Ranthambhore, the second Indian park we visited, is home to around 70 tigers and is an instrumental part of their protection. We went on four game drives and two of them were full day excursions. In this brief period, we saw five adult tigers and four cubs. Seeing a tiger in the wild has been the most unbelievable experiences of the gap year thus far. Due to a large number of humans in the park, they have become semi-habituated, and no longer fear jeeps or people. They stray very close to jeeps, as little as five feet. At this distance, they are close enough to touch and one gets a real appreciation of their patterns.
To protect these tigers from their possible threats, the conservation organizations of the area have been creative. They partner with local farmers that live on the outskirts of the park. These local farmers set out camera traps that connect to mobile phones every night. Using these traps, the conservation officials can track the tiger’s movements and make sure no poachers are frequenting the area. When poachers are spotted on the traps almost all of them are caught within six hours. This partnership would not be possible if the Indian people did not value animals so highly. Many animals, including tigers, are godly figures in Indian society, and people have strong incentive to protect them. India was one of the most interesting countries we have seen so far, and it presented vast learning opportunities for their conservation projects and the role of religion in preserving the natural world.