day in Corbett
Tiger Census 1997:
Diary maintained by Mr. Parth Sharma.
A wildlife enthusiast/volunteer who was invited by the director , Corbett Tiger
Reserve, Ramnagar, India for the tiger census from 5-12 May 97.
We reached Dhikala by 6:30
p.m. and must have covered nearly 40 km. in the whole day. It was a thrilling
experience and just thinking and discussing about the events took our
tiredness away. In our jeep we dropped the boys back to Khinanauli. From where
I got another passenger for Dhikala who was injured while crossing the
Ramganga in his slippers.
It is amazing that the people
insist on wearing slippers on all occasions even while tracking. I thought that
I would be suggesting to the director to make it compulsory for the staff to
wear boots/shoes on their daily rounds and avoid injury.
We woke up at our usual time and joined Mr. Aswal on our daily round of
Chooha Pani. At the Kammarpatta Marg we came across the pug marks of a
tigress whose stride measured 131, 132, 136 cms. She had walked the main
road for a good distance and the marks were all around.
I had a hunch that
this was the tigress from Bichhoo Boji, i.e. Ajay's area since he had
mentioned to me the stride being 133 cms and further down the road we
saw the pug marks being encircled, which proved my hunch being correct.
We reached Chooha Pani and found no further pug marks but while we were
resting an Emerald Dove or Green Pigeon had come to the waterhole for a
drink. This was also a new discovery for me. With nothing more to find we
returned to Dhikala via the Bichhoo Boji sot. On today's beat we were
accompanied by Mr. Tariq Hasan of press trust of India, who also seemed
a genuine wildlife lover. In the evening me and Ajay were put in the
group with Puran covering the area in and around no.3 water hole and the
Motasal area since his assistants had been called for a fire fighting
errand at Gairal. On the Thandi Road we came across the pug marks which
Puran had sighted in the morning round. He mounted the plaster and we
proceeded further for our rounds. We reached the no.3. water hole and
were nearly startled to see a elephant watching us from bushes, on
seeing us three he quickly vanished in the deep jungles, after covering
our area and around dusk we sat for a couple of minutes at the
watchtower. This watchtower is the best located towers of that I have
seen. The tiger if within that area is sure to visit it once a day if
not more. I made a resolve that next time I would definitely sit at this
tower for a whole day. On a suggestion from Mr. Pant, the DYP ranger, I
gave a slide show in the evening and also displayed the slides takes by
Mr. H. S. Karmiyal. The clapping at the end of the show was the reward
enough for me and Mr. Karmiyal, his work of taking slides of a tiger
from a tree was much appreciated by the viewers.
We got up a little late maybe the tiredness of the days was getting the
better of us. After a quick breakfast went on the Sambhar Road where we
were informed by the returning party that fresh pug marks of a tiger and
tigress had been seen. We patrolled the area and sat for sometime at the
watchtower without success and planned our return journey to Delhi since
our assigned job was finished.
While returning back
to base we were curious to observe an eagle flying haywire, like a
airplane that has lost its control, on closer observation we saw that a
group of bees were chasing it, and it was trying its best to avoid
confrontation. The eagle might have chosen wrong breakfast this morning.
We picked up our jeep and went for a final round of the park,
where we came across Mr. Puran with his group along with Dr. Das who is
also a keen wildlife lover who became a very dear friend of ours and
with whose help we organized the medical camps. We helped them to refill
their water supply and returned back to base after stopping for a very
short time at Chooha Pani, thinking that we might sight a tiger before
going back. Before leaving we had
the honor of meeting Mr. Brijendra Singh, the Hon. Warden of CTR. After
meeting him we realized that he is a real wildlife lover. Most of the
time he is in jungle, even in monsoons he is patrolling the areas so as
to motivate the people and to ensure that his presence can dissuade the
poachers who are at present eyeing the prized white cheetal (a breed of
deer found in India). He is a raja of famous place and has enough of
wealth for the rest of his life to enjoy the comforts and to spend his
summers in the comforts of an air conditioner but has opted for the
tough life. If only a few more like him could exist then I could believe
that the tigers and forest of India are not doomed to extinction. There
is still hope. We departed Dhikala at 12:00 p.m. and reached Delhi at
Conclusion & Personal
Before the census I
really believed that tigers were doomed to extinction and the Dhikala
reserve should be closed completely since the wildlife was being
disturbed very much due heavy inflow of tourist at Dhikala which was
forcing the tigers to move to the buffer areas where they were likely to
be poached. After the census having spent some time with the workers and
staff of Corbett Tiger Reserve, I realize that the tigers are not doomed
to extinction, there is still hope. Yes the tiger population has come
down drastically but still preventive measures on war footings can save
the tiger. The tigers and the forests are still safe due to love and
affection the people of forest have for the jungles and wildlife. The
staff can do a lot for the jungles provided they have some authority and
equipment. The forest guards are patrolling their respective beats with
only a obsolete weapons with no certainty that it would fire or not, and
in case it fires at the poachers would the state protect him or not.
