by Dr Ram pravesh Ram and Dr Bablu Sundi
Our day started with lots of excitement and anticipation as we were going for a tiger safari. Everyone was really eager to see a tiger and it took us around 30 to 45 minutes to spot one. We saw ST-9, a female tigress who has her tail cut ( hence her name “poonchkati”). We were extremely lucky as our group was the first one she decided to grace with her presence. We followed her for 40 minutes, of which the last 15 minutes she spent in a large pond and everyone just observed her and clicked lots of pictures. We came back after 2 hours of safari, really happy and satisfied, and went for breakfast. After breakfast, we had a lecture taken by Dr Bilal Habib where we learnt about different types of collars that are used for tracking wild animals. He also told us about the history and technology of these collars.
After lunch, we were supposed to analyse our camera trap data, but we got news that a leopard carcass has been found in the forest, so we left to conduct a post mortem. Necropsy was conducted and the carcass disposed off by burning.
After the necropsy, we performed the practical part of tracking an animal through VHF radio collars. We were divided into two groups and each group was given a receiver and an antenna to locate the collar which was hidden in the forest. It was a great learning. We returned from field, made an impromptu plan of going to the terrace of the Sariska palace where we saw almost the entirety of Sariska tiger reserve and the Aravali, the oldest rock formation.. We learnt about the geography of the reserve and the adjoining Aravallis. Later in the evening, Dr Parag Nigam took a lecture on “Capturing Felids” where he told us about various drugs that are used, methodology, ethics and the management part of it. He also discussed quite a few cases with us which gave us further insight on how to capture an animal in a scientific and professional manner. The day ended with a sumptuous dinner.
[Please be aware the photos accompanying this blog post contain graphic images of a leopard undergoing post mortem]