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As I write this, I hear distant thunder and the smell of approaching rain.

It also rained yesterday. Rain is not expected at this time of year.

The monsoon is between June and August in Satpura, so this is not normal.

Climate change is making itself known, and the signs are getting stronger. Are we able to heed them?

My ladybird and I head out early in the morning into the forest. There are two naturalists, Sanal and Aamina, and two Gond guides.

Gond comes from the Dravidian kond, which means ‘the green mountain’.

Numbering four million, they are one of the largest tribes in Central India.

They are the original inhabitants of this region and, at one time, had warrior empires.

Their recorded history dates back 1,400 years, but people believe they have been around 65,000 years.

And their ancestors were thought to be the original cave painters of this area.

The Gond, renowned as artists, embody in their art a profound recognition of the interconnectedness and sacredness of all things, populating their world with spirits. This understanding shines through in their artistry.

An art that is often created for protection and to ward off evil.

The forest is arid, and there are invasive species everywhere.

The invasives concern the guides. They are worried the local plants will get crowded out.

Authorities relocated the Gond tribals to establish this nature reserve.

Upon relocation, they received a plot of land for free and that they owned outright.

I am in two minds over this. I am at a stage where nothing is black/white, either/or.

There are always unintended consequences to everything we do.

What can often appear dark and bleak at the moment can bear favourable fruits in the future.

Speak to the local people, and they reject the notion that Nature is some live and let live altruist.

The kind of ideology espoused by many in the nature-connection movement back home in England.

England is a manicured landscape with nothing wild about it.

I wrote the following after visiting the Moken of Koh Surin, an island off Thailand.

A part of me wonders if this is how all cultures have evolved.

The past gives way to the modern, which in turn becomes the past as the new modern, in whatever shape that appears supersedes what has gone before.

‌Nature is evolutionary and permanently on the move. We often forget this in our romantic worldview of bygone times, particularly when it comes to traditional cultures.

I heard that last year, a villager got bitten on the leg by a Russell’s Viper, one of the top four most venomous snakes in India.

Usually, a bite would kill you. The hospital is 47 km away.

One of the village elders made a poultice from numerous wild plants and spread it over his entire leg.

His leg had swollen up, and it looked like he had elephantiasis.

Observers noted that only one fang had penetrated his skin.

When asked about the poultice’s sensation, the man described it as cooling.

This cooling effect bought the villagers enough time to transport him to the hospital for antivenom treatment.

Despite the odds, he survived when he should have certainly died.

The plant knowledge is dying, as it always does when the children decide it is irrelevant to them.

No one can say what saved the man. It could have been due to the single fang not injecting enough venom.

It could have been the herbal poultice. It could have been both.

Or he might just have had a very robust immune system.

I would suspect the poultice was contributory but not the sole reason the man lived.

The teak is dying from a disease in the same way our Ash trees are.