IISc flora and fauna

The IISc campus is, in effect, a wildlife sanctuary.

The IISc campus is, in a way, a huge park with large forested areas, grassy paths, and quiet lanes.  The campus is surrounded by a wall, with guards that limit access through the gates; thus, the campus is an oasis from the noise and chaotic traffic of Bangalore.

I am just beginning to explore this campus, which you can see on the Google Map (zoom in) is covered in large forested areas.   The main roads are paved, but there is a large central wooded section that is cris-crossed by well-defined walkways.  These walkways appear to have been cobblestone, long ago, though today are largely dirt and grass.  The space reminds me of a much larger version of the Dartmouth Green, but covered in trees.  Although much of the campus seems to be left rough and relatively wild, several buildings on campus (such as my department, ECE) have carefully tended formal gardens out front.

It is apparently illegal to cut trees in India, without a government permit, and the IISc campus has countless varieties of trees – many with numbers and labels that imply they are tracked or studied carefully,  All of them are unfamiliar to me, and I look forward to learning more about them.  Today I saw an amazing tree; from one tree grew countless twisted vines (branches?) that spread and were suspended on nearby trees.  It was impossible to capture the incredible spread of this tree’s vines in single image; they stretch the length of the building and across the street.  IISc had even built support poles to hold the branches where they cross the path and cross the road.

As a result of all this green space, there is a lot of wildlife.  There are countless birds – my birding eye is not sharp enough to spot them, but every morning there is a cacophony of birdsong.  Today we saw some sort of weasel poking around the leaves on the side of the road.  I’ve seen small lizards, and I’ve heard there are snakes (and even a “snake rescue” club).  There is, I’m told, an entomology group that looks out for the welfare of the insects on campus. 

Our kids are delighted by the resident population of monkeys, which we have encountered twice.  The first time, there were two adults and two tiny babies on the ground – but we unfortunately had no camera. Today, we spotted three monkeys eating the fruits of a nearby tree (pictured above, and below right). Apparently they will try to steal your food if you are having a picnic, and have been reputed to climb through windows and open the fridge.  

IISc is blessed with a verdant, forested campus. We are lucky to live here.

And yet, the IISc campus is a study in contrast.  One the one hand, they have a nursery and some staff that tend the trees, shrubs, and gardens.  On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see, next a well-tended garden, a large pile of trash, an old pile of bricks, or discarded sinks and other debris.  I recognize that I do not understand the whole picture, but it puzzles me that a campus with such inherent beauty is left unkempt in so many places.

More in the photo gallery.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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