We awoke this morning to the news that only 4 kms away in the local village - 3 people had been attacked by a tiger and killed. Park Rangers had sealed off the village with the intention of darting the tiger and removing it to a more remote location.
Didn't seem to bother our guide as he took us straight through the zone in the Central section and back out along the track leading to the watch tower overlooking the nearby lake.
A very large herd of wild elephants with calves were happily feeding on the foreshores and it was truly a sight to behold.
We sit peacefully for a while watching them before the herd moves off into the tall grass. Suddenly there is a mass of shrilled trumpeting signalling danger followed by the roar of a Royal Bengal tiger.
Our guide Polous interprets the sounds as they come...it appears the herd has stumbled onto a tiger who was waiting in ambush in the hope of separating a calf for a kill. The battle sounds emenating from the grass are body trembling and horrendous. After about 3 minutes silence returns to the waterhole. We ask Polous for his opinion as to the possible outcome and he seems convinced that the tiger lost the battle. All the same, this is the same area that Rangers are looking for a rogue tiger, so we move cautiously off.
Half way back to the main entrance, we glimpse the head of a rhino peeking around a tree. We decide to stop and wait & see if it will venture out onto the track. Our patience is rewarded as both a male and female rhino emerge from the grass and commence to walk towards us.
They appeared totally unfazed by either our vehicle or us (remember not to stand up or hang out of the vehicle as it breaks the outline of what an animal sees)
Our afternoon drive starts off with a rare surprise. We come across a Park mahout and his female elephant togther with a young 4 month baby called "Vishinasina". She was a load of fun, racing up to the vehicle when called, stretching her trunk out to be patted before scurring back to mum only to return minutes later.
Further on up the track, we come across another Park mahout and his elephant, only this time they are on their daily patrol on the lookout for problems or poaching. These Park Rangers live in isolated houses in the Park on a 6 month rotational duty with their elephants and are unarmed. In the event of trouble, the radio in for a special armed unit to their location.
We continue out to the West watch tower for sunset. There is a myriad of waterfowl and birds with a few elephants on the opposite bank.
Over 1km away a lone rhino is seen on the edge of the grassland. A small grey object is seen running around the rhino. a hard look through the video camera revealed a small 1 week old baby rhino happily playing in the mud around Mum....what an special sight....it was truly comical as he/she ran around falling in the mudholes. Unfortunately too far for photos and only some brief grainy video.
As the sun finally set, a lone male rhino walked out into the water and appeared to walked almost totally submerged to a small island of fresh lake weed....what some people will do for a meal.(too far for photos, but some very grainy video)
The end of our first NAtional Park experience......