Thank you to Douglas Justice for both the write-up today and the photographs!
On a short vacation to India this time last year, one of our stops was Jim Corbett National Park, a fascinating mixed deciduous and evergreen forest and grassland reserve famous for tigers. The emptiness of the chaurs (rolling grasslands) was a beautiful antidote to the noise and chaos of the crowded towns and cities of northern India.
There were plenty of wild animals to be seen—this is standard fare for visitors to the park—but I admit I was more interested in the flora and stunning landscape. Our guides, Gurvinder Singh and Geeta Bhatnagarof (of Joint Adventures), were somewhat disappointed that we didn’t see any tigers, but there was plenty of evidence that the big cats were nearby. We could hear them roaring and purring (mating behaviour, evidently). I was so absorbed in plant watching, I hardly noticed. Let’s just say I didn’t get out of the vehicle to check out the fresh scratch marks on the bark of a Butea monosperma (flame-of-the-forest).
The first image, shot from the relative safety of our four-wheel drive vehicle, shows how easy it is to not see a tiger. Note that this grass, tentatively identified as Saccharum ravennae, has been burned. The area is routinely and systematically torched in the dry season both to discourage the forest from expanding, and shorten the grasses (some of which will grow to 8m or more), thus maintaining good wildlife-viewing opportunities.