The following is a pre-recorded account of my aspirations, dreams and expectations for the Elephant Expedition I am currently undertaking. Stay in touch for news of what really happens while I’m away!
The dreamy journal
In my wildest dreams (pun intended), I would have seen my first tiger today. Before we left for Nepal the news on the grapevine was that there were at least two tigresses with cubs in the area.
Billy Arjan Singh lives at Tiger Haven in Dudhwa on the northern edge of the Indian Plains, five miles from the frontier with Nepal. Here, where the flat lands make way for the sal forests of the Terai, Billy has transformed himself from hunter, to farmer, to passionate conservationist and photographer. Now, he is known for having kept a strange set of pets, including a dog, a leopard and a tigress. Billy knows more about tigers than anyone else in the area. Having contacted him by satellite phone, or via the Tree Tops tourist lodge, Billy would have been able to point our group in the right direction to look.
We might also have spotted our first rhino. When Niall McCann came out here to record a documentary for the Discovery channel a month or so before we did, he was able to report having seen no less than three rhinos with young. It is Niall who has arranged the DNA sampling for Cardiff University, where he works when he’s not being cool in front of TV cameras.
Worse perhaps than not spotting any wildlife, would be to find dead or dying animals. During our briefing day back in the UK, JBS told us a rather alarming tale from one of his previous expeditions. Having discovered tiger prints, the local trackers went in search of the animal, only to return with the dead beasts head and front paws. They guessed that it must have been injured, attacked and eaten by another tiger.
I really hope my first encounter with a wild tiger is not a similarly tragic one!