Kodagu First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Kodagu, Coorgs and the People of Kodagu – here at Home and Overseas
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    Sthree Shakthi members take out a procession.

    Sthree Shakthi members take out a procession.

    There was a festive atmosphere at Ponnampete on the border of Kodagu district in Virajpet taluk, which is hosting a two-day district-level Kannada Sahitya Sammelan. A large number of students participated in the Kannada literary meet, which commenced on Saturday.

    Inaugurating the meet, writer Dr Siddalingaiah said that there is a need to protect Kannada in Kodagu. “A few Malayalam name boards are found in the district. Kannadigas should be awake in the district.

    There is no need for a Malayalam name board in Kannada land,” he said.

    Stating that there are ample opportunities for promotion of tourism in the district, he said that the state government should chalk out programmes to safeguard the culture and uniqueness of the district along with the promotion of tourism.

    Highlighting the importance of Kannada in the district, he said Kodagu Commissioner Cubbon had removed Lakshminarayanayya from the post of Diwan of Kodagu in 1838. He had written a letter to Governor General in Kolkatta highlighting the injustice met on him in pure Kannada.

    Siddalingaiah said, “there is a need to restrict the purchase of land in the district by people from outside the district to protect the culture of the land.”

    “Field Marshal Cariappa, General Thimmaiah not only brought fame to Kodagu but also the entire country. The people of the district not only guard the border but also protect the language.”

    Kaveri nadi pradhikara
    In her presidential address, Kechamada Subbamma Thimmaiah demanded the setting up of Kaveri nadi pradhikara.

    She said “the test reports have confirmed that the water from river Cauvery at several places is not potable. The garbage and sewage from various places enter the river and pollute it. Cauvery is the lifeline of the state. There is a need to check dumping of garbage into the river. If left untreated, it could choke the river flow, ” she warned.

    “The Kodagu district is the land of warriors and culture. There is a need to protect the culture of the land.”, she added.

    Arameri Kalancheri Mutt seer Shantha Mallikarjuna Swami, Ponnampete Ramakrishna Sharadhashrama Swaroopanandaji Maharaj were present.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / Ponnampete – DH News Service / November 18th, 2017

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    Bengaluru :

    A group of Bengalureans are out on a mission to restore the Kaveri catchment area in Kodagu to protect its biodiversity.Sheshadri, a conservationist and member of the Bengaluru-based group Forest First Samithi (FFS), believes that the word ‘conservation’ would not have existed in the English dictionary if people knew how to stay connected with nature. “It is because of our apathy that we have reached this pathetic state, where we fight with each other for even water,” he says.

    Sheshadri along with IT professionals Meera Rajesh, Uma, Anil Panolil Chirikandoth and Dhandapany, formed this group in 2008 and they began their conservation work in Wayanad. They started working in Kodagu six months ago. The team works in association with Kodagu Model Forest Trust with an aim to conserve over 100 indigenous tree species of Western Ghats such as Saraca asoca, Mammea suriga, Garcinia talbotii, Dysoxylum malabaricum and Bridelia retusa. The team does rain water management to ensure maximum percolation to improve the ground water levels.

    People from the community equally participate in the conservation of the biodiversity

    People from the community equally
    participate in the conservation
    of the biodiversity

    They encourage community participation as well. About eight people are working on this project. They are paid `8,000 per month from the funds that the team receives through online crowdfunding and friends. “A few IT professionals also contribute `5,000 from their monthly salary towards this cause,” he says.

    Meera adds, “During the British Raj, the forest conservators were actually exploiting our forests for commercial benefits. We aim to make a headway in real time conservation of forest and ecology. It’s only then that our generation and posterity shall stand to gain and prosper.” The team is picking up some degraded patches of land across Kodagu with an attempt to protect them from cattle grazing and wild fires. Sheshadri says, “We clear dry grass and convert them to manure, hence, preventing wildfires from spreading.”

