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This blog captures the life experiences of the Enigmatic India team in the beautiful and enigmatic country of India.We capture our experiences through our writings, photos and products that depict the very essence and fabric of India.Through this platform, we invite you to join us in our journey as we explore.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Trip to home of Demoiselle Cranes,Khichan, Jodhpur

Demoiselle Cranes, Khichan
As we were motoring Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, Hukum Singh our driver suggested “would you like to see Khichan?”

Our target were the Jaisalmer Fort, Thar desert, the camel ride and if possible see the Indo-Pak border from a distance. How does Khichan figure in this? When asked to clarify Hukum Singh said “Sir bahut chidiya(birds), lot of them”. Then I recalled to have read/seen somewhere perhaps in the NDTV about this village surrounded by arid lands and at the outskirts of this there was a big pond/lake (with knee deep) water during the winter season. 

Thousands of Cranes
Long back (five decades) a villager Ratanlal Maloo returned to his village Khichan(in Phalodi Tehsil, Rajasthan) and was given the task of feeding pigeons and sparrows. One day he noticed a different bird looking for food, though not an ornithologist, he could at least discern that this bird was a special type. The curious villager approached the bird and threw some grain. The bird was more cautious and it won’t go near the grains unless the helpful villager retraced. Reading the mind of the bird, the villager went back a few steps and stood still and the bird managed to nibble the grains. This continued for few days and one day the bird disappeared. He asked others in the village and they told him the bird was called kurja(in Rajasthani) or Demoiselle crane. Ratanlal was crestfallen, “what happened to the visitor? Poaching?” God forbid. But lo and behold next year the crane (and Ratanlal could identify as it was limping) came accompanied by other birds and this time more courageous. That year he had to feed more birds, that flew in a few thousand miles from the feeding grounds in Mongolia and Eurasia.

At the pond
I was wonder struck while listening to the narration from the keeper of the Chugga ghar. As he was narrating the story, a few kids gathered each carrying some grains. While listening to the narration I was looking around. There were cranes and cranes everywhere probably a few thousands, some flying at low height, others eating the grain and occasionally pecking each other. The noise was something that I had never heard…imagine a few thousand birds calling each other. My daughter Jayashree went close and clicked photos copiously.

The pond was filled with birds and photography was an easy job. My four year old granddaughter Annika, snatched away my camera and went click, click, click. She was thrilled though on most occasions she was off the mark. Two foreigners, bare-footed & disregarding the mud went very close. They must have been good photographers and wildlife enthusiasts. Definitely this place is a treat for wildlife photographers.

awesome sight
The keeper was narrating tirelessly, “Do you know sirs, It became very taxing for Ratanlal to feed so many birds. Ratanlal had to seek help from the village panchayat and soon other villagers joined in this conservation effort. Soon after, the Govt of Rajasthan pitched in and funds are released for feeding the birds.  The villagers continue to protect the cranes and Rajasthan is a place where many animals are protected by villagers whether it is the peafowl, Chinkara or the Blackbuck.

Today Khichan has been was declared a World Heritage site by the International Crane Foundation and the cranes are enjoying their annual five month stay in this place. This would not have been possible but for the initial leadership shown by Ratanlal also known as “Birdman of Khichan”. He is no more(passed away in 2011), however he has left behind a good example of wildlife conservation.

The heat was oppressive and we had to reach Jaisalmer by lunch time. Though watching the cranes was irresistible, we had to say good bye to Khichan.

(Contributed by Bipin Bihari Mishra and photocredits Jayashree Mishra )

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