Last Monday, when our gardeners came to the lake expecting a day of routine work, little did they know what awaited them. On the revetment near the southern side, was a small tortoise that they had never seen before in our lake. Excitedly, they sent us the pictures of the tortoise with a distinctive golden brown star-like pattern on the hard shell. We’d never seen one like it either but there was no mistaking it - it was the Indian star tortoise! Wasn’t it an endangered species? We quickly looked up online and also contacted our in-house wildlife experts, Vishnupriya and J.N. Prasad.
The Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans), considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful tortoises with its distinctive carapace, is found in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Extensive poaching for the exotic pet trade has reduced their number and threatened their existence.
To keep the tortoise safe, we took it out from the revetment and put it in an open basket. Vishnupriya and J.N. Prasad came by to see our exotic find and to guide us on how to take care of it. They also told us to contact Mr. Ganesh, RFO, Bannerghatta National Park or Dr. Roopa Satish at the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. We contacted both of them and arranged to send the reptile over. Meanwhile, we got some greens, carrot and cauliflower for it to eat and placed the basket in our office room for the night. The next morning we shifted our “guest” into a cardboard carton and kept it outside to bask in the sun. We watched quietly as it popped its head out, walked toward the feed and started eating.
Two days later, on Wednesday morning, we took it to the RFO’s office and handed it over to them safely. Our job was done. Today morning, we received this update from Mr. Ganesh:
The star tortoise is under preliminary medical care at Bannerghatta and will be released to wild after a week of observation for possible infection due to human contact. Thanks for a saving a precious endangered wildlife. It makes a huge difference in protecting the species on this planet.
Bannerghatta National Park
We still wonder how it came to the lake. Did someone develop cold feet and drop it off for fear of being caught? Whatever the reason, we are glad that we were able to rescue and rehabilitate an endangered Indian star tortoise.
For more pictures, please click on the link below:
One could not have asked for a better start to the new year at the lake.
Four young boys - Aryan, Arjun, Aadarsh and Rohan with their respective parents came with smiles and enthusiasm which only a child can bring to our world. There were four children and five adults who enjoyed the sun lit lake while doing their bit in helping the lake.
The children loved pruning the hedges, then raking the leaves and wheeling it away in a wheel barrow. They shared their pruning scissors, the wheel barrow and rakes with each other (the pictures say it all!). The excitement in finding a red powder puff flower, a green color spider and a snail shell was contagious. At the end, each couldn't stop asking for more gardening time and made their parents promise to bring them again to the next Family fun gardening day.
We hope to see them and more children, and you in our next session.
See the mail below from Dr. S. Subramanya, renowned birder and conservationist.
This is a great opportunity for all of us to showcase the status of our wetlands and waterbirds in Bangalore. Since the High Court has evinced keen interest in knowing the status of our waterbirds and their wetlands in light of the 1989 Midwinter Waterfowl Census, I feel it is our collective responsibility to rise to the occasion to survey our wetlands for waterbirds. The results of the census that we showcase in comparison to the 1989 survey will have unending impact, where the judiciary can see how our waterbird status have changed due to mindless development of their habitats. The decisions that the High Court may take will have far-reaching effects to influence the way one needs to treat our waterbodies as waterbird habitats, not just in Bangalore, but across the country.
Let us show to everyone across the country that we care for our birds that we love to watch and their habitats in our city.
Please go, Register and lend your time and support for counting birds this January.
I am committed to this 100%. Rain or shine, I will go.
2019. A roller coaster year. A year that we will not be able to forget easily.
In March the Hon’ble High Court disposed of the writ petition filed by the encroachers living on our lake bund. The responsibility of rehabilitating them fell on the three respondents - Principal Secretary (Revenue), the Deputy Commissioner (Urban) and the Karnataka State Slum Development Board. The matter is yet to be resolved.
In April we installed our Fountain of Joy, our “retirement gift” to Mr. B.V. Satish Chief Engineer, BBMP (Lakes) for his constant support and encouragement not only to PNLIT but to all fellow lake groups in the city. We were delighted that Dr. Vaman Acharya, ex-chairman KSPCB, graced the occasion. It was thanks to both of them that we are able to feed the lake with excess treated water from South City apartment complex.
In June we suffered a massive setback when residents in the adjoining layout opened the underground drain and let in the raw sewage directly into the lake. We had to go all out and seek help from everyone –BWSSB, BBMP, KSPCB, NGT Committee. BWSSB began replacing the underground drain but had to give up because a few illegal houses on the lake bund came in the way. The onus of making alternate arrangement shifted to BBMP. The uncertainty ended on 30 December when BBMP got their contractor to begin work. What a wonderful way to end the year - on a note of hope!
