Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tiger! Tiger! Within a meter!

Dear Friends:
Here is a primer from a forest Officer R Bedi on how to spot a tiger.
I would be grateful for your comments.
What a wonderful time we all had at Sundarbans!
Ashok Kumar, R.

How to ensure conditions for spotting a tiger even in the Sundarbans.

Adapted from an extract from Corbett National Park.1987. Ramesh Bedi.Clarion Books. p 29.

About 45 meters from the kill, a machan had been set up on a tall tree, where we could spend the night. We inserted freshly cut leafy branches in its flanked walls, to make it look like an ordinary tree and removed every dry leaf from the machan. Very important. Because, in the dead of night, a dry leaf if stepped upon, makes a distinct crackling noise and defeats the entire exercise.
We sat there motionless, with legs crossed. Soon our legs became stiff and we longed at least to rearrange them, but we dared not, for the slightest sound would be instantly picked up by the tiger's ears in the eerie stillness of a jungle night; even the calls of nature had to go unanswered. A cameraman on a machan must sit as motionless as a stone statue(witness the 80 year old croc on the Sundarbans bank!), with the stable mind of a yogi in meditation; and must neither sneeze or yawn.

A tiger's eye is not capable of spotting a stationary object easily.Hence our motionless state was its own protection. Nevertheless, a lighted cigarette or the slightest movement would be a certain give-away. Tormented by mosquitoes, we sat there helpless. Because we knew that if we waved our hands, the tiger, for whom we were waiting in such a disciplined manner, on emerging for a moment, would slip back into the jungle at once.

A tiger and a leopard always follow the wind direction when stalking their shikar.
It is believed that their whiskers help them feel the wind direction. Their whiskers, though stiff and thick at the base, thin out towards the ends; they sway in the slightest breeze, the vibrations are carried to their base, from where, sensory nerves take them to the upper lips.

When dense jungle renders it impossible for a tiger to see a distant object, he is guided by sound. It can hear the faintest whispering and stifled coughs. Endowed with exceptionally acute eye-sight and extremely sharp hearing, the tiger's sense of smell is, however, very feeble. Sit absolutely motionless on the machan. make not the slightest sound, remain wholly hidden behind leaves, and a tiger is unlikely to suspect your presence. Indeed, there are instances of tigers coming within five meters of machans without being aware of the presence of humans. God's wisdom is infinite; for if the tiger's sense of smell matched its hearing and sight, no animal could have lived safely in a jungle.

The question in everybody's minds should be:
While walking into the Sudhanyakali Watch tower or the Sajanakali Tower enclosure, did we honestly create conditions to spot the tiger? Like in the way hinted above?

I feel Bombay Natural History Society would do well to give a pep talk on this to every batch visiting Sundarbans and other Cat reserves so our money we put on such costly trips was not washed down as we did not take care to create the needed conditions  because of our own mistakes.

The fault dear Brutus, lies not with the Tiger but in ourselves, the nature lovers, because we failed to satisfy scrupulously the conditions laid down by the cat to spot the beauty!

Where and under what precise conditions did one boat party in the second batch spot the Royal Bengal Tiger(ress?)?? This is a gem of a prize! Perhaps for a lifetime!
Posted by R. Ashok Kumar, after BNHS trip to Sundarbans, 17 to 20 December 2012.
23 Dec 2012

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Haiku Haiku Hark

Corbett National Park!

Her Story till 1987

Adapted from Ramesh Bedi.1987. Corbett National Park. Clarion Books. Associated with Hind Pocket Books, G.T Road, Shahdara, Delhi-110032.

By Ramaswami Ashok Kumar,

Member Bombay Natural History Society,

Postal Address: 1/13, Telec Officers’ C.H.S., Ltd., Plot 30, Sector-17, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400703.

Copyright (C) 2011 Ramaswami Ashok Kumar

Prior to the years

1815 to 20

Of bad British rule

The forests of the

Corbett National Park were

Under private rule

Private property

Of local rulers: Even

The British paid scant

Attention to forests’

Nurture under kindly use

The officials’

Sole aim at the time:

1820 to Eighteen

Fiftyeight was to:

Extract maximum

Killing forest capital

In deep ignorance

For high quality

Timber the forests yielded

They clear felled the source!

The golden goose gone!

At last came enlightenment

Major Ramsey’s plan


The first comprehensive plan!

To protect forests

He ensured that his

Orders were strictly enforced

Careful vigilance!


The condition of forests

Began to improve

Science of forestry’s

March: Patalidun Valley

Cattle sheds pulled down!

Forest workers drive

Animals out of forests:


They prevented fires,

Cut weeds and harmful climbers

Unlicensed felling!

Count of trees taken

Trees marked before they were felled

Came forest milestone


Forest Department became

Guardians of the greens

Responsible for

The Patalidun Valley’s

Beautiful forests


Under the Forest Act

They became reserved!

They had working plans

And interim schemes for profits

Far into future


Keen: Transform the forests to

Game Sanctuary

In 1909

The proposal was turned down

In 1916!

Once again mooted

By Divisional Forest

Chief of Ramnagar

Entire Dhara Range

Into game sanctuary

Kalagadh today


Conservator of Forests

Put to government

Accept proposal.

Area commissioner’s strong


Makes the government

Reject the proposal flat.

Remember Wyndham?


Governor Hailey supports

Game sanctuary

Enactment of law

To make it a national

Park: How heavenly!

Reserved it became

Because of long gestation:

Full legislation


The United Provinces

National Park Act!

This reserved forest

First National Park India’s

Untiring Hailey’s.

Yes, National Park?

Forestry operations

Had not at all ceased!

Clear felling rampant.

Several cattle stations

Right inside the park.

Grazing was rampant.

From trees branches were lopped off

Fully working plans!



Square kilometers


523 square kilos

Became the forest.

Government climbed down

Forest operations should

Become minimum.

Forest sanctity

In the vicinity of

Dhikala preserved.

Sanctum sanctorum

Three to five kilometers

Around Dhikala

Totally stopped

Forestry operations.

Tourism prevailed.

This was in the year


In seventythree:

A major landmark

In wildlife preservation:

The Project Tiger:


In Corbett National Park:

The reason? Yes,health.

The tigers here

Were in a better state of health:

South Patalidun.

Hailey Corbett Park’s

South Patalidun tigers

Roamed in huge numbers

Along roads, footpaths

Dry river beds, they were seen

During all hours.

Turn nineteenhundred

This was the picture in the

Ramganga Valley.

Tourist traffic and the park

Under Chief, Project Tiger’s

From April Eighty.

Patalidun was

Princley State Tehri Gadhwal’s

Land disputes: Bad blood.

Rohilas raided

Gadhwal’s territory

And vice versa

Area denuded

Raids made useless

Large tract open land

South Patalidun

Gadhwal Rajputs settled here

From the hills close by

They farmed the valley

Army check-posts were set up

Boksad, Dhikala

Khinnauli: they were

Manned by five hundred, thousand,

Three hundred soldiers

Most of the soldiers

Were Theri Gadhwal’s Negis

Of British Empire!

The earth’s large hard lump

That ploughs throw up from soil: In

Gadhwali: dhika

The land here was full

Of such, hence called Dhikala:

Lived off Ramganga

Peace in the district

Was broken by Gorkha raids:

Gadhwalis panicked.

The Empire helped them:

The Gorkhas were driven out:

Both signed a treaty.

Raja of Tehri

Ceded a portion to Brits

Called Patalidun

Patalidun’s farms

Ravaged by wild animals

Farmers had no guns

Migrated to hills

They, north of Patalidun

The rest moved elsewhere

Local dialect:

Boksa community camp:

Boksad: terai tribe

Farmed dense forest

By shifting cultivation

Forest cleared by fire!

Brits evicted them

Resettled Boksas elsewhere

No more farming there!

Tall thick grass took root

Wild animals settled back

Former habitat!

Chauds-these wild grasslands

Old settlements were found there

Mahawat house parts.

Near Ramganga lake

Ruins of an old temple

On Dhikala chaud.

The temple was built

From local hillock rocks hewn

Anwala the topi.

In seventynine

Ramesh Bedi suggested

Ruins be removed

Close to Dhikala

Around Dhikala, Boksad

Ruins of old stairs

Canals and wells have

Been found; old coins unearthed

Made of light metal

They have Persian

Inscriptions. Excavations

Behind mahawats’

Houses they revealed

Brick made terraced wall; tank near

Reception Office.

Mango, citrus and

Guava trees are still found there

Kothi Dunga Sot

Mango tree twenty

Meters high, two meters girth

Begun bearing fruit.