    Funding is a major challenge for the project. The team is raising `7.30 lakh for this work through crowdfunding. If you wish to contribute for the cause, visit www.bitgiving.com. For further details about the team, log on to www.ffs.org.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bengaluru / by Express News Service / November 14th, 2017

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    Students performed a peacock dance at Yuvajanotsava held at Forestry College, Ponnampet on Friday.

    Students performed a peacock dance at Yuvajanotsava held at Forestry College, Ponnampet on Friday.

    Forestry College, Ponnampet won the overall championship in the cultural programmes held as part of the two-day Yuvajanotsava at Forestry College in Ponnampet on Friday.

    Students of Forestry College had won 106 points while students of Mudigere Horticulture College won the second place with 96 points. In the diploma category, the students of Brahamavar College won the overall championship while Kathalegere Diploma College won the second place.

    Yuvajanotsava, under the title of Yuvaspandana, was organised by the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Shivamogga.

    Students of Ponnampet Forestry College and Mudigere Horticultural College presented a peacock dance, Pooja Kunitha, Nandikolu, Veeragasem Bhoothakunitha and others. Mudigere College students entertained the audience with Dollu Kunitha and Pooja Kunitha while students of the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Shivamogga presented Lambani dance.

    Rangayana Director Bhagirathi Bai said that youth have immense talent. Rangayana will organise College Natakotsava next month.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / DHNS, Madikeri / November 11th, 2017

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    Categories at the marathon include one-mile run, 10 km, 21 km and 42 km

    Categories at the marathon include one-mile run, 10 km, 21 km and 42 km

    The third edition of the world’s first barefoot marathon will be held at the Tata Coffee Sports Ground at Pollibeta in Kodagu on Dec 10.

    Cheppudira Nikki Ponappa, professional golfer, coach and founder of Coorg Wellness Foundation, said the event is being organised with Milind Soman as part of the Coorg Reconnect Initiative by Coorg Wellness Foundation.

    Ponappa said, “Barefoot marathon is an initiative through which we want the people of Kodagu as well as anyone who is a nature and wildlife lover to reconnect with mother earth and the best way to do this is by being barefoot. Through this event, we are trying to spread awareness about the rehabilitation of the elephant habitat and we want to replant the 54,000 trees that were chopped from Kodagu for a power grid. So, through the event, we hope to create awareness for planting native fruit trees in an eco-sensitive area like Kodagu. Our wildlife and elephants need to stay in the forest and enjoy their homeland.”

    The organisers are expecting about 500 runners to participate from all over the country. “While for the natives of Kodagu, cash prize is awarded, outsiders who win prizes take home produce such as coffee and pepper. We want people to come and experience Kodagu and take back Kodagu with them. The entire event is an eco-friendly event with a ban on plastics. Even water is served in coconut shells. There are no loud speakers nor do we use electricity. The warm up begins with the folk music known as the ‘Vallaga’ and people will have to warm up by dancing the traditional Kodava dance,” Ponappa said.

    Ponappa said the categories include one-mile run, 10 km, 21 km and 42 km.

    source: http://www.bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com / Bangalore Mirror / Home> News> State / by Deepthi Sanjiv, Bangalore Mirror Bureau / November 10th, 2017

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    EXHILARATING Bathing and feeding sessions are the most popular among the activities at Dubare and Sakrebailu elephant camps. PHOTOS BY AUTHOR

    EXHILARATING Bathing and feeding sessions are the most popular among the activities at Dubare and Sakrebailu elephant camps. PHOTOS BY AUTHOR

    Everyone loves elephants. Whenever we see them, they bring out the child in us, with a craving to touch, photograph and ride on them, and if possible, take a selfie with them.

    Elephants also play an important role in some of our religious festivals. We see the sculptures of elephants in heritage places as well. The best places to get close to these awesome pachyderms are Dubare Elephant Camp in Kodagu and Sakrebailu Elephant Camp in Shivamogga district.

