I visited Ranthambore Tiger Reserve on May 11th and that was when I first found out of the waterhole census that was to be carried out on 25th & 26th May 2013. Later, I found a post on Facebook providing details on how to apply to volunteer for this census. As I have always wanted to experience being in the jungle at night, I immediately sent a mail to the email address provided expressing my willingness to volunteer for this. A couple of days later, I got a response wherein I had to send an application form and updated resume to apply for this. After two days of e-mailing the required documents, I called up the Deputy Conservator of Forests office to find out the status of my application. I was told that my name was put in 2nd list as I didn't have any relevant experience. Upon hearing this, I told them of the number of safaris that I have done in Indian National Parks and also South African ones. On hearing that, I was soon sent a mail confirming my acceptance to volunteer for this.
I reached Ranthambore on Friday, 24th May for an orientation/training session for the waterhole census wherein we were informed slightly about all the ranges for this census and the differences between some animals with similar physical appearance. This waterhole census was basically over 330 waterholes in Ranthambore National Park and Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary. As the census form was in Hindi, so we were also told names of some animals in Hindi/local language. After this, we were told a few Do's and Dont's in during the census and were told to collect at the division office by 0630 hours next morning. During this session, I was pleased to see the number of naturalists/enthusiasts who had travelled from all over the country to be part of this.
|A huge chameleon in our hotel lawn|
|See those parallel logs of wood? Thats Jamoda II machan|
|Even though I was hanging onto a branch for dear life, but a Paradise Flycatcher is not to be missed|
|A highly active bird. Never sat on one branch for more than a few seconds|
|One of those nervous Sambar Deer that came to the waterhole|
|One of the Jackals that came early in the morning|
|Aam Chowki. This is where I sat all night|
|Looking for animals to come at this artificial waterhole|
|Walking to Jamoda I waterhole to fetch the two volunteers there|
1.Nobody came to check on us after putting us on machans for 7.5 hours. If we might have hurt our head or any such part when our machan came down, we could easily have died due to loss of blood in that much time. Ideally, they should check on all machans in 2-3 hours for such emergency situation. Other than machan coming down, snake bites or animal attacks could also need such patrols.
2. It was their duty to take us to our machans in vehicles, but they simply refused to provide that and told us to walk when temperature was soaring at 45 degrees.
3. We were also told that we would be provided with drinking water while we were told to drink the greenish standing water of the waterholes where all the animals bath and drink as well. We can easily fall sick drinking it.
4. Even when we are telling them that our machan came down, instead of accepting that and being a little apologetic, the forester, Omprakash Sharma is shouting back at us telling us that we are trying to fool him.
|Thats the Machan I was supposed to sit at and the one that crashed onto the rocks|
|And its branches had these fresh claw marks of a Leopard|
|While I was hanging on the tree, these primates are seated on the ground|