Each day living at the proposed care center property brings more insight and, in some cases, more unanswered questions.
The temperature has heated up, causing afternoon activities to slow down. Even the shade offers little relief. Thank goodness for the breeze that has proven to be a near constant in this area.
Today a group of college students arrived to tour the property. This is a popular education sight for the conservation minded. The students, all city dwellers, were given an opportunity to see how desperate the situation is for the forest in this area.
Included in the group was a man who has dedicated his life to bringing awareness to India’s conservation issues. We shared a few minutes of conversation and he expressed true dread about the future of the area’s forests. When I commented on how important it is for the youth to become involved in conservation, he bluntly said he felt there was not enough time for us to wait for this new generation to turn things around—at least not in this immediate area. It was a sobering statement from a person who has studied the deterioration first-hand. I felt his desperation.
As the students followed their professor down the levee, responding to his questions about plant life and its purpose in a forest area, the resident Brahminy Kite soared overhead. This was her third cruising over the lake this morning and she was putting on quite a show. Her massive wingspan and grace were spellbinding. Keenly eying the lake below, she circled and soared, gently dipping toward the water.
A much smaller bird pestered her with dive bombs but the Kite expertly shrugged the pest away with a well-calculated twist, dip and spin whenever the attacker got too close. As she soared overhead I was able to get a few good photos but none that really did her grace and precision justice.
I am learning, out of necessity, about land holdings here. The jigsaw pieces of this puzzle are finally coming together to give me a clearer picture of how things work. Perhaps I should have read up on India’s land laws before coming but, honestly, the thought never crossed my mind. I naively assumed that you buy land, sell it, lease, rent or give it away. I now have a clearer understanding of other ways a person can acquire land, how land can be occupied and how possession is—or isn’t— regulated.
According to those I have consulted with, one of the important things for me to know is that occupation is nine-tenths of the law. But more on that later.
The collaborators on the care center project are meeting regularly to provide progress reports on each partner’s responsibilities and to discuss questions and issues as they arise. Everyone is dedicated to the project and wants to make sure we have considered every eventuality before taking the next step.
The time that is being taken to ensure we don’t overlook anything in the early planning stage has been invaluable to me. More often than not, I awake in the morning with a much sought-after solution to a challenge or with a new idea that I had not yet considered. The work that is being done on a subconscious level—while I sleep—makes me laugh because, without question, I am working on the project day and night.
In the process of developing the project I have been fortunate to meet many very kind and gentle people. They share a passion for the project, which is a blessing. I clearly remember while dreaming up the Elephant Sanctuary for Tarra that many people, mostly colleagues, were less than supportive of the idea. Of course my family knew very well that the dream I had been dreaming for so many years would indeed come to fruition and could not have been more supportive. So to have complete strangers, with no vested interest in the success of the care center project, show this degree of interest and support is very gratifying.
On a wild elephant sighting note: A few nights ago an adolescent male was seen harvesting jack fruit from the tree on the perimeter of the village only a few hundred yards from my house. The fellow was sly and silent; I did not hear a sound. If it had not been for the village dogs sounding the alarm, no one would have witnessed the midnight raid.