Call of the wild

TRAVEL

Call of the wild

Blessed with a rich spread of landscapes (of hills and dales), varied types of forests and a river system fed by good rainfall in most regions, Karnataka is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, especially the tiger. However, sighting the tiger is not easy. Even in famed tiger reserves and national parks, sighting is only a matter of chance. One way of ensuring the sighting of a tiger is by choosing to go for a safari into its territory. The tiger and lion safari at Tyavarekoppa, close to the city of Shimoga, ensures just this. 

Often referred to as the threshold of Malnad, Shimoga is adjacent to the Shettihalli wildlife sanctuary. The plan to locate a safari park in the periphery of the sanctuary inside the Arakere minor forest was ideal because it would provide the wildlife with a space as close to its natural habitat as possible.

The safari park came into being in 1988. Much later, its administration passed on to the Zoo Authority of Karnataka. Spread over nearly 250 hectares, the park extends into the forest which has various species of the flora of the Western Ghats. Being the second of its kind in the state after Bannerghatta National Park near Bangalore, Tyavarekoppa has in recent years gained popularity as a wonderful tourist destination. Though the park is well known for its tiger and lion safaris, there are many other species of wildlife too, like the deer, jackal, leopard, bear, crocodile, snakes and birds.

As one gets past the main entrance and follows the road lined with tall trees leading to the park reception, one begins to get a feel of the wilderness.
On the right side of the road ahead is a large enclosure with two children’s parks for different age groups. These parks not only have brightly coloured equipment for children but a few paragolas which have been sensibly painted with pugmarks of predators, beaks of birds and other trivia to create awareness about wildlife among youngsters. There are seven such paragolas including a woodhouse.

Spotting tigers, lions
Those eager to spot the tigers and lions would impulsively head towards the reception counter. Sitting in a caged van, the tourists are taken first inside the deer enclosure.  A few sambar deer lie lazily in a shade while the spotted ones and blackbucks graze around.

As the vehicle passes through the enclosure for tigers, these carnivores seem to oblige, offering an uninhibited view for visitors. Seeing them so close and at leisure is what makes the visit worth it.
Moving on, the van enters the land of the lions. The king of the jungle can be spotted in the wild only in the Gir forests of Gujarat and the only other chance to spot them is in a safari such as this.

Tigers and lions are indeed the cynosure of all eyes. But there are other animals  to look at too. Like the  leopards and jackals. It is a pity that these animals are not in a free space. So is the case with bears, crocodiles, pythons and birds.
But as far as educating the masses about wildlife is concerned, the authorities have done a commendable job with several placards providing nuggets of information, dos and don’ts etc. besides a full fledged  information centre.  
For those with a commitment to wildlife and a benevolent outlook, the park has devised a way of involving them in conservation efforts.
These wild animals, whose maintenance and day-to-day care entails a huge sum, can be adopted by interested individuals and organisations. The yearly tariff varies with the animal concerned.

How to get there
Tyavarekoppa is 10 kms north of Shimoga (about 275 kms from Bangalore via NH 206) which can also be reached by bus and train. The nearest airport is Mangalore (220 kms). The park is open from 10 am to 5 pm and is closed on Tuesdays.

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