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Enigmatic India

This blog captures the life experiences of the Enigmatic India team in the beautiful and enigmatic country of India.We capture our experiences through our writings, photos and products that depict the very essence and fabric of India.Through this platform, we invite you to join us in our journey as we explore.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

People Around Us "Safari Guides"

The scorching heat of Central India was quite unbearable in May and sitting in an open gypsy (Jeep) we were quite anxious to quickly get into the Kanha Tiger Reserve safari ride. The previous two rides being unsuccessful in terms of sighting a tiger were weighing down on us and the kids were very eager to have a view of this majestic creature during this safari.

“Uncle who is going to be your guide asked one of them? Hope it is someone who is lucky”. That reminded me of a trip back in 2007 and a similar situation. With two safaris down and last one pending the family was eager to see a tiger in the wild. There came a guide  “KK” (popularly known in Kanha) who guaranteed us a sighting and before the ride was over he fulfilled his promise. Since then we had high regards for KK…but over the next few years we never got a chance to meet KK. This time around, I said to the kids may be it will be “KK” and soon after our driver comes back and mentions “we have the Chottu(small) guide with us”. I knew it was KK and when he appeared there was excitement around in the Gypsy. Rest is history…we had a wonderful sighting of Bhima at the BabaThenga lake in Mukki zone and to everyone’s heart content. Thank you KK.
Guides at Kanha Tiger Reserve,
Well the intent is not to describe my ability to prophesize or our excitement in finally seeing the majestic creature. It’s all about the Ecosystem around Safari parks and how the People around us make the experience good for us. Typically, most of the wildlife/Tiger Reserves are located in remote locations and adjoining a small village or hamlet. There would be a small road leading up-to the gate of the park and one can see a few Dhabas (restaurants), general stores, Handicrafts shops, Memorabilia shops and the Forest department offices. Off course there are the houses of the villagers and then comes the milieu of Resorts and Hotels.

There are many people who work in this eco-system who contribute to your experience. The hotel/resort staff, the shop keepers, the gypsy drivers, the forest staff (rangers, guards etc.) and finally the Safari Guides.  Most of us travel to such places, enjoy things around and come back to the urban jungle. Back there, the life still goes on and it is quite interesting to know & appreciate that there is a certain rhythm to this whole thing. The Tiger reserves operate only for 8 months during the year and between June and October these are closed to tourists. This is a period of emptiness and most of the things probably go back to a dormant mode, only to wake up in late Sept or mid October.
The question that comes to mind “What happens to the people?, “How do they earn their livelihood? “How does the ecosystem survive, that is so dependent on us (tourists)”.  “Why they chose this profession”? Also, what do they think about tourists, the forest, the government etc.
In this series, we would like to introduce you to two such key people i.e. “Safari Guide”, and “Gypsy driver”. The first in the series is an interview with “Neeraj  Pareste”, Safari Guide in Kanha Tiger Reserve.

Finally, we reckon that safari guides like KK, Neeraj, Tomar (all from Kanha), Bhupinder (at Ater), Baney Singh (at Bharatpur National Park), Neelkanth, Shravan, Dashrath (from Tadoba Tiger Reserve) and numerous other are an important part of our lives during such journeys and we owe then a  big thank you...

(Contributed by Enigmatic India team)

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