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Some more Adventure...

A visual census is usually held on Buddha Purnima (full moon night) that falls in the month of May because with no fog and trees/shrubs having mostly shed their leaves, the visibility is maximum for the night. Limited watering holes due to the scarcity of water in the peak of summer also makes it easy to man them. Machaans and hides are the common manmade shelters used for this purpose.

Sitting out for the night on a machaan in Ranthmabore with Sudhir, the forest guide. It was right under this machaan that the tiger ‘Broken Tail’ (it was Sudhir who told me his name) had paid a visit.
Collecting a PoP cast of the pugmark of Broken Tail the next morning.
The morning after Coming down from the hide after a vigilant night, you realise that you have run out of all rations including the last drop of water. As the sun reaches the top and spews fire on you, your throat goes parched dry and dehydration & desperation drive you to ‘filter’ with your kerchief the same water in which you saw bison trampling around with their hooves in the night, and actually go on to consume it. God!! Can’t believe a man is still alive after gulping down half a litre of that solution!
The tribal Korku folk of Melghat always say, ‘You see a tiger once when he has seen you ninety-nine times’. But you can always see signs of his presence in the forest like these scratch marks on the bark of a tree. A tiger makes these scratch marks with his sharp front claws as he cleans them and also uses them to mark his territory.
The scratching leaves secretions from glands between the toes on the bark of the tree, and these chemical messages work as flag-posts for other tigers who may intrude into the territory. These marks also give an idea of the animal’s size...a good two feet above a six footer here. Imagine what would happen if one were to run into this beast of a gentleman in that thicket!
Rappelling is one adventure sport not for the faint hearted. And if you have to go straight down vertically a thousand feet, then trust your harness more than your helmet!
All the way down... The dry waterfall sites in the month of May are a good place for rappelling, but you have to be careful of loose rocks that could easily dislodge from under your feet.
It is not wild animals alone that you have to be aware of when in the forest. Champakali is the extremely temperamental forest department elephant who lost her cool one tiger census night and let a bunch of greenhorns know who is boss when she walked down grazing idly to their machaan. As the boys tried to shoo her away, she just pulled down the branch of the tree on which their machaan was resting and the guys fell on the ground like ripe fruit. Her front legs were tied together, so luckily the boys were able to escape, but she vented her ire on a pair of jeans and shoes that were left behind in the melee . Imagine her strength as she ripped off the denim like a piece of paper...
Moral of the story Never mess with a female and hope to get away with it!
Spreading the Roar