Monday, December 9, 2013
I like cats, even those strays that find themselves in my backyard. I shoo them away just to protect the birds on my feeders but I know they only leave if they choose to; they own whatever territory they are in.
Recently, I had the opportunity to expand my sense of backyard to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in India. There was no guarantee that we would see any tigers as we drove around the national park but we were lucky and saw two, a male and a female, in different parts of the Reserve. Those cats were magnificent. There was no doubt about who owned this territory. I was in awe as I sat in the open Jeep watching them stroll from the brush, unhurried and tolerant of the gawkers snapping their photos.
It is hard to describe the impact of seeing a tiger in the wild. The animal is big, a housecat on unbelievable steroids. It has authority; the sheer bulk of its muscular body demands attention and caution. In this natural setting, its presence is both stunning and formidable. I felt privileged to have had the chance to see them unburdened by any cage, free in their own environment. Someone said that in a zoo people are the observers and the tigers are the observed but it is the reverse at Bandhavgarh – we are the observed and the tigers are the observers.
I found it quite a stunning reversal of awareness. It opens up a new perspective of what it means to co-exist in a world that is home to a great diversity of beings. We need to respect, and often to protect, life in its myriad forms. The Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is doing its part for the tigers.
Here are facts about and the history of Bandhavgarh National Park and its Tiger Reserve:http://projecttiger.nic.in/bandhavgarh.htm