We were four friends who accidentally landed up at Dhikala on our way to Nainital in 1987. We were very lucky that during our first visit itself we spotted a tiger. The experience of seeing a free tiger in a jungle is unique and beyond words. The feeling in all of us was that of pure delight and the excitement of a few seconds/minutes was incomparable with any other type of happiness/glee encountered by us in life. A glimpse of the tiger satisfies for the moment but thereafter leaves a unsatisfied hunger in the man's mind.
Two of our friends did not consider the experience of encountering a tiger as thrilling and did not come back to Dhikala. My friend Ajay and I continued to come to Jim Corbett National park to have a glimpse of the tiger and to experience the same feelings which we had the first time. For the first seven years of our visits we came only to see the tigers nothing else and we used to get disappointed when our visits were not fruitful. Frequent nearness to the jungles made us realize that there are abundant other natures gifts that should also be enjoyed. We started looking at birds, rivers, sots, bathias trees, sunrises, sunsets, and other natural things besides animals. The joy and happiness we still have in just seeing these natures gift is just great. In the beginning the jungle looked quiet but now it appears to be rhythmic and full of activity.
Whenever we were lucky to spot the tiger we were happy and intoxicated and came back to CTR like stubborn alcoholics. Whenever we were unlucky to not spot a tiger we were sad and unfulfilled as if our beloved has not met us because of her cruel designs and making us wait for the meeting and the result was that we came back to CTR with lesser intervals as the waiting became intolerable. It appears that now meeting or not meeting a tiger is unimportant and we have to come back to CTR as our destiny.
During the period of 10 years we started feeling that our friends and relations were drifting away from us because we used to run away to jungles on every opportunity and there was no time with us for association with near and dear ones. Some of the remarks by them were not complimentary as they indicated towards gap in our intelligence. In order to make them understand the lure of jungles we persuaded our friends and relatives to come with us to CTR and experience the feelings themselves. It appears that the bug has bitten some of them and now they can appreciate the value of good company with forests. They can now appreciate the beauty in natural surroundings and see that the tension which accumulates in the cities is dissipated in the jungle atmosphere. Peace and harmony returns when you look at the blue sky. We all may admit that what we seek in life is peace and joy. The way of seeking the ultimate goal and the field in which we are seeking may be different from man to man, from place to place and from time to time but all of us are demanding the same everywhere and at all times. Joy or peace as generally understood, is that which we experience when in external circumstances, we come to live a pattern of things which we have demanded for ourselves at a given period of time and place. The demand of a man may be physical, mental or intellectual and the perfect satisfaction comes from proximity to nature.
The first glimpse of the jungles gives rise to the expressions of wonderment, joy and ecstasy at the shocking visions of beauty in nature's exuberance. The luxurious nature of Himalayas girdles with cascading rivers has a captivating might and power, which makes the simple hearts dance in joy and ecstasy. You serenely bow and worship the dignity of mountains, the majesty of sunrise, the beauty of moon, the music of the jungle, the flow of rivers , the movements and plays of animals etc.. And through their different songs there runs a uniform chord of an imperceptible cognition of An ever elusive power behind the phenomenal happenings which orders, regulates and maintains a clear harmony amidst the seeming discord in the outer world. Unfortunately the man has become destructive and the boons of nature are being tarnished. Over the last 10 years we have felt helpless and wonder if the CTR will be able to give as much joy and ecstasy to the next generation as it has given to generations before us.
Over the years we have wondered if we would be able to contribute towards preservation of the forest and its animals and particularly tigers. In order to equip ourselves we have been indulging in various other activities concerning this, they are:
I) Reading about forests and animals
II) Visiting other nature parks
III) Becoming members of NGO's
IV) Giving donations to concerned organization
V) Helping increase awareness in friends and relations
VI) Photographing and conducting slide shows at home
Our regular visits to the CTR has helped us in making a good and respectful relationship with the staff and helped in becoming a keen wild life lover. In march 1997 we were instrumental in saving the life of a elephant calf which was stuck in quicksand. We helped in rescuing the calf but were forced to abandon him since the mother arrived. Nothing could be done hence we left the mother and baby together for nature to take its own course. Next day the director on his round found the elephant calf's body half eaten by a tiger. The news of the rescue had spread and subsequently we had an opportunity to meet the director of CTR, Mr. R. C. Gautam.
The meeting with Mr. Gautam was very interesting and educative and gave us a hope that the tiger is not doomed to extinction in next five years or ever if such dedicated people are there to lay the foundations of tiger safety. He informed us about the Tiger Census in may in which government intended to invite NGO's and volunteers to bring transparency to the census. This information appeared to us like god granting our wish and asking us to take the first step towards preserving the beauty of nature. Accordingly we sent our request to become volunteers in the forthcoming tiger census.