A few days ago, JAWAI and the rest of India celebrated Diwali with characteristic gusto. Occurring on the cusp of summer and winter Diwali is also a reminder that winter is coming and it is a game of droves as the cooler temperatures attract a whole range of birdlife that migrates to Rajasthan, and Jawai. Predators, waterfowl and other kinds come roving to the Jawai Bandh and its surrounding scrubland. So here is a list of some of our favourite winter visitors:
Nature has its own sense of design, its own genre of art. When we stroll through the ancient and timeless landscape of Jawai, this art portrays itself flamboyantly. The hills which turn into islands after the monsoon, leopards who criss-cross the granite kopjes adjacent to villages, a beautiful sunrise across the Kumbhalgarh range of the Aravalli Hills are all a feast for the eyes. Even among the finer elements, the smallest details never fail to engross and amaze.
Valmik Thapar is one of India’s foremost authorities on wildlife and environment matters and amongst the most respected experts on tigers in the world. A prolific author, Valmik has written, edited and compiled more than 30 books over a career spanning four decades, as an advocate for conservation and a voice for environmental causes throughout India. He has also been a member of critical government committees on environmental issues over this long period.
“We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”
– Wallace Stegner, 1980
Tracker Academy Blog
We head out with Bright (one of our trainers at Tracker Academy) in a Land Rover. Scanning for tracks we were going pick up Renias Mhlongo (one of South Africa’s renowned trackers and a trainer at the academy). En route, a leopard leaps out of a bush and seizes an impala from its herd, literally fifteen feet away from our vehicle. By the time we realise what just happened, the leopard (a female) had successfully killed and dragged the impala to the base of a tree. Bright, also stunned with the suddenness of the sighting drives us into the thicket to try and get a closer view of the leopard. In the middle of all this, two hyenas stroll by, possibly attracted by the commotion the impalas created as they witnessed one of their herd snatched by the subtle predator. Relying on their highly acute sense of smell, the hyenas manage to locate immediately the trench in which the carcass and leopard lay under the shade of an acacia. As soon as the leopard hears the hyenas approaching, she bolts, disappearing into the bush and leaving her hard-earned food behind. Within seconds the two hyenas had mangled the impala and erratically tore off its lifeless limbs in a savage frenzy. I will not and cannot for all of our sakes describe the sound of the joints popping out of their sockets or the crack of the bones as they manically devoured the corpse. They laughed in their characteristic way as they competed for the last ounce of flesh and after a mere 20 minutes, the impala was gone.
Vedant Thite and William Asquith, both Rangers from the JAWAI and Sher Bagh Field Teams respectively send their first despatch from the Londolozi Private Game Reserve, where they are attending a three-week training course over the summer. Over the next few weeks we will follow their progress and adventures as they report on their experiences from the African Bush! Stay tuned…
JAWAI is located in the wilderness of the ancient Aravalli Hills. Within these hills lies a semi-pastoral agrarian settlement with wild leopards and an untouched historic culture. Nature is a part of us and we are at one with nature, we are not separate identities. This is what makes JAWAI special. For centuries humans and animals have shared these hills in harmony. Spirituality and culture have been associated with this harmony. People who live with wildlife, shape the future of conservation in the country. At JAWAI, we look into this traditional model of animal-human coexistence. We aim at sharing this relationship as a model for other such wildernesses across the world and with those who visit us.
If PG Wodehouse were to have heard the alarm calls of the cheetal stag which nearly punctured my ear-drums last Monday morning, he would have described it as “a sort of yelp rather like a wolf that sees its peasant getting away…” The stricken-anxiety palely obvious in the yelp of the said deer was instead signalling the approach of a tigress, who looked like a Goddess of Death clearly running late for work, on a manic Monday morning. Read More A Tale of Two Mothers (With Apologies to P.G. Wodehouse!)
Bisalpur Hill, close to our camp JAWAI resembles a steep mountain in the lower Himalayas and has been the home to many Hindu priests and wild animals over the centuries. The ancient Ashapura Mata Ji Temple which is situated half way up the hill, overlooks and is believed to guard the entire Bisalpur Village that lies beneath it. Many pilgrims from all over the country come and pay their regards to the mother goddess at this auspicious temple. On the other side of the hill you are met with stunning views over the agricultural fields & rural farmland below, interspersed with the faint sound of the water being pumped from the irrigation wells. The daily routine of a small rustic village can be witnessed close by. Read More Oh Lakkad Bagga! The Striped Hyena