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Step Into the Tiger's Den


Offbeat  (tags: animals, environment, protection, wildlife, tigers )

Cher
- 148 days ago - thehindu.com
How can a zoo compare to a trip into the jungle? A tiger in the wild is where he belongs, and where he should be. The Ranthambore National Park offers you an opportunity to spot this animal on his own turf, and throws in the chance to experience



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Comments

Kathleen R. (203)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 4:52 am
Cher, either the website has an error or my PC won't allow it. Couldn't get to website.
 

Lone F. (32)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 4:57 am
Thanks Cher - This should be the future habitat for zoo animals.
 

Cher C. (1470)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 5:06 am


Sorry Kathleen, must be your pc. :(



The dry, deciduous vegetation of the forest makes it easy to spot animals. You will find not only tigers, but also sloth bear, leopard, nilgai, boar, hyena, sambar and more.

Thereís a loud, panicked grunt, and our driver points out a nilgai, almost entirely hidden as it stands alert between the dry, leafless trees. ďThereís a tiger around,Ē he tells us. As if to confirm this, a solitary gray langur, or hanuman, as itís commonly known, starts to screech. ďThese hanumans are the tigerís worst enemy,Ē we are informed. The langur is staring into a clearing, his screeches getting louder, punctuated by the nilgaiís short, deep grunts. We are in an open jeep, easy to manoeuvre, and we find ourselves following the hanumanís line of vision. Within minutes, we are at the clearing, and sure enough, there it is ó the tiger. The thin grass barely conceals his lean, muscular body, or his watchful, alert eyes. He doesnít as much as look at the jeep. He knows we are there, but the nilgai is more worthy of his attention.

How can a zoo compare to a trip into the jungle? A tiger in the wild is where he belongs, and where he should be. The Ranthambore National Park offers you an opportunity to spot this animal on his own turf, and throws in the chance to experience an environment that is at once awe-inspiring, intimidating and inspiring.

Burning bright

Perhaps one of the best places to spot the big cat, this sanctuary is home to over 50 tigers, and an entire eco-system of wildlife that includes sloth bear, leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambar and hyena. About 10 km from the Sawai Madhopur railway station and 110 km from the Kota railway station, this national park in Rajasthan is conveniently located, and easily reached. The closest airport in Jaipur is also an option, and the RICDOR runs a mega highway between Kota and Ranthambore. Inside the park, you are flanked by the Aravalli and Vindhya hill range, at the junction of which the park is located. It covers an area of over 400 sq km.

The sleepy district of Sawai Madhopur, its streets lined with open jeeps and canters, and almost every hotelís name a tribute to the big cat, thrives on the inflow of visitors from all over the world lining up for safaris. While not everyone spots a tiger, the sighting rate is still high. Of course, itís the excitement before the sighting that gives the entire experience the colour of an adventure. The forest comes alive, with sounds that you have never heard, and the drivers of the canters and jeeps exchange information. Once you know where the sighting is, you are off, hurtling through the forest till you reach the tiger, sometimes still there, waiting for you to arrive with your camera. It is said that the tigers in Ranthambore, along with the other animals, are the most camera friendly ones in the world. Quite wonderfully, each tiger has been given a fond name by the locals. There is Machhli, a photographerís dream, along with others like Bachcha, Sultan and Romeo.

Even if you donít spot a tiger on your safari, the forest offers other wonders that you should keep an eye out for. The spotted deer, sambar and langur step out frequently to drink water, or lie in the shade, the heat making them too lazy to move. The sheer number of beautiful birds is breath-taking, and it isnít uncommon to spot a treepie or a pied kingfisher, along with other birds like graylag goose, woodpeckers, Indian gray hornbill, bee eaters, cuckoos, parakeets, and Asian palm swift. So far, 272 resident and migrant types of birds have been documented. The golden oriole, with its bright yellow colour, is one such gorgeous migratory bird. While it is easy to spot, itís also very difficult to photograph, barely staying still to oblige the cameras.

The dry, deciduous vegetation in the forest makes it easy to spot animals, especially between April and June. The sanctuary is home to nearly 300 species of flora and fauna, including trees like babul, imli, banyan, khajur and khair. The dhak tree, or palash, forms a striking picture, its bright red-orange flowers set against the dry brown landscape of the forest.

The safaris are scheduled twice a day. While a trip into the forest is a must, it wouldnít do to return home without a look at the Ranthambore fort, a formidable structure that has played witness to many historical developments. The fort lies within the Ranthambore national park, and once upon a time, the kings living in the fort would use the forest for their hunting ground.

Apart from the fort, a look at the three lakes within the forest should also make the itinerary, as should a pit stop at the Dastakar store with its beautiful handmade knick knacks that are impossible to resist. A traditional meal of daal-baati-churma from a local eatery, too, is a must, and is available at every corner. Of course, after a long, hot safari, you should opt for the local snack of poha from a street stand. Itís cheap, delicious and quite surprisingly, healthy!

So pick up your camera, put some sunscreen in your bag, don a hat, and make your way to the jungle.

 

Kit B. (276)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 5:45 am

Zoos should always strive to be about education, but animals in cages are not educational. I doubt I will be visiting but it would be interesting and educational.
 

gabriele jefferson (148)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 6:21 am
noted, shared on fb, twitter, g+
 

Natasha Salgado (531)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 7:18 am
I'll never find any warmth in my heart 4 Zoos. Animals should be on sanctuaries where they can roam freely surrounded by natural vegetation. Thx Cher
 

Sara P. (57)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 9:03 am
I agree with my Friend Natasha, sanctuaries are absolutely the ideal place for them. Thanks for sharing Cher.
 

Kamia T. (67)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 12:18 pm
Noted. Gads I wish sometimes I had the money and energy to visit every single sanctuary like this around the world, because I think it's the only viable way to convince people in those countries to quit poaching and start saving their wildlife!
 

Ruth S. (304)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 3:37 pm
I agree Natasha!
 

Cynthia no frwd B. (261)
Tuesday May 6, 2014, 9:54 pm
I doubt I will get to the jungle but that is where tigers should be seen. NO ZOOS
 

Colin Hope (243)
Wednesday May 7, 2014, 3:07 am
From zoos to................. sanctuaries............. I'll vote for this!!
 
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