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You bet your WILD ASSES India has LIONS & TIGERS & BEARS, Oh My!


Atravelynn

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Super LEEDS

Thanks, Atravelynn. Your trip reports are always good for the soul :)

 

I think you mentioned it briefly, but I thought it was possible to track the lions on foot yourself. Am I wrong or did you opt-out of this? I recall it in an old BBC documentary: "Last Lions (of India)" or something like that. Perhaps it was the researchers only but they were able to walk up to about 10 meters and sit down with the lions.

 

It was a great start to the docu showing almost African sights and sounds - the indigenous people of the forest look very African! - but then describe the call of the peacock which is NOT African :)

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As long as your eyes can spot the rhinos and the cheetah, PT123, you are in good shape.   What an exciting morning, but it was not over when the wild asses departed. We drove to a desert fox den an

I was impressed too, PT123. I was hoping for a couple of lions on the Asian continentand ended up with much more. I added the late morning drives to increase my odds.       Female Nilg

Atravelynn

Wonderful report.

 

PT123, I'm sure it is predictive text or something more sinister but what word was 'ipreseed' supposed to be?

 

Looks like a horticulture term. I never even noticed the odd word and took it as "impressed." My response, back a few posts, to PT123, was miniaturized into tiny text. I did not intend to do that.

 

 

As I was photographing the drinking hare in quickly fading light, I thought I might be going for a first! Thank you for bestowing that recognition, Sangeeta.

 

I'm glad you liked the hoofed species, Paul.

 

I recall your comment on walking with the lions, Super LEEDS. The rangers definitely were on foot and there were work crews on foot not far from the mother lioness and her two cubs, but there was no opportunity for visitors to get out on foot that I knew of.

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Atravelynn

#4 morning = Inside the park. Today we tried for wolves and were well rewarded. First a distant wolf was spotted briefly and then a very chummy pair not far from the road. Nobody around but CB, me and the nuzzling wolves! Breathtaking!

 

Three wolf sightings in one morning plus one wolf with prey the previous day was very lucky.

 

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All wolf photos are of the cooperative pair of Indian wolves in Velavadar

 

 

The quality of Velavadar sightings, whether canines, the black buck, a glimpse of a wildcat or herds of wild boar was especially impressive given that an underground water pipe at the far edge of the buffer zone had burst just before I got there and flooded a huge area. The standing water lured animals away from the park and from where we could conveniently see them in the buffer zone. CB remarked that he noticed reduced numbers of black buck from what was normal.

 

 

 

 

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From buffer zone

 

 

 

Amazing Coincidence in Velavadar

The owner of Black Buck Lodge also owns gas stations in the town where I grew up. We discussed a restaurant nearby one of his stations, a little place we both knew, halfway around the world from Black Buck Lodge.

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Atravelynn

Little Rann of Kutch (LRK)

Driving from Velavadar to Rann Riders took 5 hours, but we had a 20 minute Sarus Crane stop in between.

 

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Upon arrival at Rann Riders I noticed a policeman near the entrance. The unbuttoned uniform, revealing the officer’s bare chest should have been my first clue this was no ordinary cop. It was a South Indian actor, the brother of some other actor named Charan or Charanj. He was playing a police officer in an upcoming action film that takes place in the desert. Still not sure who he was but he had a sizeable entourage with him.

 

Everybody raved about the quality horses at Rann Riders. I inquired if the horses were used to visit the wild asses. The answer was no so I did not go horseback riding.

The lounge adjoining the restaurant was filled with low-to-the-ground sprawling seats and cushions, giving it a very Arabic look. A peacock often spent afternoons relaxing in the lounge and I enjoyed his company.

 

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Animated conversation with peacock; he was such a good listener

 

 

No advantage to any rooms that I could detect unless being near or far from where meals were served was important. In addition to the resident peacock, there were flocks of geese and chickens for entertainment and large frogs that came out at night from the fountain near the lounge.

 

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Atravelynn

Kittykat, looks like a wonderful trip that really explores India's diversity. http://safaritalk.net/topic/8203-gujarat-and-tadoba-now-with-fully-priced-out-itinery/page__st__20

 

 

LRK drives:

 

 

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Dust and heat required Babulal to take cover..................................................................................................................................................So I watched and learned.

 

#1 afternoon = Enroute to Nawa Talab Lake, about 30 minutes away, we were surprised by a herd of about 8 wild asses in a cotton field alongside the road. There were numerous waterbirds and flocks of flamingos at the lake. About 10 Indian Coursers (a prized sighting) entertained us at a close distance.

 

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Indian Courser

 

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Juveniles along with adults

 

 

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Fly away so at sunset it is a flamingo-free lake

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madaboutcheetah

Enjoying your report, Lynn. Thank You!!!

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Atravelynn

Thanks, Hari!

 

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#2 morning = A 40-minute drive brought us to the desolate rann (expansive dirt field) at 7:30 am. Local naturalist Babulal estimated the wild asses would emerge from the brush at 8:00 am. At 7:55 am we saw a few browsing on bushes at the edge of the open expanse and 5 minutes later about 100 wild asses friskily paraded into the open. I was able to leave the vehicle and sit on the ground and observe them as they greeted the morning sun and each other. Then they crossed the rann to shade and brush on the far side.

 

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twaffle

Lovely photos and I think you look very debonair in your heat and dust protector.

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Apologies Lynn, as you stated, it should have been "impressed" . I blame my poor typing skills and middle aged eyes!

