Ranthambhore | April 19,2016 : A slogan is antiquated, TIGER! ! TIGERrrrr…in India’s national parks or sanctuary, no doubt about that. It came about at the turn of the 19th century as a way for big game hunters to prioritize their expeditions based on the animals that were most difficult to track by foot. Since we have replaced guns with cameras a lot has changed, but not this slogan and it is something that creates a maddening obsession amongst our many visitors. So, please you do bear in mind that you are out amongst nature, not Disney World or Theme Park. It is fact that nature is unpredictable. The nature guides know a lot and through constant communication with colleagues can create a variety of amazing wildlife experiences for visitors, but they aren't MAGICIANS. Ultimately, it is universal truth that we have no control over the wildlife so if you don’t see A TIGER or A LEOPARD, please don’t be angry; just accept it as part of the experience of safari.
Usually, it can be difficult to spot some animals in the forest because Wild animals, such as predators like tigers and leopards are generally very shy and elusive. They tend to hide when they see human beings. As a naturalist, I have a few tips for you to make increase your chances of seeing animals in the wild. With luck and these tips, you will enjoy your game drive even more!
1. Avoid all perfumes or any other strong smelling things because wild animals are very sensitive to smell.
2. Always wear “jungle colors” that blend with the environment such as olive green, brown, and khaki. Animals may be frightened if they see bright color since they don’t use them.
3. Always view animals from a distance. Never try to get too close to them. This type of attempt will disturb them.
4. Never ever stand up in your vehicle when you are very close to a tiger, leopard, or elephant. They may see it and take it as a threat!
5. During safari never try to take selfie with any wild animal as you may fall down in or outside the vehicle. It is really dangerous ART for you!
6. Never feed any wild animals or birds. They have plenty of natural food in the forest and do not need any junk food because JUNK FOOD is injurious to their health.
7. For the wild animals, the forest is their home and we are the intruders. While some of them don’t mind the various gypsy or cantor they’re used to seeing in the distance and will even pose for the shutterbugs, several of them go scampering away. Minimize disturbance by speaking in hushed tones, keeping your limbs within the vehicle, not using flash on your camera and generally being respectful of your surroundings. This will also allow you to notice and take in more than someone who treats it as a noisy picnic spot through the forest.
8. Are you someone who needs to take a pee break often? Cut down on your water intake just before the drive, or you’ll spend half your time driving to and from a toilet (Please note that it is a national park and you can’t just jump out of the vehicle and relieve yourself in the shrubs). This may mean missing out on amazing sights and inconveniencing others in your vehicle or you are going to disturb the animals because they are used to see people inside the vehicle.
9. Don’t miss any single safari! If you do that will be the one when everyone else sees a sloth bear carrying her cubs at its back. Or you know tigers on “honeymoon”. You know that you never know that's a wild life !
10. Being a nature guide or naturalist is tough job. Studying and tracking unpredictable creatures, often putting themselves at risk and following their deep passion for research, conservation or whatever else they’re pursuing takes some real grit. Whenever you’re in the forest, you’re their responsibility. Remember to listen when they speak and thank them for sharing this wealth of information with you (whether verbally or in Rupees / Dollars etc).
Watching, listening, and understanding the behaviours of animals will make your game drive more enjoyable.
Best of luck…
Have you been on safari? What tips would you offer?