I went into the jungle, or I should say I went to the Jungle Inn. I had a very early day on Sunday, and then Monday was a moon day, so I was off. I decided to go on an overnight adventure. I found a room at the Jungle Inn, apparently I was lucky because Monday was a national holiday in India and lots of people were traveling.
The inn is outside of a large nature preserve, a well known one called Nagarhole, and a lesser known one called Wayanar. I went on a tour Sunday afternoon and another one Monday morning.
I was in a jeep with 5 other people plus the driver. On the way to the preserve we kept stopping to look at spotted deer. All I could think was, "oh great, I traveled all the way around the world and I get to see the bain of my existence as a gardener back home." In truth they were slightly different, in that they did have spots, even the males with big antlers.
We also saw black face monkeys, and giant Indian squirrels before we even got to the preserve.
We were not inside the preserve 5 minutes when we saw some elephants. A mother and babies (see pic). We actually saw some bamboo moving first and knew what it was. We waited quietly for a moment and they came out of the brush. It was truly incredible. We saw quite a few more, and even saw a lone tusker. We actually smelled him first. They put out a musky smell when they are ready to mate. A really big male, who got a little aggessive with us. The males travel solo, the mothers and young travel together.
We also saw wild boar, gaurs which look kind of like buffalo, giant Indian bison, (it was obvious why they are called giant, it was actually bigger than the jeep), peacocks, which are native to India, and 1 cobra-really gross, about 5 feet long. Luckily we didn't see its hood. We were on the lookout for Bengal tigers and black panthers, but didn't see any. They live here, but are very rare.
It is really sad, because, they are getting rarer all the time. There may be only about 2300 left on the sub-continent. The elephant population is delining too.
Only 3% of India's land is set aside as preserve. Which is really nothing. Compared to someplace like Costa Rica, that has 60% of its land preserved and is actually pursuing more. I realize that there is an incredible population issue here, and that it is all a question of resources. I only wish they could realize that there is no greater resource than the flora and fauna that they are so rapidly losing.