Puchikunta - a village near the Andhra/ Telangana border of S. India. Jan 2007.

I interviewed traditional inhabitants of the Forest - Koyas and Konda Reddys - early that year. The two communities have lived in harmony with their surroundings for ages, but outside pressures are mounting. Once rich in splendid trees, bamboo groves, streams and the incessant call of wildlife, a slow dying has now seeped through.

When I met a Koya youth, who had recently given up traditional attire for western clothing, I couldn't help but ask why. He smiled before he replied, "because I want to be like you."

The hut, in the first picture, below, is that of Bucchamma's. The paper plates, outside, are from the group that travelled with us.

Outside settlers, whose numbers have surged in recently years, enter and burn the undergrowth to plant tobacco. The hills have been pillaged for wood and bamboo, which are carted out on bicycles, bullock-carts and tractor-trailers.

We owe much to our Forests. The onus is on us to protect them, but the Modi Government must also do its part and stop muzzling organizations such as Greenpeace, India.

Forest Ants on a Fig Tree