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Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Now You See It, Now You Don’t-1 On a cold winter morning, we enter the park –complete silence all over, the lull of the chill winter wind, our pair of inquisitive, anxious eyes visible from all the layers of clothes and the blanket we have for protection- after a late night I am surprised to see that everyone is so excited for the safari. This is Jim Corbett, nestled in the Himalayas and we are here to be lost in the wilderness around. All eyes are fixed on the road, they seem to rattle us city people as we are used to the smooth tarmac in Delhi; the jungle roads are meant to be unpaved and rusty. We spot a herd of elephants and also manage to see a few birds but it’s not exciting enough unless you spot the king of the jungle!

Now You See It, Now You Don’t-2 Exhausted after the vigil lookout and Safari, we come back to the resort ,feed on a bunch of fruits and sandwiches in the morning all of us have a hearty brunch and lay in the sun absorbing the heat. The cold in the morning got to our very bones in the open Jeep. The excitement is recreated by the pictures of the past sighting that happened very recently in the park – Mr. Barlow a naturalist living in Jim Corbett shares his experience of how exciting it is to spot the stripped cat in the wild and the amazing sense of achievement it gives you after the long wait. He promises to accompany us for the afternoon safari. We enter the jungle and not far from the Bijrani gate we see a a few cars with people standing out patiently, trying to catch a glimpse (but all invain ) : there is a kill in those bushes and there is a male and female feasting on it, they are having their meal – The favourite Sambhar deer. Suddenly a group of photographer on two domestic elephants head towards the bushes to take a closer glimpse and within a blink-and-miss moment,we just see a flash – What camouflage the tigers have as they disappear deeper into the forest. It is most unfortunate that people no longer follow the jungle protocol and the heavy chaos that ensures after a sighting kills the opportunity to look at the grandeur of the cat family for a longer period of time.

Now You See It, Now You Don’t-3 We quickly do the route and head back. The place gets even more crowded, only 15 minutes left and all the cars have to be outside the gates of the park in that stipulated time. We plead our driver to wait and he obliges. And all of a sudden, we hear a strange roar behind the bushes- It’s the mating call! – which also means we have a apir of tigers, companions to see.. The call implies that the tiger and tigress would soon come to the river that is on the other side of the bushes to drink water. But it seems luck is not in our favour- the roar of an ignorant driver’s car engine scares the cat and it starts climbing up the mountain – we do catch a glimpse of the longish male and just the face of the female. We soon hear the forest rangers closing in from behind us as they chase everyone out. Ironically, on our way out our jeep again gets a puncture – may be the forest doesn’t want us leave it as the night is so young but the ranger gets behind us and gives us a lift out. The romancing of the Forest and its creatures have to wait till our next visit.
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