Kipling Country

16 Dec, 2014

Anne Wright was one of the founding members of WWF in India. She was also one of the 5 member team selected by our late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to allocate and identify areas that would become National Parks for Project Tiger back in 1972-73.
Belinda, Anne’s daughter was a wildlife photographer and an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker who worked for many years for National Geographic. She currently runs Wildlife Protection Society of India which focuses on wildlife crimes.
My experience at Kipling Camp was as unique as the camp itself. Unlike most Luxury Wilderness Lodges opening up around the country Kipling offered a truly different experience focusing on wilderness rather than on adding swimming pools and spas. The camp has the charm of forest bungalows and rest houses from the colonial days and definitely makes you feel like you have travelled back in time. All staff with the exception of Ivan and a small team of volunteers belong to the region. They have been working at Kipling Camp for decades. They were all very polite, helpful and always carried an infectious smile and truly looked happy to be part of the Kipling camp family. Since the dates of my trip were planned around a travel mart that took place in Bhopal it was all very last minute and I had not booked any safaris. This was great as it gave me a chance to explore the camp and the areas around it.
I started my day early with a bird walk in the adjoining buffer area accompanied by Ivan and our guide for the walk, Raheem. Raheem had grown-up with the Kipling Camp family and knows the area and the jungles surrounding the camp. He is an exceptional birder sometimes tracking and identifying birds just by their calls. We walked across a fire-line into the buffer forest, it was not until then did I realize that the fire-line and the buffer forest literally started at the boundary of the last cottage. I walked through the tall trees searching for birds that inhabited this beautiful forest. The early morning sunlight filtered through the leaves reflecting off spider webs that were between every other tree. Even though these were large webs spun by giant Wood-spiders you would definitely not see them and walk into them if it wasn’t for these small rays of sunlight. Just as I was trying to get the remains of a web off my face I stumbled over what I initially thought was a log, when I looked down I was amazed to see the scattered bones of recent tiger/ leopard kills. Raheem must have seen the surprized look on my face for he broke into a smile and said “this area is regularly visited by tigers and leopards and was a great place for the tiger to hunt when the chital herds came to the camp waterhole for a drink in the evening. The movement is less these days as the lantana has been cut”. Nature walks in the buffer forest usually means a lot of birding maybe a few scattered deer but nothing more, but walking through what I would like to call a ‘boneyard’ definitely got my pulse racing.