In the monsoons, we usually end up having some unexpected visitors to our camp. With our lodge
shut for the long off season and human activity in and around the buffer decreasing due to the thick
monsoon undergrowth, the animals of the forest tend to venture further from the usual (but
invisible) boundaries of the buffer zone.
Last evening, we had a sloth bear enter the lodge. Sloth bears are mostly active from dusk till dawn
(nocturnal) but move around a fair bit in the day as well. They have long fierce claws and an
unpredictable temperament. So sloth bear encounters must be handled with extreme caution. While
we were about to alert the forest officials (as is the protocol in such situations), the bear decides to
get up and meander its way back to the forest. We were all relieved to say the least.
During the season, with the guests and lights around largely throughout, a sloth bear entering the
camp grounds would be a rare if not an improbable occurrence. It always intrigues me to see that
the animals of the forest clearly understand the boundaries during season vs. off season.
We often debate if we need to create additional fences to prevent such incidents during the season.
However, the animals somehow instinctively know that the camp is off limits in the season.
This does though make me think about the impact of humans and how we are encroaching on their
space. I tend to reconcile this conflict with the fact that eco-tourism is not only important but
necessary for the future of these wonderful animals. We must however respect that it’s their space
and they are free to roam as they deem fit! No further fences for now!