British wildlife enthusiast Nigel Marven last visited India five years ago. And he’s far from having had enough of the country. “I have not been to India half as much as I would like to,” he says, adding, “I’d like to go to the hillier parts of the co.untry, the Western Ghats; and the Andaman Islands. You have some very special wildlife, particularly birds. India is the best place to see birds.”
For his TV series titled Nigel Marven Month on Animal Planet, the zoologist spent most of his time visiting two of India’s most famous national parks — Kaziranga in Assam and Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. While he dedicated several days to studying the behaviour of the famous Royal Bengal tiger in Bandhavgarh, he was busy tracking down the one-horned Asian rhino in Kaziranga, the rest of the time. “It can get difficult living side by side with tigers and other predators. That’s why buffer zones are necessary. If land can be set aside for animals and their natural habitat, they can live peacefully,” says Marven, who has studied animal behaviour all his life.
“For instance, most wild animals will try and escape when people are around. But if a tiger is injured or old, and has tasted human flesh before, then it may attack,” he says, adding, “The problem with the one-horned rhino in Kaziranga is that people are killed by them every year because they wander too close. Animals don’t naturally hunt people.”
In one of the episodes to be aired this month, Marven will test human presence around a pride of lions. “I walked towards them and they ran away because they were not used to watching us approach them. It is not recommended, of course. If I had turned and run, then they’d have attacked,” says Marven, adding, “An interesting thing I’ve noticed is their behaviour towards children. The moment my four-year-old girl walks close to a lion or tiger enclosure, they begin to stalk. They consider the child a prey.”
Watch Nigel Marven Month this October on Animal Planet at 9 pm every nigh