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  • Writer's pictureRohit Pansare

A monsoon trip to remember…

Steve Irvin…..Austin Stevens…..Jeff Corwin….rings a bell?? All you ‘Animal’ (Planet) Fanatics out there, I am sure you would get an adrenalin rush just by listening to those names!! I am not lying when I say I had an action packed weekend! I have always wanted to experience wild creatures in their true habitat and I thank Vipul Ramanujand his Bike N Hike team for making it possible.

What would you call a trip where spotting and photographing herps (reptiles & amphibians) is the topmost priority? I was really looking forward to this trip and I wasn’t disappointed! Oh! Did I mention crocodiles? Well alright, it was just a baby croc (hell ya!!). Apart from that the we spotted seven snakes, notably, a baby Spectacled cobra( No, that’s not a typo, I really meant a COBRA!), Common Krait (one of the most dangerous snakes in India, to know more about the Big Four-Indian snakes read this) a wolf snake, common cat snake and the beautiful Checkered Keelback. We also spotted scores of bugs, beetles (a dung beetle that sadly was found out to be ‘foot’-kill in the morning), butterflies and moths. At the end gruelling treks and relaxing baths in the pool, handy tips on photography and continuous little bits of interaction with fellow participants (that included excellent photographers and also learners), and my weekend was complete and full of excitement!

This weekend, unlike my other lethargic, lazy non-productive weekends, often spent in office, was one of the best one’s I have had. I did something that I really loved – observing nature and photographing wildlife in their natural habitat without being scowled at by friends for not clicking enough of their portraits for Fb (To my friends reading the blog, no offence I do enjoy our little trips! How else will I get my profile pictures?). I have always been interested in nature photography. It helps me take a closer look at flowers, insects, birds and every other life form that is almost out of reach. Back in school I remember reading about dart frogs in the Amazon, utterly fascinated by their painted bodies and the deadly poison they carry, I got obsessed with frogs & toads. I dreamt (still do!) of walking on Gallapagos with its Giant tortoises or watching Komodo dragons going for the kill on the Komodo island. My favourite hang out during my school days was a quarry lake in Yeoor, Thane, Maharashtra, where my friends and I would often trek, even sometimes carrying our bicycles over our head. How I miss those treks!

Hiking in the Gir forest made me feel that I belonged there and I wished that such treks would go on forever. They awakened the dormant child in me, living a life that doesn’t know anything called fear and that has adventure staring in the face! Photos were secondary, what was important was the knowledge, the experience and the extraordinary manner in which the two days just got over with the blink of an eyelid. Of course the photos only complement my nostalgia. After a long time I have seen snakes at such close quarters and this trip definitely has triggered my curiosity and interest in reptiles. Often during the trip I felt like touching their beautifully textured skin and feeling them move on my hand! But then again I can still hear Vipul’s words echoing ‘Know your subject!’

The proudest moment for us in the workshop was when we received a certificate, which said that a sapling had been planted in our name! This was, as if, to remind us there is more to the world than what can be captured on our camera. Conservation is a cause that should be on the mind of every person. A forest for many maybe just a source of entertainment or a change of weather or an escape from the buzzing city life; but, we must understand that it might cease to exist in its current form if we don’t make an effort to conserve it!

This blog post goes out to Vipul, Amit, Farukh (our special guide for Gir) and the rest of the gang of ‘Bike N Hike‘ who proved that it doesn’t take a parselmouth to converse with snakes!

A handy tip: ‘Know your subject before you know your camera!‘

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