It was still dark outside when the alarm rang at 6:00 AM on that nippy morning in December. A couple of minutes later, I got my wake-up call from the front desk as well, at the Hotel President in Jamnagar. I had arrived here last night via Rajkot, extending my trip by a day after a business trip to Morbi. The reason? It had been a call a few weeks ago from a family friend of my wife. My wife’s friend, Manisha is a school teacher and her husband, Mukesh a doctor in the army, and they had recently moved to Jamnagar based on the good doctor’s peace tenure and they had dangled the proverbial carrot in front of me, by insisting that I must visit, not only to meet them, but to come and witness the spectacular migratory birds that visited this town and its outskirts during winter.
It was late evening on our 3rd safari, and I had squeezed myself in the gap between the two seats on our jeep, crouched, pointing my camera lens slightly upwards. Light was falling, and I was thanking my stars I had brought along the bean bag for additional stability. Along with my wife and the other co-passengers in my jeep including our naturalist, Nataraj, we silently waited for the sleeping head to rise.. But that’s just me rushing to the one of the highlights of our trip to the Biligirirangan Hills, Karnataka (locally known as Biligiriranganabetta). We had decided to forego our annual trip to one of India’s wildlife reserves during our anniversary, opting to combine a longer trip post the Christmas weekend extending into the New Year. We would meet inevitably with our cousins to celebrate New Year’s eve during the latter part of our journey in pristine Wayanad.
(The following is a condensed write-up of the article published in the Saevus magazine, July 2015. The visit took place during March 2015) Finally, a clear day! Our spirits had been dampened due to 2 days of unseasonal cloudy weather, hailstones and rain in Pokhara, Nepal. We had been disappointed on not getting a clear view of the famed Annapurna range, but today morning as we began our journey, the majesty of the Himalayas would be revealed to us. An open ground where locals were playing soccer and zipping around in scooters, rolling hills in the distance, were all dwarfed by the sheer scale and size of these snow-clad monoliths. Humbling to say the least! Apart from this wondrous sight though, there was one more reason I was elated to wake up to bright sunshine, we were heading to the destination I had been looking forward to the most during this trip
Continued from the previous post…. The next day we made our long road journey to Munnar, a land of tea plantations set amongst the grand Anamalais. Here we would be met by two amazing researchers, both of whom we had heard much about, Lilly Margaret and Sandeep Das. Varad, through the course of his studies throughout the country, had managed to convince these two to take some valuable time off their research projects to join us and impart their collective knowledge. We met Lilly first, well known for her work involving the study of amphibians in modified landscapes. As she would elaborate, tea plantations have been in Munnar as long as 1890, and along with eucalyptus formed the dominant landscape in and around Munnar. Yet as her work was beginning to show (and we would soon see first-hand), anurans here were resilient, and had not only survived but adapted and
[The following story is from a visit in October 2014, have done my best to add updates per October 2015 :)] ‘What crazy looking eyes!’, we exclaimed as we pored over the field guide of the ‘Common Amphibians of Kerala’ by P.S. Shivaprasad, moving along the bumpy roads outside Calicut, driven by our Keralite Schumacher, Majeedji. For the 7 of us traveling together, the past few months had already been a roller-coaster ride. Dr. Varad Giri, one of the most well-renowned Indian herpetologists, had started a 4-month course dedicated to amphibians in June for those interested in the same, regardless of their background, as part of his initiative of the Western Ghats Regional Station to raise a fresh crop that could participate in further studies of this little-known class of organisms. All our notions and perceptions of amphibian identification had been shattered in the last few months. We would recognize that color
(Edited Version of the below write-up was published in the Sanctuary Asia Feb. 2015 issue, the below encounter took place in November, 2014) Dawn broke at the Churna FRH in the Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh. We were up and pretty excited already; in our time here, apart from the wealth of birdlife such as the Indian Eagle Owl, Scarlet Minivet, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon and mammals such as sloth bears, gaur, sambar, Indian giant and flying squirrels, we had been very lucky in getting a coveted sight of Satpura’s enigmatic tigers. It was barely for a few minutes the previous evening, in the process of waiting at a particular spot shown by our guide, Rameshwar (who on a previous day’s patrolling inside the forest, had seen a mother along with two cubs). After about half an hour, we had spied a cub deep within the lantana undergrowth. The instant he
A few months back in December, we were invited to a wedding of a family friend of my wife at Abu Road in February. I was not sure of making it, but the family insisted it would be a good idea; we could even spend the weekend at Mt. Abu. I did not particularly relish the idea as I only remembered the place as a child and the only thing I recalled was boating at Nakki Lake and figured it would be like every other bustling hill station. However, some reading up online got me interested, a small number of people were talking about the excellent trekking options. I dug a little deeper and stumbled on a few fragments of info on the Mount Abu wildlife sanctuary. The website of the Rajasthan forest department and a few scanty TripAdvisor reviews were all I could find. So I got in touch