Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Off season in Bandipur

If you are a genuine lover of wildlife there really is no 'off-season'.

Wildlife need food and water to survive and they migrate to areas that offer them sufficient quantities of both.

Bandipur in March, April & May can be disappointing if you go only to see the tiger, elephant and gaur. The first is a rarity even if the season is right, you know that royalty has passed when you see their pugmarks overlaid on the dusty jeep track. I

It can even be more disappointing when you realize that while you spent a good twenty minutes waiting for that elephant to cross the road, this regal cat had a just come to the water hole a few hundred yards ahead, drank its fill and gone back into the shrub to lie up, perhaps beside its kill. We could hear it cough intermittently just about ten or twenty meters beside the road, in the thick lantana.

This is for the uninitiated. There are, if you know the secrets of the wilderness like my four year old, many other things that make the drive in the jungle interesting. He spotted a pair of striped neck mongoose foraging beside a waterhole.

A little further up the road he hissed, "Serpent eagle" and sure enough there was one on a low branch surveying us with its beady eyes. The driver was impressed.

Others followed; a changable hawk eagle, a graceful peacock, a hoopoe and many more that my son will soon learn to identify better than me.