Publisher: Tulika Publishers
Author: Mita Bordoloi
Illustrator: Tarique Aziz
Little Bumoni lives across the river from the Kaziranga National Park. Her backyard is bursting with banana trees. She loves eating bananas. Every part of this amazing zero- waste banana plant finds its way into her daily life – stems being used to make a boat and bowls , yummy banana blossoms into curry and banana leaves as biodegradable plates that later feed the cows too!
But one day, a herd of wild elephants barge in from the forest, eat all the bananas and trample the plants! As it becomes a daily intrusion, the worried family scrambles for ways to stop the plunder. Soon, inspired by the Digboi oil fields, Bumoni finds a safe way that repels the elephants. As the family rejoices and sleeps peacefully, it slowly dawns upon kind Bumoni that she has not not solved the problem but simply diverted it. What will the elephants eat now?
She comes up with a win-win solution that allows the elephants to have their feast without destroying their crops, showing that empathy is all one needs to find sustainable answers to even our ‘elephantine’ problems.
Author Mita Bordoloi speaks volumes on understanding the consequences of wildlife habitat loss and the paramount need to coexist in harmony with this simple picture book. Tariq Aziz’s delightful illustrations add a special affectionate touch to this tale. The vivid sunset spread showing the animals of the national park , with the one horned rhino, hoolocks and herons is a treasure!
The icing on the cake for this charming book is that this story came true! Elephant- man conflicts are extremely common in Assam and unfortunately humans resort to shooting arrows or putting up electric fences around paddy fields. Just like Bumoni, NGO Hatibondhuhe has successfully created a designated meal zone of rice, elephant apple, jackfruit, banana plants, etc that allows venturing tuskers to feast without the need to enter farmers’ paddy fields.
Grey Matter Questions to ponder about
- We do we always look at things as a ‘conflict’? Would we make better solutions if we looked at all problems with a win – win solution?
- When we solve problems, do we pay adequate attention to see if the problem is solved or have we simply solved it for ourselves?
Right of Passage and Animal Corridors
- What if someone built a small shop close to your building , then came into your building and created a short cut road to zip by on their bikes, so they could reach their shop quicker? Would you be outraged? The elephants and animals have been in the jungles before us.
- Common methods to keep out animals near the animal zones include electric fences,shooting or the supposedly kinder chilly fences and thorny bushes. If we were the ones that encroached, why are the elephants being punished?
- Read up on cases like the boundary wall built by Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), in the Deopahar Reserve Forest, bang in the middle of an elephant corridor, where elephants often sustained severe injuries by banging their head against this wall. Would we term ourselves human, when we seem to lack humanity?
- What is the difference between zero waste and recycling? Why is ‘zero waste’ thinking the only true answer to climate change?
- Can you think about 3 things you can change every month so that it would be zero waste living? Can you lug your boxes to a store and get it filled, rather than buy pre packed plastic packaged stuff? Spend the little extra needed to support brands and restaurants that use eco friendly biodegradable and compostable materials. Talk about reusing actively- take pride in the hand-me-downs, t-shirts becoming dusting cloths cycle. During the lockdown, actively think twice before you print and see if you can find an electronic solution to it. (On the good side, notes written on online pdfs are easier to find than those scrawled on loose papers)
- The one-horned rhino is the largest of the rhino species. Once widespread, the Indian rhino populations plummeted as they were hunted for sport or killed for their horn. The disappearance of alluvial plain grasslands and our need for land threatens the species, even as many of the protected areas where rhinos live have reached the limit.
- Yesterday ,on #World Rhino Day, 2,500 horns were consigned to flames at the headquarters of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, hoping to dispel myths that have driven the illegal horn trade. Consider reading up on various endangered species and list the human hand in each of these occurrences