Friday, 12 October 2012

Life's a bumpy road for the villagers of the Kabini backwaters

DAY 11 - The Serai

Up early to explore the Kabini backwaters at dawn with our guide, Mowgli we learn a little more about the area.... The lake and dam were formed in 1974 for irrigation purposes; the existing villages were all relocated with the promise of new buildings and fresh water. The Kabini river runs between two National Parks, the forest is home to elephants, tigers (said to have the highest density of tigers in India), leopards, and Indian wild dogs.

Our safari is a much gentler affair and all about the birds....




And the plants....


We witness first hand the drought, walking on the dry lake bed....We hear the road ahead is still blocked into the next state as the protests about the release of water from the Kabini dam continue....



Back at the fabulous Serai wilderness lodge, we relax and chill until the next activity...


Some of us enjoy the pool......


We take a boat ride to the other side of the lake....


To view the temple.....


And some old trees in the forest...


The view of our lodge from the water...



The afternoon's excursion is to a local village. This was one of the villages which was relocated to make way for the lake and dam. On the way in we pass a group of children walking back to the main road with brightly coloured plastic water carriers. The promise of fresh drinking water for the relocated villagers worked well until the pump broke, it has never been mended.....











The village children are beautiful and gather as we enter the schoolroom (below). We are told that there is no teacher for the school at the moment. The government provides for a teacher but the money either doesn't make it through to the places that need it...or the teachers are not motivated or even highly educated themselves...Teachers in India get paid about 3000-4000 Rs a month, about $60-80.



If the village had a water pump that worked and a teacher in the school room, that would be a start. Mowgli explains that because Tourism in the area has declined due to the ban on off road safaris to protect the Tigers, the opportunity for the villagers to earn money has declined...life is a bumpy road for these villagers...

We continue into the Tiger reserve, we are allowed to drive through on the main road but not to take the safari tracks deep into the jungle - we need to be extra vigilant to spot any wildlife.....

Mowgli asks the driver to stop, he has heard the warning chatter of some monkeys and knows there is a tiger or leopard in the area. We catch a fleeting glimpse of a leopard stalking out it's prey, but it disappears as quickly as it appears....




We pass through a village with domestic elephants, see some wild elephants in the distance and meet a pack of wild dogs who scamper across the road in front of us, there are plenty of deer and as we drive out along the bumpy road, back to The Serai we reflect on how lucky we are....




Facing the bumpy road home is nothing compared with what the villagers go through every day.....

Little Wandering Wren

Location:Kabini backwaters

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