Friday, 4 July 2008
For the last three years, Gautam Sapkota has been after birds and only birds. He follows the birds in national parks, forests, nearby gardens and central zoo in Kathmandu, and spends his time imitating their ways - the way the birds communicate with each other in different situations. And it's really hard to believe - within a span of three years, he has been able to mimic 151 different types of birds!
"I know the birds won't be here forever, they are being killed and getting extinct due to loss of habitat and human encroachment," he says. "Although I won't be able to save them, I will preserve their voices."
Although there are so many exotic birds, crows are Gautam's best friends. He can communicate with the crows more efficiently. He opines that these birds use only few basic words to communicate like "come", "go", "run - there's danger", "let's gather - one of us is in danger" and few other words. It was his long study and experience that allowed him to call a conference of crows during the auspicious festival Kag Tihar (The first day of Hindu festival - Deepawali, when people worship crow, the messenger of the God of death, Yama). Hundreds of crows came responding to his calls at the Open Theatre in Kathmandu. "They are my friends, and they come to me when I call them," says Gautam. "They know that their friend needs their help and flock to me."
Once hounded by media, he has been surviving on the presentations that he holds everyday in different schools. Till date he has visited more than 6,500 schools in 45 districts of Nepal, interacting, entertaining and education the kids about birds, their habitat, their ways of life and their calls.
When asked on how he was inspired to take up this hobby, he says, "When I was a little kid, I wondered how people imitated animals." "When I grew up, I realized that I could mimic a lot different sounds, so I started my journey and the beautiful birds became my friends."
Besides birds, he can imitate any other animal. However, following and studying the monkeys of Swayambhunath stupa and Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, he has learnt the monkey sounds too. He can initiate a brawl between two and more monkeys. And if you really pester him, he can arrange a gang fight among the monkeys and ask all the monkeys to attack you at once.
You will never get bored by his bird calls. However, to entertain the students apart from the monotonous bird sounds he has compiled songs in different bird voices. An album of popular Nepali folk songs remixed in the voice of different birds (particularly heron's voice) is on the offing.
Although born in a not so known Gadhi village of Makwanpur district in central Nepal, he is aspiring to record his feat in the Guiness Book of World Records. He is in correspondence with the officials and they are positive on recording this extraordinary feat.