Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
The tiger's roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere Khan.
― Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
The tiger, the king of the jungle, needs no introduction. This majestic animal, at once feared and adored by children, is also one of their favourites. Can you imagine the thrill and excitement that would flood through their veins if they actually had the opportunity to see this beautiful creature in the flesh?
Mycity4kids talks with Gargi Rawat, news anchor and environment reporter with NDTV. She is also part of NDTV's 'Save our Tigers' campaign. We thought this mum of three boys and tiger expert would be the perfect person to tell us about her experiences taking her boys on safari, and hopefully, how to spot a tiger!
Why is taking your kids on safari such a great experience?
I love taking my kids for safaris as they are essentially city kids and I feel it's important for them to see other parts of the country and especially it's natural wealth. They were 6 and 4 when they first went on a safari. It was fun showing them a tiger pug mark, a wild elephant and identifying different birds and trees. They were quite impressed with my safari skills (which is always good for moms' with boys) Also visiting national parks and forests young creates the right sensitivity and attitude towards the environment which I feel is really important in this day and age.
Where should you go to have the best chance at spotting a Tiger?
Since I've mainly been to parks in the north I'd say Ranthambore (Rajasthan) Bandhavgarh (MP) and Corbett (Uttarakhand)
When is the best time of the year to go?
'Safari season' usually begins from Sept-October till the start of summer, in the north. However, the best time to see tigers is during the hot months, as they are more likely to be found near water bodies. A lot depends on luck.
What tips do you have for taking kids on a safari?
We need to make them aware that real life and real safaris are all about patience and appreciation. It can get monotonous for young children to ride around the national park for hours so the effort must be to point out things and help them appreciate nature. Take a bird book to try and identify birds. Most parks you have to take a naturalist/guide along so do make him tell the kids as much as he can about the park and animals. Parents too can read up about the park and share with the kids. There is lots of information online.
Make sure they wear olives and pastels (forest colours) and are quiet during safaris. It's forest etiquette and good for them to learn.
Also all kids must know the importance of forests vis a vis the environment. How national parks provide clean air and are a water source for rivers and springs. So saving tigers is saving the environment as well.
It's also important to teach kids not to make everything about the tiger, but also appreciate all aspects of the Tigers' forest. The birds, other animals and the flora that make up the forest.
Describe what it was like when your kids spotted their first tiger!
(My kids) Sumer was 6 and Neel was 4 when they saw their first tiger. We were in Corbett on a documentary shoot and had enjoyed the park but not seen a tiger. We were exiting the park, and were between the inner and outer gate when we heard a deer make an alarm call. We stopped and reversed a bit and saw a tiger peering out of the bushes beyond the river bed. She then emerged and crossed the river bed as the deer ran across in the opposite direction and finally bounded ahead across the road. My camera person Sumi turned to Sumer in excitement about how lucky he was to have seen a tiger at just six, to which Sumer replied 'but why was the tiger lazy and why didn't it hunt the deer?' Heh. The problem is all these kids see A LOT on TV and online, through National Geographic and the Discovery Channel etc.
Spotting a tiger
Gargi Rawat is a news anchor and environment reporter with NDTV. She anchored Safari India, one of the first wildlife shows in India, and is part of NDTV's 'Save our Tigers' campaign, as well as several other campaigns and series to do with the environment.