It was Jan 1990, I was doing my 6th safari in Ranthambhore National Park. The previous 5 safaris yielded no Tiger sightings for me. This particular safari also got over, we came out of the national park. Sitting in the canter, journey back to the hotel began. It would have been only about half a mile when the driver braked, looked back at us and said, Tiger. Life returned to my feet and I jumped out of my slumber. My head literally went 360 degrees asking where, where, where. And in a matter of a second, everything froze, breath suspended, mouth wide open, eyes stuck, on the Tiger walking in front of our vehicle. My first Tiger in the wild, very big for my imagination, and 25 years hence I still remember the sight distinctly. It was love at first sight.
When I slept that night, that scene went over again and again in front of my eyes. Life had taken a beautiful turn. As if a dormant volcano had erupted. A seed got planted in my heart. Upon my return to Delhi, I read my first book on the Tiger, “Return of the Tiger”, by Shri Kailash Sankhla. It gave me a complete insight on the Tiger, past present and future. Very soon my research got me to interact with some Wildlife authorities in India, including Shri Divyabhanusinh Chavda, who happened to be my Boss at the Taj Group of Hotels. Interactions with him motivated me further and I visited many parks subsequently. Visits to these parks opened a whole new world for me. It did not take too long for me to realize that my life is going to revolve around wild Tigers. There were and there are still many problems facing the Tiger. Efforts of the Forest department are laudable on many grounds. I soon found the area where I could contribute. The biggest threat to Tigers today is the shrinking habitat due to increased human and cattle pressures. Dependency on the forest by the local community due to absence of any economy for them gave me a reason to work towards developing an alternate economy for the locals.
I soon realized that in India the Wildlife tourism was in primitive stages, it must be developed so that the local community could engage themselves in the same. The forest guides, drivers, staff in hotels and resorts would mostly come from local community. My search to do my part in saving the Tiger concluded with the birth of Nature Safari India in year 2000. Our motto became Conservation through Tourism.
Ever since we have been showcasing Indian Wildlife to the world, and exploring it ourselves simultaneously. With over 100 national parks, 500 wildlife sanctuaries and 49 Tiger reserves today, what India has to offer to the world is beyond comprehension by many still.
Today there are some popular parks as far as tourism is concerned which I like to call the celebrity parks., like, Jim Corbett, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambhore, Kanha, Kaziranga, Gir, Tadoba, Pench and a few more. Each of these parks is famous for some unique species. Lot of tourism now goes to these parks, thus giving these parks and communities based around these parks quite a few money earning opportunities. But there are many other lesser cousins who are as beautifully diverse if not more, and yet do not get a fraction of attention from general tourist. It is now our endeavor to promote some lesser known beautiful parks, increase tourism in the area thereby playing our role in saving the Tiger. Parks like Dudhwa, Pilibhit, Nandhaur, Amangarh, Sanjay, Valmiki to name a few would do weel with some controlled and responsible tourism. Join us on this mission to save one of the most beautiful predators on planet Earth, i say one predator, but that one predator is an umbrella species of our eco-system. If we save the Tiger, we save the eco-system thus saving a lot of species in the chain.