On October 20, 2012, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India lifted the ban on tiger safari in the core areas of National Parks with the condition of adhering to the guidelines notified by the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Certainly the decision has given us the chance to watch wildlife in the core areas. Although, the permission is granted only for 20% of the core area, it’s good enough to offer you an exhilarating wildlife holiday experience, provided you don’t risk yourself or the wildlife while safari. So whether you’re planning to spot the big cat in Jim Corbett National Park or the Jumbo playing in waters in Mudumalai National Park or the robust Rhino in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, or the turtles on the sandy shores of Orissa, you should be a little careful about wildlife viewing and maintaining an etiquette that is essential for wildlife’s well-being in its natural habitat. Here are certain guidelines which may be useful for you as well as for the endangered fauna:
Plan your trip
For a wildlife expedition, always plan the trip in advance to save time, money and the most importantly your energy. Chart your wildlife adventure travel; find out the efficient way to get from one point to another, preferably the shortest routes with least hurdles. Make sure to pack only those articles which are essential. It’s important for you to travel light. Research the wildlife you want to spot as well as the destination you are traveling to. Determine the best place for spotting animals and birds.
Choose season carefully
Always choose the peak wildlife season. While travelling in India, avoid going wildlife chasing in monsoon – firstly it’s the breeding season, secondly, all national parks close during monsoon and reopens on November 15 every year, and thirdly, it’s nearly impossible to tread the swampy and muddy forest trails which often washed out in rains. But it’s also to be noted that traveling with the rest of the vacationing bunch can be highly stressful and can usually create a more negative impact on your overall experience. If you can take the time off, try scheduling your trips during the season that doesn’t coincide with public holidays. There may be chances that you’ll get accommodation and rented vehicle at discounted rates.
A Typical Bhabar Area of Himalayan Foothills in Rajaji National Park; Photo: Deepak Asthana
Travel with a professional guide
One should always use an experienced, professional guide for a wildlife safari, because, he’s is the person who knows the forests and its inhabitants the best. Guides understand what it takes to stay safe in jungle, and will enhance your experience with their knowledge.
Never feed wild animals
Wild animals are the most unpredictable creatures and it’s extremely difficult to understand their behavior. Feeding them may affect their behaviors, and make them aggressive.
While on the vehicle
If you’re in an open vehicle, don’t stand up at any time, unless your guide tells you it’s alright. And make sure that you never get out of the vehicle if you’re self-driving the vehicle.
While on foot
While treading the jungle on your foot, try to stay downwind from the animal. Animals are highly sensitive to smells and scents. Don’t try to run away if you encounter an animal. Try to move back slowly, steadily, and quietly.
Never go alone
Some people prefer to go alone to enjoy the solitude. But during wildlife adventure travel at least in pairs. If you’re alone and met with an accident in the wild; it can jeopardy your life. Honey bee attacks and snake bites are the most common and are probably the most lethal.
Look for more than just sight
The forest often hides away the real beauty and the mighty beast from you. And you’re lucky if spot a tiger roaming around its territories, for it’s extremely shy. Besides this, most of wild creatures are nocturnal and remain elusive during the day time; therefore in your wildlife trip, don’t focus merely on sight, listen to the sounds and detect the smells. It may be possible you’ll prove lucky.
The best way to prolong a wildlife watching experience is to avoid disturbing the birds and animals you’re watching. Maintain an appropriate distance. Avoid flash photograph and maintain a distance of at least 275 meters for photography. Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to observe an animal’s behavior. Turn off headlights, car engines and alarms and cell phones. It’s often seen that tourist chase animals and corner them to take photographs, but this irritates animals, leading to their aggressive behavior.
Be a responsible traveler. Leave no trace of your travel and don’t take anything from the forest except taking some photographs and happy memories of wonderful wildlife experience.
Don’t support unsustainable trades
Be a smart shopper. Know what you’re buying. Before paying even a penny make sure that what you’re buying is not from the endangered or threatened species of animals.