Reflections on a leaf
by Jithin Vijayan
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Photo credits: Yadu Aralam
Ecology, Education and Media.
My thoughts usually wander from dense montane forest to the music of sea tides and sometimes conflict with myself on the computer screen. During my childhood days, I used to collect plants and grow them in my little garden. Later, I could enjoy the visitors in the garden; butterflies, birds, snakes, frogs (since it had a small pond as well!), and a lot of small insects. I was fond of observing them, capturing their photos and enriching my collection of feathers, shells, dried leaves, and other materials. They always pulled me to open that 'box of wonders'. I was also attracted by the wonders that a computer can do in terms of programming and multimedia designing.
The 'inner me' always wanted to experiment how both these 'outlying' interests can create a fresh platform while doing my Bachelors in Botany from Farook College, (University of Calicut, Kerala), and that resulted in Kerala's biggest students' Ecological Festival namely 'Myristica Eco-Fiesta'. I was deeply engaged in designing and curating the festival for the past four years (2016-2020), as well as learning a lot from amazing people, interesting readings, and memorable places. This mainly includes College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (Mannuthy, Kerala) where I was mentored by Dr A Prasad; and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (Bengaluru, India), where I was a POBE fellow. Experience from Dr. TNC Vidya's Animal Behaviour and Sociogenetics Lab at the centre was wonderful and inspiring!
During my post-graduation in Wildlife Science at the Wildlife Institute of India, I embraced the Himalayan snowcaps with a heart full of magnificent Western Ghats memories! My thesis on the ecology of overwintering tadpoles in the Western Himalaya gave me a lot of amazing experiences. Field ecology learnings from Dr. Abhijit Das and Dr. J.A. Johnson were astonishing and exciting!
I was a Junior Research Fellow in the Community Ecology and Restoration (CEROS) Programme at the Nature Conservation Foundation-India, in their Sahyadri Project lead by Dr. Rohit Naniwadekar, in collaboration with the Conservation Management Plan for Bio-cultural Heritage of Konkan ‘Sadas’ project of Bombay Environmental Action Group, lead by Dr. Aparna Watve. We have carried out some of the first-of its kind ecological studies on the lateritic plateaus of the northern Western Ghats, contributing to the bio-cultural conservation of these unique, threatened landscape.