2019. We had to do far more to protect the lake this year than in the past. Our routine work did not cease. Here’s a quick recap of our highlights of 2019.
Flora and Fauna On 27 February we put up two bird nesting boxes thanks to Mr. Uday Kumar, a birder and conservationist. We initiated a project on 5May to create two bird hotspots with a grant from the Duleep Mathai Nature Conservation Trust, Anand, Gujarat. Dr. Kaustubh Rau led a nature walk on 20 January and Mr. Ajay Salanky conducted a nature photography workshop on 24 August. In association with Axis Bank, we printed a Puttenahalli Lake flora and fauna chart. In spite of the poor condition of the lake, Dr. S. Subramanya, the well known ornithologist, spotted as many as 23 species of birds on 24 October. This boosted our morale!
Talks and presentations On 11 January 2019, PNLIT Chairperson, Usha Rajagopalan, shared the Puttenahalli Lake experience at a workshop organised by Sensing Local together with Biome, Varthur Rising and Whitefield Rising to discuss and design the wetland for Varthur lake. On 22 March she gave a talk at an event held at Madivala Lake to celebrate World Water Day. On 16 July, she made a presentation at the Bangalore International Centre as a part of BBMP's submission for World Design City 2020, through the design firm Icarus.
Nupur Jain was a panellist at the Talking Earth's Future Cities Conference on 17 February. The topic of discussion was "Are Lake reviving efforts fruitful”? PNLIT volunteer Vishnupriya Hathwar gave a presentation “Community Participation in Conservation – Case Study on the revival of Puttenahalli Lake at the National Seminar on Climate Change organized by EMPRI on 21 February.
Community based activities On 13 February, PNLIT held its first Citizen Science Programme in collaboration with Earth Watch Institute India and IISc. which began with a nature walk led by Mr. J N Prasad. Dr. Sonali Sathaye conducted a theatre workshop for children on 24 February with games, observation techniques, body movements and vocal exercises. We celebrated International literacy Day on 7 September with Ms. Vijaya Balasubramaniam and Dr. Sonali Sathaye conducting a lively story telling session. PNLIT printed bookmarks and desk top calendars with photographs taken by women photographers in the neighbourhood.
Welcoming Visitors The number of birds may be dropped because of the sewage but a large number of school and college students from the city and abroad visited our lake round the year. They included children from the Puttenahalli Government School and from Snehadhara Foundation; students from Dayanand Sagar Engineering College, Ramaiah College of Architecture, Griffith University, Australia, and from the Technical University, Braunschweig, Germany.
On 26 April and 10 May, members of the Earthwatch Institute India, IISc and HSBC visited the lake as part of their sustainability Training Programme. On 27 November, Jennifer Wightman, research scientist and artist from New York, USA, took soil samples from our lake and from several others to create an art work for an exhibition at the Bangalore International Centre.
Corporate Volunteers Volunteers from Cisco and VMware have come regularly to the lake to rake, prune, and manure, plant, and trim, de-weed and clean, to add to the aesthetics and cleanliness of the lake premises.
Fun Family Gardening Day The first Saturday of the month continues to be reserved for children and adults from the neighbourhood to exercise their green thumb at the lake.
Upgrading infrastructure With the number of visitors increasing, PNLIT installed 11 new benches along the walkway on 6 March.
A few hours are left for the new year to begin. We look forward to BBMP and BWSSB protecting our lake from pollutants. We look forward to birds returning and nesting. We look forward to you and our neighbourhood rallying to nurture the lake. We look forward to completing a decade in June 2020 as citizen custodians of Puttenahalli Puttakere!
With heartfelt thanks for your support and endorsement in our journey.
We wish you and your family a very Happy New Year!
Compiled by Ms. Vijayalakshmi Kutty, Editor, "Ripples" the PNLIT Newsletter.
Bringing the community together gardening session at the lake is back!
The first Saturday of every month is open to you to exercise your green thumb; to introduce your children to gardening; to work together with your family; to de-stress; to discover the small pleasures of plants; to be one with nature, and more.
Make the most of your neighbourhood lake. Join us on Saturday, 7th Dec between 9.30 a.m. and 11 a.m. for the Family Fun Gardening Saturday.
No registration required. Just come and enjoy the outdoors!
Warm greetings to you and your family for Deepavali! May this festive season fill your lives with light and colour, health and wealth.