    Dubare Elephant Camp

    Dubare Elephant Camp is located amidst lush green forest, on the picturesque banks of River Cauvery, about 14 km from Kushalnagar in Kodagu district. This is a project undertaken by the Karnataka Forest Department and Jungle Lodges and Resorts. There are more than 22 elephants in the camp at present. All of them are tamed and trained, but are allowed to roam free in the forest in the afternoon and night. The elephants return to the camp for their bath and feeding sessions. Here, the visitors can not only observe and learn but also participate in various activities involving elephants through the ‘elephant interaction programme’ arranged by the naturalists of the Forest Department.

    Driving down from Kushalnagar, we reach the bank of River Cauvery and have to cross over in small motor boats. The view of the river is breathtaking, with the water flowing gently over rocks and bushy trees hanging over the water’s edge on both sides. The chirping of different birds provides a pleasing background music. It is an open, seamless forest area and the only man-made constructions here are for training and feeding the elephants. Trained naturalists explain the various aspects of elephants like their history, biology, personality and food habits. They also facilitate our intimate interaction with the animals. This camp is said to have been started during the British era for taming and training wild elephants to be used for transportation and in war. Some of the trained elephants from this camp participate in the Mysore Dasara procession and other temple festivals.

    The most enjoyable part of our visit was joining the mahouts in bathing the elephants. Every morning, the animals are taken down to the river for their bath, which lasts for an hour. It is a pleasure to see them lying down in the river and splashing water, with their trunks, all the while enjoying their bath. Visitors who are bold enough can roll up their sleeves and pants to give the mammoths a scrub. The bath is followed by an elaborate feeding session, in which we could also lend a hand. We can feed them with balls of ragi, jaggery, sugar cane, banana and coconuts provided by the Forest Department.

    Elephant rides are arranged thereafter. It is an hour-long journey around the forest and this makes for a memorable experience. If we are lucky, we can catch a sight of animals like peacocks and Sambar deer during the safari.

    There are places to stay near the elephant camp. Additionally, the elephant camp also conducts river rafting in the upper part of River Cauvery. In addition, coracle rides are provided for those who wish to ride the river in a different way and enjoy the blissful wilderness along the way. Boat rides and trekking are also possible for bird lovers as the forest is home to a variety of birds, which can often be seen flying across the river.

    Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

    Sakrebailu Elephant Camp is located about 14 km from Shivamogga town on the Thirthahalli road. This is also run by the Karnataka Forest Department for training wild elephants. Set amidst thick forest on the bank of River Tunga, this ecotourism centre attracts wildlife enthusiasts and tourists in large numbers. Here, also the elephants are taken to the river every morning for their elaborate bathing session.

    Visitors are allowed to help in the bathing and feeding sessions. It is a pleasure to watch the giant animals enjoying themselves in the river. After feeding, all the animals are left free to roam in the forest. This an ideal place to enjoy a day out with the elephants.

    Elephant rides and trekking are also allowed in this camp. An aane utsava is also held at the camp in the month of October.

    Both the camps are open to the public throughout the year. When the waters of River Cauvery become very rough during the time of peak monsoon, the Dubare Elephant Camp closes down the route through the river for the public as it is not safe for people to go across in small boats. However, it can also be reached via road. But for obvious reasons, the bathing sessions are not held during rainy days.

    Dubare Elephant Camp is open to the public from 9.00 am to 12.00 pm and 4.00 pm to 5.00 pm on all days. On the other hand, Sakrebailu Elephant Camp is open only in the morning, between 8.30 am and 11.00 am, on all days. September to June is the best time to visit as the elephants love to spend more time in the river when it is not raining and when the weather is humid and hot.

    It is suffice to say that Dubare and Sakrebailu are a must visit locales for nature enthusiasts and those who love to have intimate encounters with the elephants.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Spectrum / by K Karunakaran / October 17th, 2017

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    Plantations with native trees produce more coffee which is also of better quality

    Forest trees are good, not just for the environment but for your coffee too: having more forest trees in coffee plantations maintains tree diversity and also increases coffee production and quality, shows a study. This could be vital information as native trees are being replaced with exotics in coffee-growing landscapes to increase coffee production.

