Far too much time spent ‘doing’ to be able to keep up with the blog. A few days in Bhutan still to report and time in Kathmandu, but to make this a little more real time, I am now in West Napal in Bardia National Park at Tiger Tops Lodge, where, I was informed, I may see a tiger. Amazingly I did! On first afternoon out in the park. After driving around for a couple of hours seeing deer and monkey and birds by the dozen, we stopped and climbed a viewing tower.
Blissful silence after the noisy rattle of a rather ancient jeep. I was quite content to sit and watch the world go by when suddenly a spotted deer started barking a warning call. As it leapt out of the forest in to full view a tiger strolled nonchalantly out behind.
Amazing, awesome, wow! A wild Bengal tiger. The photos will not win wildlife photographer of the year, but he is most definitely there.
Interestingly the driver, who had been quietly having a snooze in the jeep while we climbed the tower, suddenly appeared up on top too, drawing the trapdoor behind him. No one argues with a tiger.
See how close the poor deer is, I think we saved him as the tiger became a little more interested in us to carry on his hunt.
The lodge is in the ‘buffer zone’ around the edge of the park. Here the local people are allowed to use the forest for firewood, collect food and cut graze of animal feed. Actually in the park it is totally preserved and no one is allowed to use the forest. The villages are all around the edges of the park in the this area, and it is clear how much pressure and conflict there must be between the conservationists and the local population.
This morning I rode around the edge of the park on an elephant, and the villages are built as close as they can be to the boundary, with every last inch of space being used for food production of some kind. Even the roof space of the huts are used for growing melon and pumpkin. But even though wild elephants are not welcomed there was still a trail of kids following full of excitement at seeing one go though their village.