Once upon a time the preservation of the forests was the duty of the king. Mighty royal reserves were kept and maintained by the royalty where they also indulged in the sport of hunting.
The king was ably assisted by the tribe exclusively dedicated for this purpose – the Bishnois. Today the story continues of one side trying to encroach upon the forests while the other side valiantly protects. The Bishnois are still at the forefront and have not lost their touch with ground realities.
The government at all levels in conjunction with International bodies is concerned about the tigers living in the Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary. There are two hills here named Ran and Thanbore. In the middle stands an ancient fort where tigers prowl and growl.
Today it has been converted into a guest house – the Jogi Mahal. The hills roll across the reserve while the boundaries are marked by Rivers Chambal and Banas. Another tiger haven is the Sariska Wildlife sanctuary near Jaipur.
It is located in the narrow valley of hills and is full of thorny grass, forests and grass. It was once the happy hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Alwar. Here too can be found ruins of forts, temples and palaces. There are many water holes near which one can hide to see the thirsty traffic.
Near the reserve is a lake and a romantic hunting lodge. Here there are many carnivores apart from tigers – leopards, wild dog, jungle cats, hyena, and others. Then chitals, nilgai, wild boars and various birds abound..
Jeep safaris are very popular. Few kilometers from the park is the holy temple of Neelkanth that dates back to the 6th century. Inside the sanctuary is the Kankwari fort where once a Mughal prince was imprisoned. Today it is a fabulous hotel.
One of the best treats is the Desert National Sanctuary that allows one to glimpse the rich flora and fauna of the desert. The best place to do so is the Dudashri forest post. The park consists of rocky terrain with pavements of salt lakes interspersed with sand dunes.
Here roam the sacred black buck, the chinkara, wolves and foxes, hare and desert cats. The sandgrouse’s low flight announces the dawn as too does the gray partridge. Here can be found the Great Indian Bustard which is being saved from the jaws of extinction.
The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary needs no special mention. It is home to Indian as well as thousands of migratory birds. However the monsoons are playing truant and not flooding the lake as much as it used to previously.
Tours of sanctuaries in Rajasthan are making Man consciousness of his vital role in helping Nature to preserve her wonders and treasures.