1.6 Into the Wild
Part I – Lost in the jungle
In this topic, the writer Kiran Purandare gives a thrilling account of his being lost in the jungle of Umbarzara. This excerpt is from his book ‘Sakha Nagzira’. The writer had come to this place for his research – to observe birds & note their behaviour.
He had built a ‘hide’ to observe the birds without being seen. A hide is a shelter disguised by covering it to make it blend with the surroundings. It is mostly used by forest travelers & Wild Life researchers.
The writer had completed his day’s work. It was a tiresome eight & a half hour long day inside the hide. He describes himself as ‘being alone here as a fox.’ Fox is a solitary creature. The fox moves alone, and he has to be alert, every time. The writer was alone doing his research work in the forest. He took every precaution while moving in the jungle. In that dense forest, taking every step cautiously, he compares himself to a fox. He camouflaged his hide. i.e. he disguised it by covering it to blend with the surrounding. He scanned the area visually. He watched with wide-open eyes & tried to make minimal sound. He treaded cautiously among the leaves grasping various sounds.
Suddenly he heard the langurs making alarm calls for the leopard.
‘Khyak! Khyak! Khyako Khyak!’
Langoor is a species of monkeys found in the forest. It gives alarm calls after spotting dangerous animals like leopards. Apart from the Langur’s alarm calls, the writer was aware of the presence of a leopard when he saw the fresh scat lying on the trail with bluish-purple flies hovering over it. He also heard the distant alarm calls of a four-horned antelope. He uses the expression ‘sanctum sanctorum’. It means a holy place where only a few are allowed to enter. The writer thinks that the leopard might have not liked his entry in his territory. He moved forward & the fading alarm calls made him clear that the leopard had moved away.
He walked further & met a villager with a stick in his hand, Raju Iskape – from Pitezari village. He had come to collect logs but had to retreat due to the presence of the leopard. The writer’s solitary visits to Umbarzara amazed him. Umbarzara was a haven not only for tigers but also for leopards & Sloth Bears.
They both took rest under a Kusum tree & resumed their walk. Raju went on his way. The writer followed the markings of the Forest Development Corporation. He kept moving through the forest. But after a while he was unable to find his way. The Sun was setting. The jungle would be completely in dark any minute. The writer had the sudden realization that he was lost in the jungle. He was nervous. He did not feel like eating anything. He had two bags with him. One was a Shabnam bag that contained the camera. The other small, colourful handbag had his tiffin.
All the familiar sounds of the birds & appearance of trees appeared alien to him. He was in despair having got lost in the jungle. To secure himself, the writer thought of climbing a treetop. His mind alerted him to turn back to the trail that he had left. He found dried up droppings of the Sloth Bear & resolved to move from there. There were a number of hillocks in front of the writer.
He ran frantically across a hillock & lo! He saw a bright red soil trail with the marks of a bicycle wheel on it. It indicated that a village was nearby. The writer who was frightened & desperate found this like a ‘silver lining’. The new found soil trail made the writer hopeful now of safely making it out of the jungle.
With trembling legs, he reached the top of the hill. He was able to hear the sounds of people. Quickly he ran towards the village & found droppings of the blue bulls nearby, sight of lantern of Rajiram Bhalavi’s farm & loudspeakers installed for Keshav Bhalavi’s marriage. He spotted the village lake & the familiar ‘Suihudaki’ hillock.
After reaching the village the first thing he did was to take a bath. He then had his food & took a nap.
He says ‘There still exists a jungle where we can get lost, isn’t this our good luck?’
He had gone through a terrifying experience of having lost in the jungle. It made him realize certain things. Humans have tried to take over the natural habitats of the wild life. Due to deforestation, there is barely any place left for humans to get lost in it. But the writer’s experience of getting lost in the jungle without any sign of human life shows that there are some places still untouched by humans. This realization made the writer feel that humans are lucky in a way. He finds positives from this experience.
- Hovering – circling in air
- Antelope – a deer like animal with horns
- In a jiffy- in a hurry
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