The Tadoba Trail… …in the words of Rtn. Shernaz Vakil…
The ‘ping’ from our WhatsApps at 6:14 am, from Navroze announcing that he was already checked in, hustled all of us thirty gung-ho Rotarians, well in time, for our 8:30am flight to Nagpur. We were on our way to the famous and much anticipated Tadoba Tiger Reserve to encounter the elusive tiger! Three hours and a ten-car-long cavalcade later we were at our destination at the Iria Safari resort. Our first Safari into the jungles was about to begin.. Leaving the resort in pre-designated jeeps and the anticipation of a wild encounter, we could hardly have imagined what we were about to see! Barely ten minutes into the bamboo jungle (which at this time of the year had dried into the perfect camouflage for the majestic beast we were out to Team Tadoba – RCB’s Wildlife enthusaists March 15 to March 21, 2016 The Bulletin of the Rotary Club of Bombay Page 7 see), we stopped at a watering hole and there was ‘Sonam’ in all her glory.
Resting in the grass after having consumed part of a large antelope kill, she was surrounded by her cubs which began to emerge and soon splash into the water. We could hardly contain our excitement! Here we were, within the first hour of our Safari, encountering the glorious striped beast in its natural surroundings, watching a show that is a once in a lifetime experience! Lady luck seemed to be not just on our side, but also in our midst! At every subsequent Safari, most of us saw different tigers, who we soon became quite familiar with, by name! As all the jeeps would disperse in different directions, one group would have seen the other female Maya or Before we could settle down and wait, another jeep informed us of a sighting nearby of ‘Maya’, and we dashed off in the other direction. On our way back, lo and behold!
At the very stop that the deer had forewarned us sat the most magnificent male tiger, enthroned by the roadside, camouflaged in the drying grass! We just clicked in excitement and watched him enthusiastically till we were ushered away by the forest ranger, because the famous Valmick Thapar was on an official tour. We had just read of him the night before as the force behind Indira Gandhi, to save the dying King of the jungle. It is through their efforts that Tadoba is now populated with at least 160 tigers. The nights on the trip were as exciting and eventful as the days – we would go up into the hotel machaans, spirited not only by the day’s events but also other libations and the copious snacks provided by the generous Malti and Arin, who made sure all hunger pangs and preferences were well met! As the evening drew closer, our fun and games grew louder!
Ashish and Gopi managed to prod each couple into sharing their love stories. The cool nights got warmer as we grew closer in camaraderie, woven a little bit more into the lives of all our companions. President Sonya (mellow from the early morning starts) looked encouragingly at her brood of boisterous cubs! The trip to Tadoba was indeed fellowship in its truest sense – the coming together of fellow Rotarians in the midst of natural beauty with nothing to distract them but themselves and of course the not so elusive Striped King!