The past few months have not been so great for us or for our Puttenahalli Lake given that sewage continues to pollute the lake and we persist in our endeavour to meet one government official after another to get it diverted. The situation is complicated for it involves slum relocation. This needs patient handling. What keeps us going is the strength in knowing how far we have come in these nine years. It has been a journey in which you, our well wishers, volunteers and partners, have cheered us at every step. Surely, we'll overcome these hurdles too some day or the other and achieve our goal of making our Puttenahalli Lake, a little avian and aquatic haven in our locality.
Pics: Usha R, Dr Subramanya
Sep 2010 vs Oct 2019
(Pics Usha R, Srikrishnan V)
Our biggest concern is the impact of sewage on bird and fish lives. Fortunately, the rain is helping to dilute the sewage. On Thursday, 24th Oct. well-known ornithologist and conservationist, Dr. S. Subramanya, visited the lake and within an hour spotted as many as 23 species of birds in the lake! Here is the link to his checklist.
Dreamy bed time stories are a norm, but a spirited, animated story telling session on a bright, temperate evening, by the lake, with a large gathering of children and adults can be as enjoyable.
One Day, One Story the annual book-reading of Pratham Books that celebrates International Literacy Day (8th September), was conducted at Puttenahalli Lake by PNLIT. It was a fun-filled evening of energetic story-telling by Sonali Sathaye and Vijaya Balasubramaniam, who peppered their narrative with music, improvisation and theatrics. There were two stories told - Gappu Can't Dance written by Menaka Raman and illustrated by Krishna Chandan, and The Weightlifting Princess written by Sowmya Rajendran and illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta. Both are published by Pratham Books.
Vijaya set the pace rolling with a chugging railway song that set the children in energised motion to some snappy music, followed by an endearing story of adorable little Gappu and her foibles with dance steps. She just couldn’t get it right! Nobody is perfect!
Sonali kept the spirits soaring with an exceptional story of a princess who broke tropes and gender stereotypes with her passion for weight lifting! The young audience enthusiastically participated by flexing their muscles and lifting their friends, followed by more funky, lively music and feisty dancing.
Vijaya and Sonali tapped into the power of story-telling effectively, teaching us about life and ourselves and how humanity, equality, empathy and respect are important in relationships. No wonder they say that hearing a good story brings out the best in us! It was altogether an enjoyable, memorable evening.
One Day, One Story the annual storytelling campaign of Pratham Books that celebrates International Literacy Day is Double the fun this year! And like the past few years, PNLIT is a part of this program.
This year there are two titles selected for the story telling event. Gappu Can't Dance written by Menaka Raman and illustrated by Krishna Chandan, and The Weightlifting Princess written by Sowmya Rajendran and illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta.
Join an interactive storytelling session by Sonali Sathaye and Vijaya Balasubramaniam.
Venue - Gazebo, Puttenahalli Lake, JP Nagar 7th Phase, near MLR Convention Centre Brigade Millennium Date & Time - 7th September (Saturday) 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Kindly assemble by 3:45 p.m. Age group - 4 years and above
Entry is FREE
About the Storytellers
As an anthropologist, Sonali Sathaye sees theatre everywhere, including, most especially in the way we live our social lives. As a theatre practitioner, she seeks to share her enjoyment of this drama with children - so that they too may delight in the absurdity of the everyday.
Vijaya Balasubramaniam is a passionate dancer and loves to interact with children. Her passion for dance is superseded only by her love for greening this planet.
Looking forward to seeing you at the lake.
Please note that there will be no Family Fun Gardening Day at the lake on 7th September morning.
Today's Photowalk with Ajay Salanky was very insightful. Eight adults and three kids participated in the session this morning at the lake where Ajay was more than happy to show, share and answer each one at their level.
The lake as usual looked gorgeous with playful birds, trees, insects, flowers, clouds, and the sun playing hide and seek. A perfect day to capture some good shots, which all the participants did indeed! A few of them by Mr. Rajuvan are here.
Here is a feedback from one of the participants, Ms. Seshavalli, outlining how the event was :
"We had an interesting and eye-opening session of photography workshop organized by PNLIT by Ajay Salanky. It was an enthusiastic small group consisting of all age groups. Ajay, who is a graphic designer and a professional photographer took us through the gamut of photography techniques with as simple equipment as mobile to as complicated as multiple lens. He explored with us and interacted with children as well adults on various topics ranging from techniques, composition, subject, white light, exposure,shutter speed, apps to be used, different ways of printing, photo walks we can attend, groups we can join, equipment and settings and gave us a whole new perspective to explore photography as a passion.
Thanks to PNLIT for organizing such an interesting session and thanks to Ajay for taking time out to interact with group of amateur photographers and clarifying many of our queries. Happy photo walking to all for a future of wonderful pictures with a new perspective! "