My observations about the biodiversity in and around Amelia were varied and interesting.

When we reached the tola where we would be staying one of the kids who surrounded us was hiding something behind his back. On insisting that he show us his prize, to our surprise it was a baby owlet, guguaa.

03 June 2014


The only reply I could get out of him was that it had fallen out of the huge mango tree next to the well. Maybe they were reticent as they were shy and some of us were first time visitors to their village.

In contrast when we saw the Skink, which looked like a sleek garden lizard and asked if it was poisonous, we were told -'if it bites you are surely dead!' We all took a step backward only to be told-'but it never bites! ha ha!!' Friendly down to earth people they were!

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On spotting a two-toned chameleon, tetna, they told us that when the monsoon was round the corner its front half becomes orange otherwise it reverts back to its camouflage of brown.

We saw an army of big orange fire ants carrying a dead ladybird insect off to their larder. The villagers live in tune with nature and their lives are intertwined with nature.

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The day starts with brushing your teeth with neem sticks and eating the bel fruit. Vegetables like bhindi, colacasia leaves and tubers are grown in plots adjacent to their houses albeit fenced by a natural compound to protect them from the grazing goats and cattle. They 'smoke' their crops too which is the oldest and the most natural method to get rid of pests.

The arhar or tuvaar dal is not only grown as food but the pods and leaves are used as fodder and the stalks as firewood. The locals' houses are also made only from organic materials.

Photos and writing by Phiroza Tafti, who is a volunteer with Greenpeace India.