Tales of a Nomad
The past few weeks have been quite busy for me. As someone who worked as a banker for nine years, I've recently become a wandering nomad. I finally decided to follow my heart and have been travelling since January 29th. So far, I've visited four beautiful tiger reserves in North and West India. My journey began with Pench Tiger Reserve, also known as Mowgli Land. Afterwards, I was selected to participate in a 15-day course on wildlife conservation conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India. This was the first time the institute organized such a course for the general public, as they usually offer them to forestry officials, customs officials, and other related officials.
It was a privilege and a great opportunity for me to spend time at the Mecca of wildlife conservation and research in India. The course content was very informative and included classroom talks by some of the best wildlife scientists, park managers, and researchers in India. We then went on a field camp in Rajaji National Park for a week. Unfortunately, Rajaji had lost almost all of its tigers due to the depletion of the prey base, poaching, human-animal conflicts, and human activities in animal corridors. However, due to the rigorous efforts of local forest officials and WII scientists, the tiger population has started to increase in the Chilla Range of the park.
Since tigers need a large inviolate space, some 900 Gujjars living inside the park were relocated, which immediately resulted in an increase in the prey base and thus an increase in the tiger population. During our stay at Rajaji, we learned about transect surveys, camera trapping, prey base estimation, and the Rajaji landscape through long walks inside the park. Although we encountered a Tusker charge on our group and fresh tiger pug marks on our trail, my wish of capturing a tiger on foot remains unfulfilled.
Immediately after returning from Rajaji, I travelled to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). Located in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, this park is currently in the limelight for some superb tiger sightings, especially of a tigress with cubs. The trip was quite successful as we were able to observe some interesting behaviour displays. I'll share more details about my Tadoba trip soon.
The last leg of my trip took me to Jim Corbett National Park in Uttaranchal, although it was brief compared to my other trips. Despite stories of infrequent tiger sightings, I have developed a newfound love for Corbett. True to its reputation, I still didn't see any tigers this time, but I have no regrets. On the return journey, my cab driver, Mr Tiwari, was a very interesting man. He was kind enough to take me to his village and show me his litchi and mango plantations. He is a knowledgeable man who loves his land and is willing to share his knowledge with tourists. He even invited me to visit him again in the first week of May to enjoy litchis from his garden, something that I intend to do.
It's good to be back home for a week before I head off to another new destination as a nomad.