A safari during the monsoon is a very special experience indeed. While most parks in India close down for a few months during this period, Nagarhole (Rajiv Gandhi) National Park is still open. The forest floor at this time gets covered with a thick carpet of lush green and the canopy also closes with more leaves on every tree. It feels so special to be in the forest during this season. It was all the more special for me as this was the very first safari that I was guiding at Nagarhole.
The rains and the resulting thick undergrowth make it very difficult to spot animals this season. Giants like elephants and gaurs are also concealed sometimes under the cover of the Parthenium grass and Lantana bushes. But we had a very promising start to our safari this time. Only a couple of minutes after we had entered the park, we saw an Asian Elephant sporting huge tusks. The old chap was feeding merrily on the bark of a tree he had just torn down.
A few minutes later, we saw a small herd of Gaur. Although we were only able to see two or three of them, we suspected that there were more hiding in the bushes behind. We continued and saw plenty of Spotted Deer or Chital, Sambar, Wild Pigs and some more Gaur. Nagarhole has the highest density of prey animals in India; approximately 108 animals per square kilometre. This is comparable to the Savannahs of Africa. This figure was evident from the number of Chitals we saw during the safari. And once again, I am sure we only saw a mere fraction of the actual number, as more were definitely concealed in the dense undergrowth that was invisible to us.