RANTHAMBHORE, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
JAISALMER, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
JAWAI BANDH, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
MASAI MARA, KENYA
Azadirachta Indica ( Neem Tree) The tallest in this image!
With the changing seasons in Jawai, we witness entirely transformed landscapes. After the hot summers, where the region appears dusty and dry, to the arrival of the monsoon, showering the endless granite hills and dripping them in emerald green. The flat lands gain new life, as fresh leaves adorn the acacias and the ground becomes layered with carpets of Arrowhead and Spear Grasses.
Much of the flora and fauna in the Jawai region produce small fruits or individual seeds that are covered in small hooks or spines which then attach to fur or feathers of wildlife or, in the case of us humans, hook to our jeeps, our shoes and clothes. The seeds are then carried a sufficient distance across the lands, as the Rabari's and their livestock and we also traverse the region. Wherever they eventually drop off, new life is formed!
The Jawai region is famously associated with the peaceful coexistence between human and nature. The Rabari have taught us so much about every plant and tree in the area, sharing their knowledge of the local flora and fauna, and the variety of their uses, some of which we share below.
Take the Euphorbia Caducifolia, a many-stemmed, cactus-like, shrub that is truly iconic to the Jawai landscape. They produce a white milk like sap which is secreted at their stems. This sap is known for its very toxic elements & is carefully collected in glass bottles by the Rabari & used to treat open wounds of their livestock, deferring flies & also reducing the chance of infection.
These bright yellow flowers belong to the Senna Auriculata, and can be spotted from miles away contrasted against the granite rocks. The Rabari collect the bark of these plants to extract the tannins to use a colouring dye and the leaves are brewed to make a laxative tea.
Feasting on nature! The Ber (Ziziphus Ziziphus) pictured above, is a much favoured berry like snack that we feast on when out on our explorations as well as the Kher (Caparis Decidua) pictured below, which belongs to the family of capers.
Extracts of the Boswellia Serrata (Indian Frankincense) trees that grow up high on the Jawai hills are used to create a resin that has been used for centuries in traditional Indian medicine. It's believed to treat chronic inflammatory illnesses as well as a number of other health conditions such as diabetes.
Similarly, the Commphora Wightii that grows in the area produces a fragrant resin called Guggul which is used to make incense and is also traditionally used in Vedic medicine to treat arthritis and as an anti-inflammatory agent.
One one our latest research walks, we spent time learning more about Sterculia Urens ( The Ghost Tree) It gets its name from the mythical stark white trunk that is fairly visible even in the dark, more so because once it sheds it's leaves it stands bare for up to six months of the year giving it a skeleton like appearance. It blooms the most beautiful purple flower with frizzly hairs on it. In some parts of India the tree is used in manufacturing as a binding agent, as the gum of this tree swells when it comes into contact with water.
Jawai is also home to the very fascinating Balanites Roxburghii (Evergreen Desert Date) The fleshy pulp of both unripe and ripe fruit is edible and can be eaten dried or fresh. An important and very useful multipurpose tree, it is valued for its edible fruit, bark, leaves and flowers all of which are traditionally used in treatment of various ailments such as jaundice, wounds, stomach aches, asthma, and fever.
The Jawai landscape despite being rocky and arid hosts a diverse amount of beautiful species. We have showed only close to a small fraction of what we have around us and look forward to sharing more!