(Blog-post compiled by Shruti Mirasdar)
I had the privilege of spending a good amount of time in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. It is located in Maharashtra, roughly 3 and half hours comfortable travel from Nagpur. The best part was I got an opportunity to visit this wildlife destination due to Foliage Outdoors, my old company where I used to work as a travel counselor. With a few camps under my belt, I was considered to be a part of foliage family of leaders. After that season’s first camp itself, I was very pleased (more travel = more experiences) with the whole-leading-the-camp-of-naughty-kids part. There are things which you do not learn sitting in an office and this camp taught me a lot as well. I am assisting at the moment as I do not have sufficient exposure and experience to totally lead one. But I?ll get there, I hope…:)
Tadoba is a blend of patience, long roads, numerous pathways, and brown intersperses with hues of red, green and blue. The sight of bamboo in between teak trees, ghost trees and the grasslands, a pleasant deciduous change from the arid forest of Ranthambore National Park which I visited two years ago.
I had stressed the importance of children getting an opportunity to be exposed to our natural surroundings for a holistic development. They are faced with challenges of heat, food, stay and water while witnessing the life of the animals, birds, trees in a natural ecosystem. It is one thing to read it in books, while it is an out-worldly experience to be there and blend with it. When you witness in reality the lives of animals and birds, it becomes easy to understand them. It becomes simple to respect the forest and it becomes a mere simple fact that we humans are dumb in front of it.
If you go with the sole aim: The Tiger, then you will be frustrated and feel jaded. Because Tadoba jungle is really huge in proportion, it is host to many more animals than the Tiger, and you will be sorely disappointed and lose out on their beauty.
On the quest for the Tiger, we saw aplenty wildlife, and the myriad colours injected in a dry surrounding peaked my interests. How wonderful it is to witness this, you feel as if nature reflects your very being, short bouts of happiness and joy in an otherwise long stretched time period. Such we saw in abundance, the red Palash trees with yellow Mahua blossomed and stood out prominently as if to welcome the visitor with a delightful grin and welcoming huge hands.
One of my most favourite moment was when we tracked a plump adult sloth bear who crossed the road in front of us, away into the upward hilly area. I’ve only seen it in cartoons, or Baloo the honey eating bear in Mowgli, but to see it live gave us a cuddly warm feeling indeed. All the kids were super happy!
To see Tadoba in its entirety is to pay attention to the small seemingly insignificant but actually very important aspect: the thriving variety of bird species.
I thought Ranthambore amazed me, but Tadoba blew my mind. We visited Agarzari zone in one of the safaris. It used to be a village once but resettlement was done and now its a swampy forest with exotic sounding birds like the Bronze-winged Jacana. Sadly my camera wasn’t that powerful to capture it, it’s like a cross between a chicken and a peacock (size of a chicken and the emerald blue colour of a peacock), well that?s how I remembered it anyway.
This little bird (The Indian Roller – pictured down) we saw in plenty, and such a tiny fluttering thing it is, with so many colours! Nature amazes.
We did see the Tiger ? eventually. Near the Telia Lake we heard alarm calls and besides a huge lake, there lay two tiger cubs resting behind the tall grass. A wild pig with an egret following it strolled unaware of the danger. Mother Choti Tara gave us a blink and miss, she went to the deepest part of the grassland. Meanwhile, we anticipated our luck at witnessing a kill-chase.
The cubs advanced slowly with the dexterity of a sly cautious being, where I was instantly reminded of a common house cat about to chase and pounce on a random object. The slowly advancing cubs made our hearts race, it was so exciting I cannot describe it in words. But immature and inexperienced as they were, the pig ran away sensing the danger.
If you open your eyes and mind, the nature has a lot to teach you, but only if you let it. As intricate and simple it is, the system of monkeys and peacocks sounding alarm calls astounds me. Such a simple way to exist peacefully in a forest where there are many different species and nor just one. When can we humans as one species evolve to do that? The monkey and the peacock don’t owe anyone anything. They still do it. The termites or the ant hill where there are separate chambers for the nursery, doesn’t that boggle your mind?
The weaver bird who builds its nest painstakingly one stick at a time with a chamber and a passage for egg hatching. So many intricacies and mysteries nature holds, only if we take an interest. Well, I cannot go back to studying animals and plants but I was lucky to be in the company of someone who knew about them. I was of course devouring the new information keeping a receptive mind ? The travel becomes as exciting, as intellectual and as organised as the company.
Nature teaches you to be a student, a learner of many new things, simple and deep. We as humans realise we are so full of ego and stuck in our own selves. But in front of this huge expanse, you have to let go of your ego to see the beauty it is.
Dil ki yeh dhadkan theherja, mil gayi manzil mujhe?.!!! ?