With marshy lands as well as dense forest cover Dudhwa is a birders paradise. Besides the 500 species of birds it is home to endangered species such as Rhinos, Leopards, Tigers, Swamp deer (Barasinga), Bengal Florican and Black Necked Stork. Being as yet untouched by excessive tourism it is easy to feel one with the forest and notice small things like cobwebs, the lovely pattern of fallen leaves and twisted liana that caught my fancy.
I have already talked about the biting cold and lack of electricity. Such conditions for a compulsive bathing fiend like me are... well... painful. The water made your bum numb. There were people who were shit scared of shitting, for 6 DAYS!Believe me you do not want to live in the same room as them.
At 5:15 am the next day, I was surprised that we were actually walking IN the national park, something I could not do anywhere else. Narrow paths with towering elephant grass . An Elephant could be standing 4ft away from me and I would not know it. Every animal sees you, while you strain to spot one. I can proudly say atleast 2 tigers spotted me during my stay there!
Thanks to the cheap thrills of my sad life though, we hit a jackpot.
I thought it would be fun to perch on the roof of the bus, completely forgetting how a continuous driving wind in this climate would make bodily functions like breathing null and void.
Peering into the vegetation willing for some animal to appear Trish and I saw the ghostly golden form melt into the bush like magic.
Rhino's had to be seen on a perch of a different sort. I was on Pushpakali, whose mahout, Lallan was a peppery old man, good at spotting birds. A naughty baby tusker, Batalik, born on the day the Kargil war ended, followed us. Lallan kept throwing dirty looks at my handling of the camera. But for heaven sake!!!! Balancing in a tiny space 9ft above the ground on a bumpy elephant trying to focus your shot without crashing to the ground or dropping the cam is no mean feat. Especially as you will invariably find yourself on the wrong side of the Elephant with all the action happening the other side. Yet I managed that one decent one in the slide show above!!! Photography kills the naturalist in you, as I was soon made to realize. At first I used to reach for the binocs, but now I grab at the camera to capture through the lens, before observing with the eye. One may say that once the picture is taken it can be observed at leisure forever. It’s not the same thing. We used to jump out of jeeps, run down pathways or stay rooted to the spot clicking as many as 20 pics of the same creature at a time. Photography is like a drug addiction. You have to get your shot, and get it right or you get depressed and irritated. If you manage to get it, it’s the best high in the world.