 

 

PS

 

your report keeps getting better and better!

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Atravelynn

As long as your eyes can spot the rhinos and the cheetah, PT123, you are in good shape.

 

What an exciting morning, but it was not over when the wild asses departed. We drove to a desert fox den and saw mom going off to work, leaving one kit to linger near the opening of the den. Perfect timing again Babulal!

 

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Note the white tip of the tail, a marking of the desert fox.

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#3 afternoon = After a 40- minute drive we arrived at the den of the desert fox’s cousin, the Indian fox. There were three kits investigating life outside their den. I was able to sit several meters from the den and enjoy up to three curious kits until the light faded. Wow again! There were a few male wild asses here and there, but we found no herds.

 

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All 3 Indian fox kits are at the den - tip of tail is black in this species

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Indian fox kits

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Atravelynn

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#4 morning = Back to Nawa Talab Lake for morning light on the flamingo flocks, along with a final sighting of my favorite bird, the Hoopoe.

 

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My schedule did not allow a longer drive to/from a more likely location for the wild asses. It was possible that some asses could appear near the lake, but none were around. Just like other vehicles, none around during my time in LRK.

 

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Purple Gallinule in foreground...................................................................................................................................................Demoiselle crane in background

 

 

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From Rann Riders to the airport in Ahmadabad is 2 hours, but allowing 3 in case of traffic problems is a good idea. I met up with Sonali, an Internet and Kenya travel friend, for a delightful lunch, which we enjoyed at a leisurely pace thanks to a last minute schedule change in my flight that gave us plenty of time.

 

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CB, the Dream Catcher, and the Shrine

Upon meeting CB again, I greeted him with some small regional gifts that included a dream catcher made by Native Americans in my community. CB read the attached explanation with interest about the dream catcher trapping the bad dreams to allow only the good dreams to filter through.

 

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Dream catcher

 

On our last morning together, CB recounted a very vivid dream he had just before awaking at dawn. He dreamt he had seen the god Krishna running and playing on the grounds of Rann Riders. The dream was so realistic that he shared it with the manager, who asked if CB recalled where Krishna had been playing. CB explained the exact location where he had seen the god in his dream. The manager was so moved that he vowed to build a shrine on that very spot to honor Krishna. CB mentioned to me that maybe the dream catcher played a role in his vivid and meaningful dream. I like to think it did.

 

Departure

Sitting in the airport in Ahmadabad, I heard what I thought was a cat. I followed the sound to find an orange tom cat mewing in front of the glass doors leading out to the runway. There was a congregation of armed guards nearby so I approached them and said to one, “Excuse me. I noticed there is a cat sitting over there.”

 

He responded, “Do not worry madam; the cat will not attack you.”

 

“Oh, I am not scared of the cat, “I assured him, “I just wondered if it is ok.”

 

“The cat is fine,” he stated gruffly.

 

“But what does it eat?” I asked with concern.

 

“Do not be afraid, the cat will not eat you. It is a ratter. It eats rats.”

 

Thinking it looked rather skinny and wondering if there was an adequate supply of rats, I continued my inquiry, “Is that all it gets to eat, and how does it get water?”

 

Growing weary of my interrogation, the guard reassured me, “The concessions also feed it and give it water.”

 

“Oh good,” I was relieved. “Is he the only cat?” Now I was moving on to companionship issues.

 

“There are two,” snapped the guard and added, “What country are you from madam?”

 

I thought about lying to protect my homeland’s image in the eyes of this security guard who probably felt he was dealing with a foreign nutcase crazy cat lady. But his machine gun discouraged deception on my part. “The United States.”

 

The guard spun around on his heels to indicate our conversation had ended, with a sharp, “Good day, madam.”

 

Although I still had many hours on two planes plus a bus ride before I would get home, that peculiar exchange was the official end of the trip in my mind. That’s when the post-trip blues began setting in, but I was not too sad because in my passport was an Indian Visa, good for another 9 years, 9 months, 2 weeks, and a day.

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twaffle

Those foxes are adorable and you captured the hoopoe so well, I've never managed much in the way of good photos of them. Can't believe the trip is over so soon, that just sped by. Thanks for another wonderful journey through your eyes.

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Lynn, so many things to love about this trip! The wild asses are beautiful and I **loved** the Indian foxes (they are so cute!). It looks like you had good luck at Taj Mahal (any more men asking for photos with you white-knuckled, sans lipstick??). I guess I didn't realize there might be a possibility that I won't see it when I go in March - hopefully your luck will rub off on me!

 

Also, it was nice to see your trip to the Chambal River - WWI added this in for me when they were working up my itinerary and I'm very glad they did because it looks like it was an excellent side trip for you.

 

Haha! And loved those whole cat story upon departure...thanks for perpetuating the image of American women as crazy cat ladies! ;-)

 

Thank you for another wonderful trip report! It makes me even more excited for my trip!!

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Atravelynn

CarrieT, If you visit Taj in a.m. and p.m. I think it would be very unlikely to not see it. This last visit to Taj Mahal was far less harrowing, but still no lipstick. Thanks for bringing back that funny memory.

 

You'll have a wonderful trip.

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Lynn,

These photos are so wonderful!!! I just saw The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel and now, coupled with your photos, am planning to return to India for a trip like yours next year!

Thanks!

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Atravelynn

I need to see that movie, Meleques. Definitely bring your monopod to India.

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Atravelynn

A ready made trip with like minded travel partners awaits you, Melequus!

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