    India, the world’s sixth largest coffee-producer, grows ‘shade’ coffee, under the canopies of naturally occurring native trees such as jackfruit, Black dammar (dhup) and Magnolia (champa) which are legally-protected. However, some planters now replace dead native trees with exotics like Silver oaks which are not protected and can be felled for timber. Silver oaks also serve well as pepper stands, and cultivating pepper on them supplements planters’ incomes. This ‘intensification’ – reducing and replacing native shade tree cover – contributes to forest loss in the tropics, where coffee is cultivated.

    Scientists at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and the College of Forestry (Kodagu) examined whether this intensification affects native tree biodiversity and coffee productivity in Karnataka’s Kodagu district, which produces more than one-third of India’s coffee. They studied tree species diversity in 25 coffee plantations varying in native shade tree cover, with some having only non-native Silver oaks as canopies.

    The benefits

    Their results, published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, show that 95 native tree species offer shade for coffee in Kodagu; and intensification decreases this tree diversity. Some plantations, which still retained native trees, even had red-listed tree species (designated as threatened by the IUCN), and some of them in high numbers. The team found that such plantations produced more coffee, which was also of better quality . Silver oak-dominated plantations showed more single-seeded fruits and attacks by the Coffee berry borer, a major pest.

    “This is likely due to reduced predators such as ants, birds, or parasitoids, in Silver oak-dominated plantations,” says lead author Maike Nesper (ETH Zurich). Protecting native trees could be crucial, she adds.

    “Some regions are re-diversifying tree canopy cover in coffee agroforests, as consumers are increasingly interested in biodiversity conservation and ready to pay premium prices…but to gain the same level of native diversity by reforestation is nearly impossible, and it is crucial to diversity in the first place.”

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Environment / by Aathira Perinchery / September 30th, 2017

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    Tourists at Abbey Falls near T Shettigeri, with rain catching up by monsoon end, all falls in the State are putting up their best show

    Tourists at Abbey Falls near T Shettigeri, with rain catching up by monsoon end, all falls in the State are putting up their best show

    Madikeri :

    City dwellers might hate rain with its attendant problems but when they flock to Kodagu, the rain is an added attraction. Tourist inflow has gone up in the rainy months which were once considered off-season.As many as 91,619 visitors came to Kodagu in July, a jump over the figures for 2016.

    Between January and July this year, 6.9 lakh people visited Kodagu, of whom 91,619 people visited in July. This is a jump of 21% over last year, when just 75,492 tourists came. In 2015, only 74,798 tourists visited in the month of July. But even these are conservative numbers, say officials, since it only accounts for guests at registered homestays. The number could be almost double if the other homestays, not on paper, are factored in as well.

    What helped probably was that the rain wasn’t as heavy as expected. The district as a whole received 51cm of rain in the month against a normal of 90cm, allowing tourists to enjoy the showers while finding time to move around as well. The tourist count estimate for this August had crossed 50,000 by the middle of the month.

    While most tourists visit the staples in Kodagu -Talacauvery, Cauvery Nisargadhama in Kushalnagar, the Nalaknad palace in Kakkabe and Raja’s Seat – some also make their way to Irupu falls near Shrimangala, Mallalli falls off Somwarpet, Abbey falls near Madikeri, the golden temple at Kushalnagar, Dubare elephant camp, Ha rangi and Mandalapatti near Madikeri.

    Shobha Shetty , a retired bank employee from Mangaluru, says she had a magical experience visiting Talacauvery in the morning hours. “The mist-covered slopes, the moving fog and the gathering dark in daylight made me forget everything else. This can happen only during monsoon,” she says. Around 45,616 tourists visited Talacauvery between January and May this year.

