25 November 2010


I'm a bit disturbed that I had to tell my boss at WWF that there's a climate summit happening in Cancun next week...

I really hate climate politics. But I hope this year's summit has more to offer than Copenhagen. That said, here's a couple of stories on the build up to COP 16, do read:
Aaaand a story on the tiger summit in St. Petersburg. I suppose it is good news. Although I'm pretty sure the previous deadline for doubling the numbers was 2020. Either way, Leo DiCaprio is a hero of note.

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24 November 2010

Back In the Homeland

Hello there :) It's been a while since I last posted. The last month has been insane with exams and general craziness and drama but finally things are back to normal (I hope - haha, the sun breaking through the leaves really goes metaphorically with that sentence :P).

As of last week, I'm out of South Africa and back home in Delhi. After three days of flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg to Mumbai to Delhi, I arrived home only to be put in the car for a seven hour drive to a weekend away in Jim Corbett National Park. Totally worth the exhaustion. It was only my second visit to an Indian national park as well as the weekend of my birthday, needless to say, I was excited. Unfortunately we only got to go on 2 and a half game drives. The half drive being a night adventure around the buffer zone of the park while listening to the guide rambling about some nonsense. The first two drives were quite uneventful in terms of sightings but still beautiful. Highlights - wild boar, spotted deer (they're impala equivalents in terms of abundance, but I'm new to this so I find them amazing), sambar, various birds, and the best, my Great Indian Hornbill :D The third drive was spectacular. We left the resort early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark and the full moon was still shimmering off the Ramganga. By the time we got to the park, the sun had risen and the light was perfect for photos. Hopefully I'll manage to find some stunning picture of the sun's rays shining through the forest canopy (taken while we stopped to watch/smell/listen for tiger activity). The setting in general was perfect, textbook deciduous forest, prime tiger habitat. Absolutely humbling to be in one of the few pristine parts of the country unbothered by human presence. To top that off, it's littered with tiger/leopard pugmarks.

there were signs of tiger activity everywhere :)

Anyway, here's the main point of the story, we were busy tracking/waiting for a tiger in this lovely open stretch of a monsoon riverbed right on the edge of the forest, 90% sure that he was chilling in the tall grass in front of us. That chase itself was suspenseful, then this other car drove past us saying there was a tiger on Sambar Road so we sped off to find it. On the way, while crossing a riverbed, we found a little keel-backed water snake chilling in the water next to the road - very cute.

Finally, we joined a little group of cars and started looking for this tiger in the thick bush. Eventually, we spotted it, basking in the sun behind thick foliage, lazing in true cat-like style. Every now and then, he twitched his ears. If we were lucky, he raised his head a bit and then went back to sleep. If we were really lucky he'd give us a little show, roll onto his back and then lie on his other side. All in all, it wasn't a great sighting, but any glimpse of orange and black stripes is a serious treat. There are no words to describe what it's like watching a tiger in its natural habitat. One of only about 3200 wild tigers right before your eyes - breathtaking, it really puts you in your place. It would've been great to stay with the tiger till it got up, but we had to leave him and drive back to Delhi. Still, best birthday present ever :) The pictures aren't great, but they're something:

I'm so used to the African safari setting that any game drive in India is a shock to my system. The atmosphere, the ecosystem, the wildlife, the setup, it's all so different (sometimes not in a good way but we'll save that for a rant in another post). Put me on a drive in the veld/savanna back in South Africa and I'm at home, but in India I'm totally out of my element. It's embarassing how little knowledge I have of Indian wildlife, especially birds. But I'm working on it and have bought all the necessary field guides :)

Anyway, now that I'm home and have nothing (sort of) to stress about, my brain is back in the zone and ready to be productive again. Here's what's up:
- working on my life list, getting serious about birding
- interning at WWF-India (today = day 1)
- hectic blog rambles about lots of interesting things
- back to planning that India-SA scheme of mine from last year, maybe I'll scale down and not go with the original plan of creating an NGO :P
- getting a headstart on next year's bio stuff *shock horror*

That's all I can ramble about today :)

Oh one more update - I'm now 19 and in 2nd year :)

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