M. V. Raghavan was arguably one of the most competent of political leaders in Kerala. He had a special talent for implementing ideas. And right now, I’m at the Parassinikkadavu Snake Park established by him. The reason for introducing this place is to inform Nature-lovers that it has a lot for you to see and enjoy. He has not put up a Miyawaki forest but an ordinary one raised on laterite soil. The trees that he planted nearly 30 years back have grown and spread their canopies. We always state that it is possible to convert any place into a forest if we have perseverance and a will to work hard.  Here you will see many rare trees. The animals in this park are raised in a manner that we see in other places – in cages. But the surrounding forest has brought down the atmospheric heat. The temperature is very moderate here. Trees have been planted from one end of this park to another. You will see climbers here and there too. Children will surely enjoy the sights as they can see animals at close quarters. Besides, this place has been made to closely resemble a natural habitat, with a favourable ecosystem and climate, and it is worth seeing and understanding.

The statues of prominent people have been installed at various places. Usually, statues are fenced in. Here, the statues of Nature and wildlife conservationists have been put up in open spaces. Whatever I may say to describe this place can never be  a substitute for an actual visit. This was once a barren, rocky area, and it has been transformed into a park. It is an enviable sight, one which proves that it is indeed possible to change a treeless place into a forest. Do visit it, if possible.

I’ve travelled through the districts of Kannur and Kasaragod several times during the last forty years but this is my first visit here. My thought was that as a snake park it would have nothing for me to see or enjoy, like the Mysore Zoo of old. In 1984, when I was there as a student, the zoo was not at all Nature-friendly. It was Sally Walker an American woman who raised awareness among the locals and made it Nature-friendly, so that even when the animals were inside cages, trees were planted inside cages or the cages were placed in the midst of trees. At certain places forests were created, animals reared and released back to the wild. Many such improvements were introduced with local sponsorship, and the ambience of the zoo was made as similar to Nature as possible.

I was sceptical about what I would see here at Parassinikkadavu. We are generally not appreciative of things that we have in our own place. Now I realize that my not coming here earlier was a mistake. It certainly required a lot of hard work to  plant trees on laterite soil, and make them grow so well that they changed the very atmosphere of the place. This is a model worth studying. The lesson from such a place is that if we put up houses or other institutions on top of a hill, it is possible  to plant trees and make the ambience very Nature-friendly. I request that all of you try to implement it.