Chital, barking deer

Do not fancy raw mangoes

Merely sniffing them.

Chital, barking deer

Sambhars and bears devour

Ripe mangoes while stones

Of fruits favourites

Of wild boar and porcupine

In Patalidun.

Road shady kuchha

Parallel to Ramganga

Towards Dhikala

Always elephants

Sambhars and chitals one sees

Its called Sambhar Road

A spot on this road

Nimbu Bhoji: Even now

In winter trees with

Ripe yellow nimboos

Are plucked by cow elephants

Needed by themselves

And the mahawat

Man and cow part of nature!

Wholesome fruit for both

High quality sal

In 1987

Yes, still flourished wild.

Named Kalaghad sal

Trunks grow straight attain best height

First quality sal

Three-fourths Park is sal

Graceful Thandi Sadak sal

On the forest edge

Park’s protected tree

Height forty-seven girth six

And half plus meters

Largest of its kind

In the jungles of this side

Unmatched this sal size

Pipal plants sprouted

From its trunk, elephants rubbed

Their backs on the trunk

Mud from their bodies

Splattered on its trunk up to

More than eight feet height

The boksa people’s

Forest deity was this sal!

Guarded by people.

In nineteen eighty

The park and tourist traffic

With Project Tiger!

But that year’s summer

Devastating fire broke out


Kalagadh its start

Spread right upto Dhikala

Even counterfires

At four or five points

Along fire line in between

Proved all but futile

Against the intense

Heat and strong wind: close to a

Quarter Park destroyed

The grandfather tree

Fell victim to intense flames

Long live Phulai sal!

Chief destructive force

Fire! To the vegetation

Summer fires in park

Mostly caused by

The professional graziers

And careless smokers

Some fires crossed over

From the adjoining forests

Collateral strikes

Firelines present were

Many but seldom kept clean

And hence were useless

Fires were annual

Threefourths to half of the reserve

Swept clean of fodder!

Upto browsing height

They affected adversely

The water regime

Disturbing balance

For wildlife in the area

Limiting factor

Tree growth unhindered

But southern and southeastern edge

Adjoins villages

The fires commonly

Start from these habitations

And spread to the Park

Past successive fires

Created drier Park states

In the Park’s southwest parts

Indicator of

Very humid tracts: Typha


The patera plants

‘Have lost ground in this area


Labourers working

In felling logs and owning

Cattle: Fire starters

Elephant’s strange foods

Since his toddler times

Mahawats’ midst Hamid lived

Mahouts his mentors

Had first-hand knowledge

About Corbett elephants

The Chappal Eaters!

The Dhampur Rani

Had several elephants

Many mahawats.

Fridays mahawats

Would get shaved by a barber

Who came with his kit

One Friday they were

About to break up for tea

When the barber came!

Join us they told him

He obliged, tying his bag

On a stable peg

Twenty-four minutes

And they came back but the bag

Was not on the peg

Nor anywhere else!

Those who cannot themselves shave

Barber’s duty to!

But who will shave him?

This anomaly Cantor’s

Was solved clean today:

The barber shaved clean

The kit, his only means of

Livelihood vanished!

Two days later: bag

The stable-cleaner found in

The elephant’s dung!

All the kit’s contents

With long folded blade razor

Unfolds life barber’s

An elephant can

Gulp down even a kaith fruit

Without chewing it!

Garbage in and out:

Tar, shoes, barber’s kit, plastics

Intact in droppings!


Year 1971.

One hundred years of power

Paterpani: Rains!

Monsoon in full swing!

Snapped live wires a tusker kicked!


Two weeks no power

Before it could be restored

Blacked out Dhikala.

March 1973.

An electric pole fallen

In Paterpani.

An adolescent

Mating young cow elephant

Power shock killed them.

A little later

Gujars’ water buffaloes

Come near them grazing.

One sniffed the dead cow

She and her calf both snuffed out:

Lethal electricks.

Paterpani deaths

Paterpani deaths

Makhana five elephants

Duel killed tusker

In 1980

Probably a snake bite killed

An elephant-calf.

Corbett National Park

Four One nine seven three

Beat Sher Bhoji for tiger

In dense reed forest

Four elephants march

Slowly from different paths

To central focus

Had left Sher Bhoji

Certainly during the night?

Failed to drive him out.

Mahawat’s eyes were fixed

On ground underneath the grass

Elephants closed in

Tiger encircled!

Elephants within a few

Meters of tiger

With blood curdling roar

In self defence the tiger

Confronted danger

He sprang; cows trumpet

In forefront Malankali’s

Trunk took paw’s wild punch

Sensitive spot bled

Five centimeter deep wound

Extremely painful

Bashir commanded

Crying Malankali stayed

Flash! Tiger vanished!

Four One Nine Seven Three

Divine mercy the only

Park’s dispensary

Tradition’s methods

Available for treatment

For all animals

Malankali’s wounds

Bashir washed with rum rinsed it

With cottonwool soaked

In hot mustard oil

Prevents wounds from festering

Trunk had swollen up

Word had been sent to

Ramnagar dispensary

First aid was given

Cibazol powder

Antiseptic ointments were

Applied to the wound

Because the wound was

Still fresh and likely to turn

Septic and messy.

For about ten days

She was unable to lift

Anything with trunk

Or fill it with fresh

Water to pour into mouth

Water filled bottles

Emptied into mouth

So she did not die of thirst

Trunk was exhausted

Trunk could not grip food

Fodder-cutter fed branches

Grass wheat cakes to mouth

Fortunately she

Responded to the treatment

Fifty year old she.

Trunk swelling was same

After ten days the swelling

Became less and less

In a month wound healed.
But the trunk never regained
Original strength

Even years later
Malankali had problems
Breaking and tearing

The stout branches down
In April 1978
Shallow depression

On her trunk was seen
Where the tiger’s paw had struck
Pinnacle’s power!

Killer elephants
Nineteen seventy nine
March 25 we left for

High Bank at six thirty

In the morning. We

Saw a tusker standing on

Gently winding road

Beyond Khinnauli

Seven kilometers from

Dhikala we saw

Him from quite afar

Else our matador could have

Come too close to him

It would have been

Difficult to reverse it

A tight spot indeed

Tusker roamed alone

For some days, vigilant and

Conscious of safety

In a herd colleagues

Would have taken care of him

Loneliness, strength, tusks

Made him arrogant

Game guards, park road workers brought

Tales of his bad ways

We stopped van at once

At road’s middle he stood stared

Suddenly lifts tail

Spreading his fan-like

Ears ran in our direction

We reversed van fast

He ran after van!

Then stopped abruptly but did

Not move off the road

Could not move ahead

We parked at a safe distance

To see him closely

I got out of van

Approaching him so slowly

He shook a thin tree

After a while he

Vanished into dense thickets

Relieved we sped off

Nineteen sixty nine

Evening: Workers on way home

From Sunday market

Herd of elephants

In a bamboo forest on

Road to Saddle dam

From Boksad: Frightened

They raised alarm to drive them

Away. Some duis:

Threat to their babies

Trumpeted: Herd attacked men

Who took to their heels

They ran throwing their

Canisters of provisions

Bought at the market

Three dead bodies, no

Elephants: Eight man posse

Found out at the site

The escaped labour

Returned to site; were taken

To Boksad by guards

Next morning bodies showed

They had received fatal kicks

One had his skull crushed

Corbett National Park

25 years ago(continued)

Havoc by tusker

Forest guards’ two huts destroyed

In the Samal chaud

Bajrani forests’

Sarpaduli, Khinnauli

A wicked fellow

He wandered at will

In the park: Forest dwellers

At their tether’s end

Road construction from

Dhikala to Kalagadh

Rogue in Kalagadh

In Paterpani

The rogue attacked labour camp:

And family killed

Pregnant wife, husband

And their daughter: Lord Ganesh

Entrusted tusker

To destroy monster

Born in their camp: Such belief

Consoled simple folk!

Reckless, obstinate

The killer had brushed aside

Prevention attempts

To drive him away

From the camp: Even set hut

On fire to no use

He trumpeted: Its

Elephant territory

Quit or else face it!

He demonstrated

“Making nuisance of himself”

For one and half hours.

When he finally

Left for greener pastures, they

Thanked God Almighty

The killer appeared

In Dhikala-Khinnauli

Driving off park staff

Killer’s rear right leg

Had severe injuries

It pained him too much

Cried in agony

Limped dragging his injured leg

Circular imprint

Possibly the wound

Inflicted by a man, made

All humans his foes!

