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Wildbuzz | A tiger turns tail

punjab Updated: Oct 15, 2017 16:52 IST
Vikram Jit Singh
Vikram Jit Singh
Hindustan Times
Wildbuzz,Vikram jit Singh

The tiger approaching the machan; and (right) turning tail and bolting from the spot.(VIDEO GRABS/JYOTI RANDHAWA)

Born into an army life of camp fires, weapons and field excursions, it was but natural that ace professional golfer Jyoti Randhawa would develop an affinity for wildlife. In 1972, his father Brig RS Randhawa (retd), an Armoured Corps officer commissioned into the 8th Cavalry, was camping near Nanpara village of Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh during a field exercise. The village falls in the Terai region and abounds in the jungles and wildlife immortalised through the shikar tales of Jim Corbett.

After partition, many Sikh farmers settled here and turned an inhospitable terrain, swarming with perilous creatures, into profitable, agrarian tracts by sheer guts, blood and hard work. Senior Randhawa was hooked to Nanpara as wild boars, red junglefowl and even an occasional tiger roamed freely. He set up a farm here. Jyoti, thus, grew up with the many sounds and spectacles afforded by the Terai wilderness, especially on magical moonlit nights when hog deer and grunting boars would crash through vast sugarcane tracts.

This childhood passion for wildlife evolved into an easy accompaniment to Jyoti’s travels across India and the globe to play professional golf. On one such golfing odyssey, he took time off to visit the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra.

“Five of us got onto a machan made near a waterhole. A tigress and a cub came to drink water. After they left, a majestic male arrived. The male eased into water backwards to cool down and drink water, which was fascinating. One of my friends made the slightest of sounds, but that did not escape the tiger’s attention. After his bath, the tiger came lumbering towards the machan to investigate. One of my friends, whose legs were dangling down from the machan, quickly pulled them up,” Jyoti recalls.

“Perched on the machan and holding on tightly, we shuddered at the thought of what would happen if any one of us were to be caught alone on the ground with this brute. But the funny thing was that as the tiger came under our machan, he somehow got unnerved. The king of the jungle turned tail and bolted from the spot like a stray dog, leaving us equally puzzled but thrilled to bits by this once-in-a-lifetime experience!” Jyoti told this writer while playing the championship at the Chandigarh Golf Club.

UNPROVOKED ATTACK

The dog bite mark on Rajiv Kumar Jatiwal’s leg. (VIKRAM JIT SINGH)

You never know which stray dog is grinning at you in abject servility and which one may suddenly pounce on you and hack your flabby calves without so much as a warning bark. On October 8, professional golfer Rajiv Kumar Jatiwal ‘Boney’ was playing a practice round ahead of the ₹1 crore Take Open Championship at the Chandigarh Golf Club. He mounted the vacant tee at the eighth hole bound to the west by thick bushes, and sought shade under a tree.

“A brown dog emerged from the bushes and quietly came up to me. I noticed it had a redness around the face and carried bite marks on the body. There was a look of madness in the dog’s eyes. I turned and ran to get a golf stick, but the dog chased me and bit me under the right knee. I fell down, tearing a muscle in the left leg. I have spent Rs 18,000 on rabies and allied injections and have missed the championship due to this unprovoked attack,’’ Jatiwal told this writer.

On Friday, ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh’s path to the sixth hole tee was blocked by a dog. Uncertain of the stray’s intention and the Boney attack fresh in mind, Jeev was naturally apprehensive, as have other golfers been on numerous occasions.

The area’s dogs are neither neutered nor vaccinated and the adjoining Sukhna Lake’s multiplying strays spill over to dig retreats in cool sand bunkers. Under the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, the club can get dogs trapped, neutered and vaccinated but they must be released back at the same spot.

THE MARIGOLD HONOUR

A portrait of a long-tailed shrike atop marigolds (NITIN SONAWANE)

If all goes well, the humble marigold will soon be declared India’s “National Flower of Remembrance” and December 7 as the “National Day of Remembrance” for soldiers who sacrificed their lives in wars. It is learnt that the Ministry of Defence has already accorded approval to these remembrance symbols and the three chiefs of the armed services are scheduled to meet on October 18 to sanctify the noble initiative.

As part of the evolving “India Remembers” project, the marigold symbol is modelled on the same concept as the flaming poppy, which is the Commonwealth “Flower of Remembrance”, and November 11, which is established as “Remembrance Day” in western nations.

The idea behind the project is that on December 7, which also marks the annual Armed Forces Flag Day, Indian citizens will be encouraged to identify a serving or retired serviceman or servicewoman, present them with a marigold flower and thank them for their service and sacrifice for the nation. The marigold has been chosen as the flower due to its rich resonance with India’s cultural and social life as also at funerals. It is an inexpensive, fine cut flower found across India, and blooms throughout the year.

(The writer can be contacted at vjswild1@gmail.com)

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 16:51 IST