It was a day well spent. A day spent in cradle of Mother nature. Pobitora is a wildlife sanctuary, around 30 kms from Guwahati. It is approximately one and a half hour drive by car. As you move away from the hustle and bustle of city, the simple small dhabas meet your eye, and tempt your taste buds.
The ambience in these dhabas is nice and natural. There is no pretense whatsoever. The service is slow and unhurried. You can feel your time slowly ticking away in the humdrum of this quiet village life. The girl with oiled hair, local attire and an exceedingly sweet smile greets you, and you are withheld in the charms of this rustic rural life. The food is simple and sumptuous.
Once you reach the sanctuary and begin your jeep safari you are transported to another world. The dusty path carved in between the wilderness of the elephant grass, the trees and wild exorbitant bushes cast a magic spell on you.
You see the wild big black boars disappearing as soon as they make an appearance. You spot their young cubs, their bodies striped and snouts pouting following soon behind. The idyllic elephant stands far away in the distance. You can barely make out the ginormous outline of the gentle giant in the hazy fog of the winter day.
But the one that holds maximum adoration in these forests and grasslands of Assam is the great Indian one horned rhinoceros. These majestic creatures have a coat so thick that they seem invulnerable. They are near sighted, but with an extremely sharp sense of smell.
It seems as if they are accustomed to excited spectators in swishing jeeps, because they hardly take any notice of us. They go on enjoying their drill of a lazy day. Eat, sleep and repeat. No competition, no ownership, only positive growth and simple survival.
There is a strong silence that devours this entire experience. The silence and stillness of the jungle. The silence of the eloquence of the animals. They are all there, essentially existing; but they know that careless chatter amounts to nothing. The whole atmosphere is meditative.
Next you pass a vast expanse of lake and see over a thousand migratory birds resting, taking flight, chirping and enjoying their stay. It is as if sounds of excitement and laughter fill up the sky. The hazy sun reflects through the sparkling clean waters of the lake. The whole place is lighted from a soft sallow exuberance of the afternoon sun.
All these moments are like small treasures to be captured and kept in the deeper realms of your mind. Moments of everlasting peace and tranquility. You wish to leave a part of your soul behind just to remind yourself every day, that – you are just a miniscule creation of the beautiful loving God who made so much more.
While on my way back, I bought beautiful bamboo sculptures of the animals made by local artisans. They now adorn the showcase of my living room and remind me of this day well spent.
Now the facts. The rhino poaching has significantly reduced a lot over the years, with all credit to the forest rangers. Also, Pobitaro wildlife sanctuary has the maximum density of rhinos, across Assam. In our one hour jeep ride, we came across 10 of these magnificent beings. But this increased animal density has also given rise to some man animal conflict in the region.
This was my third visit to the same sanctuary and this time it was hard not to miss the growing scale of industrialization around the area. Most prominent was a brick kiln established just within 5 kms of the gate of the sanctuary.
Ofcourse the people living in vicinity need livelihood and sources of income. I am no expert. But maybe some better alternatives can be thought of, instead of releasing tons of black smoke in the pristine clear environment? 🤔
I grew up on stories and adventures of the English man Jim Corbet. More than his hunting skills, I was enamored by his astute description of the forest area. He was also one amongst the first to recognize the man animal conflict. He also pointed out how we erode and destroy our forests for leisure. He was the first to speak up against hunting for leisure during British Raj of India. It was to commemorate his efforts that we have Jim Corbet National Park in Uttarakhand. I have been there. And the thrill of watching a tiger in its natural setting is an indescribable experience.
So maybe we need less mindless development and more environmentally sustainable growth. This is not only a question for the future developers and innovators and politicians. It is of paramount importance to all of us. What goes around comes around. How we treat nature and other living beings, will one day come back to us.
The harsh realities of snow blizzard is chillingly dangerous. Let us all wake up and realize the truth before it is too late. We can all be environmentally sensitive, in many small insignificant ways, in every thing we do around us. Let us pledge. Together we can restore the relationship and the harmony of man, animal and earth.