Wildlife Sanctuaries of India–Jim Corbett National Park

Jeep Safari-Jim Corbett National Park

(Picture above is from Corbett National Park‘s official website)

I am going to be doing some brief research and write about each of the 53 Tiger Reserves in India from now on. They are governed by Project Tiger, which is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India.

Project Tiger was established in 1973 to “ensure a viable population of tiger in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological values and to preserve for all time, areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people.” Continue reading

An Introduction to India

View out of the Houseboat

View out of the Houseboat

My name is Kendra, and last week I arrived in Cochin, India. I am a recent graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, and I traveled here to work for four months with Raxa Collective to learn more about Conservation-tourism in action.

Before I arrived in India I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the culture and food were different from the western style I grew up with, but when I arrived I was completely spellbound by what I experienced. My first sights of India came during a drive I took through the southern city of Cochin, and it was amazing. I didn’t expect it to be so full of life and color, especially in the rain. I saw women in beautiful saris racing across the busy streets in the rain and billboards advertising intricate and colorful jewelry. This was my first view of India, and despite my earlier apprehension I was enthralled with it. Continue reading

State to State

Kerala vs. Tamil NaduI live in New Jersey and go to school in New York, and consequently, I have crossed the border into New York on many occasions.  During my drives, I often don’t even realize when I cross the border; the only thing that lets me know is a small sign that welcomes me to the state of New York.  Almost a product of its name- the United States of America- this holds true for many states across the United States.  When you travel between neighboring states, the principal language is the same (English), and apart from a few exceptions, people usually both look and sound similar.

As part of my summer interning at Raxa Collective, I am currently staying in Thekkady, which is located in the Indian state of Kerala.  A couple days ago, a few colleagues and I decided to go for a ride to one of the neighboring states, Tamil Nadu.  Because of my experiences in the United States, I expected both Kerala and Tamil Nadu to be very similar.  Boy, was I wrong.  While the only indicator that signaled my entrance into Tamil Nadu was a gate manually operated by a few workers, it was clearly evident that I was somewhere different. Continue reading

“Suzuki, Samurai, No Problem”

I frantically grabbed the phone and dialed the front desk.  I hastily told the night auditor of my situation and begged him to send help.  Within minutes, not one but two maintenance men were at the entry path leading to my room to redirect the furry night creature that (in my imagination, at least) seemed intent on spending the night too close for my comfort.  A few minutes later “it” had exited back to the forest, and I had met three new members of Cardamom County, one of whom managed to gain my trust through a single phone call: Faruk.

He works the night shift at Cardamom County and is quite a remarkable person.  This gentleman is oft my unfortunate sounding board when I can’t sleep or arise before the rooster crows (a reality next to the beautifully quaint farm here).  He was manning the reception desk after my enlightening night visit to the kitchen.  When I wrote about meeting Jimmy he said if I ever were to write about him I should use him as an example of night shift mishaps, laziness, or incompetency.  I didn’t think much of his suggestion at the time, but in hindsight, I scoff at the thought of doing such a thing; Faruk is likely the furthest thing from the aforementioned negativity. Continue reading

Thekkady’s Streets

Although I thoroughly enjoy viewing street photography for its spontaneity, diversity, and ability to display the flow of life of any culture, I generally refrain from partaking due to a generally awkward disposition and inhibitions around strangers. Being unusually tall (to Indians) and quite white, I also get a lot of stares as it is, and waving a camera around at people certainly does not make me go unnoticed. However, in areas more frequented by ‘foreigners’ such as Thekkady, a tall Caucasian isn’t all that exciting, and many locals are in fact enthusiastic to have their pictures taken.

Continue reading

Emergence

Rainforests have dense canopies. The plants in the undergrowth struggle to survive using the limited sunlight that reaches the lower levels of the jungle, and many plants don’t make it. When the weak plants die, their lifeforce nourishes the survivors. It has been this way for millions of years, and walking through the forest, the evidence crunches and crackles underfoot, or in more moist areas, decomposes rapidly into a soft, nutritious humus. Easing oneself out of the forest and into a clearing can be soothing – only upon emerging into the vivid sunlight and open air does one realize how resonant the forest can be. Continue reading

Non-Bird of the Day: Flying Fox (Thekkady, India)

They come out before dawn, and again at dusk, and it is easy to confuse them with birds–eagle-sized at that– when they circle around Cardamom County.  Flying foxes are good neighbors, hanging around the bamboo stand across the way from us in the Periyar Reserve during the day; munching on insects during the darker hours.