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Fellow James Robertson describes his time in India at the S&S annual meeting


– Fellow –

In November, several Fellows gathered in Delhi for the annual Shackleton & Selous Society meeting. Mandip Singh Soin hosted the event which was attended by Howard Saunders, James RobertsonTim Melesi, and Dennis Rogers.   Over the course of a few lively days, the Fellows caught up with each other, hosted a marketing event, and saw India’s beauty for themselves.

Fellow James Robertson describes his experience below:

Abigail and I travelled to India in November for a Shackleton & Selous get-together. We spent a day in Old Delhi visiting the crowded city markets, which was so alien to me, but incredibly good fun. We were so impressed by the company that guided us through the chaos, giving us such a personalised view into the heart of that city. We tasted jelabi in a street stall that hadn’t changed for 150 years – still serving these sweet treats made to a secret family recipe. We crushed into a paratha restaurant with fifty locals to sample these stuffed breads and washed them down with delicious lassi. We have been to India on numerous occasions, and are both smitten by the experiences every time. Ranthambhore is possibly the best known tiger park with its decaying temples and palaces providing cool sanctuary for these, the largest of the big cats. What a change from my last visit there in the 1990’s, when there were only 15 tigers and they were still being poached. Today the number has risen to over 60 and we saw 9, without trying too hard. We shared our car with Ghandi’s great grandson, who is an avid conservationist and photographer, and he gave us an insight into a new generation in that country. We also saw 5 sloth bears, (much rarer than the tiger) and a leopard. It is very different to the African experience, but one has to appreciate the large numbers of Indians getting such a thrill out of wildlife viewing. Everyone is so excited and very noisy, but the tigers are well habituated and ignore it all ambling just feet away from our car allowing for amazing photographic opportunities.

We have been to India on numerous occasions, and are both smitten by the experiences every time. Ranthambhore is possibly the best known tiger park with its decaying temples and palaces providing cool sanctuary for these, the largest of the big cats. What a change from my last visit there in the 1990’s, when there were only 15 tigers and they were still being poached. Today the number has risen to over 60 and we saw 9, without trying too hard. We shared our car with Ghandi’s great grandson, who is an avid conservationist and photographer, and he gave us an insight into a new generation in that country. We also saw 5 sloth bears, (much rarer than the tiger) and a leopard. It is very different to the African experience, but one has to appreciate the large numbers of Indians getting such a thrill out of wildlife viewing. Everyone is so excited and very noisy, but the tigers are well habituated and ignore it all ambling just feet away from our car allowing for amazing photographic opportunities.

Our second destination was Jawai, also in Rajasthan. Fascinating, as it is a community area where the Rabari people, stunningly attired, coexist with 60 known leopard. Incredible to sit viewing these normally shy cats with the people herding stock around the stunning kopjes that they live on. Here they are the primary predator, and have evolved to live more socially, so we were able to see groups on one single kopje in amongst brightly painted temples and shrines. They do take the Rabari’s goats, but these people are incredibly accepting, considering that it as payment to their gods and even thanking the leopard for facilitating their sacrifices. I just wish we could transfer some similar thinking to this part of the World. Jawai Camp was also beautifully run, as well if not better that most high end camps here, so they are definitely learning from and improving on Africa, and may set the bench mark for us in the future.



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