Branded a killer

A dangerous plan was hatched

To finish him off

Injured leg precludes

The error of friendly fire!

Easy tracking him.

The shikars set out

On three cow-elephants to

Search and destroy him.

They found the red-eared

In the Khinnauli woods: Charged

He towards the tamed

Ten bullet fire burst

Felled him in elephant’s own

Territory: Sad!

Dams, Barasingas

2, 1978

Lone barasinga grazing

In Dhikala chaud

First time the swamp deer

Seen since 1935, year

Of Corbett Park’s birth.

Maldhan chaud had been

Barasinga’s habitat

Nearest Corbett Park

Till 1957

Five thousand barasingas

Lived in Maldhan chaud

Large forest tract cleared

Tumria dam decimated

The barasingas

Farmers from elsewhere

Cultivated land here and

Became prosperous.


To wildlife: Mercilessly

Killed them en masse

Tigers of South Patalidun

“ Tiger terrain”

Civilised human:

Tiger, a ferocious beast

Lethal barbarous

Eighty four tigers

Tigers seldom seen near man

They are so wary!

But extremely shy.

The moment the tiger sees

A man, he departs.

The two face to face

In a jungle, the tiger

Into thicket slips!

Prior to ‘Project’

Forty four tigers in park

Steady rise after

To ninety one in

June 1982. Tigers

Seen more in the park.

March 1978

On twentysix days sighted

Rest rained cats and dogs

A number of streams

And ravines in the park: deep

Into the jungles

Year long green shrubs clothe

The jungles along with fast

Growing weeds: hideouts

Tiger homes!

Ideally undisturbed

Free in the hideouts

Corbett Park cannot

Afford any more tigers

Migrated outside

Amangadh, Fanto,

Garjia, Kakkarwala;

Swaldeh, Am Danda.

Domunda, Mohan;

Durga Devi Ratuadhab;

And Am Pokhara

A serious problem

Poachers and inhabitants

To migrant tigers

Wildlife experts build

Congenial habitats

For jungle tigers

Which formerly had

Cover, natural atmosphere

And ecology

Hardwar, Motichur

Chilla, Ranipur forests,

Halwani, Banda

South Kheri forests

Pilibhit, Haldwani woods


June 1975

Corbett National Park closed.

Only stray tourists.

Heavy rains: Pug marks

2 kms from rest house seen,

Off Dhikala camp.

Doubtless a hungry

Tiger camped in that forest

In search of good prey.

Late evening they

Tied a buffalo-calf to

A tree trunk as food

Morning calf missing

Blood stains on ground cat’s pugmarks

Tiger killed the calf

Held it in his mouth

Severed the rope jerking it

Savagely enough

Rope’s rest around trunk

Dragging prey into thicket

For undisturbed meal

Tiger left remains

And lay near gandhela bush

Asleep in thicket

Riding elephants

Nine for Dhikala outings

Serene excursions

The tourists set out

Under an overcast sky

Seeking the tiger

It rained cats and dogs

Cameras covered in haste

Nalas overflowed

When crossing nala

Elephants firmly plant feet

Heading for jungle

Tourists on machans

Panorama of cleared land

And elephants left

To drive the tigers

Towards the machan for show

Tiger east of them

Elephants flanked him

On three sides: Only escape was

In our direction

Slowly elephants

Began to move towards us

We waited for him.

Raincoats, waterproof

Sheets, its raining cats and dogs

Only our eyes fixed

On the open strip

Anticipating tiger

Elephants closed in

To tiger’s hideout

Fifteen minutes silent wait

Then flash: It happened

The tiger leapt strip

Disappeared into dense jungle

Lightning lit up sky

Those of us who blinked

At that split second had missed

The experience

Frustrated Tigress

Sherbhoji woods block

Cats’ permenent habitat

Ramganga’s left bank

One and half kms

By four hundred meters block

One flank dense forest


Water flows through the forest

Maljhan climbs round trees

Several thickets fern

Old trees of Sherbhoji dense

Prevent sun’s rays in

Tiger habitat!

Shade shelter from summer heat

Tigress seen often

In the muddy pools

Worked our way through weeds, climbers

Reached forest at last!

Where the tigress had

Dragged her kill reed clumps tall thick

Over Sherbhoji

Wild elephant herds

Had made paths like tunnels where

Tigers tread unseen

Throughout Sherbhoji

End to end tigers traverse

Leaving not tunnels!

After a few years

A mahawat turns trekker

Team had a trekker

Two cameramen

Trekker to help drag carcass

To study in peace

On fourth round through block

Traced the carcass looking like

A white boulder mass

Stomach of the calf

Rotting undigested food’s

Gas ballooned stomach

Body part and head

Lay concealed in a clump close

Reeds bent over them

Appeared as if

Tigress had concealed carcass

Wanton skillfulness

A detailed survey

Of surrounding tract convinced

Us the cat was’nt there

Safe! Remove carcass

Flesh of rump eaten only

On close scrutiny

Bones dislocated

Badly of neck; And broken

Neck had distinct marks:

Deeply punctuated by

Her long canines: Tigress dragged

Calf ninety meters.

Carcass tied again

On same peg as before and

And covered with some grass:

Lest vultures feed on

The remains; before sunset

A vulture had perched

On kill eating it

Feasting were two mongooses

And four tortoises

We exposed body

To the elements nature

It had decomposed

Meters forty five

From kill, a machan on a

Tall tree was set up

Where we could spend night

Freshly cut leafy branches

Ordinary tree!

Needed to remove

Every dry leaf from machan

Because in dead night

Stepping on dry leaf

Distinct crackling noise defeats

Voids the exercise

Motionless we sat

With legs crossed which became stiff

Slightest sound picked up

By tiger’s ears in

Jungle night’s eerie stillness

Neither sneeze nor yawn

Motionless state

Was our protection

Tigers see not such

Believe it or not!

Tigers leopards follow wind’s

Way stalking shikar.

Their whiskers thick stiff

At base but thin out towards

The ends; slightest breeze

Make the whiskers sway

Vibrations carried to base

Thence sensory lips

Take them to upper

Lips; by sound he is guided

Towards objects far

He can hear faintest

Whispering and stifled coughs

Sights hears but smells not

Want to sight tiger?

Motionless, silent, hidden

Behind leaves, that’s it!

Instances when cats

Have come within five meters

Of machans clueless:

Of human presence!

God’s wisdom is infinite:

Skills distributed!

So ecologic

Balance prevails: Turya of

Superb consciousness!

Story of a night on the Machan

Evening seven

Respective spots on machan

Solemnly we took

Twenty minutes past

From south end of Sherbhoji

Tigress gave a call

It was repeated

Thirty three times with pauses

Short: She was on heat.

Tigress had come out

In search of a mate

Answered! From the north.

Persistent his call

Six times with stops; tigers spaced

Eight hundred meters

We sat halfway there

In two shisham bhojis

They had slept apart

Each unaware of

The other’s presence

Calf eaten by cat:

The previous night

Her food preceded mating

She ignored his call

Eight minutes later

He called again thrice;

Five minutes: She called

She advanced slowly

His calls told he advanced east

She away from him

This was three minutes

Past at seven thirty eight

He called seven times.

There between bhojis

Land strip seven meters wide

Where calf had been tied

Machan at west end

Of this strip: Could see east end

Four hundred meters

Tiger would emerge

From here, cross the open strip

To approach the calf

This tiger too took

Same route; a minute later

Tigress called again.

Tigress called six times

Pausing in between-deep calls:

But not in answer.

His calls seemed to leave

Her unmoved; he called once more

From strip’s other end

Then, there was silence

The tiger’s cry was low pitched,

Tigress was strident!

Somewhere in the east

A peacock’s loud harsh scream broke

The stillness; perhaps!

A tiger passed tree

Peacock was perched on; Warning

Five times, then stillness.

From seven forty

Two minutes long he called her


Tiger crossed the strip

Into right bhoji and gave

Nineteen mating calls.

He could’nt have been

More than four hundred meters

From the hot tigress.

As darkness fell an

Elephant herd assembled

Near machan to sleep.

This was behind and

To right of machan, spot on

Where she was coming.

Soon elephants smelt

The tigress; trumpeted loud:

Seven forty five.

She continued her

Slow prowl though startled towards

Machan where we were.

Tigress called nine times.

Five to eight: Elephant cry;

Cracking branches heard.

At eight : tigress called

Twenty times without a pause

Darkness prevents ‘notes’.

Tigress continued

To call but with long pauses:

Right of the machan:

A hundred meters.

Eighty three calls hers, thirty

Eight calls the tiger’s.

