Thursday, December 31, 2015

Jungle Diaries - A prologue

Memories of those days start from the initial impressions received about the entire activity from a friend. After hearing about the stories and the possibilities of volunteering for the wildlife cause, my imagination was triggered. Though I was somewhat skeptical and unsure about the whole thing at first, I decided to send in my application. At the time of submission, I was unsure if I would be selected, owing to my lack of prior experience, and I also had my tight schedules at work to deal with.

Within a few days, I was fully focused on matters at work and had forgotten all about this. Only when I received a mail notifying me to report to the Bannerghatta range, did I realize that I have been selected. But I was disappointed at having been allocated a semi urban reserve and tried hard to get in touch with the officials to get to know more about the reserve. The range officer in charge was rather welcoming and wished me to come over and have a 'nice' time. On my question as to whether any serious wildlife spotting could be done, his response was negative. I also realized that re-allocation wasn't possible without connections. So I let that idea rest.

Now, I was in a real fix. Being the first time I was attempting such an activity, I didn't want to spoil it over my higher expectations. On the other side was my manager whom I had to convince to get a week's leave from my responsibilities. After a bit of reflection, I decided to go ahead, as I knew I would enjoy it to whatever extent possible. Fortunately, my manager was supportive of the cause and asked me to prepare well and get back alive :)

Upbeat with this, and with support from friends, I started preparing for the one week stay in the earnest. It was during this time, that I noticed an NGO calling for volunteers for the same census to Bandipur National Park. I decided to try my luck and dropped my name into this list too, and to my fortune got selected through this list. Excited to be able to enter the famed tiger reserve on foot with official backing, my preparations went on with renewed vigour.

The clock ticked and finally the day was near. I had just finished 2 years at work, and after a memorable team lunch, I waved goodbye for the longest leave I had taken till then in my career.
With my bag packed with essential camouflage and equipment, I set off to Mysore, my old base for last minute acquisitions. With the help of some good friends, I got the much needed sleeping bag and binoculars as well.

Counting my lucky stars, and motivated by all the support, I set out alone early next morning, towards the jungle with high spirits, not fully knowing how my life would never be the same again.

To be continued..

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