Who says Bandipur’s not happening?
Conservation in full swing. Our local school birdwatching group on one of their trips did not just bird watching and spotted a Changeable Hawk Eagle but on their way back as you see collected the plastic strewn around. This was on Teacher’s Day. The visit has become a daily affair and is giving the school students an opportunity to appreciate what they see. Led by a local enthusiastic youth called Srikanta they appreciated the work of two workers who were maintaing the park”s solar fence.
I sport a smile as I write these very lines as not so late in April there were people who were shouting on the top of their voices on ‘International Fora’ like Facebook and the very “Social Media” stating the camera fee was too much and they were all followed a to me strangely a hobby called ‘Conservation Photography’ I didnt find any credible answers to my questions then but was plainly ridiculed by some who have now moved to other pastures like Masai Mara and joined the motorcade of 166 vehicles standing in front of a lion who has just secured the future of his kind in the form of a kill. Well let me agree with them that the african lions are photosavvy and ‘pose’ for photographs whilst we in India break our heads if the tiger would mate in full view of the cameras….What a rubbish piece of detail 🙂 They want to be clicked, Rightu? (as we say it in Kannada)
Well back to our original story of conservation by children who taught us on Teacher’s Day. They had just gone for bird-watching and without us really telling them what to do, they remembered that the garbage needs to be picked up and deposited at the forest office. Thats how the birth of The Dhole”s Den Research Foundation was celebrated at that very spot in April this year. That’s the bag you see in their hands – Our Garbage of Civilization. And yes the amount has greatly reduced since the department has put a gate to control vehicular movement.
The jungles of Bandipur still have their birds and bees and its great vistas of the Nilgiris in the distance, only the ‘Conservation Photographer’ who can shoot with a Zillion frames per second and whose partner is holding his or her spare camera with a comparitively shorter lens also ready to shoot a Zillion times isn’t there to see things his eyes missed,while hunting down the elusive cat and her cubs seated in an ‘animal’ that made a lot of noise and pumped out a lot of smoke and left behind a trail of dust and disturbance….
My hope for an regulated tourism of a sort that our jungles really deserves dies last. We at Dhole’s Den are seeing guests here who treasure their space and nature around them and still do come even when safari isnt offered. We who happen to meet them, realise and make them realise that they are among friends… and appreciate their business more than all the others who we now feel were on rampage charging only their camera batteries in their free time while their tunnel vision allowed their hearts to remain uncharged and untouched by the lesser beings than the tiger that populate the forests.
Just like Clothes dont maketh a man, Safari dont maketh the Forest… It’s much more than you and I can ever fathom.