Tracking Tipu: An Encounter - By Dr. Satya Priya SinhaIn the scorching heat of the 1980s, deep within the rugged terrain of Gir National Park in Gujarat, I, a wildlife researcher, and my field assistant Abba Jaffar had been tracking Tipu, a lone lion, for hours. Finally, we spotted him on a hilltop near the Kankai Mata Temple, devouring his latest kill. We decided to observe him from a nearby tree and watch him until dawn. At around 5:30 am, Tipu started descending the hill, and we followed suit.
As we reached a diversion in our path, we lost sight of Tipu. Soon after, we heard loud growling and realized that we were uncomfortably close behind him. He seemed to have been aware of us but appeared quite calm. I remember thinking, "Was Tipu disappointed with our tracking skills and revealed his presence by growling?" There was nothing else that could have prompted him to growl.
Soon, Tipu crossed the road and moved towards a big tree with bushes surrounding it. He looked back for us, stopping from time to time, as if giving us time to catch up. Shortly, he chose a shady spot to lie down.
My field assistant and I decided to take turns watching Tipu. At midday, I felt thirsty and asked Abba Jaffar to fetch some water. Alarmed by the sound of our activity, Tipu got up and ambled towards us. I poured the remaining water from our bottle into the pit we had dug and hurriedly left the waterhole. Surprisingly, the lion walked straight to the waterhole, started drinking, and then went back to where he had come from and dozed off.
This memory of Tipu will always hold a special place in my heart. It serves as a reminder that we share this planet with such majestic creatures who deserve our respect and protection.
Hope in the Darkness: A Tale of Olive Ridleys - By Sanjana Vadakke Kuruppath
The carcasses lay motionless after the stormy night, their weighty bodies once displaying incredible strength - but now, they were still with blood-stained beaks, scratched shells, and entrails spilling from their torn undersides. Eleven of them lined the 800-meter expanse of the beach. As I crouched to gaze into their vacant, lifeless eyes, I couldn't help but feel sorrowful, wondering how many others had perished while attempting to reach the shore.
In the early hours of the morning, we stood as mere shadows on the sand, our voices hushed by the crashing waves. The pungent scent of broken eggs was only slightly dissipated by the crisp breeze. A young dog frolicked with us, his tail wagging in delight, indifferent to the curses whispered his way over the eggshells scattered everywhere.
Eventually, we discovered a solitary female turtle. She was hunched over a hole that appeared too large to have been dug by her blunt, rounded flippers. With remarkable efficiency, she produced egg after egg, as if it were an assembly line. The humans around her gawked and whispered, but she paid them no mind. When we returned to the darkened beach, the bioluminescence faintly glimmering at our feet, I beheld the stunning, shimmering stars above us for the first time.
On a narrow fishing boat, I struggled with nausea and eye strain as I peered through binoculars, scanning the rolling ocean. Suddenly, someone cried out, "Look!" and they were impossible to miss. Emerging from the water with a soft splash, they swiftly glided through the silky, deep blue sea, searching for mates. Their dark shells glowed like burnished gold in the morning sun.
There were so many of them, brimming with vitality and vigor, and not a single trawler in sight. The bloodied carcasses and spectral eggshells were a distant memory now, as we were filled with hope once more, reignited by the majestic dance of our olive ridleys.
Fluttering Memories by Arjun K.
At the peak of Terali Betta, the second highest peak in the Kali Tiger Reserve of the Western Ghats in Karnataka, I found myself lost in a world of beauty and wonder. It was a time of my life when I was participating in a forest work experience program as part of my BSc Forestry course. As a part of this program, I was sent on a mock Tiger Census to the remote anti-poaching camp of Pathagudi, a small village of nine houses inhabited by local tribal people known as Kunbi. It was a time of my life that now feels like a distant memory.
After a tiring hike of six kilometers through the dense evergreen forest, I finally reached the peak of Terali Betta on a hot day in February. As I climbed uphill, the scenery around me transformed from vast fields of Crotolaria to grassy slopes. On my trek, I came across Indian Gaurs, Tiger pug marks, scat of Civet, and even a cave of Sloth bear. But the reward for my perseverance was the breathtaking view of the Kali Tiger Reserve.
As I began my descent down the hill with my guide, Gaja, I was almost at the foot of the hill when I suddenly saw Gaja give me a heads up and shake some small trees. As if by magic, the leaves turned into a swarm of Blue Tiger butterflies, leaving the tree bare. I stood there, awestruck and mesmerized by the beauty of the moment, feeling like a child in a dreamland. After a few minutes of my trance, I realized that the Crotolaria was the host plant of the Blue Tiger butterflies, and they had congregated here to escape the hot noon sun.
This experience of encountering the Blue Tiger butterflies was the sweetest memory of my Pathagudi diaries, evoking a sense of nostalgia in me now. Looking back, I can still feel the joy and wonder that I felt during those days. The memories of those moments will forever be etched in my heart, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to witness the beauty of nature up close.