Crouching Tiger, Hidden Elephant – Kerala Rainforest

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Luscious thickness, voluptuous abundance. The air hangs heavy with moisture, nourishing and hydrating. Greens in massive diversity from baby, light shoots to the exuberance youth of bright life. As the leaves mature they take on a deep warm hue. Moss greens and subdued browns combine effortlessly with blue-greens of the older foliage. Shapes, shadows and textures sculpt endless detail and interest. The imagination alone could never conceive of such a variety of form and design. The air moves, sometimes gently and at other times violently; every whip of wind choreographing the wonderful dance of the leaves.

The air is heavy with sound too. The rush of the river water running its course over boulders and rocks snaking its way down the mountainside. The crickets chirping their hearts out until they finally hit a high crescendo and suddenly tail off. In the lull the monkeys cry echo through the branches; ‘oo-oo-oo-oo’, a soft deep relaxing sound.

A branch in a nearby tree bounces catching my attention. The branches bob in a Mexican wave fashion as the unseen monkey swings ahead, finally my eyes catch up and catch sight of the monkey in question. Stillness. He disappears again.

Looking closely everywhere is dense with life, tiny birds fluttering between tropical flowers, insects, butterflies; on the ground ants rushing this way and that about their daily, hurried business. The dampness brings with it leaches, each tropical paradise sports its own flavour of biting itching annoyance. Learning how to avoid these weird and fascinating creatures and how to dislodge them once leached on is part and parcel of life in the rainforest.

Deep in the heart of this tiger reserve in the rainforest I’m sharing space with one of the most majestic and strong of the cat family. Along with tigers there are enormous elephants and stealthy leopards. Unfathomably these giants are tucked away out of sight, they could be lurking just ten meters away and impossible to spot though the undergrowth.

Periyar Forrest Bungalow, Kerala, India

 


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