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Perched high on my Chitwan mount, Chan Chun Kali Jacks, I envisage going completely native. It’s either cool and dry in winter or wet and hot in summer. Dhani, my eagle-eyed guide on these excellent adventures, interrupts my reverie by pointing out a python’s sinuous track. An adult chital deer weighs at least 80 kilos, more than me. Maybe I’m not Mowgli material after all because now I don’t feel so safe on Chan Chun Kali Jacks.
It looks like a log has been dragged in soft earth. I saw a clip on You Tube of a tiger attack in an Indian national park.
This is a rare chance encounter with another guest. Guess I can go home now, got to see what I come for.’ ‘What did you see? I can barely see the looming Himalaya Mountains much less a striped cat running through its perpendicular patterns. Later, I return to Chandra Kali to assuage my disappointment. While I roll back into the dirt, arms akimbo and legs buckled, I am convinced that she is laughing with me.
We quietly exchange notes from an elephant trunk’s distance. [caption id="attachment_2148" align="alignnone" width="369"] A tiger the writer didn't see in Royal Chitwan National Park.[/caption] From the first day, I feel like a latter day Mowgli.
Each morning I purloin a few apples and bananas from the breakfast buffet to share with my favourite elephant at Tiger Tops.
Mischievously, I pull her tail and dash around to twirl her trunk like it’s a whirly-gig. Her companions are all adults and I believe that my playmate misses roughhouse play with a creature closer to her size.
I’m on an old fashioned shikari minus the trophy hunting.
My goal is to see as many live animals as possible, to try to understand them and gain a better sense of this remote region. ‘Yes, but not the biggest, I’ve seen one swallowing a whole chital.’ [caption id="attachment_2151" align="alignnone" width="259"] Indian Rock pythons can grow to eight metres.[/caption] Sambar and chital deer roam these grasslands between the riverine jungles in huge herds. ‘Sure, but the tigers, the gaur, the rhinos and the marsh mugger crocodiles are more dangerous.’ He mentions four large indigenous animals casually.
Tigers are the star attractions here, and like most large predators, they sleep for nearly twenty hours per day.
‘I can’t see it Dhani,’ I say, which has been my refrain since arrival. Tim Edwards, one of Tiger Tops’ owners tells me that Dhani is completely lost in a city so I feel slightly less inept.
The Edwards family began Tiger Tops more than forty years ago as a privately owned luxury camp set in a remote wilderness, its primary purpose being to educate visitors about the wonders of wild Nepal.
Their constant presence is a strong deterrence to would-be poachers.
The education programme set up by the Tiger Tops’ management team and the Nepal’s Parks and Wildlife Service engages successfully with surrounding villages whose combined efforts have turned the corner to conservation’s favour.