Whenever I go to the jungle I am stuck by the enthusiasm of the naturalists. I mean, how many people you know who are in their twenties and they wish to work away from the civilization where the nearest cinema might be 70 kilometers away? As I visited three national parks within a month I interacted with a lot of naturalists including Sangita S. Mani the woman naturalist at Taj Safaris. As they go the forest almost every day of the week I often ask then what have been their best wildlife sightings. Their answers amaze me. Here are three stories that amazed me, two from Madhya Pradesh and one from South Africa.
3. Falling Monkeys: Prayatna is a naturalist with Pugdundee Safaris. When I asked him what was his best sighting he told me he once saw a monkey dropping off from a tree because of the fear of a tiger. A tiger was standing beneath the tree, that itself made the monkey so nervous that he fell off. The tiger simply picked it up and walked away!
2. Too Close for Comfort: I was having a chat with Motiram ji at Pench National Park. When I asked him what was his best sighting he mentioned that one day he was driving with another Taj Safaris naturalist Koshtuba. They expected a tiger crossing and accordingly parked their jeep. In other words just what I witnessed this time. Only that tiger had other ideas. Apparently it was marking territory and the jeep was parked next to the tree it wanted to scratch. So it stopped next to the jeep and started sniffing on the driver side! I was told that Koshtuba almost jumped into Motiram ji’s lap. I asked how long did this last? Motiram ji’s estimate was a few minutes but those minutes he said felt really long, they wanted it to end. There was another Taj jeep parked a little away from this scene and they were happily clicking pictures of the people in the stricken jeep. Now this is the kind of sighting I would not like to have!
1. A Pitched Battle: When I asked my South African Safari guides Patrick and Erick about their best sightings, they told me another fascinating story. They said one day there were 7-8 lions at the back of the lodge (as you see in the picture aobe) and they had cornered a Cape Buffalo. However, 10-11 Cape Buffaloes arrived hearing the distress call of their mate and a battle followed. Erick said there were children at the lodge and they hated the cry of the buffalo under attack (I suspect so will I) so he had to take them to Manor House, another accommodation with the Tintswalo Lodges which was five minutes drive. I could see how disappointed he was for missing the action. He said it went on for a few hours but in the end the buffaloes didn’t let the lions carry away the injured bull. The bull later died of the injuries though.
And here I am who thinks just sighting these cats makes for an amazing wildlife sighting! What do you say? What has been your most exciting wildlife sighting?