Where the Bay of Bengal meets Palk Strait lies Cape Calimere, a spot for a wildlife holiday.
A beautiful morning welcomed us as we drove to Point Calimere sanctuary at Kodikarai, Nagapattinam district. An auto driver advised us to take a left from Velankanni. Slowly we began to see less vegetation, the roads became narrower and soon we were surrounded by water and wetlands on the either side.
The road became even rockier and finally, after a 40-minute drive, we found an arch that said “Point Calimere Sanctuary, Kodikarai”. A nearby sign warned us to drive slowly as deer and other herbivores crossed the roads.
The sanctuary is a hotspot for black buck. It was declared a sanctuary in 1967. Apart from black buck, the other animals found here are spotted deer, wild dog, wild boar, pony horse and bonnet macaque. The wild dog is the only predator; there are no other carnivores in this sanctuary.
The workers in the Forest Department guest house welcomed us warmly and allotted rooms for us. Being a government guest house, I thought it would not be neat and clean but was glad to be proved wrong. After a bath and breakfast, we set out for the sanctuary. We sighted a group of male black buck gazing around.
Usually the male is black and white and the female brown in colour. We also spotted wild boar, spotted deer, bonnet macaque and other common animals. Snakes are common and the fragrant screw pine was the most common vegetation. We had lunch in the anti-poaching squad tents and enjoyed our meal. In the afternoon we spotted a wild dog chasing a black buck.
Despite the heavy wind in the evening, we set out for the sea shore. We saw some pony horses gazing around but they galloped away once they saw us.
Finally we reached the shore and stood at the meeting point of the Bay of Bengal and the Palk Strait.
Day two was meant for bird watching. The first bird we spotted was the Brahminy kite; later we saw pelicans, little egret, flamingos and others. Our guide was extremely helpful running from place to place spotting the birds with his binoculars and then showing them to us. Then we found something unusual. It was blue in colour and its hands and legs looked cream. We were all excited to find a new bird; then it rose from the water and turned out be a human. It was a woman catching fish in the backwaters!
Sunder Ramu, Photographer/Actor
On a trip to Mudumalai, my friends and I spent three days frantically looking for wildlife but our efforts were futile. When we were heading back to Bangalore, we stopped by a tea shop. Just then, we spotted a leopard in broad daylight down the slope, drinking water from the river. What an experience it was! Another interesting encounter was with some wild elephants. On a trekking trip in Bangalore, we were setting up our tents when a bunch of wild elephants came our way. We had to pack up immediately, rush towards the hills and even climb a few rocks to save ourselves. It was as exciting as it was terrifying.
As told to Payal Chhabria
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