badge

Friday, February 26, 2010

An Adventurous Tiger Safari


It feels good that the tiger population in India stood at 2,226 in 2014, with an increase of 30.5% since the 2010 estimate even though lot more needs to be done to protect the wildlife. But every time there is a mention of Tigers, and I am reminded of an interesting and adventurous rendezvous I had with the endangered species.

In 2010, my father paid a visit at our place in Bangalore. I wanted him to enjoy his short stay with us. Hence, after much discussion and deliberation Piyush and I, decided to take him on a Safari trip to Bannerghatta national park (BNP) in Bangalore.

It was an hour drive from Silk Board by car through the daily traffic. The park is generally open for visitors between 9 AM to 5 PM and is closed on Tuesdays. The cost tickets for safari are modest and Tourists are accommodated in large vans managed by Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC).

We took our seats in the 'caged', and ram-shackled Bus. The rocky forest area reminded us of the famous 'Jurassic Park' and its dinosaurs. BNP is roughly partitioned into different parks, each being a territory for a particular animal. The safari started with the deer park, but I was anxiously waiting to see the Lion king and their first-cousins - the tigers. Before this, I had once been to Ranthambore tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan where after 4 hrs of tiring search we were able to spot just paw marks of the majestic animal and Tiger toothpick, a small bird that plucks the leftovers from the tiger's jaws. So being not very sure of my luck this time too, I was praying continuously, hoping for at least one Tiger sighting.

We entered the Bear Park and watched the furry creature roaming casually everywhere. 

'Lion Park' announced the next board and there it was - a giant Iron Gate area. The first gate opened, we entered and it closed behind us. Then the next gate opened and we were into the king’s courtroom. "Please God, let the King show his royal presence", I was praying under my breath. And there she was sitting and watching - the royal lady, and behind her walking majestically was the Lion King. "They really look great", my father exclaimed ecstatically! We paid them our salute and headed towards the Tiger Park. 

As soon as we entered the territory, my eyes started searching everywhere frantically when suddenly the bus started having problems. No Tiger could be sighted by us and I was cursing the poorly maintained noisy bus as well as my bad luck yet again. As we left the Tiger area without any sighting and were about to enter the gate area of the white tiger territory, our bus gave up breathing its last. The guards there asked us to disembark and hurriedly sent us inside the wired enclosure of the gate areaWe were standing in the middle of the gated area with a broken bus and broken hearts. Then suddenly we saw one Bengal tiger coming along the boundary wall. And two white tigers walking along the other side of the wall moving towards us.


Love their skin, stripes and strength. img
We were star struck and forgot everything about our situation. I found the white tiger amazingly beautiful having blue ferocious eyes. Hilariously we humans were caged as the tigers were watching us with curiosity and may be hunger in their eyes. Another yellow tiger came and this one looked more restless. He was walking to and fro along the cage wall and seemed uncontrollable. People were busy clicking pictures of the wild animal. The eyes, the stripes, the strong body, the jaws, looking at them we were speechless half out of admiration and half out of fear as here we were standing in a cage and there stood four tigers watching us eye to eye. 

About ten minutes later, a new bus came and the park personnel had to throw water on the animals to shove them away from the gate. Quickly, we all boarded the bus and said good bye to royalty. We all were in a trance for next few hours pondering over the strange encounter.

"How much ever strong a man may be and how much creative he may become, he can never surpass the nature in its wonderful creations!", exclaimed my father smilingly! Truly, I loved the wild cats and would definitely like generations to have them around, in future. If you ask me how that trip to BNP was, I would have given it 7 out of 10 owing to the shoddy conditions of safari buses and rest of the infrastructure but keeping in mind the treat that fate offered to us, I'll be partial enough to rate it 100 out of 10 :)


* * *