In search of Sher Khan: Day 1

(I wrote this post last week, actually the following two posts as well. I couldn’t post this before because there was no internet connection and I wanted to add some photos too.)

Have you guys seen The Jungle Book yet? If you haven’t, please do. Its a very well made film and its quite an experience watching it on the big screen.
The Jungle Book has been a part of my childhood, as it has been for a few generations before me and as it will be for many generations to come. We have grown up with Mowgli and the film took me back to my childhood. My only regret would be not watching it in Hindi (yet) and so there was no ‘jungle jungle baat chali hai’.
But this post is not about the film. I am in Pench, Madhya Pradesh right now. It is a tiger reserve in Seoni, the home of Mowgli. The Seoni jungle is where The Jungle Book is based. We are here in search of the elusive Mr. (or Mrs.) Sher Khan.
We are going on our first safari here today.
Its an evening safari and we get in the gypsy at our hotel. Our guide tells us that there has been a tiger sighting in the morning safari, so we are pretty excited.
The jungle around us hardly looks like a jungle. The trees are spaced out and most of them do not have a single leaf on them. Dry, thin tree limbs reach out over the fading evening sky.

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The heat is subsiding and the weather is pleasant. The gypsy leaves behind dust clouds as it moves on the road. Everywhere we turn, we see greys and dull yellows. Suddenly, a flash of brilliant blue makes us stop our jeep. A peacock struts into view. We are all amazed at the its colour. The blue that we term ‘peacock blue’ in paints and fabrics is nowhere close to the natural colour.

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The first peacock garners some attention. But we soon realise that peacocks are very common in the jungle. Now, we don’t point out the next one we see but I am still marvelling at the colour.
We see many other birds too-owls, kingfishers, eagles, a tiger bird (so called because of its black and gold stripes), and many others I don’t know the names of.

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We see a pack of wild dogs, jackals and their cubs, sambar, hards of spotted deer, nilgai, bisons and monkeys.

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The jungle is alive around us and we keenly listen to its various sounds.
We go towards the river where animals gather for water. The area around the river is open and almost flat. We see storks and other birds near the water, along with a herd of deer.
But we don’t see the black and gold stripes.
We move on to another track and see another peacock. But this one has its tail feathers unfurled and it looks beautiful and graceful. We think it signals rain and as if on cue we hear distant thunder. Soon, the sky becomes cloudy, lightning flashes and huge, cold raindrops spatter on our faces. The wind picks up and blows dust all around us. The dry leaves on the ground are rushing away in the wind. The jungle is filled with the sounds of the rustling of leaves, the thundering and the rain.

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Our safari is almost at an end. We enjoy the weather as we move towards the exit gate.
Sher Khan has managed to remain hidden.
Our search continues…

Photo Credits: My sister, my dad and well, me 🙂

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