While on a wildlife holiday in India, you will come across naturalist guides, marked by their love for and knowledge of the wild. One such exemplary naturalist is Basavanna H S, whose life revolves around Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
A rosy glow in the sky heralds another spectacular dawn in Bandipur, part of a biosphere reserve which is home to the tiger and Asian elephant, a great variety of avian species and reptiles. One cannot glimpse this rich bio-diversity without an accomplished naturalist, who drives/accompanies visitors in an open jeep twice daily into the jungle: in the early morning and evening, to sight wild animals in their natural habitat. It’s 6 am, and the finest naturalist, Basavanna H S, is eager to share with his still sleepy charges his passion for the wild. If you are there, you can be sure of an experience of a lifetime!
At the start of the safari, Basavanna H S stops at the Forest Department Reception Center for the mandatory registration before entering the jungle. Next, as you are taken through the winding dirt paths, he spares no effort to locate wildlife and point out distinctive features of the forest and its denizens, always patiently answering (sometimes inane!) questions from city dwellers! His passion for and knowledge of the wild is apparent in his instinctive choice of trails with most sightings, and his knowledgeable snippets and insights. Basavanna H S exemplifies the patience which is the key to viewing wildlife, and uncomplainingly stops whenever anyone wants a closer shot. A proficient photographer himself, he captures special moments like the sighting of his favorite tigress “Gowri”, for he knows and can identify each one of the species by name (and its stripes)! We have been privileged to witness one such an incident! Basavanna H S untiringly stretches the safari to the last minute of the stipulated time, before heading back to the Bandipur Safari Lodge, where he is based.
On the way back, he stops to reprimand offenders for speeding/making a noise near the park or to pick up any litter/plastic (which also poses a threat to animals ingesting it)- instances of his passionate commitment to the environment and wildlife. His shots of “road kills” on the highway contribute to the study/awareness programs by the Kenneth Anderson group (in memory of the famous wildlife lover). Basavanna H S is an avid supporter of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), extends help to conservation groups, and tries to spread the message to school children through his teacher friends! Basavanna’s compassion is evident in his gestures to humans and animals alike-in his individual capacity (and unassuming way), he regularly supplies extra provisions to the personnel of the anti-poaching camp inside the jungle, and special treats like sugarcane for the elephants at the camp!
Back at the resort, it’s time to note down the wildlife sightings and welcome new arrivals, which Basavanna H S does with a spontaneous warmth and sincerity, while also multi-tasking to complete administrative tasks. During the little free time for himself, he works on the computer, reads about wildlife, edits his photographs (generally during the off season) and uploads them on a nature photography site-Indian Nature Watch. He is also adept at catching snakes, to release them later in the jungle! Soon, he is ready for the evening safari, ensuring that it is as magical as the previous one. Later at the resort, while visitors unwind, Basavanna H S tackles chores again (which keep him busy till midnight), and meets demands with uncomplaining cheerfulness. On some evenings, from around 9 pm to midnight, he helps in the “main road survey” conducted by a NGO (working with the District Wildlife Warden), whereby the number of animals (large and small) crossing the highway are counted. Another day is over, and all Basavanna H S can think of is going back to his beloved jungle and its denizens with the first light of dawn! Why not pack your bags and join him in this immeasurably enriching and memorable experience!
Interview with Basavanna HS
Personal experience of safaris with Basavanna HS