Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In the lovely world of animals...

My eyes were wrested open by a loud sound. I woke up with a start, only to realise that there was no real need for alarm. The sound was only the loud chatter by my teeth. Landing in a place - a forest reserve with cottages quaintly done up with mangalore roof tiles, terracota interiors and the ceiling almost 15 ft high, temperatures varying between 17deg to 6deg, when the temperatures, as we were misinformed were only 13deg. This is what you get!
Sadly we only had jackets packed in and had opted for what we termed 'light' packing. No woolens, no warmers...oo la la! Adventurous aren't we ;) The previous evening had been equally exciting with the jeep safari...and the trails we followed.

I glanced at my watch, it was only 5.30 am, peeped out of the window - could see nothing. I reminded myself that the previous night the moon was barely a crescent, so unlikely to light up much. P and T were sleeping soundly comfortably ensconced in thick warm blankets (although I thought the blankets were grossly inadequate).

I tried to get back to sleep, occasionally peeping out of my blanket to look out for the sun. 6.15am - and God said,"let there be light" (thank God!!!). I walked towards the little verandah attached to our cottage. Here I heard a strange pitter patter. I couldn't see any rain drops, the ground was dry, the ant hill few metres from our cottage was calm undisturbed ....and what then was the pitter patter I wondered, only to realiise that it was the gentle fall of the dew from the tall trees. The grass was wet, the atmosphere misty and damp. One could only spot a fuzzy light from the opposite cottage and no more. The birds gave their clarion call to remind us of the nature trail which was due in a few minutes.

At dot 6.30am we were out with the 'Naturalist' on a nature trail. Wrapped up in our jackets (remember, that's all we had!) we gathered some very interesting facts and some I share here -
  • An ant hill contains high salt content, contributed by the ant's saliva. That is the reason most animals - deer, elephants etc...lick it/ eat it to partake salt from it. This helps maintain the salt balance in their bodies
  • Wasp hive has colonies which look like these.
  • Law of the jungle - the deer and monkey are good friends. The minute they spot danger in any form, they send warning signals to each other and the other animals in the jungle. A monkey is usually the first to spot trouble as it is usually higher up and gets a bird's eye view.
  • Crocodile bark tree looks like this
  • Spiders attack their preys in three ways - they spin a web and wait for the insect to fall prey, they see the insect and then spin a web around it and third they chase the insect & then kill it.
  • Lichens, a parasitic growth on trees often destroy the tree by depriving them of nutrition ...nature!!! wonder ! wonder!

  • Some of these very parasites (which look leaf like) are used in dye preparations, and are sold by tribals to urbanites
Interesting ain't it? By 7.30am we were done with the nature trail and waited eagerly at the river banks for the Coracle ride. The river looked right out of a dream sequence - misty, calm, green. The Coracle is a round boat which is made of bamboo. Coal tar and some water proofing material, make sure it stays together. While on the coracle, we could hear bird cries and saw many early risers - Indian Heron, Cormorant, Drongo (with a long tail and light black), colorful little birds that looked like love birds, kingfisher. The forest around had old trees, some of which leaned towards the river, precariously, almost forming an avenue. There was a variety of flora lining the rivers. Mango, Jamun, wild chickoo. We were told, wild chickoos are green but very sweet. The birds are so fond of it, that they get to it before us :) The boat man who was cheerful was so taken in by our enthusiasm that he decided to give us a carousel ride in the coracle. Whoa! my head is still spinning. The lil girl ofcourse had a groovy time

Once back, we had a good spread for breakfast and proceeded to the Elephant camp - the agenda was to bathe (or watch) the elephants , feed them (raagi, watermelon, coconut) and then the elephant ride.

If you have been wondering how we ever got there in the first place, here is how it began. It was on the morning of 25th December 2011 that we had set out for Bangalore. We knew we had little time and lots to do. As we landed in Bangalore in the wee morning hours, we did not waste any time. We hit the roads to Mysore. The roads were to be frank, disappointing. There is no express way yet, only lots of road construction which lowers ones speed substantially. After a stop over at a typical South Indian eatery with mouth watering sumptuous food, we reached Mysore in time for lunch. Ginger had been shortlisted as the most eco option to stay for the night.

The mysore zoo, palace were the main attraction. After having travelled quite a bit within the country, I can be proud to belong to Karnatak, specially after I visited the Mysore zoo. It is so well maintained - clean environs, lots of space, well constructed spaces for the animals, healthy happy animals!!! As we found out later the Mysore zoo is owned and run by a private trust. It belonged to the Maharaja of Mysore and had animals which were received by him as gifts or ones he found when he went hunting. The variety of animals is vast - which I am sure no other zoo in this country can boast of. The animals are adopted and looked after with funds provided by the sponsor. Each enclosure displays details about not just the animal but the parent (sponsor) who is funding its welfare.

Here are some details:
Adopt Zoo Animals and involve in conservation efforts
Conservator of Forests & Executive Director
Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens
Indiranagar, Mysore : 570010
Phone : 0821 2520302/2440752
email ; zoomysore@gmail.com
website : www.mysorezoo.org
Our lil girl was super excited to see the giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, cheetahs, leopards. Some of the others which were also housed at the zoo - tigers - both Indian and Bengal, Elephants - both Asian and African, monkeys, chimpanzee, gorilllas, orangutan, baboon, variety of reptiles and birds, alligators, crocs, bears, hyena, deer, antelope, neel gai, black buck, bison (or the wild buffaloes), rhino, hippos, wolf, wallaby,lemur, tapir and more!!!

Sample this....

Elegant Giraffes

Naughty Elephant

We visited the zoo twice - the day we reached (but in the late afternoon) and then the following morning. The morning hours allowed us to explore the place and take some lovely pictures. There was little crowd and it felt like we were at our own private zoo!!! ;)
After we had explored and had enough of the zoo we moved on to Dubare - the elephant camp. And our experience there I have already narrated at the beginning of this post. On our way back we visited he Bailakupe monasty - sad to say it was not a patch on the ones in Ladakh. My guess is that no modern structure can have the charm of the old traditional one. This one was sparkling and had vibrant colours, huge idols, but it did not very as breathtaking as the Hemis, Thiksey. It is the simple beauty of a monastry among the mountains, with little civilization, lot of mystery and charm. I know if I don't contain myself, what you get will be yet another post on Ladakh 2005.

This was a short holiday, like most holidays for us have been. It was enjoyable, as always! - and definitely so for our little girl.

Credit for the pictures goes entirely to Parijat

1 comment:

Parijat Punj said...

great write up as usual! the cold weather at Dubaare camp was a shocker!

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