    Shashi Monnappa, who runs Mythili homestay at Madikeri, said many tourists preferred to visit during monsoon and opted to go to waterfalls, for river rafting and on safari in Nagarahole.

    Boosting the tourist inflow, homestays drop rates during the rainy off-season. Coravanda Madan Somanna, who runs a homestay in BB estate at Kadagadal near Madikeri, said the discounts ranged between 25% and 30% on the room tariff.

    Kushalnagar assistant conservator of forests Chinnappa said an average of 3 lakh tourists visit the Dubare elephant camp every year.And around two lakh tourists visit Irupu falls in south Kodagu every year, says Kodagu DFO Jaya.

    Given the surge, the tourism department has taken up some development projects. It is building a Kodava heritage centre at Madikeri at a cost of Rs 2.6 crore, a pathway for tourists at Mallalli falls at Rs 1.4 crore and providing a chain barricade at Abbey falls for Rs 86 lakh.

    The district administration has sent proposals for another 12 projects which include road development in Mandalapatti, Talacauvery and Dubare; building a hanging bridge to Irupu falls and setting up a garden at the Nalaknadu palace. It has also proposed building a concrete road from Nanjarayapatna to Dubare to reach the elephant camp. These proposed projects will need nearly Rs 17 crore from the government.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / News> City News> Bangalore News / TNN / September 25th, 2017

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    Bengaluru :

    The Western Ghats has been plundered over the years, resulting also in progressively hotter summers in Bengaluru. While afforestation efforts to save the Ghats have been on for years, a team of passionate and dedicated Bengalureans is trying a different approach to save the many tree species. They are planting acres-wide groves in private and public lands that fall in the range, for now focussing on Coorg and Wayanad.

    Meera, Rajesh, Sheshadri Ramaswamy, Uma, Anil Panolil Chirikandoth and Dhandapany collectively form Forest First Samithi (FFS) – a society that aims to engage and empower local communities in ecological conservation by educating them about endangered and endemic plant species. What started off as a team of four has today grown into a family with ten permanent members and over 30 volunteers.”FFS is trying to conserve endangered tree species by creating an eco-system where birds, small mammals and insects can also thrive,” says Meera, one of the founders of FFS, adding that the organization was started in 2008, and that most of their early years were spent on learning.

    FFS’ vision for degraded lands in Kodagu started this May, and they have already spoken to local organizations and communities to get them on board. “Since we started work in Kodagu, we have already managed to add 35 species of endangered plants into the groves we worked on, and plan to touch 100 species,” she says, adding that the lands they are focusing on are public spaces ranging between 5 acres and 30 acres.

    Workers in Wayanad grove  Pics courtesy: Meera Rajesh

    Workers in Wayanad grove  Pics courtesy: Meera Rajesh

    How it all started

    FFS started work in the biological hotspot that is Wayanad, where a lot of native tree species have been chopped to give way to silver oak, coffee and teak plantations. Meera says that unless one ventures deep into the forest, it is unlikely you’ll come across any traditional species. “During the summer months, we noticed how trees in Wayanad were being chopped at an alarming rate for timber. That’s when we decided to do something about it. We got involved in a lot of discussions with research organizations and experts on how to go about it, and also spoke to locals to get them involved,” she says.

    Years of hard work and research resulted in the complete transformation of a private farm land in Wayanad, where a section of it was partitioned to create what is called a ‘farm grove’. This grove comprises endemic, endangered tree species, while the rest of the land can be used for economic purposes. By getting farmers and land owners involved in understanding how these endangered species will actually better their crops in terms of soil quality, water retention and pollination, FFS has managed to conserve 100 species of trees in Wayanad.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bengaluru / by M Shriya Sharma / Express News Service / September 06th, 2017

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    Up in arms:Activists protesting as part of the ‘Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery’ campaign at Kutta in Kodagu on Saturday.Special Arrangement

    Up in arms:Activists protesting as part of the ‘Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery’ campaign at Kutta in Kodagu on Saturday.Special Arrangement

    Activists from nearly 30 organisations hold Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery rally

    To draw public attention to the rapid ecological devastation of Kodagu brought about by development projects, scores of people staged a protest at Kutta as part of the ‘Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery’ campaign on Saturday.

