J for Jungle Stories
What is it with me and my adventurous trips to jungles or the National Reserve Forests…..I never get to see the lions and tigers….just their paw prints and local stories from safari guides!! I always get to see the peacocks, the deer and elephants!
As a kid my parents had travelled to Nainital and dragged us sleepy-heads to the Jim Corbett Tiger reserve but I remember seeing only the stuffed tigers, the man-eaters which were once upon a time killed by Jim Corbett himself! The whole day we drove from one water hole to other but no real tiger, not one, not even the glimpse of its tail!
After marriage, my husband’s enthusiasm for jungle adventure took us first to Madumalai National Park near Ooty. We had stopped for the previous evening at Goa and had some good quality cashew nuts, local produce of Goa, with us to munch. When we reached the forest reserve, we left our cashew packets in the car. We also( very intelligently !!) left one of the car windows rolled down in the forest! We had booked a tree house for the night stay in the jungle.
In the evening, to our shock (and we couldn’t stop laughing at our own stupidity!), the car was full of monkeys eating and strewing the cashews in the jungle….our precious, precious Cashew nuts!! Having absorbed this funny/ridiculous/shocking incident, we looked forward to the safari next morning.
The safari guide was insisting to reach the heart of forest at the break of dawn so we could catch a glimpse of tiger or leopard at the water holes.
So we woke up early (when what I really wanted to do was sleep) and this time I dragged my little one to the safari in her night pajamas. I told her we would see a tiger and the poor girl was very excited. We boarded the jeep and reached the denser jungle….and of course first we saw many peacocks then the deer and deer and more deer. The guide told us we were near the waterhole and we should make no noise! As the jeep rumbled slowly on the path, the driver suddenly stopped and began to drive the jeep in reverse gear because there in our path stood a very annoyed elephant who thrashed the plants, trumpeted, stomped his big feet and took few angry steps towards our jeep! It seems we had disturbed not only our sleep but also His Highness’s morning routine by driving up in his territory. The panicky driver and guide gave us the news that the same elephant had upturned a jeep the previous day in his anger.
As the jeep was being driven in reverse gear we lost much time in reaching a safe distance away from the elephant and then took a detour to reach the waterhole. But alas, as is my luck with jungle adventures…..we saw the paw prints of a big cat but no big cat anywhere. I missed the leopard or tiger again! It had had its share of water and moved on!!
We did spot some Indian giant squirrels though…if it counts as compensation of not seeing a wildcat!
Few years later we planned for Kaziranga Reserve for Rhinos in Assam. This was the only forest where I saw what it is famous for…the Rhinos!! The deeper denser jungle near the mighty Brahmaputra river where the more ferocious cats roamed was out-of-bounds for the casual visitors like us. Here too however, I saw lots of deer, elephants with their kids and rhinos with their kids too.
Another jungle we visited two years back was the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan. Here there are no wild cats…so I can not complain really! We did see some migratory birds besides turtles, monitor lizards, blue bull.
Now we plan to visit the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. The tiger population has increased there in last few years and hopefully this jungle would be the one to end the jinx by letting me see the tigers in their majestic beauty.