Friday, May 20, 2016

Urbanization meets wildlife

On our third day, we met with two ESG (Environmental Support Group) representatives in the Karishma Hills.

On our third day, we began our journey at 6:30 a.m. and traveled to the Karishma Hills. We met with two ESG (Environmental Support Group) representatives, Leo and Bhargavi. They took us on a hike through a forest that is 650 acres large and home to 70 species of birds including peacocks, quail, and cuckoos.

Also, leopards and mongooses can be spotted roaming through the eucalyptus trees from time to time. Urban forests like the one we were lucky to experience are unfortunately uncommon since developers want the space for commercial property. It was surprising to learn that even though the forest mainly contained eucalyptus trees, they are not actually native to India and were imported from Australia. Eucalyptus trees are not very good for filtering water or providing adequate homes for native animal/insect species.

There are very few laws to control the growth of the city of Bangalore or to protect the surrounding wildlife. There is also no order to the city; urban development stretches out for miles and miles, disappearing into the horizon. It was interesting to learn that anyone can be a developer if they have the money to buy land, and as owners they get to choose what to do with the land. Some developers chose to try and build an expressway to connect major cities like Mysore and Bangalore. However, this had negative effects on the surrounding areas. Many villages were engulfed and turned to slums. Forests, homes, rivers and lakes were all destroyed to build an expressway that was never completed. ESG tried to fight this by claiming it was a fraudulent project since developers were trying to develop on land they did not own and was too close to the forest. This was before the right to information act so maps were actually stolen to prove this.

It's is unfortunate that green space in Bangalore is disappearing every year, but also promising that organizations like ESG care so much and are actively trying to prevent this.