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The Lost Emperor


Black-naped Monarch, Coorg -

He may be the monarch of all he surveys, but this is one member of the avian royalty who’d much rather avoid the spotlight, thank you! No flashbulbs, no glitzy ‘coming out’ balls, and definitely no obliging those pesky jungle paparazzi, no matter how noble their intentions. If you want a glimpse, much less a good picture of this shy sovereign, you’d need to catch him off guard, which again, is about as rare as a glimpse of HRH’s onyx black nape. It’d help if you were a male Black-naped Monarch too, for, nothing but a threat to his empire can get that nape raised dramatically. This is as much to assert suzerainty over his patch, as it is to look more intimidating to the potential interloper. This does provide a rather comical picture of a small body haughtily holding up a head too large for it, but we’d suggest you keep your opinions to yourself. It wouldn’t do to ruffle royal feathers, would it? Our blue blooded Royal is also blue bodied, perhaps to hint at his regal lineage. The ladies of the line are however not allowed to dazzle, and their raiment is decidedly duller, and lack those magnificent black markings. After all, it wouldn’t do to outshine the king. Like most other monarchs, there’s nothing our naped emperor likes as much as a good hunt, and he doesn’t turn up the royal beak at mingling with the proletariat. Royal repast consists of a variety of flies, often caught on the wing, as the hunters swoop down from their thickly wooded perches, strike fast, and disappear back into the secret recesses of their jungle kingdom, leaving us mortals to wonder if we actually saw that divine flash of blue speckled with black, or if it was just a flight of fancy.


Photograph: Kiran Poonacha Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

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