Jungle Trails

Meera Srikant

“The trips up and down the jungle roads seeking the predators are a sure shot way to seek Nirvana, or at lease develop patience and perseverance!” – Meera

Come summer, the promise of sighting predators in the jungles of Karnataka took us yet again to one of the resorts of the state-run Jungle Lodges and Resorts – The Kabini River Lodge (KRL) on the banks of Kabini River. This was our fourth trip to a jungle resort and the second to KRL after our first one in 2008. Still a novice compared to people – photographers especially – who make more frequent and longer trips.

My thoughts during this trip, though, were not on these people keen to shoot breath-taking moments of wildlife on their bazooka-like lenses but on our ancient sages who preferred the forest to seek the purpose of life. If one seeks to understand the insignificance of mankind, seeking a predator in its natural surroundings is the best way to do it, in my humble view. You may be all excited about the possibility of spotting one of these majestic cats, but the cats themselves do not reciprocate the feeling! You could traverse the entire length and breadth of the area you are permitted to travel in, but whether the cat times its presence to be there to receive you is purely a matter of chance and not choice.

Entering the Deep

There are several dos and don’ts when you enter the forest – maintaining silence is one of the key, and remaining in the vehicle another one. Ironically, while you peep eagerly into the bushes from the safety of your jeep, you see tribal people walking through the forests, laughing and chatting with no care for chasing away the animals you have come to see! In fact, they would prefer if the animals avoid the path they are on, and are completely at cross purposes with you.

The first time we went was with extended family including two two-year-olds, two five-year-olds, two eight-year-olds and three sets of parents of these children. Silence? We wouldn’t recognise it if it were staring straight at us! We were no better than the tribal people who walk through the jungles as if celebrating the occasion, though it defeated our purpose.

Kabini 2008 was our first exposure to wildlife safaris. We were totally unprepared.

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