Wild encounters

It was time to get away from the wild rush of things, and what better place than the wilderness itself? And so it was that we found ourselves in the dense forests that dot the base of the hills off Mysore. The drive was just right; the road that winded through the ‘protected zone’ was a little eerier and exotic; for it was just us and the jungle on either side.

As we reached our destination, dusk settled and we settled down with hot mugs of tea.  The surrounding was very soothing, the only disturbance came from the varieties of insects, bugs and worms that inundated our small tent, in which we were now all set to rest our tired limbs. When dawn broke, we woke up to the chirping of the birds, and we opted to take a trek through the forests along with our able guide and absorbed the sights, sound and smell of the forest. The birds were plenty and catching a glimpse of them was our pass time.

The next day was the safari trek that took us deep into the jungle.  The ten pairs of eyes in the jeep were glued to catch any movement that would bring us face to face with the inhabitants of the jungle. What we saw in plenty were the deer, while the alpha male with his long horns looked at us threateningly, the younger ones looked at us with curiosity. There were others who gave us a nonchalant stare that said, “What are you doing in our terrain?”   

Many momentous moments unfolded during the multiple safaris that we took. If on Day 1 we saw a tusker majestically bathing in the pond below, on Day 2, maybe it was his mate who played around in the water. Sometimes ducking, sometimes lying down, at times spraying herself with the water that bellowed out of her trunk, she seemed to soak it all. In another encounter we saw the silhouette of a herd of elephants, we counted up to six, and then we were jolted by the loud and eerie bark of the barking Deer, which was a sure sign that a tiger or a leopard was lurking around.

The herd of elephants seemed to take a detour, and stood just a few yards in front of our jeep. They stood for a good fifteen minutes munching on their food, they stood and we watched in silence, awe struck at their grandeur and beauty. I was to later understand that they detoured to protect their young calf from the wild cats!

They seemed to have all the time, but we had to move, and we had to move back, for if we went forward we would touch the tusker. So we went on reverse gear, and then it happened, on the slope of the hard rock glowed the yellow and black colours and as the tiger caught our glimpse, it leapt and disappeared. We were lucky, we had seen the great cat!

Thoughts that stayed in my mind were plenty but two were significant. The mighty elephants felt so comfortable in our presence and the big cat… so ferocious, who so wittingly plans and catches its prey, saw us, as the persecutors! I prayed that the beautiful beast thrives and does not become prey to extinction.

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