She did not notice

The dead calf and turned away

From machan swiftly:

She rejected him

Because his calls were feeble

Her’s were full-blooded.

The tigress ambled

Towards Dhikala along

Ramganga and called

Loudly many times

She left rest-house river bed

And climbed a hillock

To Thandi sadak

Three kilometers on

She lay in wait

Half an hour past

Chital belled warning-spoilt show!

All were alerted.

She was crestfallen

Got up and growled twice and moved

To continue prowl.

Then entered sal woods

Permanent habitat of

Chital herds and bears

Road on forest’s edge

Hungrily she looked for prey

On road, lying down.

No animal came

It was now midnight; she growled

Fully frustrated.

On machan cramped cold

Shrill notes of jungle insects

And loud peacock calls

Disconsolate she

Resumed her stealthy prowl

With mating calls loud.

Noiselessly she moved!

Along road west of grassland

Eyes ever alert.

The tigress’s snarl

Chitals scurried for dear life

She needed a mate!

To fulfill desire

A day’s hunger a small price

For tigress in heat.

A trapped tiger showed

Not the slightest discomfort

After ten day fast!

Crossing the chaud in

Her beat, she came upon hog

Deer herds, sounder boars

In this forest block

She eyed boar cubs grazing

Along with parents

Under a simbal

She reclined leaning against

Its trunk; two ‘o’ clock

Dawn none too far off!

Night’s vigil: end of tether!

Scavengers feasted.

Wolfing down the calf:

Mongooses and tortoises

Near our machan.

In the still of night

Dry leaves crackled on the ground

Creatures walking on

We hoped: If she failed

To get her shikar, return

To the kill she would.

A shisham bhoji

Two sub-adult tuskers stood

From herd separate

Amorous ogling

Of a cow-elephant: No

Love lost between them.

They had fought through night

Intermittently: Jungle:

Battle sounds alert.

She silently watched

The tuskers; would hog deer

Come closer than now?

Herd of hog deer on

Slope of muddy pool, from her

Five hundred meters

Sounder of wild boars

Eating ripe dwarf date fruits in

The chaud above her

They came towards her

In search of delicious fruits

One raised alarm call

One hog deer endorsed

Boar’s call: Alarmed, deer bolted

Frustrated she left.

Tortoises feasting

Mongooses feasting, were still

Eating flesh of calf.

Din of elephants

Uprooting trees deterred her

From coming to calf

All round the forest

Was waking up ushering

Dawn! Sky over hills across

The Ramganga paled

Racuous insect sounds died down

Replaced by bird songs

Early morning breeze

Sherbhoji’s elephant ooze

Heady secretions

In the sal forest

Amorous stags were fighting

For mating chitals

Tigress in no mood

To appreciate beauty

As the valley dawned


Passion and hunger had made

Her frustrated, tired.

Into a dark den

She retired from night’s travails

To recuperate.

Tiger’s direction

Position estimates her

Movements precisely

Tiger and Deer at

The same water-hole: they share!

Elixir of life!

Some parts of Corbett

Park waterless in summer.

Many times a day

The animals walk

Long distances for water

Region Dhikala

Tourists, wild beasts walk

Unrestricted; water-pools

Water not scarce here

In dense forest’s midst

One and half kilometers

East of Dhikala

Rest-house: Circular

Reservoir twelve meters

Circumference and

Two and half meters

Deep in the center, straight walls

Saw its construction

A few years ago

Accomplished against great odds

Demolished by herds

Of wild elephants

Half erected cement tank

Workers’ implements

Trampled upon or

Hurled them into thickets with

Their trumpets: Pipes first!

Thirsty! Would stampede

There, drink the water it held

Duis tuskers deadly

Workers masons feared

For their lives; hesitant

To carry on work

The marauders were

Matched by Park’s Range Officer

Two gunners posted

Boosted their morale

From dawn to dusk himself watched

Atop a machan

A stringed cot tied to

A jamun tree’s top branches

Around with loaded gun

To pool now complete

Came tigers and deer alike

To drink and survive

In May and June of

Nineteen seventy seven

Summer at its height

Birds and beasts thirsty

Pool full from early morning

Clear view from machan

Seven meters high

On machan atop four trees

Seventy meters

Pool’s west Jamun’s shade

Four men sprawled unseen on it

The roof just higher

Within five meters

Of pool, thickets cleared to sight

The great spectacle!

Sounds of birds and beasts

Recorded from dawn to dusk

Near the machan’s site

Early morning calls

Loud and distinct in the stillness

On May twenty nine

At nine forty morn

Climbed machan: My grand daughter

Son, me to study

Bulbuls dominant

Flocks of twenty five would drink

Water and fly off

Pool’s south: Lasuda!

Part covered with lantana

Cats rested under

The lasuda tree

Stands by the Tiger Gali

See tigers emerge!

On machans our eyes

Focussed on Tiger Gali

At ten three wild boars

Walked along the track

Straight to pool; began drinking

Bulbuls flew away

Soon came jungle fowl

Red crest adorned strutted proud

On greens by the pool

Frequent calls of Fowl

Jungle: ”A tiger on prowl”

A dow’s coo mellow!

Mosquito’s torment

Persistent; but light breeze gave

Good relief from heat

Bird songs had lulled grand

A dove brought his beloved

Prancing wooing her

From lasuda tree

Paradise flycatcher stared

Flash! Swooped on insects

Its mating season

The female was laying eggs

Flycatcher’s nest seen

Near machan off road

Mother hatching two eggs there

Two days later four

Nest on three forked branch

Five feet high thin pilu tree

In dense woods pilu

The nest a shambles

Two hours later jungle cat

Had a meal of eggs

Thirty species birds

Frequented pool for water

Some in search of food

Pool’s tiny fishes

Kingfisher delicacy

Saw from twenty feet

Stationed himself still

Wings pulled at sides hurled himself

Caught the fish and flew

To a jamun tree

Perched on one of its branches

Prey battered and swallowed

Barking deer appeared

In the Tiger Gali walked

Gingerly to pool

Hardly drunk some gulps

Jumped out of pool with a start

Stood in the cool shade

Then went back to pool

Drank for two whole minutes and

Langurs followed suit

Soon all animals

Left by the Tiger Gali

Morning eleven

Many thirsty beings

At the pool: Suddenly shrill

Cry of jungle fowl

From Tiger Gali’s

Jungle; langurs wailed; we were

Rapt in attention

The trekker followed

Jungle custom: Silently

Pressed my arm: Tiger!

Coming down Gali

Eleven fifteen; tiger

Stopped for a minute

Surveyed the scene on

His left and right and made

For the lasuda

Man hunted tiger

From time immemorial

Tiger mortally

Feared man; he will not

Come face to face with man; most

Men who worked all life

In jungle have not

Seen a tiger in the woods

Fortunate few have

Now the full grown cat

The tiger stood before us

Unaware of us

A few days earlier

A tiger had been sighted

At this pool, same tiger!

This forest block’s king

No hurry to go to pool

Sat on his haunches

As if like watchdog

Surveying the environs

Then sprawled on the ground

He yawned many times

Licked himself and flapped his ears

Son’s lap grand asleep

Eleven twenty

He walked to the water’s edge

He faced us and then

Lapped up the water

For five minutes then entered

The muddy water

And lay there; the splash

Sent fishes to the pool’s edge

A kingfisher came

Swooping down: Tiny

Fishes he caught several

Fully succeeding

Birds deserted pool

Five minutes later another

Tiger located

Near lasuda tree

He sprawled under its shade with

A smaller tiger

Tiger in pool

Looked at them, one family all,

Pool tiger female

Two under the tree

Her cubs a year old; being trained

By her for the woods

They accompanied

Their mother for shikar; learnt

To negotiate

Thickets and bushes

Still wholly dependent on

Her for year and half

Lying under shade

Waiting for her signal to

Join her in the pool

Five minutes later

Moved towards cubs and sat down

She nodded her head

She got up and took

Again a step towards them

Do as I told at once!

They got up entered

The pool; eleven thirty

All drank leisurely

The younger fellow

A devil: Splashed in the pool

Embraced brother played

Frolicking with him

At eleven thirty five

The mother stepped out

Stood still an instant

Went to Gandhela thickets

To find out safety

She beckoned her cubs

Who followed her like good kids

Lifetime experience!

