As botanic gardens go, the Sir Seewoosagu Ramgoolam Botanic Gardens in Mauritius are not large. 92 acres to Bangalore’s Lal Bagh of 240 acres to put it in perspective (but of course we need to factor in the size of the two countries!). We don’t need to dwell on the variety of flora, both endemic and exotic, on display there. Nor the few but interesting animals—specifically some deer and some huge tortoises. The only endemic Mauritian mammal, a bat, the Peropus niger, may also be spotted on the trees, it is said.
But it was not all this that really fascinated me. Let me tell you what did.
Little shelters dot the gardens. At the shelter overlooking the beautiful lily pond was a table. And on the table was a register. I sneaked a peak into the register. And this is what I saw: Several entries each day on the condition of the pond, the leaves, the flowers; the birds and insects seen. And a sketch of the pond, done at the same time every day, showing where flowers had bloomed and where there were buds. And it was not only the lily pond. There was a similar register at the lotus pond, and some other spots in the garden. As I flipped the pages, I could see that no day was missed, no entry casual
What seriousness of purpose and systematic application, to a job that may seem not to have any particular outcome. But the person behind the system and the people implementing it obviously know the importance. After all, scientific method consists of : ‘systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.’
The Botanic Garden in Mauritius is definitely doing its part! It is obvious that they know the value of keeping systematic notes and data. It may seem trivial, but who knows what it may lead to? After all, research is one of the stated objectives of Botanic Gardens, Zoos, Aquaria and all such facilities do. And keeping such meticulous notes may be the single most important contribution they can make.
Are we in India at all using such opportunities? I am not sure!
An excerpt from Darwin’s Beagle Notebooks. He observed and noted down everything around him—flora, fauna, geology, weather conditions, animal behaviour. And at the end of the day, changed human understanding of the world! Without his notes, he may not have reached his conclusions!
Extraordinary numbers of Turpin —
drinking bury head above eyes — Will drink when a person is within 2 yards of them about 10 gulps in minute.
Noise during cohabitation.
Eggs covered by sand soil from 4 to 5 in number — require a long time before they are hatched.
Eat Cacti in the dry Islands
Yellow Iguana1 intestine full of Guyavitas & some large leaves
All morning descended highest Crater — Glassy Feldspar — red glossy scoriæ:
Iguana1 — shakes head vertically;, hind legs stretched out walks very slowly — sleeps — closes eyes — Eats much Cactus:
run walking from two other carrying it in mouth — Eats very deliberately, without chewing — Small Finc[h] picking from same piece after alights on back —
In the Tent generally 85-80˚ —
Trade wind & sun 77˚ or 78 —
On Rock out of wind 108˚ — —