Both African and Indian Safaris serve different purposes. While African Safaris showcase wildlife in a landscape – easily seen and tracked; Indian Safaris is where the thrill lies. One maneuvers through the dense jungle, tracks the pug marks left by the big cat, hears and understands the forest for the message it gives you on the movement of the Tiger and other species around. Each alarm call has a meaning. All of this to get a head on experience with the biggest cat, The Tiger.
A piece is broken, ripped apart and smashed into another. Once together but now torn apart. The diversity today was once unity. The false opposing and competing patriotism constructed between the inhabitants of lands that share a history of resistance and resilience. What am I talking about? The continental drift which separated Africa from India making them competing partners in wildlife tourism over a global pool of biodiversity.
Teelu: “Hey Lambardo the lion, how are things going?”
Lambardo: “Ah! Nothing much, the influx of tourist is increasing year by year, it’s tough to get any privacy.”
“How are things back in India, Teelu the tiger?”
Teelu: “Ah same here, tourism increasing more eyes everywhere.”
So Lambardo, I know nothing about Africa. What is the scene like there?
Ah well, here we have National parks and private game reserves.
I have heard about National parks, but what is the deal with this private stuff?
Do you get more privacy?
Ohh no! no! Exactly the opposite actually.
Private Game reserves as the name suggest are owned by private individuals.
Hence the safaris do not need to follow the defined trails and timings as observed in the National Parks.
In India, we only have National parks which have pre-defined rules and guidelines to be followed.
There are fixed timings for safaris with two safaris a day in the morning and afternoon. Out here the visitors cannot leave the defined track (Similar in aspects with the National parks in Africa)
We know the timings, so we get around accordingly.
Habitat Comparison between Indian Safaris and African Safaris
Africa and India are large in size and cover different geographical areas, climate zones and forest types. (Africa is a massive continent which encompasses different countries, and if you would like a size comparison well than it is larger than China, America and India combined)
Comparing them both in entirety would be absurd and serve as a somnolent.
So to keeping it relevant let’s take Lambardo’s home, Kruger National park in South Africa (also cause it is popular) vis-à-vis Teelu’s home in India.
Kruger National Park is 20000 sq km which is huge especially in comparison to the National Parks in India which measure around 1000-2000 sq km each.
Hence for a fair comparison in the case of India, we shall take the Central Indian Jungle landscape which encompasses multiple national parks (E.g. Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench, Satpura and Panna) in the heart of India (these are popular tourist destinations as well)
So Teelu, tell me more about your home? Also, how is my cousin at your end doing?
Oh Lucky the Asiatic lion, Oh he is good, doing much better now.
But let’s talk about him later, for now, let’s get back to where we were.
The landscape is large and there are various habitats within Central India itself. The forests are primarily moist and dry deciduous with rocky hills dotted with beautiful grasslands. Average height above sea level is around 600-800 meters.
I am an ambush hunter and need cover to hunt, hence the habitat is dense and not too open.
In dense forests like the ones found in India, the density of animals is low when compared to Kruger. Also due to the vegetation and terrain, herds are smaller and consequently, you spot lesser animals when on a safari condition yourself accordingly on your visit here).
Alarm calls of herbivores and pugmarks give me away and are used as tracking tools as spotting me is not easy (also I am built for stealth and my loner attitude doesn’t at all help the cause of the tourist).
Visitors come to see me in open safari vehicles. Some parks do allow private passenger vehicles inside (need to check with them prior to your visit). However, I would recommend taking the jeeps registered with the national park. They are commandeered by locals who know their whereabouts in the jungle, also the jeeps are better suited to navigate through the terrain. A limited number of cars are allowed inside during a particular time, so plan in advance (not for you though, we have the back door).
Below is the low down of the seasons and what to expect in India.
|Seasons in India|
|October (a little rainy, hot and cold)||The park has just opened. Vegetation is dense. Beginning of the month may witness a few goodbye monsoon showers. Hot and humid in the beginning, however, starts to cool down towards the end of the month.|
|November – February (Winter)||Winter is setting in. Mornings are chilly, warm wear is required. Temperatures range from 5-30 degrees Celsius.
Arrival time for migratory birds and newborns in the park.
Vegetation is dense in the beginning and then it begins to dry.
|March – June (Summer)||The onset of summer. Park is dry and visibility is the best at this time of the year. Weather is hot with temperatures ranging between 21- 41 degrees Celsius.
Waterholes are a good place to spot animals.
|July – September (Monsoon)||Monsoon time. The core area of the park is shut and this is offseason.|
Lambardo: “Thank you Teelu! For sharing your insights. This was very useful!”
Kruger is amazing in itself; it is a large area and comprises of a multitude of habitats. The landscape can be best characterized by a savanna biome. Rainfall is sparse averaging 450-500mm. The park is a large, contiguous area, flat to gently undulating. Average height is around 200-300 meters. The trees commonly found are Mopane, Knob-thorn and Red Bushwillow surrounded by grasslands.