Barking deer hog deer

Chitals Sambhars elephants

Wild boars tigers and

Others came to pool

To bathe and drink fresh water

And then would return

Five kilometers

From Dhikala pool jungle

Surrounds mota sal

Full of lantana

Thickets impenetrable

Home of a tigress

In the early bloom

Of her youth; she had chosen

East mota sal’s spot

To give birth to cubs

Two unmolested and safe

For the first time in

February month

1977, she was seen

With her two cubs near

Mota sal; two month

Old then, smaller than jackals

Near pools the cubs looked

Older than six months

Elder like full-grown tiger

Seen alone in woods

Pathia sherrani

The tigress was known so by

Dhikala mahouts

Difficult to tell

The tigress from her two cubs

Identical three

A magnificent

Spectacle of animal

Fraternity wild

Day and night forest

Creatures bound together by

Fraternal feelings

Cabin machan up

On jamun tree near the pool

Made for tourists

Daytime nine to six

With armed guide they awaited

Tiger at the pool

Tiger sighted at

Pool, not the Pathia tigress

With her playful cubs

Pathia Tigress and Malankali

On Malankali

We went into the forest

With mahout Bashir

Both old hands in Park

Malankali’s valour and

Deeds legendary

When photographing

She would stand completely still

Near elephant herd

Bashir took her rear

Of the pool into forest

Pathia and cubs in woods?

Half hour still no sign

On coming out: Face to face

With bull elephant!

He was digging earth

And throwing it on himself

Gave him a wide berth

North east Dhikala

We reached, took Thandi Sadak

Running along chaud

Three hundred paces

From machan one, animal

Moves towards reed clumps

Pathia the tigress

Was squatting behind reed clumps

Facing the jungle

Her fixed gaze told us

Deer herd would enter the chaud

Cubs within earshot

Four-month old baby

On mother’s lap woke up and cried!

Pathia heard him not!

We came slight rustle she turned

Fifty meters rear

Her head towards us

Bashir somehow kept

Malankali still, she was

Trembling all over

Cat’s menacing jaw

Had her transfixed she grunted

In anger and fear

We were now within

A few meters of each other

Malankali downed

Head, rolled trunk’s tip in

She was now in striking stance

We gripped howdah’s bars

Our eyes transfixed

On Pathia’s awesome canines

Atmosphere of fear

Minute and half crawled

While she worked out strategy

Leapt with lightning speed!

Growling and aiming

Malankali’s trunk: The cow

Kicked out with front foot

Hissing with her trunk

In this redoubtable duel

Youth experience

Malankali and Bashir

Wisdom ‘s avatar

Came out the winner

Hitting Malankali’s head

Bashir goaded her

Thrice to remain still

I let out a cry deep harsh

Hat! Away! Pathia!

Pathia advanced not

She withdrew gracefully

Past Thandi Sadak

Pathia the tigress

Retreated into the woods

Her cubs following

A Tiger and Two Elephants

In battle Royal

River Ramganga

Flows east to north along the

Great National Park.

Branches out into

A number of streams shallow

Ponds ankle deep some

Knee deep several

In summer the animals

Refresh in the ponds.

Just to see them I

Walked kilometers along

The hot river bank

May 1977

In Corbett National Park

Daily something new

June one: Tiger seen

In Anwal sot Rashid told

Got on Roopkali

Cow-elephant of

Rashid and we went in search

Tiger in large pool

He coaxed and cajoled

We are twenty meters from tiger

We watched the tiger

Fascinated for

A quarter of an hour

Game warden guided

Rashid to take us

Closer! The tiger did not

Like this intrusion

He got up slowly

Vanished into thatch grass on

Pool’s left bank; relaxed!

From east we crossed pool

Attempted to approach him

Saw us just walked off

Entering jungle

Sat down on cleared ground

Facing a hillock

Sixty meters

From tiger: Rump towards us; two

Minutes later he

Sprawled on his back with

Legs up in the air; belly

Full; indifferent.

We drove Roopkali

Still closer within fifteen

Meters from his tail

Roopkali stood like

Rock in front of the tiger

Eyelids batted not

Tiger’s eyes were closed

Two minutes and he opened

His eyes and rose up

He was thunderstruck

To find us so close to him

Words fail to express

The excitement one

Feels in a jungle face to

Face with a tiger

Suddenly he roared

And sprang at Roopkali who

Was petrified, but stood ground

Rashid frequently

Struck her head with goad

And cheered her up, she steeled

Herself against him

Head bent, trumpeted loudly

Rashid too shouted

The tiger spotted

Chetana the youngest of

Park’s cow-elephants

On his left who was

Stunned but reassured by

Her mahout Idu

Piercing cry let out

She! The tiger stopped but rushed

Towards Roopkali

Both mahouts struck their

Elephants repeatedly

Urged them to be still

My grand folded legs

Under her belly beyond reach

Of the tiger’s claws

With deafening roar

He attacked Chetana

Roopkali five times

Eyes blood-red with rage

Jaw wide open long canines

And molars laid bare

Shined ominously

A crucial moment mighty

Kick Chetana gave

With her front foot blew

Air through her trunk trumpeting

Loudly in utter contempt

Confronted by a

Combat-ready Chetana

Nerve and muscle taut

The tiger stood still

But he showed no signs at all

Of quitting the fight

He was incensed as

Chetana had treated him

Like a petty wolf

Frightened monkeys cried

Cautiously mahouts pulled back

The cow-elephants

The tiger calmed down

Elephants looked back: Cat’s smell

As they retreated

They were wary of

Tiger’s attack from the rear

Chetana kicked hissed

We emerged unscathed

From near fatal fights led by

Trained cow-elephants

Rashid was full of

Admiration for tiger’s

Cunning; a tiger

Digs his teeth into

An elephant after thought


He will first extend

And strike with his

Paw, his head held back

Because he knows that

An elephant’s foot landing

On his head tears it

As if it were a

Ripe pomegranate; shooting

Him then not needed

The power-packed kick

Completely crushes the bones

In the tiger’s skull

Tiger who ate tiger

During the monsoons

Logs and fallen trees get swept

By the floods

Of the Ramganga

When waters recede in month

November debris

Lie scattered on the

River bed Project Tiger

Takes count called marking

A team of workers

Left Dhikala one morning

With their pickaxes

To mark driftwood

Trapped in a shisham bhoji

Beyond the river

Passing by Shisham

Bhoji one saw a tiger

Lying on the ground

Before the man could

Draw the others’ attention

The tiger vanished

Chief Debris Marking

Of tiger in forest block

Tiger killed chital

During the night and

Eaten it near the sight spot

Find shikar remains

Chief Debris Marking

Spotted another tiger

Near the other’s track

Fully stretched on track

Surprised he asked his men to

Raise an alarm

The tiger didn’t stir

The tiger was dead and gone

Rear legs eaten off

These were the very

Parts of his kill he eats first

Tiger ate tiger!

Before the tiger

Returned to claim his meal send

It to post mortem

A tiger killed in

Park was extraordinary

Skin to post mortem

With gunners ready

The tiger’s body was tied

With rope and lifted

Up Malankali

On to her back; Dhikala:

Body examined

The neck mouth and head

Had several wounds made by

Claws and canine teeth

One eye was mauled; skull

Bones had broken to pieces

Finger feel proved it

Late adolescent

Was the dead tiger: Killer

A fully-grown beast

Battle scarred fighter

True to the inborn trait of

Tigers the younger

Resented others

In his territory though

Park’s cats had enough

The younger’s roar was

Earsplitting proclaimed him a

Full-blodded young cat

He had recently

Been separated from his

Mother to go wild

The fight in the wild

The young tiger was hunting

The old challenged

A past master of

Jungle warfare pounced on him

Savage fight ensued

Deafening roars kept

Workers in neighbouring camps

All night without sleep

The struggle flattened

Every bush and grass over

A wide area

Scene like elephants

Had trampled upon the field

Of blood-stained battle

Two and half meter

Youngster was courageous

With two claws broken

Eighteen forty one

April twelve: Okeden’s note

In his diary

A tiger had killed

A tiger mighty used to

Kill two bulls daily

Tarai Himalay

A tiger killed a tiger

Double bull killer

May 1978

Pathia her two cubs

In the bichhu bhoji pool

We photographed them

1979 Jan:

One of the cubs dead:

Sherbhoji: His rump eaten

His hind leg broken

The bone sticking out

A tiger had killed him in

A fight: Mating call!

Pathia’s cub answered

His rival a veteran

He killed Pathia’s cub.

Two adult tigers

Once fought in Paterpani

They were fully matched

The flattened grass pug

Marks betrayed large battle- field

Only one lived on.

