A day in Corbett

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            One wakes up at the sound of the room boy announcing that the morning tea is ready and the sun rise is expected in next 15 minutes.  You have the morning tea while enjoying the sunrise and the chirping of birds. This is also the tigers hunting time and one can hear the call of the deer when they spot a tiger. One can actually feel the presence of the tigers, by just listening to the calls of nature.

The mahouts (elephant drivers ) in the meantime are getting their respective elephants ready for the morning ride in the jungles.

 

            There are around nine elephants in Dhikala for taking visitors inside the jungle. Each elephant has a name and like an employee is sanctioned certain funds from the government to be spent on its welfare and eating. The mahouts  take care of the elephants as their own family member. The maximum number of people allowed to sit on the elephant back is 4, but in case of children there may be 5-6. The earlier you go for an elephant ride the better chances of seeing the tiger and other animals and most importantly remember not to utter a sound once you are in the jungle.  Most of the people come to Corbett to watch the tiger, yes it is such an magnificent animal that one never gets tired of watching it. 

But being on the lookout for tigers a visitor often misses other things that the nature has to offer other than the tiger.

 

            The  first animal that you may come across is the lord of the jungle, Elephant.  The elephant herd stays in groups with only one male tusker  and other members being female elephants with their calves. The young elephants playing with each other  and with water or sand is a sight to watch and if they happen to see you, they will act tough and may give you a mock chase. Seeing their mock chase now the mother and her friends will also take a look at you, please be careful at this point, firstly they will give you a mock chase and then take their groups and go in the jungle or they may call their leader who may not be far behind. The male tusker is very dangerous indeed. He has become the leader of the group by defeating the earlier tusker, he knows he is the best and it is his responsibility to protect the herd.

 

            Deer are a common site and can be seen roaming about in small and large groups. There are four different breeds of deer, the common spotted deer, sambhar, barking deer and the hog deer. A very interesting information on deer's antlers came to me when a small child asked us that why there are horns on some deer and not on every deer. We researched our data and with some difficulty found the answer to the question. The deer eat grass which has a high content of protein in it. The females manage to take out the protein in the form of milk while feeding their young ones while the male's protein comes out in the form of antlers. Hence male horny female not horny ( Ha, heard this from a guide once ).The deer serves as special tasty and most lucrative food to the tigers . A tiger is able to hunt a deer every 10 attempts and his food lasts for 2-3 days. Mathematically tiger eats  around 100 deer per annum. Corbett has an estimated 6000 deer.  Deer antlers are the food for porcupines which is a nocturnal animal and hunts, eats only during the night. 

The mating season of deer is during November & December and saplings can be seen in abundance in February and March

 

            There are  various species of birds, Mr. Harak Singh Aswal, a well renowned forester nearly knows every bird by name and habits. No wonder he is respectfully known as the Pelican. While on a elephant back or car ride, one must always keep the eyes and ears open. Most of the birds can be recognised by their sounds and habits. The great pied Himalayan hornbill is also found here, along with other birds such as woodpeckers, raptors, fishing eagle, harriers, jungle fowl, cuckoos, drongos, barbets and the colorful minivets.  The list and names are just endless. During the tiger census I was lucky to be with Mr. Aswal, hence I can now recognise and make out birds from their respective perching. There  is a very good story connected with the weaver bird. The male makes the nests and then they wait for the female species to pick the selection. The one whose nests are liked by the females, they are chosen as the mating partners. Don't you see a similar pattern amongst the humans too. The female species tends to go in for the house before she says yes ( joking ).

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