Visibility is good, the herds are large and spotting animals is much easier in comparison. The game drives are conducted in open vehicles and there is an option of self-drive as well. (Advice on opting for the open safari vehicle remains the same). Just as you, I would second the open safari vehicle as my first choice. We lions are far more social than your kind Teelu, hence spotting us is slightly easier. Sticking to your format Teelu!
|April (Fall)||The transition from summer to winter.
The rain ceases and the temperature begins to cool down.
|May –September (Winter)||Characterized by being cold and parched. The vegetation is dry and short offering good visibility. Animals congregate around water holes. Mornings are cold, hence warm wear is required.
Temperatures fluctuate between 9-27 degrees Celsius.
|October (Spring)||The transition from winter to the summer.
The start of the month is dry and the end of the month sees the arrival of rains.
|November – March (Summer)||Heat accompanied by rain. Temperatures ranging between 19-33 degrees Celsius. The park is lush green and the water bodies start to fill.
The arrival time for migratory birds and also newborns in the park.
Beware of mosquitos!
Best time of the year to visit
I will leave that for you to decide
Do you enjoy the cold dew mornings in winter, with dapple light filtering the forest floor and separating the kissing mist from the surface?
Or enjoy the brightly colored forest, with flowers blossoming, the dry leaves scratching the air and falling to the floor?
Do you enjoy the slap of cold air on your face and the light blue sky enveloped over you with soft sun rays caressing your skin?
Or the smell of moist mud with the colour green in your eye and the sound of flowing water in your ear?
(That did not help at all! Regrettably, we do not know what is best and not best; they are all but changing seasons to us, nature transforming into different forms)
Wow! Both the places so different and yet actually, just a piece of the same puzzle.
So much to look forward to, and so little time!
Let us introduce you to some of the members of the wild family.
|Big Cats||Royal Bengal Tiger||African Lion|
|Big Cats||Indian Leopard||African Leopard|
|Cat||Rusty spotted cat||African wild cat|
|Dog||Dhole / Indian wild dog||African wild dogs / Painted dogs|
|Dog||Golden jackal||Black-backed jackal|
|Dog||Indian fox||Bat-eared fox|
|Hyena||Striped Hyena||Spotted Hyena|
|Odd toed ungulates||Black Rhinoceros|
|Odd toed ungulates||White Rhinoceros|
|Odd toed ungulates||Plains Zebra|
|Reptile||Marsh Crocodile||Nile Crocodile|
|Primate||Northern Plains Langur||Chacma Baboon|
|Primate||Rhesus Macaque||Vervet monkey|
|Deer (India) / Antelope (Africa)||Spotted deer||Common Wildebeest|
|Deer (India) / Antelope (Africa)||Sambhar||Greater Kudu|
|Deer (India) / Antelope (Africa)||Barking deer||Bushbuck|
|Deer (India) / Antelope (Africa)||Swamp deer||Nyala|
|Deer (India) / Antelope (Africa)||Mouse deer||Roan Antelope|
|Antelope||Black buck||Sharpes Grysbok|
|Antelope||Four-horned antelope||Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest|
|Mongoose||Ruddy mongoose||Slender mongoose|
|Mongoose||Grey mongoose||Common dwarf mongoose|
|Civet and genet||Common Palm civet||African civet|
|Civet and genet||Small Indian civet||Small-spotted genet|
|Civet and genet||Large-spotted genet|
|Porcupine||Indian crested porcupine||Cape porcupine|
|Pangolin||Indian Pangolin||Cape Pangolin|
|Badger||Honey Badger||Honey Badger|
|Otter||Smooth-coated otter||Cape otter|
*This list is not an exhaustive list of all the mammals found.
**Many of the mammals listed above are nocturnal and are rare to see when on safari.
***India is also home to the Asian elephant, Great Indian rhinoceros and the Asiatic lion; however, they inhabit a different area of the country.
Africa and India as a whole are home to a plethora of flora and fauna waiting to be seen & discovered.
Teelu: “You know Lambardo, un-regulated tourism has its negative effects on us and our homes however having said that without any tourism at all, we may not have been here.”
Lambardo: “Have you lost your mind! What are you talking about Teelu?”
Teelu: “The capitalist machinery although paradoxical, is what keeps us safe.”
“Tourist investing time and money to catch a glimpse of us in the wild is what in turn is ensuring we are protected.”
“There have been cases where national parks in India which are not as popular, have experienced a decline in their habitat and wildlife population through poaching and encroachment.”
“Revenue and publicity from tourism is an incentive for local communities and the forest management to protect these sacred groves.”
So on behalf of all the denizens of the Jungle, Teelu the tiger and Lambardo the lion welcome you all to come and experience the magic.