Gairal: Dead tiger

Taxidermist from Mysore

Stuffed it, on view in

Ramganga office

Of Project Tiger’s FD

A full skeleton

Assembled from bones

Of tigers found dead in woods

Stands in Dhikala

On Ramganga’s banks

In the Sarpaduli’s block

A torn ear tiger

This was price paid for

Killing a bear in a fight

Summers spent in pond

Once killed stag near pond

Saw him completely smeared black

With mud: What a state!

Man-eater of Chua Sot

Public Relations

Assistant Wild-life Warden

Reception Office

His name was Howard

Eleven children had he

Sense of humour great!

Spent several years

In jungle at home with its

Environs: His sons his copy!

At four son Mahesh

Rode park’s elephants; later

Understudy of

Park’s fodder cutters

Accompanied them marching

To woods elephants

Before long every

Nook corner familiar

To Mahesh Howard

Hobby: Kept young ones

Of all kinds of animals

Born in the forest!

His own hands fed them

Now events in Park’s life

Never missed telling

Even before chin

Sprouted hair fodder cutter


Mahesh overjoyed

His childhood dream was fulfilled

His charge: Chetana.

Kallu the mahout

Was happy and so were the

Project Tiger staff.

Nineteen eighty two

March twenty seven: Kallu

To stables returned

Mahesh brought howdah

From Chetana’s back; stepped on

To her trunk, caught hold

Of fan-like ear lobes

And climbed on to her neck and

Perched, feet pressing neck

A command to move!

Ustad there’s rice tikkads eat

He said to Kallu

Mahesh and Kallu

In two solitary cells

In mahout’s new wing

Both being away from

Their families they would cook

Their meals together

Mahesh and Kallu

Took turns cooking: Politeness

Mahesh got from dad

Devoid of guile was

Helpful and was hard-working

Mahouts confident

Kallu looked upon

Twenty one year old Mahesh

As his own dear son

Riding elephants’

Fodder: banyan, khabad twigs

Pilkhan pipul twigs

Rohini bamboo

Bamboo and khabad winter

Delicacies theirs

Summer twigs banyan

Rohini keep body cool

With pilkhan added

Pilkhan trees are few

Monsoon kasera grass and

Gular fodder few

In rainy season

Throughout the day elephants

Left to graze in chaud

No matter how long

They grazed during day fodder

Given at night-fall

The fodder-cutters

Therefore cut the kasera

Khabad fed year long

Its neither hot nor

Cool; hot pipal lowest ranked

Fodder milky trees’

Trained elephants eight

Daily four quintals fodder

Needs cutting for them

A medium sized tree

Yields double the daily feed

Sal dominant tall

Under them pilu

Rohini gandhela bhant

Kuda lasuda

Fodder trees only

In a few places fodder-cutter

Needs to travel far

From the elephant

Stables eight kilometers

In search of these trees

81-82 was

Unusually cold March

Even no spring sign

Late after day-break

Only rides into forests

Eight morn Chetana

Had gone into woods

And returned at ten Mahesh

Had taken her out

At eleven for

Fodder-cutting normally

By three he returns

So he can ride her

With afternoon batch tourists

At three Chetana not back

Till five Kallu not

Concerned about their return

Lad wandered afar…

In search of fodder

Till before dusk Kallu said

They are on way home

Darkness fell Kallu

Became apprehensive and

Told Range Officer

Mahesh was not back

Neither his charge Chetana

Looking after the

Riding elephants’

Guardian Range Officer:

Others were all back

Fodder-cutters three

March their charges together

In one direction

The guardian learnt that

Mahesh had gone by himself

South to Chua Sot

Compartment nine of

Dhikala block Chua Sot

Had slopy water-hole

Ten by eight meters

The other three sides were steep

Hill side wall six holes

Enables water

To seep into water hole

Two meter deep wall

Some water in it

Even in summer on March

Twenty-five Guardian

Had come to inspect

Water-hole road gang men five

Formed the cleaning gang

On twenty-sixth March

Mahesh had joined them to smoke

He informed them that

On the morrow he

Would lop banyan tree half a

Kilometer far

On this basis he

Organised search for Mahesh

People were alarmed

Anxious inquiries

About Mahesh were being made

At reception room

In the diesel lamp’s

Smoky light fodder-cutters

Were baking tikkads

For the elephants

But their minds were not on job

A jeep and driver

Was offered the team

By a moved tourist they were

A godsend taken

By road Chua Sot

Seven kilometers far

Knowing, men made trip

Three fodder-cutters

Three gang-men and guardian

All went in the jeep

Armed guard Hira Singh

Was seated front search party

Kept a sharp vigil

For Mahesh and foot

Prints Chetana would have left

On the rugged path

Throughout the journey

They shouted Mahesh Mahesh

Chua Sot parked jeep

They shouted in a

Prolonged high pitched voice Mahesh

Search method: Kuka

Every member of

Search party now joined in the

Kuka, beamed searchlights

Mahesh had come here

Information from many

He did not reply

Had Mahesh taken

Chetana to Khinnauli?

From Chua Sot road

Kamar Patta runs

Towards Khinnauli: Thence a

Motor road to a

Rest house Khinnauli

Six kilometers away

There live some Park staff

Watch fodder-cutter

Mahawat guard forest guide

None knew of their fate

Eleven at night

The search party went back home

Shocked crestfallen dazed

Two cow-elephants

Mauli and Gomati were

Also put on search

Both were in their prime

Hence quick on their feet, riders

Expert mahawats

Kallu Mahesh’s

Friend, Saradari and one

Sharafat; others

Two armed guards and

A road-gang man Ram Ratan

Mahesh had informed

Ram Ratan of his

Trip to Chou Sot for fodder

At nine night both cows

Were driven towards

Chua Sot by a short-cut

Was rough and bumpy

During the ride they

Flashed their torches at nalas

And trees frequently

They called the missing

Mahesh and Chetana if

They were near-abouts

Would not have failed to

Recognise Kallu’s voice till

One o clock they searched

All in vain they went

Back to their huts tired hungry

Lay down till daybreak

The hookah was an

Ideal device to make

Officers’ brains work!

At the stroke of dawn

He mobilized all Park’s means

And renewed the search

Park’s cow-elephants

Khinnauli’s Rambha with their

Howdahs on pressed in

All adult males with

Eight armed guards left colony

At seven morning

In search of Mahesh

In search of Chetana lost

In the wilderness

The cow-elephants

Fanned across the entire forest

Each nala bush searched

Chetana’s malan!

Kallu spotted finally

Traces of the cow!

Kamar Patta road

She had bolted across steep

Slopes; rope dragged along

Was Mahesh’s rope

He used it to tie fodder

To elephant’s back

Chetana bolted

In terror! The malan was

Traced to pilu shrubs

Chetana was there!

A kilometer away

Towards Dhikala

A mahawat marched

Chetana to stables back

The other cows were

Driven in the path

Whence Chetana came one and

Half kilometers

Southwards off the east

Kamar Patta road along

The climb towards hill

They saw banyan tree

Mahesh had lopped fodder from

The foot of the tree

They had almost reached

When men spotted a tiger

Hiding in the shrubs

Westwards he walked off

Elephants following him

But he was lost in

Thick undergrowth; from

A maida lakadi tree

Hung the shirt of Mahesh

Bidis down on ground

A few paces from banyan

Three stocks lopped fodder

Nearby lay scattered

Large branches lopped off banyan

They were not pruned yet

Having reached this spot

From Chetana he got down

And taken off shirt

To prevent the shirt

From being spoilt by milky ooze

Off banyan fodder

He hung his shirt on

The maida lakadi tree

Before this he smoked

To refresh himself

Evident from the pack of

Bidis found on ground

Half burnt match-sticks proved

This along with the end of

A consumed bidi

Chetana stood by

His side as long as he smoked

Then he climbed on her

Took her underneath

Banyan and went up the tree

Getting hold of branch

A fodder-cutter

First lops the larger branches

Letting them fall down

Next descends cuts off

Smaller branches from the lot

Prunes and groups them in

Stocks for loading them

On elephant’s back; two hours

To lop, cut fodder

The loading job takes

A further half hour; meanwhile

Elephant grazes

No chains round her legs!

