I grew up listening to this famous poem written by William Blake. My daddy (B. Raghotham Rao Desai) a daring and eminent forest officer was in wildlife division in early eighties and we were very lucky to visit then the Nagarhole National Park (now referred as Rajiv Gandhi National Park) frequently. Daddy would often take us in his Jeep to show us the wilderness of nature. Forest I saw then perhaps I can never see again. Not because it has perished, but because today as a comman man I won't have access to those interior routes ... I always tell my husband (Srinath) who is a nature lover like me, how I wish we met in the times when we had access to such routes.
We would enter forests and spot variety of wild animals from boars to bisons to spotted deers to elephants. I have seen many huge tuskers, I even recollect an incident where a tusker chased our jeep and how petrified we all were! There were days we spotted only rabbits/hares, Dad would tell if you spot rabbit you'll not spot any other wild animal, it's supposed to be sign of calmness of the forest if a rabbit it freely moving around.
As a cat lover from my cradle days, I was fascinated with Tigers. I always grew up believing that the Tiger is the most powerful, more beautiful, most intelligent and most dignified animal in the world. Spotting a tiger never happened and it's a dream even till date. Daddy would show some rock spots and tell us 'This is huli-bande' meaning 'Tiger-Rock', and we would imagine a Tiger sitting on the rock watching around.
I am not sure if we have spotted Tiger or not, because one incident remained doubtful even till date, during our return from a holiday in Kabini, four of us were in our car - Myself, Srinath, Sreekar and Pratibha. Suddenly both me and Srinath spotted a 'tiger/lion like animal body' moving from the left to right ... much after the forest tree line was over ... close to a village. Out of excitement I did not even voice it, my facial expressions made Sreekar spot it's tail. We are not too sure what it was, perhaps a Tiger?
I don't know why Tiger has remained so special to me. It is such a beautiful cat that I sometimes dream of looking after a tiger myself, like how I do with domestic cats. Sometimes when I give a deep thought what I want to really do in my life, the instant answer from within is 'Do something for Tigers!'. I want to do something to save this endangered feline, even if it means putting a stop to rest of my activities. To get a good hold on the subject I often watch documentaries featuring Tigers ... learning about their hunting strategies, their food preferences, their presence worldwide, etc. Joining a Project Tiger as a volunteer would be really great. Hopefully I spend sometime this year to explore this possibility of me volunteering to save Tigers. To educate villagers and comman man about the importance and significance of Tigers in our life would be a good thing to do. Not many know that the protector of Forests, the Tiger is invariably responsible for rains, and thus the farms, thus the grains.
Tiger is not only powerful, efficient and good looking, they are very gentle. Tigers do not steal meat, they do not get into cheap gimmicks in the forest.
Today I remembered those good old Nagarhole Days as I watched a documentary on Tigers in the Discovery Channel covering a Tigress and her four cubs of Madhy Pradesh. It was lush green forest-grassland and these five huge yellow and black striped cats playing in their paradise reminded me of this poem 'Tiger Tiger Burning Bright', but I took the liberty to twist the next line to 'In the Forest of Daylight'.
Long Live Tigers!