Photograph By Dr Jitendra Katre
Many of us might be aware about Fireflies festivals in Maharashtra. Some readers might have visited such places and witnessed this mesmerizing experience. I, still remember my childhood when I saw this insect for the 1st time at Radhanagari wildlife sanctuary near Kolhapur.
My mom helped me find these blinking insects on a tree. I was so amazed by the light emitting phenomenon of these small yet wonderful creatures. Trekking and observing wildlife are my hobbies because of which I met these fellows frequently in last 10 years at many locations.
A few years back when I shifted to Mumbai I heard about the Fireflies festival for the 1st time organized by few organizations to promote village tourism. Citizens from metro cities grabbed this opportunity and visited 1-2 villages near Bhandardara where millions of fireflies showcase their tiny lights. The festival got overwhelming response by tourists and within few years number increased from hundreds to thousands. Many organizations provided camping facilities with the help of locals.
In the early days, majority of young tourists used to visit this place, but now because of publicity and facilities tourists are from each corner of the society including kids to elder people and solo to groups. Many organizations announce customized trips focusing on camping, photography, rural lifestyle and now music also. This is the exact time where responsibility of each one of us comes into picture including tourists, locals and organizers along with statutory departments.
Just after the 1st shower rains in May one can see fireflies in the forest or near to villages having fruit bearing trees. The number goes on increasing till June and declines once the monsoon is settled. There are thousands of species of fireflies living in different warm environments of the world. These nocturnal members of the family Lampyridae, can emit light of various intensities.
Fireflies have unique light organs that are located under their abdomens. Inside special cells of this organism, oxygen combines with a substance called luciferin to produce light with almost no heat. This light is generally intermittent, and flashes in patterns that are unique to each species. Each blinking pattern is an optical signal that facilitates fireflies to find potential mates. This phenomenon also provides a defensive ability that flashes a clear warning to predators.
Definitely it’s a mesmerizing experience to watch thousands of fireflies like thousands of stars are blinking around you. This season you might be planning a trip to experience nature’s illumination – treat to eyes. But at the same time one should respect these small creatures and their lifestyle while visiting their areas.
To promote ethical wildlife photography and tourism I will request to follow few things. These insects are light-sensitive; hence one should avoid entering their areas after sunset. You can reach before sunset and settle down for this stunning experience. I have seen so many cars and tempo-travelers running on the roads throughout the night disturbing entire ecosystem. May and June months are also sensitive to amphibians like snakes and frogs that cross the roads during night time and to see them crushed by vehicles is really a sad part of the story. Personally I believe, to restrict urban facilities in such areas while organizing events based on wildlife.
Tourists demanding many facilities like tents very close to water bodies, use of pesticides/insect repellents near campsites (except personnel), customized food menu, musical events and camp fire during such trips will definitely fail to catch the pure joy of this natural event. These demands will result in destroying urban – rural and wildlife frames by penetrating such facilities in forests.
I have observed so many vehicles with their headlamps ‘on’ searching for fire flies. One should note that fireflies’ festival is a natural light and seen better in the dark. So use of high intensity lamps, camera flashes will disturb their surroundings. Photographers should also note that someone’s life (even if it’s an insect) is more important than few likes or comments for the photos on social media.
Fireflies are spread over a large area in Maharashtra and hence interested people can visit many other locations near to their residence and avoid overcrowding Bhandardara region. Many organizations are organizing this festival near Kolhapur, Satara and Pune also.
Wildlife experience is a game of patience, so give some time to make you familiar with the surrounding especially eyes for darkness. Many groups keep on strolling from one place to another by their vehicles or high intensity torches. This will never settle down your eyes to sight these insects properly. It is also recommended not to enter forest areas without proper permissions and knowledge.
Following these requests one can enhance his/her joy while observing this interesting feast of natural lights. So, friends lets prepare yourself to experience fire flies festival this season. Happy journey and happy clicking!
The Photographers Blog has organized a Fireflies Festival near Bhandardara on 9th and 10th June 2018. Please visit this link to know more.