Tiger Census...time in the forests...
The process of getting to participate in the tiger census seemed so disorganized that we were actually wondering, having missed 2 days of it, whether we should go or not. But then we decided we would,after I was able to speak to the Asst Conservator of Forests, and it has been a very rewarding experience indeed. I do feel that the process of recruiting volunteers seems very haphazard to me…but there were 75 volunteers at Kabini in spite of their having got just a day’s notice! If you are to be a volunteer, please invest in a good pair of shoes, and be prepared to walk a lot,know that you will pay Rs.50 per day, and be happy with all that you see instead of pining all the time for a big cat sighting. (There is the “day-before-day-after” rule that applies very much to me…people who see big cats the day before I arrive and the day after I leave…it was true this time too!)
After talking to
However, we reached so late that the census volunteers were actually due back..this was due to stopping over to enjoy some herons and egrets in the paddy fields, and also checking out a place called Chitravana on the way (the place is green but the architecture is somewhat pretentious).
We went on a herbivore transect walk the next morning, and made very slow progress due to the brush-and-scrub-covered ground and also because there were so many interesting things (white-bellied woodpecker, jungle owl, crested serpent eagle, langurs,sambhar, and some butterflies which I can’t name) to keep our eyes occupied all the time.
The boat safaris in the evenings were also quite productive….I saw otters in the wild for the first time ever,(literally playing with a fish that they had caught)for the first time, and wild boar, gaur,wool-necked storks, painted storks,chital, sambhar,peafowl, bee-eaters….they really made up for our usual quota of big-cat sighting, which is…zero! As usual we sat around the bonfire listening to the “I saw the tiger!!” stories of others such as S.I did have a lovely walk back to the resort on Friday morning,having got off the jeep after the morning safari—watching 4 mongoose(mongeese?mongooses?) playfully rolling over each other in the driveway to the Kapila resort, and several magpie robins and hoopoes in the hedges and trees around. I must say, though, that I see more hoopoes in the Mini Forest adjoining my apartment building!
I must thank Live Journal for opening many doors…A and S were polite until I mentioned LJ and then we got along like a house on fire; my spouse had a gala time with all of them, exchanging notes on photography and hoping that his shots too will improve with all the inputs he got.
A waxed lyrical about the beauty of the situation of the Forest Guest House at Kaimara (I don’t know if the spelling is correct!) but all his smooth work on the ACF was in vain as they had too many volunteers staying there and the ACF couldn’t spare us a room. So, very regretfully, we decided that Friday at Kapila(without being able to stay deep in the forest) would be a non-value addition to our trip (on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the charges per person go up by 50%,though they gave us a good discount as census volunteers) we drove back to Bangalore,with A standing us dinner at the Pallavi Punjabi Dhaba ( I have dubbed him the Hungarian because he gets hungry very often!) We are slowly getting back to mundane life now…the call of the wild is strong indeed, whether one is a seasoned pro like Harsha or amateurs like the two of us…
The Mysore Road is GOING to be good once it gets done…right now, it is good in patches, but the various diversions and under-construction stretches still mean a lot of difficulty in driving. SO many trees that made the old road a lovely one have gone….I am so thankful that they decided to build a different-route Bangalore-Chennai highway and didn’t cut down the trees on the Old Madras Road. We need the progress, but we have to sacrifice such beautiful trees… add together Bannerghatta Road, the Tumkur Road, and the Mysore Road, and just on those 3 roads the loss is so immense. That’s one thing JLR has that Kapila lacks..the beautiful old trees, looking majestic and stately.
Overall, a memroable trip…will keep us going until the next one! Thanks, Vikram and Harsha at Kapila, and A and S, for a great time.