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A Rose by any other name…


Crimson Rose, Kabini


For centuries, a rose has not just been a flower, but also a gallant substitute for words: the term sub-rosa (literally ‘under the rose’) means there’s more to the message than seems evident at first glance. When we receive red roses, we know someone loves us, and when we get a yellow bunch, we know it’s a love more fraternal, while pink roses are a symbol of gratitude. The last thing we expect, however, is for a rose to flit away as we reach across to pick it up. But that is what happens in the mystical jungles of Kabini! The Crimson Rose of Kabini is a beautiful Swallowtail butterfly that makes it seem that every plant and frond is blooming as he passes by, just like those Pixar animations so beloved of children and adults recessing temporarily to a more innocent age. He’s an elegant black knight with serial crimson markings on its hind wing that give an illusion of a flower in flight. His favourite hangout is the local Lantana bar, for the generous portions of ambrosia served during ‘happy hours’. He claims this nectar intake is required for increased egg production, but we’ve heard that story from all our friends who claim wine has medicinal properties, and beer is good for the skin! But while he unashamedly indulges his sweet tooth, he also ensures other predators don’t salivate while looking at him. His red body, the unique flight pattern and wing markings…all add up to a simple notice to potential predators: ‘Danger – Poison!’ The Crimson Rose is a not a shy wallflower…he’s a party animal who congregates with like-minded tribesmen in a migratory multitude and party-hops very long distances together, almost like an esoteric rose garden blanketing the landscape: a sight, we believe, would have left even the normally loquacious Juliet speechless.


Photograph: Sanket Reddy Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

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