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I think, there are policies and laws in place but there’s very little implementation of it. Definitely, I feel these policies and laws could be enhanced. For instance, in places like Himachal, they have a common policy for homestays. It has to have a room with a common toilet with hot and cold water. But in a place like Spiti, that’s not contextual. If you’re going for a homestay, you’re staying in a local person’s house, they don’t have common toilets themselves. So, to expect them to provide an attached toilet which has running water? In the houses, they don’t have running water
Traditionally in Spiti, they had dry composting toilets. You’re forcing them to convert to flush toilets when there’s not enough water for agriculture here. So definitely, policies like these definitely need to be looked at contextually. They need to be developed more contextually. Of course, there are signboards that you see all over the place but how many travellers really look at those signboards that are telling you to travel in a certain way? ‘Don’t’ throw your garbage. I mean, there need to be amenities that we provide, right? O.K. Yes. At one level, you do need to raise awareness, at another level you need to have facilities which are well maintained and that travellers can use regularly. Be it for dumping garbage, be it public utilities like toilets. Water refill points, you know? Places like Himachal should have these all over. Or even in the hills, it should be everywhere that it’s a norm that one refills a bottle as opposed to buying one. The thing is that for a traveller if they are given a choice, and with a lot of drilling into their heads, they would finally start using these facilities. But, these facilities aren’t there and they aren’t well maintained.
As beetles are very important to the ecosystem, and they help in many services, I would say it is ‘Eco-system Services’. Through the process of relocating dung and burying them, they help in nutrient cycling and bioturbation which means the porosity of the soil increases. Then there is this secondary seed dispersal—whatever seeds are present in the dung are dispersed. And, there are some parasites which get suppressed and beetles also help increase nutrients in the soil. So, many ecosystem services are provided by dung beetles even reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A typical day as a rehabilitator…we mainly start about 6:00 am. We do a check on all the animals that are currently at the centre. Any critical animal will get immediate care/intervention. Post that, we get on to feeds. Each animal has to be reviewed with respect to what feeds they are on. If they’re weak, they’re put on fluids and things like that. So, that has to be taken care of. So once the feeds are done, we get on to two different things at the moment. One is the ICU where we have animals like kites and crows and the other section is the neonatal part where we have younger, smaller birds and squirrels and animals like that.
“So, one main thing about wildlife is that they get stressed very easily. In wildlife, it’s a very common thing that stress kills. Sometimes even if a bird is dull and we don’t find any physical abnormalities or any injuries or anything like that, it so happens that just the presence of a human can cause a bird’s death. We have to be very careful about how much human interaction, these birds and animals are facing. We try to keep it minimal. “
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