Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tiger Walk

That's the way it should be tiger sighting on the first go. We entered Kanha National Park with lot of expectation and were thrilled to see the tiger a short distance from the Kisli Gate. The male tiger was radio collared but my friends where amateur photographers who cared hell. 

It is quite interesting to observe people whence they sight an Indian tiger in the wild especially if they have never seen a tiger in the wild. My friends had seen the tiger but not this way.  The frightened awestruck countenance have much to tell. The myth that tiger is a Xtra Large barbaric beast who kills humans at the first go is washed out in a split second. The tourists, I find develop respect for the tiger and other wild denizens. They come to understand the ethos of nature conservation.

Why conservation? The park visit answers this question. The importance of habitat conservation and preserving the whole ecosystem becomes clear to the uninitiated. Controlled  responsible tourism helps not only by sentiments it creates but thanks to the education it imparts.   

The trained naturalists, park guides and wildlife interpretation centers in the tiger reserves play a crucial role in nature  awareness campaigns.   

The tiger was trekked by tourists on a jeep safari ahead of us by the alarm cries. But it was difficult to locate it. 

"The tiger is moving..."as we followed the alarm cries.

In the heat of the moment I heard frantic cackling of greater racket tail drongos and tree pies. I told the guide that some birds give alarm cries as well ...rather loudly. The tiger was located some distance ahead but were the birds giving the alarm cries? Yes they were!

My spirit was dampened by young naturalists from luxury resorts who were giggling shamefully and openly at me. They found my surmise extremely funny. But I have experienced this often - the bird cries and smart alecs.

Anyway the tiger walked through the grassy meadow and came straight towards the safari jeeps. It was a huge male about five to six years old. It came on the jungle road and began walking on the soft sand partially ignorant of the jeeps which were frantically moving back and forth in order to give way.   

I have often seen that tigers on mate search or territorial marking spree come up to face humans and whatever totally immersed in their activity. This is with tigers less used to humans as well. Perhaps the urgency pushes their guard away. 

After lot of tree clawing and urine sprays it moved down towards the thick canopy and vanished ...much to the relief of tourists with bated breadth.One more tiger was seen at Kanha Tiger Park in Madhya Pradesh. Except some warning grimaces the tiger went about its task! You mind you business I mind mine it seemed to say. But do we???????

The next two days we saw Kanha wildlife albeit not in proper circumstance as a large holiday crowd had turned up. The vehicular movement had pushed the animal life into thick canopy difficult to be seen. We came across lot of signs of tigers but that was all. 

I think number of jeep entries should be regulated further as this would spread tourist visit to days whence very few people visit the park. Well I am not a park manager. 

The hotel in Kanha where we were up for the stay is run by a conservationist. Some of our views meet some do not. Anyway I did not discuss this issue with him. It is fun to be in company of some local naturalists in Kanha National Park and other tiger reserves.

Kanha Tiger Reserve is one of the best managed parks in India. Although there are recurring  doubts about the safety of the tiger in the park...they still survive. One thing that rings in my mind is that around preserves like Kanha and Bandhavgarh and others, the man animal conflict is having a greater toll than I believed earlier.