RANTHAMBHORE, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
JAISALMER, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
JAWAI BANDH, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
MASAI MARA, KENYA
The sun rising over Jawai.
As a ranger at Jawai, I feel unbelievably lucky to call this incredible wilderness home. Exploring this ever intriguing landscape is a huge adventure. Much of our work is done by moving around in jeeps, however at any chance, we get on our feet and explore the granite hills around us and to have a closer look at the magnificent formation of the rocks and the intricate passageways between them that form caves, home to a variety of species & the smaller inhabitants of Jawai.
Setting off at 6:30 AM, we had a plan to climb the summit of Mount Baliraja, using the connection of cave networks. However, we got completely sidetracked, getting lost in the wonders of every rock and crevice along the way!
A morning was full of excitement, exploration, learning and laughter. As the sky began to get lighter, we roughly mapped out a route from the base keeping in mind a few larger networks of caves. We stopped to admire the sun rising behind the Aravalis in the distance.
Across the valley the dawn chorus of fracolins and peacocks could be heard, while the langur monkeys could be seen sitting on the higher reaches of the hills looking out for any leopard activity moving below.
As rangers the importance of spelunking and studying the tracks around these hills gives a very different perspective of the way animal movements happen in caves and around boulders and it gives us a deeper insight to predicting the routes and territories of wildlife.
With upmost concentration while treading some steep slopes Vedant, Mohammad and I reached a massive flare in the rock where multiple smaller entrances and exits we visible. Peeking into one we saw the most beautiful formations of mineral deposits that were hanging from the top of the cave, grey in colour and extremely smooth, varying in sizes. These are known as stalactites. Some caves we entered had incredibly narrow crevices, only wide enough to breathe in and literally squeeze our way through!
Once inside we were able to stand and walk into these massive dome like structures. Amazingly once inside you feel a constant breeze which is why the leopards must love resting here in the heat of day. Pockets of light become visible showing us multiple opportunities and escape routes for animals if ever threatened. The existence of lesser tailed mouse bats was very evident as well as moults of different snakes we came across.
While leading , Vedant suddenly stopped and called us in to see a lovely Indian rock python laying beautifully still, waiting to feast on a bat or rodent that came into its path.
Towards the higher reaches it became very clear that all the tiny yellow specs dotted all around the trees were droppings of the Indian rock bees who build their hives over the hanging rock faces and in cavities.
The rock boulders and formations at Jawai have to be seen to be believed. Moving through this breathtaking landscape, we were reminded to pause and look at the every day around us. Letting nature be our guide our eyes were reopened to the intricate connections and roles of this enchanting landscape.