Some symbolic references encountered on our way to Corbett. The spirit of nationalism and conservation evoked in the same breatheReport by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
Inside Corbett at seven in the morning, we stood on tip-toes, strained every muscle in our body to spot the elusive creature but alas…Five lakh tourists visit the park every year. The forest facilities suffice for only 200 visitors, the rest are serviced by the 40 odd private resorts which line the state highway in Dhilkuli, right outside the park boundary Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
“I have got more than 50 tigers killed in my life”, claims the 80-year-old Prem Bhallabh Chamwal. A former assistant to British shikaris including Jim Corbett, he adds,“ We would track the tiger, tie the bait, set the trap and do almost everything except pull the trigger”. The initial ideas of protected reserves and conservation were fostered from a need to provide for the hunting pleasures of the domestic royalty and the British Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
If you were to do a story on the tiger and failed to spot a single specimen during the trip…this is probably how your desk would look like. A rusty old typewriter, crumpled mess of paper and a framed picture of the beast for inspirationReport by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
12.A signboard on our way out of Corbett; after paying “Rs 250 per head“ and not spotting a single stripe, this is not what I want to read Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
The forest guard hardly fires the gun slung on his shoulder. Procurement of arms and equipment is still an issue with the forest department. A forest official confessed that the consignment of 100 cartridges, he had received from Lucknow would translate to 3 to 4 cartridges per guard which on field amounts to nothing Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
Crouching people and hidden tigers...Radhe Shyam Gangwal explains how his neighbour, a basket weaver was attacked by the fugitive tiger while he was collecting hay for the baskets. This spurred an army of wildlife experts, forest officials and NGOs to rush here. “ I have never seen so many people in the village”, says this 70-year-old resident of Saidpur, “now, the village feels empty”.Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
Anil Kumar Singh of Wildlife Trust of India tests the camera trap to track the Kishanpur tiger. Camera traps identify the tigers through their stripes, which are their unique fingerprints. But, the film role has to be taken to Lakhimpur to take prints and a day is lost. In the meantime, the tiger shifts its location. Pugmarks seem better suited for daily monitoring than camera traps Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
He is Sita Prasad Shukla of Saitpur village. From him, I learnt about a wonder woman, a tea shop owner who, after the tiger was spotted in the area, sold many cups of tea and claimed that if the tiger had lived for another two months, she would have made enough to marry her daughter off Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
Tracking the tiger demands a lot of patience and silence, commodities in short supply with a reporter. Watching them at work, I realised how easily the Forest department's efforts are belittled in reacting to news reports on 'missing Tigers'. A half-eaten carcass of a wild boar, killed the previous day by the tiger was found. Sticks were used to carefully push it into the cage trap. The tiger would return to finish eating its kill but any foreign scent on the carcass could ward it off Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
In the foreground, you see the kill that got the tigress caught. The forest officials following its pugmarks had mistaken it for a male. It was shot on February 24. But, was this the best course of action to take? Since, except the first kill in Pilibhit, the tigress had never come to the village to make a kill –the mark of man-eater Report by : Ravleen Kaur Photograph by: Meeta Ahlawat
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