions of its master craftsmen in silk, ceramics, woodcarving and a bounty of other ancient arts of humanity.

Wakhan Corridor – Afghanistan

Wakhan Corridor is commonly used as a synonym for Wakhan, the area of far north-eastern Afghanistan which forms a land link or “corridor” between Afghanistan and China. The Corridor is a long and slender panhandle or salient, roughly 140 miles (220 km) long and between 10 and 40 miles (16 and 64 km) wide. It separates Tajikistan in the north from Pakistan in the south. The corridor was a political creation of the Great Game. On the corridor’s north side, agreements between Britain and Russia in 1873 and between Britain and Afghanistan in 1893 effectively split the historic area of Wakhan by making the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border between Afghanistan and the Russian Empire. On its south side, the Durand Line agreement of 1893 marked the boundary between British India and Afghanistan. This left a narrow strip of land as a buffer between the two empires, which became known as the Wakhan Corridor in the 20th century. The corridor has 12,000 inhabitants. The term Wakhan Corridor is also used in a narrower sense to refer to the route along the Panj River and the Wakhan River to China, and the northern part of the Wakhan is then referred to as the Afghan Pamir.

Although the terrain is extremely difficult, the Corridor was historically used as a trading route between Badakhshan and Yarkand. It appears that Marco Polo came this way. The Jesuit priest Benedict Goëz crossed from the Wakhan to China between 1602 and 1606. In May 1906 Sir Aurel Stein explored the Wakhan, and reported that at that time 100 pony loads of goods crossed annually to China.

Early travellers used one of three routes:

  • A northern route led up the valley of the Pamir River to Zorkul lake, then east through the mountains to the valley of the Murghab River, then across the Sarikol Range to China.
  • A southern route led up the valley of the Wakhan River to the Wakhjir Pass to China. This pass is closed for at least five months a year and is only open irregularly for the remainder.
  • A central route branched off the southern route through the Little Pamir to the Murghab River valley.

As a through route the Corridor has been closed to regular traffic for over 100 years. There is no modern road through the Corridor. There is a rough road from Ishkashim to Sarhad-e Broghil built in the 1960s, but only paths beyond. It is some 100 km from the road end to the Chinese border at Wakhjir Pass, and further to the far end of the Little Pamir.

As Fahad Hussain has once said about Wakhan:

“Once here roamed the kings & angels from the soul

Now left with the twigs played by the horse

Red crystals changed the colors of the white puff

Where the pass remained empty with winds gone bye”

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