In the middle of my summer vacations I went to Ranthmbore National Park, a Tiger Reserve. For those who don’t know, a tiger reserve is a place where government reserves a place for tigers and makes some rules, like no poaching, to help tigers grow in a natural way. I went for this trip with my Dad, Dadu (Grandfather), Bade Dadu (Grandfather’s elder brother) and Badi Dadi (his wife). One of my uncles is the Forest Officer at Ranthambore – the big huge national park! Today I will tell you about my experience of visiting this national park.
We went inside the park in a Gypsy and I sat at the rear end with my uncle and dad. In the beginning I got bored for a while because we had come to see tigers and I could not see any. However, we saw some other animals such as spotted dears and Nilgay, Sambhar. My uncle told me many stories about them and other animals throughout the two days that we were there. I enjoyed these stories so much that I did not even realise how the time passed by.
After driving around for awhile, it was time for some fun. We were driving around for about a quarter of an hour when we saw two gypsys standing, facing some trees, branches and grass, which was very ordinary I thought. At first we could not see what had made them stop there. The guides on these gypsys were telling the tourists that the sound of Sambhars was an alarming call which signalled the presence of a tiger nearby! I think the Sambhar must have smelled the tiger. Everyone around us went quiet for a while, even the animal making the strange sounds. Dead Silent! For a while I thought that the tiger has killed the Sambhar because I could not see either of them anywhere. But then the Sambhar started making the weird sound again. We saw a slight movement in the grass. and then I saw the big ferocious face of the tiger lying hidden in the grass.
My uncle quickly took out his binoculars and professional camera. He gave the binoculars to me and stared clicking photos of the tiger from his camera. I took the binoculars from him but was mesmerized by the sight of the tiger and forgot to use them. My dad brought me back by nudging, me saying he wanted to use the binoculars. I quickly lifted them to my eyes and had a peak at the tiger through the lenses. Instantly the tiger’s face was very close, much more ferocious and bigger now. I also clicked some pictures from my uncle’s camera. After that we didn’t stand there for long as there was no action. Then my uncle asked me if I wanted to see three tigers. I replied with a bored “Fine!” as I thought it would be the same as this time – no action.
We set off on a new route this time and after driving for a while reached a small water body. The scene here was a lesson for me about the rules of the jungle. We saw three tiger sitting at the top of a small hill, sun bathing. Below them was a small pond. Soon we saw some peacocks and pea-hens gathering near the water, not knowing there were three tigers above them. The group of birds kept drinking water and making sounds of fun. Slowly we realised that we were surrounded by many small animals – deers, sambhars, monkeys, nilgays, etc. all waiting and watching the tigers in fear. They had all come to drink water but did not dare to approach the pond because of the three tigers. My uncle told me that these were young tigers and were probably waiting for their mother. This showed the unspoken power of a tiger in a jungle. We soon left the scene and I thought to my self, “Tense moments, even though nothing really happened!”
Soon the jungle around us got darker and scarier. We decided it was time to head for the exit. We could hear sounds of the animals, owls hooting, bats flying above us and I don’t even know what else. I didn’t want to think about the spooky things in the jungle. My eyes were drooping and I was about to drift into a light sleep. Just then my dad shook me, “Sid wake up, don’t sleep.”. Just as I opened my eyes we saw a leopard, suddenly appear on the road ahead of us and dart back. All it took was a second, but in that time we saw the yellow eyes shining in the bright Gypsy headlights. Wow! what a scene.
We then came to a place called Raj Bagh Ruins where we saw two cannon balls and some other things. Outside the ruins was a big lake and my uncle told me the story of a ferocious tiger, called Machli, killing a crocodile in this lake. I will hold Machli’s story for another time. For now I was ready to go and crash on my bed but we had a long drive ahead before I could do that. Just before we left the jungle we saw three huge porcupines. One scrambled away quickly and the other two followed slowly.
I was very happy with my day’s experience. In all we had seen 4 tigers, 3 porcupines, 1 leopard and many deers, sambhars, nilgays, etc. Not a bad start. My uncle promised me many more exciting sights and stories for my 2nd visit.
If you want to know what I saw the next day…keep reading my blogs.