Necessary precaution

Cow is free to bolt

If wild elephant

Comes anywhere close to her

She is saved from harm

The cow elephant

Never runs away even

If free to roam round

She remains grazing

On grass or tree branches in

Work’s vicinity

On the other hand

An elephant untethered

Escapes from stable

When fodder-cutter

Perched on a tree is lopping

All his attention

Is on his pickaxe

And the fodder, a slight slip

And large branch may fall

And in the process

Injure the fodder-cutter

He should be alert

From his perch he keeps

An eye on his elephant

Calls her now and then

Till half past two he

Was at the job at he spot

Then he disappeared


The men left nothing to chance

The search continued

For Mahesh Howard

Minutely they combed all woods

Past the fodder stacks

They advanced towards

The hill climb, sandan tree stood

Thirty meters far

Thin twigs were broken

Of this tree Chetana had

Eaten sandan twigs

Her ball shaped droppings

Were on the ground, between stacked

Fodder and sandan:

Lay Mahesh’s cap

His axe a meter away

Blood stains on ground sent

A chill down the spine

Twenty five centimeter

Stain’s diameter

Tiger’s doing this

The search party men surmised

Dead body dragged east

From the bloodstained site

After following malan

Ten meters the men

Saw the lad’s trousers

But found no corpse of Mahesh

He was devoured

Since 1950

I have been coming to these

Dense forest foothills

It was the first time

A tiger had eaten man!

Twenty years ago

A tiger had killed

Not eaten a human being:

Engaged in marking

Accident it was

Inadvertently the man

Dashed against tiger

Asleep in a bush

Mahesh’s pants all along

Its length from seat

Showed holes made by teeth

And claws when the big tiger

Pounced on poor Mahesh

The circumference

Of these holes was stained with blood

Corpse dragged by its neck

But trousers got stuck

In the bushes; the cat had

Not removed the pants

Fifteen meters off

They saw a flattish round stone

On which the tiger

Had placed corpse en route

The stone was stained with his blood

Getting a firm grip

Dragged it ten meters

Where he again put it down

It bled profusely

A large patch of ground

Was stained red nearby lay his

Vest soaked with his blood

Body’s boneless flesh

Part was eaten by tiger

Grass flattened tousled

Beyond this point was

No malan to be found with

All thorough search done

Eight elephants roamed

Throughout the day looking for

Dead body’s remains

Every bush within

Half square kilometer searched

Every one so scared

None dared to dismount

Search went on till five evening

Tensed up for ten hours


And fear gripped Dhikala camp

Even stroll unsafe

Tent reservations

Summarily cancelled Swiss

Cottages wound up

Morning March 29

An identical search was

Repeated: In time

A blood stain sixty

Meters west from where his vest

Was found a new clue

On a sal tree’s trunk

Man-eater rubbed his bloody

Face, his itch satisfied

Thus the westward search

Began and soon proved fruitful

Though widely scattered

Line of flattened grass

Broken shrubs a rider found

Led to a nalla

Two hundred meters

Distant clearer blood stains on

Sand and boulder seen

At several spots

The sand bore tiger’s pug marks

He had left a clear

And all too fresh a

Trace at a spot in the earth

Along a nala bank

Where he had squatted

A while at seven meters

Bits and pieces of

Partly digested

Fish rice lay scattered, part of

Food gobbled in haste

Three four hours before

It had come out of his mouth

As a result of

Mahesh’s stomach

Getting squeezed what unseemly sight

For all forced to see

Uneven bumpy

Terrain elephants made to

Stand on even ground

Thirty terror-struck

Men with armed guards set out on

Foot to find remains

In every bush lurked

The man-eater ready to

Pounce on one of them

Earmarked as the next

The thought made them too cautious

Advanced stealthily

With their hearts thumping

Hours search- six bones on flat ground

Two loin upper arm

Two and rib bones two

Speechless with eyes full of tears

Stood around remains

The sight was enough

To show that the whole body

Was dragged to this spot

It has been observed

A tiger having killed prey

Drags it away for

Hundred meters and

Begins meal- twenty seven

Kilos at one go

Larger kills last for

Two to three days- only then

He begins anew

Small animal killed

Then every day go hunting

Forty hours had he

To eat fifty four

Kilos of unfortunate

Mahesh with two nights

Hence he had devoured

Even bones-after eating

The entire corpse he

Licked clean remaining

Long bones with his sand paper

Like tongue-since these bones

Were still fresh it was

Clear they belonged to Mahesh

Tiger’s latest kill

Assuming that they

Might come across some more bones

They combed three four times

The entire area

Within radius of something

Like eighteen meters

To no avail-no

Head spinal cord hip bone hair

Intestines feces

Tiger eats large bones?

Buffalo-calf: Skull snout horns

Spinal bones hip bone

Shin bones most of ribs

And hoofs left out compared to

These human bones soft

And plain given chance

Tiger will crush swallow them

True the skull is large

But the skull bone cracked

Open by his powers molar

Eats delicious brain

What plan man-eater

Used to kill Mahesh? When he

Was cutting the last

Few branches he saw

A tiger lurking in a

Bush-petrified he

Ran to Chetana

Eating sandan-he thought he

Would mount her and make

Her run away from

Danger- even if tiger

Pounced Chetana would

Fight him off, he had

Axe for emergency use

But the tiger struck

Him powerfully

His lethal paw landing square

On hips felling him

He collapsed headlong

Axe catapulting from grip

Fell a meter off

The tiger would not

Have harmed Mahesh if atop

The cow-elephant

When she saw the cat

She just bolted in panic

Where was her courage?

She removed herself

From danger site to safe spot

Well away from it

With Mahesh atop

Her morale grown high she would

Have fought the cat off

She had not seen him

Succumb to his injuries

She was expecting

Her master’s return

To where she was standing and

Then-take her back home

Park’s trained elephants

Are obedient loyal

Do not wander far

No matter how late

She will always wait to be

Taken to stables

When the mahawat

Finally located her

In pilu thickets

She had been waiting

For Mahesh over eighteen hours

No tikkad no jal

On March twenty nine

Ramganga to Dhikala

Came the director

Howard and eldest

Son Rajesh also came there

In seventies was

Howard- made shock of

Son’s death more unbearable

Life’s best part in park

In its service- a

Conscientious forest man

Mahesh worked eight years

As fodder cutter

Son’s untimely death left the

Old man grief stricken

He was visibly

Moved by words of sympathy

And condolences

By life-long colleagues

The few families who live

In Dhikala have

“No amenities

Which make for a happy and

Comfortable life!”

Consequently lack

Of minimum comforts has

Created strong bonds

Among these people

They are one large and close-knit

Harmonious group

No wonder then that

Everyone condoled Howard

With eyes full of tears

Man-eater trapping

Efforts failed in spite of good

Strategies applied

It is a great tale

The director held record

Unbettered so far

For taking a cat-

A man-eating tiger- alive

In Uttar Pradesh

On March thirty

Nineteen eighty, two calves

Buffalo tethered

Two places apart

Baits to entice man-eater

Who killed ate Mahesh

They were a spot near

Water-hole Chua Sot and

One where Mahesh died

While no tiger came

To where Mahesh was felled one

Came to the other

Killed and ate the calf

Another calf was tied at

Same spot- the tiger

Repeated the feat

Four were eaten-one died a

Natural death on

The third day-looked sick

It was buried at same spot

Large boulders were placed

On the spot as mark

Of identity-the boss

Kept watch from machan

A sandan tree near

The Chua Sot water-hole

Closeby was the spot

Where the calves were tied

In succession-he had made

Up his mind to find

Mahesh’s killer

Not an innocent tiger

He saw two tigers

One a thick- set beast

The other a slim bodied

Cat- both came to lift

The bait in daytime

The thick- set braver- he would

Lift in front of guards

Despite his vigil

He could not be sure about

The man-eating cat

Ultimately he

Had to give up hope to trap

The killer tiger

Forest guards noted

Two weeks after calf burial

Empty was the pit

It was found dug up

But only a jackal does

Such demeaning act

So thought Nautyal

The search party chief:

Back on killer’s trail:

Mahesh’s killer

The man-eater Chua Sot’s

The same man-eater

Apparently seen

In Dhikala’s neighbourhood

Often by mahouts

The beast was wont to

Frequent Bichhu bhoji’s round

Water-hole for sips

Some three weeks later

A tiger killed a chital

At eight thirty night

Near Nautiyal’s home

Two days later a tiger

Was seen near canteen

Late in the evening

Road traffic had not yet ceased

People scurried in

A tiger roaming

In that area during rains

Was not unusual

During rains clean ground

In the quarters is ideal

For tigers to rest

Because during rains

Grass grows profusely to great

Heights- no place to rest

For tigers in Chaud.

Such a tiger resting next

To houses-harmless

However even

Two and half months after his

Ghastly death it reeked

Earlier visits

To Ruina pool to film the

Gharials there had no

Need for armed guards as

Precaution we were in a

Hideout entire day

However in June

Nineteen eighty two without

Armed guard no visit

To jungles of the park

Fodder cutters no longer

Lopped Park’s milky trees

They only fed to

Elephants rohini twigs

Rohini trees were

Abundant in the

Surrounding woods Dhikala

Staff felt insecure

Convinced they were that

Once the monsoons set in they

Were in their last days

“Having tasted man,

The tiger would be stalking

Them for its next meal.”

