A Walk in the Woods

What was the monkey thinking about?

On our first full day at Chitwan, our naturalist, Tulsi, suggested a jungle walk. “Wear good hiking shoes, long trousers, no bright colors, bring water, and don’t forget: lots of bug repellent.” We did so, then realized that our brightly colored day packs spoiled the intended effect.

We canoed to the start of journey inside the national park. The dugout was manned by two locals fore and aft with long sticks. The river was swift albeit shallow. When we landed at the trailhead, Tulsi (“to see”) gave us the jungle trek lecture, as we quickly spotted the tracks of deer and a tiger:

At the time, I didn’t appreciated how important that lecture was, but if I had done my due diligence of research on Chitwan, I would have found that tiger and rhino attacks are not uncommon:

Perhaps if I had known about those dangers, I might not have enjoyed the walk as much as I did. Watching for bird life, spotting the tracks of deer and wild boar, learning the difference between the droppings of elephant and rhino, the distant growl of the tiger (yes!), interesting bugs that loved the deer dung, and did I mention RHINO. Here is a video of the rhino:

Fortunately that video was atop an elephant the next day. But could you imagine if we had come across that rhino and her calf while on foot? They are so well camouflaged that you are on top of them before you know it, and we too could have been a headline.

Back to the walk….

The only creature that caused me harm was the leech. He nabbed me in the ankle somewhere on the journey and I didn’t notice it until I stripped off the bloody sock in my room. Here is a picture of our guide talking about the leeches during the walk:

Fascinating (for me!) were the small red bugs that were sucking on the dung of the deer. They were not dung beetles, but actual Hemiptera, that normally you see sucking plant juice.

Iphita limbata?

Our guide was extremely good. We saw two types of deer, forest hens, and a wild boar. We also saw numerous birds.

Barking Deer

Then, just past the park headquarters we walked up a bridge to see the sunset. Then we actually did see a rhino in the water.

Really! That is a rhino in the water.

I spotted a goat at the edge of the water. On closer inspection, we realized that the goat was in the jaws of a crocodile!

As we were ending the hike on the bridge, I noticed a solitary monkey. Sitting on the railing, watching the sunset. He was murmuring to himself. Was he lamenting the fate of the goat below, or contemplating the bending of light near large gravity wells?