Just for SeriousAmateurPhotographerS
We had made it clear to our guide that we enjoyed all the elements of the forest and were not fixated only on the bid predators. However, since majority of the tourists they associate with are there for a leopard or tiger sighting, i believe that they, over time, become tiger centric. It is also a sad commentary that these naturalists and drivers are tipped only if a "big" sighting is made and hence they tend to unconsciously follow that.
Nagaendra was happy that we seemed to genuinely enjoy all elements of the forest and he cast aside the tiger fixation.
Lantana Camara, for example, is known to us as a nice, colourful, flowering plant. However, this shrub, imported from South America, has now invaded the entire forest-so much so that the original endemic species of plants are all lost. Every where that we looked we saw Lantana. There is a debate taking place amongst the environmentalists whether Lantana should be cleared from the forests. No outcome yet- for now they have cleared it from either side of the road.
What do you all think?
It is said that the most dangerous animal to encounter on foot is the elephant. There was a tusker waiting to cross the road and no one was stopping (except us). In fact we saw quite a few wild asses trying to take a "selfie" with the elephant. After he charged one of them, the enthusiasm quickly cooled off.
Bandipur National Park is a beautiful forest with a diverse flora and fauna. It has both dry and moist deciduous forests and shrublands. A must visit for Nature lovers.
The next morning we were off for the safari with Mr Nagaendra, Naturalist and our driver , Ramesh. The first port of call was the entry gates to the forest where the permits were checked. While we waited for the permits to be checked, i clicked some pictures and looked around. There are a lot of small buses , and a well stocked souvenir shop. The Government of Karnataka is making efforts to encourage eco tourism by making it more affordable by organising day safaris through mini buses rather than by the package deal of stay and safari which could be quite steep at Rs 8000+ per day per person.
As soon as we set off, we saw a stripe necked mongoose. Evidently, it was not too happy that we had disturbed its morning breakfast hunt. It was quite early, when we came to this water hole and Viola!!! There she was, cooling her belly after a full protein meal (She had killed a Gaur). We sat there for 20 minutes enjoying the show and then a noisy bus came and she left.
Here is a shot of frogs on her body eating the insects and flies. Peaceful coexistance as i term it. We humans should learn from "wild" life.
We were driving down ( or should it be up?) from Chennai to Ahmedabad through the National Parks on the Western ghats. We started with Silent Valley National Park in Kerala and our next call was Bandipur. We had just left Silent Valley after spending a night there and after finishing a wonderful morning safari through the par and after a lavish lunch cooked by Gopalakrishnan (GK) the caretaker cum cook cum Manager cum General factotum of the Government of Kerala's forest guest house. We had our fair share of snafus since the beginning of the journey from Chennai and we had left Silent Valley about 20 minutes back, when my wife suddenly exclaimed: "oh no!. Please stop the jeep".
All of us including the driver turned to her." i have left my medicine in the fridge at the cottage", she explained with a striken face. Not retriving the medicine was not an option and hence the options were either GK could bring it by motorcycle or we would have to go back and fetch it. The latter meant a delay of atleast 1 hour. GK's motorcycle had been borrowed by someone and hence we had no option but to go back. On the way, about 10 minutes later we saw someone on a motorcycle frantically waving to us. GK had asked some good samaritan to deliver the medicine. We reached our car, paid the dues at the Forest office and set out for Bandipur. We reached Bandipur at 2030 hrs just beating the forest road closure by 30 minutes. The road from Gudalur to BNP is very bad. Out of the total 32 odd kms, about 13 kms are very bad.
Normally guests check in at about 12 noon and we were checking in at 2030 hrs. However, we had called earlier and happily, the manager of the forest Lodge at Bandipur, one Mr Nadaf, was kind enough to ensure that dinner was available for us. We checked into the cottage, which was clean and well appointed, washed and had a modest dinner.