Friday, December 6, 2013

My favorite memories - Part 1

The gods of all things wild have been very kind to me. Over the last decade or so, I have been privileged (actually blessed) to experience some amazing moments in our forests. I'm attempting to put together some of those memories (still fresh in my mind) as much for myself as for those who will read this. Hope you enjoy it!

1. The King of Pench

It was a cold winter's morning in Pench and after a very average few safaris, I'd set out on one last attempt. And half an hour on a beautiful morning we heard loud alarm calls in a nallah. And caught a glimpse of this bloke, the dominant male of the area. He then proceeded to put on a superb act for us, walking on the road, spraying and marking territory. This was the moment when it all came together... golden grass and trees in the background, a magnificent male tiger in beautiful light - looking straight at you. Bliss! 

2. What can you see?

In the Anamalais (on the road to Valparai) looking for the amazing Nilgiri Tahr. And we spotted some from a distance. And then they vanished! Only when they moved did we realize they were actually still in the frame. Amazing agility and sure-footedness.

3. Once in a lifetime sighting

Headed back from watching the Tahrs above and we'd just rounded a bend when I noticed this animal jumping in the trees. Mongoose maybe? Then I saw the flash of yellow and hissed to the driver "Stop! Marten" And this bloke posed, jumped between trees and disappeared in a flash. Leaving me with the sighting of a lifetime!

4. IPL star of the future?

A rain-marred trip to Bandipur was meandering to a tame close when we saw this group of Bonnet Macaques. There were termites in this little meadow and most of the macaques were going mad jumping and plucking, but in vain. Then we saw this bloke, looking at their evident lack of technique with apparent disdain. He then stood - hands on knees, and got into position. As soon as a termite came close, he made a spectacular leap, caught it cleanly, ate it and was back in position. Quite a catch!  

5. The Lord grants an exclusive audience

Bamera is the dominant male in Bandhavgarh's Tala range. And we saw him grant an audience to maybe 40 jeeps... he was virtually at the park's entry gate! He walked off into the bush and we were the only ones to follow him in the hope that he might emerge. And he rewarded our efforts with an amazing sighting as he walked behind us, crossed over, stared at us and finally loped off into the bush. Half an hour with the Lord of Bandhavgarh was an amazing experience.