Adventure

Kaziranga

'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity '
John H.Eickert

I had a bit of time to myself and wanted to sit and take into memory the smell and feel of the place where I was. It had been a special morning, an early, early jeep ride to climb atop an elephant, swaying-ducking through shadowy trees, then tall river grass, as the dawn yawned to life bringing pinkish blue mist to the banks of the wide Brahmaputra . We spotted wild buffalo on a small gravel bar, sambar and swamp deer near the forest, and much to my delight two Indian one-horned rhino. To me, a rhino appears to be an animal, which couldn't, shouldn't exist. Their odd head, long torso, and armor-protection skin make me think of some animal, conjured from a child's nightmare. To my sensibility, a rhino just doesn't seem possible. Yet, of course, they are, for now. Poachers take a heavy toll of these docile creatures and every year their habit diminishes and becomes ever more fragmented.

While I stood there committing Kaziranga to memory, I noticed a small leech trying to attach itself to my leg. It was on a branch of a small bush next to me. It stretched and re stretched, forming ‘S's in the air all the while holding onto the branch. I became spellbound witnessing this struggle for life on a small scale. The leech stretched and re stretched, formed and reformed. I leaned in as I watched. I stepped away and the leech rested on the branch. A horn honked in the distance and it was time to take the jeep back to Guwahati. Tomorrow would have me in a bus down the river to Calcutta .

For centuries, the source of the Brahmaputra was a mysterious riddle. Now it is known that it rises on the distant Tsangpo plateau. Somehow it flows south, then east before creating an enormous end run around the Greater Himal to flow west through India before turning south again to empty into the Bay of Bengal. The course of the Brahmaputra forms a giant ‘S.' I thought about the leech and the river while breezing along in the open jeep. I thought about rhino's in the morning river mist. I committed the smells, sights and sounds to mind knowing they would soon be replaced by different smells, sights, and sounds, those of Calcutta . The jeep jerked to a halt at my hotel in Guwahati. I thanked the driver and went up for a nap.

Kaziranga is a very special place, not only in India , but also in the entire world. There are those other special power places, names like Yellowstone , Kruger, and Madidi, where wildlife and man can meet on peaceful terms. With much work and great luck, maybe we can always have them with us. Maybe. I hope each of you gets a chance to visit Kaziranga and when you do, I hope you can take more time than I did. Maybe, just maybe, I will find the time to return. Cheers!

(Photograph Of one- horned rhinos-Susan Sharma)

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