Monday, April 20, 2009

Unlucky Break

It was like a Hollywood thriller. It started with a single call of a sambhar deer which my guide immediately picked up. My city-noises-trained ears couldn’t hear a thing. We quickly reversed the gypsy and went towards the source of the noise – a craggy outcrop of rocks in the jungle. The langoors also had started to call which meant that a big cat was in the area. By the time we reached though all had fallen silent. The few other tourists there moved off after sometime….trying their luck elsewhere. We stayed on for a few minutes more. Just as we were planning to leave, the calls started all over again. Turning around I saw this leopard sitting majestically over the craggy outcrop. I was thrilled because I am one of those unlucky few who never get to see any ‘real’ animals in the wild. And here I spotted a leopard! Leopards, who are more elusive than tigers! In a real beautiful jungle in Pench. It felt like a NGC moment.

No, I was not on a wildlife vacation. In fact I was working. I had volunteered to assist in one of the weekend medical camps organized by SF in villages inside and outside the Pench Tiger Reserve in MP. My wildlife ‘non-luck’ followed me here too and the 6 villages chosen for the med camps this time were all outside the forest area. Usually, SF organizes med camps for villages within the forest reserve. That way you work closely with them, win their trust and a get them to resettle outside….thus lessening the harm to the ecology and conserving the wildlife there.

Just three days out of my regular city life and I came back with so much knowledge about wildlife, the impact of human existence on them, the outlook of the villagers in general and the dedication of the people who put so much effort to save these magnificent animals. Am waiting for my next such weekend work….then perhaps I will even get to see the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger.

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