A huge stuffed Gaur and the above leopard welcomes you at the H A Gass Forest Museum in Coimbatore. This museum is located inside the Forest College premises at R.S.Puram. I must say, it is a huge campus with a lot of greenery. Like the IIT Campus in Chennai, this one is also like a mini forest in the heart of a city.
The building was constructed in the beginning of last century, with iron pillars supporting it from different directions. Burma Teak has been used exhaustively, like all the buildings of those times and even the steps are still wooden. That’s a stark reminder of how much connection this museum has to the woods!
The arrangement of exhibits in itself is a treat to the eye! There are two floors – a ground floor and first floor filled with all sort of exhibits – Stuffed birds/ animals, reptiles, plants, samples of the various types of tree wood, skeletons, weapons, models of houses made of wood, forest ranger uniform, and almost everything else found in a forest.
The above stuffed photo is of a bird called The Great Indian Hornbill. There were many more stuffed birds in the museum. It seems the museum started due to the enthusiasm of one Englishman called H A Gass in around 1905. Most of the exhibits were from his personal collections back then. It seems a lot of it was lost during the World War II . But later on, the collections were gradually increased.
There were a lot of informational posters on ecology, forestry, nature conservation, renewable sources of energy etc. The below poster for example says this : “Is the best way to protect a natural area to seal it off in a closed jar from the outside human world? Sooner or later, such a policy can destroy the area it was intended to protect! Ecological and sociological pressures – both inside and outside – eventually may shatter the reserve. MAB emphasizes man’s partnership with nature. A reserve is (should be?) open and interacts with its region. The local people can be its guardians.”
Taking a shot at the national conservation parks, and human attitude towards animals at the same time? But there is a point – some of the conservation parks have actually seen a decline in wild animal population it was set up to conserve!
The size of this Bengal vulture was daunting! It was kept right above my face, and looking up I was intimidated a bit, to say the least I thought this was the best exhibit, especially its placement location!