It was a late afternoon when we started with the safari ride; we climbed on to our elephant rides and set off to the south end of Chitwan National park. It had just rained a while ago and the air felt damp, the forest was pretty dense, it was filled with subtropical Sal trees and shrubs of different kinds like local gooseberries and rosewood. It wasn’t extraordinary; we were just swaying from side to side as the elephant slowly walked through the forest, with our cameras ready hoping to spot an exotic animal or bird. Ideally we were hoping to see One-horned Rhinoceros or Bengal tigers; the closest we ever got was finding fresh Rhino trails from sometime during the day. The probability of seeing them is pretty low, currently the population of Rhinos is about 550 individuals and for the Bengal tigers it just 82-90 tigers.
However the park is home to 700 species which is a very high number for a national park with an area of only 360 sq mi. We spotted a bunch of Axis deer (Chital) herds and wild hogs which are some of the most common mammal species in the park. As we went through the forest we heard a lot of Cuckoo birds and Black crested Bulbuls. It was refreshing to hear the bird calls from all the bustling traffic noises that I hear every day when I am back home in the city. It felt strange but relaxing at the same time.
After a while we reached a small lake, it almost looked like a swamp. It was surrounded with luscious green plants and there were light pink lotus plants scattered on the surface of the pond. There was a cabin near the lake that had bathrooms and seats where you could rest. It looked very out of place; its placement there took so much of the park being natural away. These cabins were fairly new installations to the park; they were there for the park to be more accessible to tourists. After the conservation act in 1970 by the Nepali government to fully protect the national park, the conservation area was doing great in terms of species conservation and diversity but it felt a lot less natural than before. The park was modified a lot for tourists to easily access it and enjoy it. That took some part of the park being natural away.