Monday, January 6, 2014

“We must go! We must go see the tiger!"

“We must go! We must go see the tiger!,” shouted the safari guides as we hopped into the jeep outside of our hotel, heading into Ranthambhore National Park. The driver was flying down the dirt roads as we sat in the open jeeps.  It was a cool morning, but not as foggy as we expected.

We are flew into the park, and entered zone 2. But I would first like to discuss a little bit about the organization of the park.

Ranthambhore National Park is about 400 square kilometers and is home to about 50 tigers. 20 percent of the park is open to the public for safari rides. Within the 20 percent, the park is divided into 9 zones. The safari jeeps are then divided within the designated zones. This disperses the jeeps within the park, reduces crowding, and reduces the number of jeeps that can group together when a tiger sighting occurs.

Ok, now back to the story. As we entered zone 2, I got a little distracted. After my first trip to India, birding became a new hobby, so I was caught off guard by seeing a Rufus Treepie, a very common bird within the area. However, the guide immediately stopped me and said that the first objective was to see the tiger and the second was to view the rest of the rich wildlife. I was now getting to understand why they there driving so fast.

As we came around a corner, there were a few jeeps parked up ahead. In a few moments, we were looking at one of fourteen hundred tigers remaining in India, also known as T24. He was lying down about 100 yards away watching over his most recent kill, a large Sambar deer. It was a recent kill too, which would last him for a few more days. It was an absolute breathtaking experience as we sat in our jeep and watched quietly. He was minding his own business peacefully. The jeeps did not seem to bother him, as he would repeatedly sit up and sit back down. He seemed so majestic and his presence was grand. As we parted ways with the tiger, we knew that we were very fortunate and lucky for this experience. This only fuels my passion to make a difference and work harder for the survival of the tiger.

We would like to be blogging more than we can, but our internet connections have been limited. However, there is no need to worry because all of the students have been writing in their journal throughout the trip and we are very excited to share all of the fantastic stories with you. Chelsea Connor of Towson University T4T has also taken the lead role as our film director. She will be putting together videos about our trip once we return to the United States.

We will keep you informed.