THE BIG FIVE OF DUDHWA
A Deputy Prime Minister from Finland, on a visit to Dudhwa, caught a glimpse of the Tiger. He choked with emotion. He became philosophical and said:
‘ This experience is the fulfillment of his Life.I have overcome the fear of Death’.
The Royal Bengal Tiger is undoubtedly the smartest and handsomest of all the creatures. No wonder they call him the King. He is India’s most valuable possession. And like his Homeland, India, he too possesses that Mystical Aura; an aura that enchants the Body; captivates the Mind and transcends the Soul. What is man, a puny and tiny biped, compared to the Awesome Tiger! Just take away the gun and gunpowder and the Tiger will re-establish his Reign.
Dudhwa is very prominent and well protected Tiger habitat. Some 100 tigers dwell here. These big cats have adapted themselves to all the three habitats of the Park.
‘I vividly recall my first experience of sighting a rhino in the wild in the grasslands of Dudhwa. The elephant ride was bumpy. I clutched the howdah. It was scary. I fidgeted for a good view. I strained my back. I hurt my neck. I adjusted my camera. I fumbled. But all the discomfiture was short lived. And the only image that shall lie imprinted on my mind for eternity is that of the Rhino Himrani being trailed obediently by her calf. It was an unforgettable moment.’
The Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros once lived in the Grasslands of the Terai. The last rhino was slaughtered in 1878. With the success of project Rhino, a veritable Jurassic Park has been raised at Dudhwa where a long extinct species has been revived.
“It was a pleasure driving on the forest dirt track canopied by the tall Sal tress.
We soon reached the awesome Jhadi Tal. A number of migratory birds graced the waters of this huge water-body. On the far end, we spotted a large herd of Barasingha (Swamp deer); a harem dominated by a solitary handsome stud in the company of some 24 females (Wow!). They were squatting on a circular island like mound.
Two pythons had made their nest just about 500 yards away from our vantage point.
We made our way to the second watch tower. Here we saw an even bigger herd of Swamp deer. I counted 47 of them. Most of the members of the herd were males; their mighty antlers glistening brightly.
The herd was waiting for dusk so as to proceed concealed from the Tiger into the jungle to munch soft grass. This was the largest herd of a deer species, I had ever seen. In fact, Dudhwa is the last refuge of Northern Swamp Deer. “
‘One sunny afternoon, near the Nakauah Stream at Dudhwa, I was accompanying a group of budding naturalists. We were trying hard to spot Crocodiles and Gavials.
We sighted three huge crocs. One of them, still as log, seemed to be sunbathing. The other two were partially submerged in the waters. We moved very carefully nearer to the stream to take a better look. And Lo and behold! With a swift movement, a crocodile was out of the waters and came hissing right at us. We were caught off guard and scurried for safety.
Then, having got our breath back, we decided to watch the crocs from a safe distance. We saw that the Crocodile had stopped at one place but was still hissing angrily. Her long pointed teeth, inside the wide open jaws, were quite frightening. I soon noticed fresh mud on that place and realized that ‘she’ was a concerned mother, trying to ward off strangers from her nest. She must have laid eggs at that spot. (Both Crocodiles and Gavials lay eggs in the mud on the banks of water bodies. They cover the eggs with mud and keep a tight watch, lest predators cause harm. When the eggs hatch, the young are led to the waters).
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is the ideal home to many members of the Garuda Family (Birds of Prey). It is an absolute joy to just observe them or better still watch them in action.
Perched high on a Tree Top, rotating his head almost 360 degrees, continuously keeping an eye at his territory, A Crested Serpent Eagle looks as majestic as Tiger himself.