That was during days

When man returned all he took

From woods, preserved soil.

His flesh and blood was

Tasted, once a man-eater

Pays to remain one

But no longer its

Business as usual its

So tasteless human flesh

“ In Uttar Pradesh

Once it tasted man never

Again it killed man”

Perhaps it tastes just

NPK Swaminathan’s

Trick made forests safe!

Having devoured one

Man each the Chua Sot and

Sonaripur cats

At Corbett Park and

Dudhwa did not kill any

Other human being.

Dhikala is the

Main draw of Park’s five two five

Square kms of wilds

Tourists enjoy it

Ten km stretch Lidkhalia

To Khinnauli and

Five km stretch from

Kamar Patta to Phulai

Within this block of

Fifty square kms

Eight tigers territory

Long term habitat

Their prey are chitals

Four thousand, sambhars sixty

Four hundred hog deer

And seven hundred

Wild boars - all are tiger’s food

Also porcupines

Peacocks are his prey

Six hundred and six creatures

For every tiger

One wonders then why

The park staff were so nervous

Perfectly safe Park!

New millennium

Is Dhikala so safe that

Eight is now just nought?

Corbett National Park

Twenty five years ago

Havoc by tusker

Forest guards’ two huts destroyed

In the Semal chaud

Bajrani forest’s

Sarpaduli Khinnauli

A wicked fellow

He wandered at will

In the park, forest dwellers

At their tether’s end

Road construction from

Dhikala to Kalagadh

Rogue in Kalagadh

In Paterpani

Rogue attacked labourer’s camp

Killing family

Pregnant wife husband

And their daughter- Lord Ganesh

Entrusted tusker

To destroy monster

Born in their camp- such belief

Consoled simple folk

And simple folk are

Nearer God – according to

Alexis Carrel!

Reckless obstinate

The killer had brushed aside

Prevention attempts

To drive him away

From the camp- even huts set

On fire proved useless

He triumphed- it is

Elephant territory

Quit or else face it

He demonstrated

Making nuisance of himself

For one and half hours

When he finally

Left for greener pastures they

Thanked God Almighty!

The killer appeared

In Dhikala-Khinnauli

Driving Park staff off

Killer’s rear right leg

Had severe injuries

It pained him too much

Cried in agony

Limped dragging his maimed leg

Circular imprint

Possibly greed for

Ivory caused injury

All humans his foes

Killer elephant

So branded he was marked for


Dangerous mission

But precludes error killing

‘Innocent’ other

The shikars set out

On three cow elephants to

Search and destroy him

They found the red eared

In Khinnauli woods- the rogue

Charged towards the tamed

Ten bullet fire burst

Sadly felled him off in his

Own territory!

End of Haikus by R. Ashok Kumar- 12 March 2005

1/13, Telec Officers’ CHS Ltd

Plot 30 Sector 17 Vashi Navi Mumbai-400703


Supplement for Haiku Haiku Hark

Corbett National Park

18 February 2011

The Ramganga Dam-1975

She who knows not and

Knows not that she knows not

Is a fool, please shun her

She who knows not and

Knows that she knows not

Is a child- please do teach her

She who knows and

Knows not that she knows

Is asleep-Please do wake her up

She who knows and

Knows that she knows is wise

Please do follow her

-----Ancient Arab Proverb


Rising near Gairsain

Chamoli District UP

Is the Ramganga


Flows through Himalay

Hundreds plus kilometers

Then hits Corbett Park


Kalagadh, Bijnor

And Moradabad is passed

Then into Ganga....


Summer sees her dry

But monsoon inundates her!

ten k cumecs rate


Rushing currents flood

Wreaking destruction nearby

Man-made disaster


British world conquest

Via sea power began this

Destroying balance



Forests all destroyed!

Dam the Ramganga and use

Its free flow: easy!


Multipurpose dam

Design for Kalagadh drawn up

Glaring lacuna!


Glaring lacuna:

Direct heating up of the earth

Specialists know not!


Dreadful posting there

No government official wants!

Oh! Kalapani


Ramganga valley

Survey began in the Year

Of Independence!


Fourteen years surveyed

Dam building started at last

When China attacked!


Ramganga rockfilled

Hundred twenty metre high

Tallest then Asia's


North of Kalagadh

6 kilometers, stream dammed

Park's Southwest border


The earth and boulders

From Ramganga river bed

They excavated


Two hundred machines

Operated round the clock

Ancient fusion freed!


Central workshop dam's

Became RAM hub of them all

Repaired for more work!


Before laying earth

It was processed at seven

Hundred tons per hour


Dam's construction took

Forty two lakh meter cubed

Of earth and gravel


Ten thousand workers

A toll of hundred lives taken

One life costs how much?


Five hundred fifty

Dedicated engineers

Created the dam


Seven score six crores

In rupees did the dam cost

For power and farming


Ten score megawatts

Quarter less than six hectares

Dam's capacity!


Reservoir filled up

In 1978

Four score square km's


Wild area submerged

Two score two square km's gone

Forever under!


Lost was tiger haunt

Major portion of Boksad

And Dhikala chaud



The deer, tiger and others

Migrated elsewhere


Dam waters released

Several chital, hogdeer

Supreme sacrifice!


Fifteen score perished

In one single year alone

Poisonous lake, snails


With time things improved

By nineteenseventysix

No chital mass deaths

Dam era


Elephant herds bathed

Happily in the waters

Thirsty herds chital!


Migratory birds

Visit lake every winter

Geese ducks teals seagulls


Crocodoiles breeding

Better bird watching, lake's gifts

Boating and sailing


Wild animals poached

Beyond lake for meat and skin

Tigers shot dead: greed


Five tiger skins gift

In 1975

A zamindar got


A criminal tribe

Expert tiger hunters in:

Hardwar Ramnagar


The Kanjars are they

They know the hilly region

They trap the tigers


Tiger pug marks: guides

For spring loaded iron traps

Placed over a pit


30 cm deep

Circumference also same

Trap secured to pegs


Trap secured to pegs

Trap secured to pegs With chains

Set in the evenings


A piece of coarse cloth

Spread above the trap making

Perfect camouflage


A few such traps set

Repair to riverside camps:

Evil to the fore!


Dinner,bath and rest

See the traps early morning

Tiger tiger trapped!


Once trapped tiger

Can never ever escape

Snarling at Kanjars


They kill trapped tigers

By piercing the mouth's inside

WiTH their spears: Skin spared


Dead tiger is skinned

Skin treated with salt, alum

Then dried in the woods


To combat poachers

Walkie-talkie sets with guards

Report to HQ!


A jet propelled boat

Catch poachers at lake's far side

Remember Edmund


Paterpani Dam

Lush green forest and nalas

What a change wrought there


A winding rough road

Paterpani- Dhikala

Grass half meter high


Beam of jeep's headlights

Nightjars on the road's middle

Looking for some eats


Jeep hair's breadth away

The jars fly across the road

In blinding headlights


Baandh ka sawaal

Look at the other side dam's

Sawaal hai bhai!


Direct heating up

Thats what the dams are doing

To dear Mother Earth


Thus its climate change

Design's glaring lacuna

For water needs


The Ramganga Dams

Together with other dams

Cause worldwide earthquakes


Earthquake causation

Is incontrovertible

Yes dams cause earthquakes


Daily storage surge

magnitude order higher

Than Mount Everest


Giant sledge hammers

At gravity centre dams'

Love, Raleigh wave surge!


Such huge wave surges

Round earth's crust every second

Create great earthquakes!


Dams gravity slaves!

Trees defy earth's gravity

Waters shared worldwide


Giant pumps the trees

Reverse osmosis helps them

To defy gravity


Trees transpire waters

Their own weight every day

Even in monsoon!


Releasing waters

Held by them during the nights

Ramganga gentle!


Submerged by the dam

Two score square kilometers

Forests forever


Whats lost is unique

Plantation cannot make up

Diverse life forms gone


Even today dams

On the anvil: Water thirst!

Chernobyls often!


God created trees

Infinitely better than dams!

Groundwater storage!


From food living beings!

Food comes from rain by nature!



Become normal beings!

Work only by the body



Eschew extensions

Nature interconnects all

In diverse powers!


Nature fulfills need

Greed tears nature apart,kills!

All beauty tarnished!


Think: Living beings!

Design around ignorance!

Unknowable best!