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Encounter with the crocodile

punjab Updated: May 13, 2013 09:05 IST
Samreet Mangat

A Nikon D5100 with two lenses and a camera bag is not lightweight gear for a female explorer to carry in case there is an emergency to run for one's life.

In April, my friend and I decided to see the beasts at the Crocodile Breeding Centre at Bhaur Saidan village, Thanesar, 22km from Kurukshetra, on the Kurukshetra-Pehowa state highway. Walking around the crocodiles on foot was obviously an insane decision when it's the territory of 24-25 big hunters. Moreover, April-May is the egg-laying time for crocodiles. A desire to see the lesser-known wildlife conservation area with the temptation of capturing the undomesticated into amazing frames led to the rules of behaving in a protected area being ignored by a crazy visitor, who had been many times to national wildlife parks.

Walking on foot inside the crocodile home didn't seem frightful when a white-breasted kingfisher perched gracefully on a tree along with the flock of egrets in the muddy grassland took my breath away. While I was taking the picture, my friend signalled me to a crocodile crossing the narrow pathway, that I eventually missed. Later, my friend told me that the aquatic tetrapod crept about 15 ft away from him to cross the narrow strip of land sandwiched between the two ponds. That was pretty close! But still we ignored the danger and kept advancing as we were taking a round of obedient farm animals in an isolated holding.

Our greed for encountering more and more crocodiles didn't stop until I was pointed again towards a big one resting on a small mound close to the bank of the pond. With much excitement, we climbed up to the mound and trotted close to the crocodile, forgetting that our each careless step was heading us into the beast's mouth. I was eager to take a closer picture of the crocodile, which my 55-300mm lens wouldn't capture from a distance. And as I walked nearer, the beast looked at me with an unpleasant countenance, the sight not to be forgotten for the rest of my life.

I ignored the threat of the ferocious hunter again. My friend, who had occupied a place behind me, too, didn't budge. The big killer that wanted solitude did not take this kindly. She took no time in giving me a terrifying look and charged with a big, open jaw of death. While running for our lives, my friend, concerned about my safety, grabbed my hand and pulled me harder. But the forceful draw led me to lose my balance, causing me to fall in a sideways roll. The fear of an infuriated meat-eater savaging me was enough to make me forget my pain and aches. Fortunately, by then the crocodile had stopped following us. Probably she was much interested in regulating her body temperature in the open or might be in a mood to lay eggs or it was only a grand warning to let her have privacy.

Prior research on the internet had informed me about a high mound been erected inside the breeding centre to let visitors see crocodiles from a distance, but such a place was not evident or we might have inattentively ignored the presence of any such safe elevated place.

The encounter with the crocodile in the wilderness gave us practical wisdom that a designated wildlife conservation and breeding centre is a sanctuary for animals to live and breed with minimum human interference. After all, who wants an intruder in the house!