Being the son of a Forest Conservator, there are a few wild life sanctuaries in India that I haven’t visited, Corbett, Kaziranga, Ranthambore, Iravikulam. But the number of times we have been able to spot wild life are very rare, and when it did happen, the joy of people around me was boundless. On many occasions, we had returned empty handed, as far as seeing wild life in Periyar lake or Parambikulam or Wayanad.
Going to Ooty from Bangalore via Mysore, Gudalur we have to pass through MUDUMALAI Wild Life Sanctuary. It comes after you cross Mysore and Bandipur sanctuary. Going with friends in a Toyota Innova is fun when we are quietly sipping beer, breaking local rules of a Wild Life Reserve.
It is the rainy season, thick luscious grass everywhere and at 6 am there is a hint of a mist rolling in. A herd of elephants is looking at us, the sight is all the more fun as there were two baby elephants twirling their small trunks wondering what they are for. We take snaps and within another kilometer we are surprised by two huge muscular wild bisons, standing next to the road and chewing the fresh grass, their white bands on their lower legs and horns that look very menacing, warn us to move on.
Wild boars are supposed to be very secretive and always on the alert for predators, seeing one with its mini tusks curved forward, just twenty metres from the road grunting and staring at us, was a treat. At Gudalur, we went on foot with a guide deep into the forests, the guide said, “ near jungle water hole, a kilometer away, we will be able to see animals coming for a drink”.
We had hardly settled down near the muddy pond when we heard the noise of hoofs and yelps. Two orange coloured wild dogs had managed to separate a small spotted deer from its herd, the poor deer was flying with full speed towards us near the lake. Oblivious to our presence , the dogs closed in and clamped its jaws on the throat of the deer, one already tearing its skin, from its hind.
The two girls with us did not want to see the gory end and closed their eyes with their palms, the guide was about to get up and chase away the dogs. I pulled him back and told him not to interfere with nature and its fragile cycle of life and death. The still steely blue eyes of the dog stared at us lifelessly, it entrails colouring the soil with red blood.
Three elephants came charging at the canine rogues, trumpeting and raising their trunks. The dogs were sent scattering and we decided it was time to move on. We got back to our Innova with the sounds of red and black mountain squirrels chirping from the tree tops, a crowd of green parrots swept past us like the jets over the NDA Parade ground during passing out.
We were about to have a sip of water from our bottles when the guide told us the water in the jungle stream next to the road has medicinal value. We thanked him, paid him off and were on our way, up the twisting road to Ooty and Ratan Tata Memorial Guest House.
Happy Touring India!!
Major V.M.Rajan served in the Indian Army , for close to twenty
years, travelling to all corners of this vast beautiful country.
He has a flair for writing, and makes articles that are rivetting and