Ok, so I personally prefer dogs to cats, anyday... but that doesn’t mean the exotic big cats should entirely avoid me! In my 2 years at the IITB campus, with its reputation for leopards (or panthers) in the monsoons, I never saw one; not even a captured one. People ran into them on bicycles (Gau & Hemant), people petted the cubs and got themselves clawed by the mother (honestly, did the moron take them for kittens?!), my buddies had a ring-side view of a dog being hunted down by the panther in the quadrangle of or very own IDC . But never me... never even heard a distant roar. :/
Before that, we had been to the Sunderbans, during our 4th year study tour... Sam claims they saw the tiger from the motor boat. As ever, I didn’t !
Even today, we visited the Corbett National Park... woke up early morning for the safari in that bumpy Jeep. But no luck with tigers. Look at all the deer- spotted (Chittal?), Sambar, barking deer; all of them stupid and supremely confident! They stick their heads up when they hear our Jeep, and stare at us in the face... (which is good for camera shots, not to mention, even better for GUN-SHOTS!). Compare that with the tiger... more powerful, stealthy... completely camouflaged.
I do seem to have exceptional luck with all sorts of reptiles though. At the Powai campus, it was 3 kinds of snakes (a ‘dhaaman’- viper, cobra, and some small, thin, slimey thingy), and a couple of crocs. Also saw a lot of crocs in the Sunderbans. Monstrous, crowned lizards at the Nawab's dilapidated Falaknuma palace in Hyderabad. And here in Corbett, saw a couple of 4 feet long monitor lizards, and small one in our room. Besides, of course, a whole lot of birds!!! Pheasants, woodpeckers, kingfishers, and a scores of other unfamiliar ones.
The place we’re staying at is Camp Riverwild- nicely designed log-huts on the banks of the Kosi. We took long walks along the pebbled river-bed, yesterday n today. Feels nice... Sam’s good at skimming stones on the river .Relaxing time...
We have trip planned for Rajasthan too... maybe I'll spot some tigers at Ranthambore?
P.S.- Hahh!!! As always, no luck... they should call all these places "Deer Reserves" instead of "Tiger Reserves". The Indian Bengal tiger is a mythological beast, as far as I am concerened. Just look at all the deer... they don't seem to care a hoot, because they probably know there aren't any tigers to attack thm