Saturday, February 09, 2008

India -- February 8, 2008 – Into the Jungle

We saw a distant cousin of“Riki Tiki Tavi” the mongoose of Rudyerd Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” today at the edge of the jungle. We had left the monkeys and water buffalos behind and as we bumped our way down the road we saw the mongoose.

But that’s way ahead of the story. After lunch today, we hopped into the car for a look at the countryside around Love Center. Abi took us to the huge (400 km long) canal that helps distribute water for irrigation, and on the other side of it were the monkeys. These were city monkeys afraid or unable to go into the jungle and live a normal monkey. These troublemakers had been live trapped in a nearby city and taken out here and dumped. At this forest checkstation, they made a meager living by theft and finding some of their own food.

A retired wildlife ranger stopped and briefly chatted with us. He said that there were some tigers about, but many more leopards. The problem here is that people kill the tigers for hides and because they kill livestock and even people. There are several species of deer, too, he said. The lettering on the back of his old red car? “Desperado.”

After leaving the monkeys we travelled along the canal road, and that’s where the mongoose comes into the story. I didn’t even see it, as I was looking at my camera, unfortunately.

We stopped where some local people were loading sugarcane. The harvest is going on now, and much of what we passed as we drove here was sugarcane. Our stopping and looking caused the young people with the sugarcane loading crew to come and look at us. We were the most interesting thing they had seen for awhile. With no electricity and no TV, we were a pretty amazing site with our pale faces.

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