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September 3, 2014

Little Tough Act but are we Creating Nature lovers at Kabini and Jungle Lodges

At Jungle Lodges...............

Briefing is an essential part of an ecotour. We make concerted efforts to brief guests for a minimum of two and possibly three times during their stay. As a guest checks in, the programme is explained along with the list of dos and donts. The naturalists speak at length about the forest and its ecology, requesting guests to be respectful of the primeval forest that we are about to set foot into.

Prior to each safari, a briefing is given to the guests about the forest and its denizens. They are asked not to talk during safari and requested to switch their phones. Telephones are strictly banned during the safaris, a rule that is written on stone. Camera flash is discouraged as it causes distress to wildlife.

When we insist on guests to wear sober clothes while on a safari, it is meant to have a lower footprint over the forest. A person wearing clothing that matches the environment is less likely to cause distress to it as opposed to one who does not. Often guests are seen rushing back to their rooms as they had bright clothing on. The naturalists wait for them to return in sober clothing and then proceed on the safari.

During the safari, the naturalists talk about the diversity of the forest. Tiger-centric tourism is giving way to enjoying the forest in its entirety and the naturalists play a major role in bringing about this change amongst countless guests.

Towards the evening, when the ambience is light and discussions invariably veer towards nature and conservation, the naturalists engage the guests in a dialogue before playing a wildlife movie that showcases the natural wealth of the forest. Discussions tend to last till the dinner is served and many environmentally conscious individuals have just been reborn as nature lovers.

Concern for the forest is born out of the deep respect that local villagers have towards natural elements. Staff and guests actively cooperate with the Forest Department staff during emergencies such as fires or injury to animals. Notifying authorities has often had beneficial effects. A famous incident occurred when a guest at Kabini River Lodge, Dr. Ajit K Huilgol, a renowned Renal Surgeon documented a cruel sight of a tiger struggling in a jaw trap. The tiger was saved as he immediately informed the concerned authorities and can be seen today at the Bannerghatta Zoo, albeit with an amputated leg, as a result of the damage caused due to the jaw trap. When it comes to the JLR way of ecotourism, conservation is truly a part of the organisational ethos.