So, I have arrived...my first ever time in Asia, let alone India. I already get the feeling it's going to be unlike anything I have ever experienced before.
The people at Wildlife SOS are very welcoming and friendly to me, giving me beer and always making sure I have enough food and sleep to recover from my jet lag. And we all share the same interest in wildlife and conservation (although when I’m talking about the foxes and badgers in my garden, they're talking about trying to avoid stepping on cobras in theirs!)
I've now had my first couple of days at the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre...I've seen a wild elephant, come nose-to-nose with a Sumatran tiger and, of course, met the bears!
The centre is based quite far into the national park, so sightings of wild leopards, elephants and sloth bears have been reported by those who work there. Luckily, we managed to spot an elephant in the trees at the side of the road. It was only brief (maybe 5 seconds or so) but I still felt very lucky to see one, and so close, on my first day!
The centre also houses two tigers: a Royal Bengal tiger which was caught in a snare and sadly had to have his paw amputated and a Sumatran tiger that was rescued from the UK where someone had been keeping him as a pet. I was kneeling down at the barrier to the Sumatran tiger's enclosure to look at him sunbathing, when he decided to come have a look at me too. He came right up to where I was kneeling and pushed his nose up to the wire to give me a good sniff, so he was less than a foot away and separated only by the fence! Tigers really are beautiful animals and it was so amazing to be that close.
I've also been introduced to the daily routine of looking after the bears, and spent some time observing them throughout the day. Every morning they are fed a mix of porridge, honey and milk, and the "slurping" noise they make eating this is deafening! It's rather like the noise you get when you're drinking a milkshake through a straw and you're down to the dregs... The staff have to get up at 3am to start making this breakfast, which shows commitment! The bears also make a humming sound, sounding exactly like a swarm of bees, when they are resting and contented, which is quite a relaxing background noise.
I'm starting my research tomorrow (doing the trial run before starting it properly on Monday for two weeks) as I have now finalised the plans with Dr Arun, so I will write another blog soon explaining what I am (trying) to do and how it is progressing.
That’s all for now!