Jungle Stories

A search for the endangered tiger led the writer to three wildlife parks in India. She not only spotted the magnificent beast, but also other rare animals

4/2/2016 2:31:45 PM
written By : Basabi Banerjee Print

The thrill of seeing ‘the big five’ in Sabi Sands, South Africa, four years ago, had left us yearning for more wildlife experiences. When we discovered that ‘And Beyond’, the African travel company which had organised our memorable Safari holiday, had linked up with Taj Hotels to provide similar vacations in the National Parks of India, TAJSAFARIS seemed a perfect choice. Eager to catch a glimpse of the magnificent but elusive and critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger in its natural habitat, our safari group of eight figured that 10 jungle drives spread over three wildlife parks at Pench, Kanha and Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, would give us a fair chance of seeing the fascinating creature that conservationists the world over are labouring to save from extinction.

Our adventure began at Baghvan Lodge, Taj, in Pench National Park, one of the reserves included in Project Tiger, a conservation programme that works tirelessly to protect the majestic cats and their habitats. Though the park covers about 1400 square kilometres in the southern region of the Satpura Hills, the government has opened up a small part of it to tourism, a clear indication of its commitment to protect India’s diverse wildlife. This passion for the forests and their captivating denizens is shared by TAJSAFARIS who take their responsibility to the environment seriously as exemplified by their slogan: ‘Care of the land. Care of the Wildlife. Care of the People.’ This caring attitude is extended to guests who are provided with every conceivable comfort. Whether it is the welcoming double-handed wave with which the staff greet visitors on arrival and after every safari drive, the attention and meticulous care given to the planning and preparation of mouth watering meals or the speed with which one’s laundry is delivered, you find yourself in a permanent state of delight punctuated with periods of sombre reflection as ‘Important Safety Information’ is brought to your attention. For eg: ‘The lodge is fenced off, however animals do roam the property’, ‘Venomous snakes and some dangerous insects can be found in and around the lodge’ and ‘The lodge accepts no responsibility…for injury, death, loss or damage and all guests who enter…do so entirely at their own risk.’

The knowledgeable naturalists at every lodge, however, are quick to reassure visitors that there is little cause for concern as the forests have a large prey base and predators do not look to humans to satisfy their hunger pangs. As long as one remains within the safari vehicle and behaves sensibly (make as little noise as possible; avoid movements that would attract attention or might be perceived as a threat; avoid bright colours) in the presence of a dangerous animal, the predator will regard you and your jeep as an innocuous animal to be ignored.

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