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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Went rhino-searching & saw a tiger!

30 November – mark this day!  I went on a safari in Kaziranga National Park, Assam, Northeast India, a world heritage site which is well known for having the world's largest concentration of single horned rhino and lots of wild water buffaloes, deers, wild elephants and birds.  Apart from seeing all those creatures I was supposed to find in abundance, I also came across a tiger 150 meters away, just before sunset, 15:20 local time.  Specific location: Rajapukhry, Western Range Bagori.
 
Although tigers are supposed to be found in the Assam wilderness, their sightings have become very rare in recent decades, due to poaching arising from the huge demand for tiger parts in China.  In fact, national parks and tourism offices in Assam no longer sell Assam through tiger-sighting.  I snapped a picture quickly without properly focusing the camera.  If I did, I would have missed it as the tiger was gone in a few seconds.  There were two tourists in another nearby vehicle that had the most sophisticated equipment but they were too slow and didn't manage to take any picture.  The driver said a few months ago, an Australian team spent 16 days at the park hoping to see the tiger.  They left without any luck.
 
Everyone congratulated me and told me how lucky I was.  My wildlife guide said he only saw the tiger twice this month even though he comes to the park several times a month, and that most tourists who were lucky to come across the tiger didn't manage to take any photo.  When we left the park, I had to fill up a tiger sighting register indicating the place and time of the sighting – tigers are so rare nowadays that their sightings are monitored.
 
Back to the lodge, the news spread and all wanted to see the photo of the elusive tiger.  Together with this email is the whole picture taken as well as the digitally zoomed-in shot.  Look at that magnificent creature!
 
Ladies and gentlemen, in honour of that fine Singapore tradition, go buy 4-D (lottery) with the date of this auspicious day, 3011.  Buy me a dinner if you win!

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