On the morning of 17th Nov, 2014, when we started from Gairal FRH in search of our favourite subject –tiger, we saw a lot of pug marks starting from Debaria Chaud and going down towards the Tiraha past FRH. At the Tiraha, we could make out two different set of marks, one was that of a tigress going towards Shikari Batia (Hunters’ Hideout) Track and other going towards the track going through river bed towards high bank. We decided to go towards the Shikari Batia first, as in our hearts we were expecting that this Tigress may be the same which we saw last season with its four cubs. I was sceptical about one of its cubs developing habit of attacking on humans, as the cubs would almost be adult by now. As we proceeded, we stopped on the almost dry river bed to see any tell tale signs of presence of a Tiger. There were none! However, what I saw was this Crested Kingfisher also called as Himalayan Crested Kingfisher or Crested Pied Kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris). It can grow up to 40 cms in length and is found mainly on Himalayas and its foothills near river banks and river beds. I could not resist clicking a few pictures before we proceeded further. However, despite our best efforts we could not find the traces of any tiger on this route.
When we came back to FRH later that morning, my friends and avid wild lifers - Vishal Verma and ALok Kumar were busy photographing some birds at FRH while me, Nischal Goel and Ajit Singh were sitting with Mr. Devender of Forest Department ay Gairal FRH, when he narrated the incidence about how a few days back, a Tiger attacked a Forest Department Personnel, when he was going with two other colleagues for patrolling in jungle on foot. This patrolling on foot in jungle may seem to be an insane idea to some of my readers, but the fact is that this is necessary to thwart off any poaching efforts by miscreants. If the jungle officials will travel on vehicle, the poachers will get alert by the noise of the engine and will run away or hide from the eyes of these officials. Further the terrain of the jungle here is very difficult and the vehicles can only be used on laid out tracks. However, the officers are required to go deep in jungle to areas where vehicles cannot reach and keep vigil.
So on that fateful day, these officers had hardly walked less than 200 meters to the ‘Tiraha’ (three way) just below the Garial FRH, when the tiger attached one of the persons from the back and tried to bite on his lower back. The person fell down because of sheer force and sudden attack. The other two persons started shouting and with the help of bamboo sticks and stones chased the tiger away before it could cause more damage. As the lone vehicle at FRH had gone to city for getting provisions, the fellow officers after sending wireless message for sending vehicle urgently, carried the injured colleague on a cot for about 5 kms where the vehicle reached to take the person for medical care. Slowly the technology is making way to the working of these officers now. In a couple national parks in India now drones are being used for patrolling, I hope that JCNP will also get a fleet of its own drones to continue patrolling and keeping vigil more efficiently and also more safely.
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