A Self-made Conservator of Nature of the Sunderbans

Gautam Kumar Das

Mithun Khuro was a self-made naturalist at a small isolated island of remote part of the Sunderbans. It was a rainy day when I met and was acquainted with Mithun Khuro (uncle)-an illiterate universal uncle of the island of aged about seventy years. Although economically not sound, he was very popular among islanders due to his enchanting personality and simplicity as well as his benevolent attitude towards inhabitants of the island. Thereafter he liked me very much and used to call me as Notun Master (newly appointed teacher) as there were a few similarities among us particularly on some activities of nature. I used to set forth in the afternoon for surveying flora and fauna specially identifying mangroves in the flood plain of the Thakuran River when I had had plenty of time after my duty in school was over. I was usually accompanied by some of my students of curious nature on the way of my day to day survey.

One day I found Mithun Khuro meandering from one pond to the other in the vast plain of agricultural land which was not belonging to him. I asked why he was moving like that in the very beginning of the monsoon. Khuro replied that some indigenous fish species like lata, chang, sol, dariya, chanda, bai-tyangra, boyal, folui etc were very much scarce since last four-five years and he observed the degree and dimension of scarcity. I simply astonished hearing such thoughts from Khuro who did not turn into even a primary school in his childhood. Afterthat the activities of Mithun Khuro was just a tale. He collected fish spawns of endangered species from other islands and released them in the ponds, tanks of this island free of costs which were not of his own during entire monsoon time from June to August. Mithun Khuro used the earthen pitchers for transport purposes of the collected spawns of the said endangered fish species. He continued to create waves inside the pitchers through movement of his hands in order to supply more oxygen within the waters. I had never seen such type of conservator of nature before who carried on such an endeavour in keeping biodiversity with his own interest and expenditure. When the agricultural fields were filled up with monsoonal rain waters, all the ponds and tanks were over flown and the fish-spawns were released and scattered far and wide from one waterbodies to another wetlands. And this was the only idea and motto of Mithun Khuro for spreading of fish species into every nook and corner of all the water bodies in the island.

It was really surprising when we heard in one autumn morning that Mithun Khuro succumbed to suicide at his home. The materials he selected for his suicidal attempt were fruits of Kuchla (Nux vomica) and molasses mixture, both of which were the produce of nature. He knew well the toxic poisonous by-product at the end of biochemical reaction between any bitter substances and a sweet material. Application of all these substances upon himself even for his mortal death never deviate him from a thought maker of nature. The reason for his suicide was that his only son rebuked his father for helping financial assistance to a needy neighbour by taking loan from another. Death of Mithun Khuro, a misfortune to most of the islanders proved that he was an emotional person even in his seventies. Perhaps all naturalists are emotional.

Jul 24, 2018

Gautam Kumar Das

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