Secrets Of Ranthambore... That Locals Don't Want You To Know


Credit: Varun Suchday

Photo of Secrets Of Ranthambore... That Locals Don't Want You To Know by Varun Suchday


"Did you hear the call?" Arvind Meena, the naturalist asked.

The driver drove in a hurry towards the howling. I was bemused. Arvind noticed my confusion, smiled and said, "Wait".

As the car came to a stop, he explained, "Those monkeys on the trees provide aerial surveillance and the deer are the eyes on the ground. Whoever sees a tiger first, gives the warning call. Notice the four chitals sitting in four different directions? They continuously scan the surroundings for predatory movement. The herd always grazes within the radius of these four guardians."

Photo of Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan by Varun Suchday

Just as he finished explaining, a monkey gave the call from the top. A flurry of action followed in the trees as well as on the ground. All the deer ran for their lives and the monkeys jumped trees as if their lives depended on it. The area was clear within seconds. I had heard and read about symbiotic relationships in the wild but seeing it in person was a revelation. Order in the jungle, a line of communication without a language. And, this symbiotic relationship isn't limited to just the deer and the monkeys. There is a third beneficiary of this symbiosis - humans. Naturalists, guides and tourists depend on these calls to spot tigers.

Amidst all this, I also noticed an oddity. Ancient Hindu scriptures often mention the 'monkey mind' - an unsettled and restless mind like that of a monkey. Yet here in the jungle I saw fully focused monkeys concentrated on the solitary task of spotting the big cats.

The obedient children of the jungle

Tiger spotting is a matter of chance. I've seen numerous photos of tiger pugmarks on Instagram and Facebook. These photos represent disappointment more than anything else. Knowing the odds, I wasn't ripe with expectations. We waited next to a water hole because Arvind noticed some movement elsewhere and predicted that a tiger might come this way. I couldn't control my nervy excitement. I had never spotted a big cat in the wild and the thought of it gave me goosebumps. Binocs, camera and the phone were on alert. One sight please, just one sight.

I dropped all three. I lost my breath as my eyes fell on 

Photo of Secrets Of Ranthambore... That Locals Don't Want You To Know by Varun Suchday

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