Observation of the Week, 11/24/15

This Glassy Tiger Butterfly photographed by Sanjit Debbarma in Assam, India and posted by ivijayanand is our Observation of the Week!

Dr. Vijay Anand Ismavel has been a pediatric surgeon at the Makunda Christian Leprosy and General Hospital in the Assam region of India for over 22 years, but it was a heart attack in 2008 that caused him to really notice the wildlife surrounding him in this remote area. After the heart attack,

I was asked to walk 2 kms every day. I found this tiresome and took my daughters along. One day I noticed a tapping sound and found an unfamiliar woodpecker pecking on a dead bamboo stump...I photographed it and posted it on Flickr and it was identified as a relatively rare woodpecker (Stripe-breasted woodpecker – Dendrocopos atratus). I became very interested and started noticing all sorts of interesting birds and insects...I found that observing, photographing and reporting...wildlife in the campus and surrounding areas was very relaxing and added new meaning to my walks.

Dr. Ismavel soon upgraded his camera equipment (his wife budgeted it under “Cardiac Rehabilitation Expenses”) and began taking coworkers on his nature walks, later posting their observations on iNaturalist in addition to Flickr - the Makunda Nature Club was formed! Earlier this year they went on a trek into nearby forests and were the first to photograph a van Hasselt's Sunbird in India.

The Glassy Tiger Butterfly observation was photographed by Mr. Sanjit Debbarma (Dr. Ismavel posted it for him and is working on getting everyone in the club an iNat account) during the Makunda Nature Club’s attempt to find the van Hasselt’s Sunbird again. The club plans to soon start “the Makunda Spider Survey which will document the first 100 (or more) unique spider species in the campus (and surroundings) with an eminent Indian arachnologist.” There is now even a Department of Biodiversity Documentation and Wildlife Conservation at the hospital and school.

Many of the villagers in the surrounding forest participate in deforestation and trapping, and Dr. Ismavel says

the greatest impact we foresee is in the keen interest being taken by school students...We hope to instill in these children a sense of wonder at the sheer beauty and variety of nature around them by making them members of the student wing of the Makunda Nature Club. We hope that they in turn will influence their parents and other villagers. Some of them came with us as guides on the three treks we had into deep forest. Maybe one day they would exchange their woodcutting for ecotourism and work to save the forests and their biodiversity.

It’s amazing what a photograph, an observation, and an online naturalist community can accomplish. Keep up the great work, Dr. Ismavel and the Makunda Nature Club!

Posted by tiwane tiwane, November 25, 2015 18:48


Thank you very much for the "Observation of the Day" and "Observation of the Week". This will be an encouragement for our fledgling "Makunda Nature Club". We look forward to more observations and transformation in the community through iNat, a truly great citizen science initiative.


Dr. Vijay Anand Ismavel MS, MCh
Medical Superintendent
Makunda Christian Leprosy & General Hospital
Karimganj District
Assam - 788 727

Posted by ivijayanand almost 7 years ago (Flag)

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