There are cases where a forest guard has shot a poacher and had to fight
a court case for the rest of his life . With true wildlife lovers like
the Hon. Warden Mr. Brijendra Singh who spends all his seasons, be it
summers monsoons or winter, he is inside the jungles patrolling and
motivating the people leaving aside the luxuries of city life. Who can
spend thousands for just saving a elephant calf without anything in
return. With people like him around who can say the tigers are doomed.
If we had few more like him it would make a tremendous difference. I
have found the goal in my life and the answer to my question that what
can I do for the cause. The answer is that if only I continue what I am
doing, i.e. educating people around me and motivate the staff looking
after jungle. I believe I would have achieved something. The staff needs
motivation and support. I would like to organize slide shows in Dhikala
and ask people like Mr. Harak Singh Aswal to educate the viewers during
slide shows regarding birds and their habitat. Mr. Karmiyal can give
lectures to tourists also during slide shows regarding the terrain and
wildlife around the park. I would also like to include other forest
officials in the slide shows so that they feel motivated and honored and
give lectures in their respective fields. This would also make them grow
in their stature and would have an impact on their overall personality.
The tigers are the national pride of India and can be saved. The need is
to focus on some basics like changes in the law, availability of finance
for the park and the right people at right places. Some of the unanimous
suggestions which we gathered and were requested to put forward are as
1. The powers to shoot an offender and the protection later on should be
2. Motivation and proper incentives should be given to the staff.
3. More people like Hon. Warden Mr. Brijendra Singh should be given Hon.
Post. something like Hon. Forester, Hon. DYP Ranger or Ranger can be
given. The wildlife lovers / NGO's given the post should cover their
respective areas during the season and off season under the supervision
of the director and Hon. Warden.
4. Jim Corbett rightly said that the tiger cannot be saved until and
unless public opinion changes hence the Dhikala frh should not be closed
since it educates the tourist bringing more awareness but the tourists
should be limited in Dhikala and divided to other parks like Halduparao,
Jhirna, Kanda, Sonanadi, Sitabani etc..
5. The govt./authorities should form their own NGO which should
propagate the requirements of funds from world over. The existing NGO's
only have collections in the name of the park but in terms of
disbursements not even 5% are disbursed.
6. The requirement of elephants is a priority. All the existing
elephants have reached the age of retirement and to train the new breed
takes time or else they would end up like Laksmi wounded by wild
elephants. The availability of elephants should be in all the other rest
houses also. So that the tourist can also go there.
7. The vehicle movement within the park should be very limited. A tour
of the park should be only on elephant back since the vehicle movement
disturbs the animals to a very great extent and specially the diesel
vehicles since it makes to much of noise which forces the animals to
stray in buffer areas.
8. All the junior and senior staff should be instructed to wear shoes as
a must and part of dress code. Which would result in less of foot
injuries and diseases.
9. The buffer area patrolling should be strengthened and a regular
checks should be conducted.
10. The villagers in and around the park should be educated and made
aware of the benefits of the park and jungles. They should also be
involved in something connected with the park it has been observed that
no poacher can be successful without the help of some locality.
We were fortunate to
have been invited again for the Tiger Census in 1999 , but due to
massive forest fires in the Jungles , the tiger counting was disrupted
and the volunteers gathered for fighting fires in the jungles of
Corbett. The experience of fire fighting in itself was great and had the
opportunity to spend many nights in the jungle along with the fire
fighters and senior staff.
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