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The Myth of the Tiger (Corbett National Park)

By Raghavmodi @raghavmodi
The Myth of the Tiger (Corbett National Park)
The signs are all there. The smell at a particular spot as you drive by in the Jeep safari. The guide suddenly asking the Jeep to stop followed by 5 minutes of intense quietness and eventually nothingness. The abundance of pug marks everywhere, including outside the gate of our resort. Tiger scrap lying around nonchalantly on the ground. The talks by the guides and the hotel staff of sightings that have happened, just the other day, or better yet, just the night before. It's all very interesting. It's all very exciting. It's all very entertaining. But, is it true?
The Tiger has become a myth in places like Corbett National Park. During my recent four day visit, at a time when there should have been abundant animal sightings, all I spotted was the aptly named Spotted Deer and variety of birds. I did see a lot of pug marks. I also skipped over a lot of tiger and elephant scrap during my nature walks. But, in the end, I came back disappointed… at first.
The Myth of the Tiger (Corbett National Park)
The Myth of the Tiger (Corbett National Park)
In my heart I hope that these thoughts of people making up stories to attract tourists are false. I really want the sightings to be true. I really want to believe that a Tiger walked so close to our resort gate at night. But, there is a small, slight, doubt that is lingering in the back of my mind. One of the primary reasons for this doubt is that everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to have the same experience as I mentioned above. Almost everyone sees the pug marks, but not the tiger. The whole jeep stopping incidence happens with almost all jeeps. In fact the only tiger and elephant sightings that happened during our stay happened with guests who were friends of the owner.
The Myth of the Tiger (Corbett National Park)
I know I am being over critical and maybe even a tad jealous. It is after all a National Park and not a zoo. The entire reason for going to Corbett is to experience wildlife in its natural habitat. Whether the animals grace you with their presence is completely up to them. It's a gamble that each visitor takes. Some hit the jackpot, while others return home with photographs of monkeys and deer and leaves and flowers. If the whole thing is a facade, then I do find it hard to believe that there are people all over Corbett going around stamping pug marks across the park, or even dropping animal scrap everywhere. If they are, I think they deserve a standing ovation for doing this day in and day out.
The Myth of the Tiger (Corbett National Park)
In all honesty let’s face some facts. A Jeep safari lasts roughly two hours during which if you are like my four-year-old daughter, you will take a good 30 minute nap. If you are amongst the chosen few, eventually at some point you will get a peek at a tiger (or a herd of elephants). If you do happen to see one, there is a good chance you will forget about the other hour and a half that you spent wandering around the Park. The entire trip will boil down to those few minutes of actually seeing the Tiger. But, if you did not see anything, then the doubts and stories suddenly begin to sound true.   
The Myth of the Tiger (Corbett National Park)
So, is a trip to a National Park really worth it? YES! Being one with nature should never be about spotting a Tiger or any one animal. It's about having a new experience. It's about appreciating why nature is so important for us and our ecosystem. It's about finding out why something dreaded like Termites are extremely important for the preservation of forests. It's also about enjoying the beauty of nature; the amazing sunsets, the loud buzzing of the bees at the start of their mating season (fascinating yet scary), the different bird calls, even the crumpling sound of dry leaves as one walks through the jungle.
The Myth of the Tiger (Corbett National Park)
As I talk about this Myth of the Tiger with people, I get conflicting opinions. There are those who believe the pug marks are man made while others fall into the romance of the jungle and like me want to believe that the sightings are true. I probably will find it hard to go one way or another till the time I actually come across a Tiger in the wild. Unfortunately how that encounter will conclude I do not know. But, if you hear about me going to a National Park and never read another post from me, know this; I met a Tiger and while it did not end well for me the Tiger had one hell of a feast that night. 
For more photographs from the trip, please click here. 

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By Wilbur Hogle
posted on 18 October at 01:53
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