    Activists and citizens from nearly 30 organisations and NGOs participated in it to stem the tide of what they described as the growing ecological destruction of Kodagu district, which is also the catchment area for the Cauvery.

    The activists assembled first at Ponnampet and were joined by others at Kutta, bordering Karnataka and Kerala where a rally was taken out. The highway was blocked for nearly an hour.

    The campaign had its share of critics who questioned the motives and rationale of the conclusions of the activists but the latter described them as misguided by vested interest groups.

    The crux of the issue revolves around new projects such as two railway lines that will link Kodagu or cut across the district, besides national highways.

    The rapid urbanisation of the region, besides indiscriminate tree felling under the guise of “development” has reduced the green cover of the district over the years, according to the activists.

    They have objected to the Mysuru-Kushalnagar railway line which is being bandied about as a market link for coffee growers of the district with the rest of India while the other railway line is the proposed link between Mysuru and Thalassery in Kerala which passes through some of the dense forests and elephant habitat. Col. C.P. Muthanna (retd) of Coorg Wildlife Society said such projects would only escalate human-animal conflict in Kodagu as these so-called development works would lead to habitat fragmentation, disturbance and destruction.

    The Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery campaign also highlighted the vanishing green cover in the district and linked to it depleting rainfall in the region since the last few years which has affected local agriculture.

    Being the catchment area for the Cauvery the forest cover had to be protected and if the river and its ecosystem was not saved, then nothing would survive, said the activists, pointing out that the river served as a source of drinking water to people in south Karnataka region, including Mysuru and Bengaluru.

    Reiterating that every hectare of land acquired for development projects in Kodagu would result in the felling of nearly 350 fully grown and mature trees, the activists said the extent of tree-felling and damage to the ecology could only be imagined as large swathes of land extending to hundreds of hectares were needed for such projects.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / by Special Correspondent / Mysuru – August 27th, 2017

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    Protest planned against ‘ecologically destructive’ projects

    Members of nearly 30 organisations have launched a “Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery” campaign to protest the ecologically destructive projects sanctioned in Kodagu on Saturday.

    The activists will stage a protest in Kutta on the Karnataka-Kerala border to register their opposition to the 400 kV power line project passing through the district, the proposed railway line – one linking with Mysuru and the other with Thalassery in Kerala — besides linking of NHs cutting across the district.

    “Most of these projects are not required for Kodagu which is an environmentally fragile and sensitive region and entails large scale felling of trees,” said Col. C.P. Muthanna of the Coorg Wildlife Society, which is also a part of the campaign. He estimated that lakhs of trees were at the risk of being felled to pave way for the projects based on the broad estimates of land acquisition.

    “Each hectare of land in Kodagu supports nearly 350 fully grown and mature trees and one shudders to think of the extent of tree-felling that will take place given the vast tract of land that will be acquired,” he said.

    The thrust of the campaign is to highlight the imperatives of conserving the catchment area of the Cauvery.

    Rampant destruction of environment is evident in the depleting rainfall over the years and it is time to rethink such destructive development, according to activists. The railway line for Kodagu is being touted as an important link providing connectivity to the coffee market across India. But there is little value addition to coffee cultivated in Chikkamagaluru because of rail connectivity in Hassan, he said. The Mysuru-Kushalngar-Madikeri railway line has no real benefit to the district but could open up a can of new problems, including unbridled urbanisation of an environmentally sensitive region, he added.

    The planned demonstration has received support from various quarters cutting across geographical region and the organisers have received endorsement from like-minded individuals and groups on social media groups as well.

    The activists will congregate at Ponnampet and then go to Kutta where they will go in a procession at 11 a.m. and demonstrate near the check post on the border.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Special Correspondent / Mysuru – August 24th, 2017

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