Nature's fragile gift to Nepal


Nature प्रकृति (n.) All the plants, animals, and things that exist in the universe that are not made by people

Oxford Dictionary

From the High Himalaya to the flatlands of Nepal, we in this land have been blessed with nature at its most resplendent.

It is when we are prohibited from immersing ourselves in the wilderness like we are now, that we learn to value it even more. We relive the experience of sauntering along single tracks through forests of rhododendron this time of year, and ending up near a gushing waterfall. Or, climbing steeply to a high meadow to be greeted with an expansive mountain vista.

Quiet walks inside misty sal forests of the Tarai, the horizon limited by the depth of trees. The heart skips a beat with excitement, scanning the undergrowth, ears strained for an animal’s footfall on dry leaves.

One does not need to go far. Just on the outskirts of Kathmandu, are terraces dyed yellow with mustard fields in Bungamati, glistening with dew as the morning sun burns away the fog.

Nature plays a vital role in the spiritual and physical health of human beings, but cities expand and encroach upon the wilderness shrinking the spaces that the living world once occupied. Nature retreats, blighted by the pollution of sound, light, air and water.

Being in nature changes us, allowing our rejuvenation. It allows us to contemplate the ‘being’ in human being. We find solace there, and are forced to think about how things should be, how they can be better. We can process creative thoughts and allow new ideas to be born. Above all, nature is much-needed therapy, a balm for our overburdened selves, and a journey of self-discovery.

The sounds of nature heal the soul, a respite from the onslaught of the urban cacophony that defiles our urbanised existence. Sitting silently on a fallen log, we listen to birdcalls from the forest canopy as the dappled light is filled with merry song. A light breeze brushes across the tops of trees, making the leaves sigh.

Warblers flit from one branch to the other, more heard than seen as they refuse to sit still in their search for food. Birds like the Rufous Sibia whistle from a bush, while the crook…cru..croo call comes from a Spotted Dove perching on a nearby tree.

Apart from these larger life forms, there is the fascinating small world. Tiny plants and animals that make a large part of what the forest is, and seeing it functioning in cosmic harmony reminds us of the importance of all species great and small in keeping the ecosystem in a state of equilibrium.

The giant moss-covered tree trunk glows in a shaft of sunlight, and on the forest floor tiny wildflowers emerge from underneath blades of grass. Life here is reincarnated continuously from decay and death.

Nature nudges us to think of creation as not just a few species, but a collective and collaborative whole, supporting a multitude of life forms. This bonding with the primeval forces us to see our own existence on a timescale that transcends our short lives, it instils empathy and patience in ourselves.

This is when we discern how absurd it is for a single species to dominate and control the world. Scientist and conservationist Rachel Carson once said: “In nature, nothing exists alone.”

Let us celebrate Nepal’s natural diversity and cherish this fragile gift we were handed down by the creator, not to keep, but to protect. Nature provides us serenity, hope, and the knowledge to help us along the path called life.

Ajay Narsingh Rana is a nature, wildlife photographer and, a blogger in, wilderness first responder, and a rural first aid trainer.