Monday, 4th September 2006; 6.40 PM. It had been raining and the atmosphere was heavy. The animals had gone deeper and none were in the mood to grant an audience. My fourth visit to BRT was proving to be a damp squib literally.Chital were there in numbers but even the usually plentiful gaur gave only guest appearances. As for the elephants, they had all left to Mysore for the Dussera festival or so Sudeesh and Nagesh felt! The light had already faded at 5.00 PM and I packed my camera fearing the weather. We had all drifting into a disappointed silence at the trick BRT had played with us.
The jeep was climbing up the slope past the turnoff to Annekere when we were jolted out of our reverie by a loud pop, almost like an air rifle had gone off. We had a puncture. Suddenly we were all awake. 6.40 PM was not an ideal time for a puncture, especially on an incline in a jungle famous for its gaurs, elephants and sloth bears. Mercifully, the rain god was not in a punishing mood.
We had to get off the vehicle in the dark so that the tyre could be changed and suddenly the idea of encountering an elephant or sloth bear became very unwelcome. The rustling of bushes along the track became unusually louder, and that barking deer calling from somewhere in the bush seemed to be sending us a message. It had become totally dark and it made the shadows play tricks on the mind.
Those ten minutes it took Nagesh to change the tyre were endless. There was a four year old, a five year old, and a wisecracking teen who wanted to know just then what snakes were there in BRT. We did not know the resort staff planned to screen a Nat Geo special on Rom Whittaker and King cobras for us after the safari!!
Why I carried a flashlight and a head light on that particular trip I don’t know but they came in handy. I had never ever carried a flashlight on a safari before.
BRT did not disappoint. It just showed us a different face of the jungle.