The mysterious little Hedgehog of Forest Rest House Tal Chapar Rajasthan
|Let me be honest the moment the word Forest Rest house comes to my mind, a rickety old bungalow with no power and plumbing comes to mind, with an old Chowkidar with a lantern who does not cast a shadow completing the picture. So when Shreeram MV of Darter informed me that we will be staying in Forest Rest House in Tal Chapar Rajasthan, I was mentally prepared to rough it out in the middle of the jungle. Surrounded by beautiful Indian acacia trees with fragrant yellow flowers, middle of the jungle it is, but rest of my images of a forest rest house were shattered the moment we entered the Forest Rest House in Tal Chapar Rajasthan. It is brand new swank, colonial style bungalow with huge ceilings, A/C rooms, running hot and cold water (but please use it frugally as you are in the desert).|
The food served is delicious home cooked sourced from a local family living close by, but the icing on the cake is the owners Vandana and Sharad Sridhar. Sharad is one of the most seasoned birders in the country and he has leased the guest house from the government of Rajasthan. We were very lucky and he joined us on some of the safaris in the sanctuary. Vandana used to work for a top MNC as its marketing head and is now shuttling between writing, managing and marketing the Tal Chapar Forest rest house and her 4-year-old daughter who can identify more than 70 species of birds!
Anyways this post is about the Hedgehog of Forest Rest House Tal Chapar and let me share the little story of how I got lucky. I was trying to sleep on the first night while counting the birds that we have seen during the safari and what my wish list for next day would be. Suddenly I heard a few noises and I enquired what is happening. I was informed by Vineet and others that there is a porcupine in the complex and they are trying to click its pictures. I decided to let it pass as I wanted to be fresh for the early morning safari.
Early morning around 6 am I was first one to get up and I picked a cup of tea from the kitchen and stood out in the verandah with my cup of tea. Suddenly I saw two sparkling eyes looking at me suspiciously from a corner. I was not sure what the creature was, but I kept the cup aside and switched on my camera on. In the meantime, it started moving very fast and I realized it is hedgehog (Paraechinus micropus), an extremely shy animal very rarely sighted.
I did not have time to adjust the camera settings hence the pictures are not very sharp, but I am glad I was able to capture a few of them. I was able to follow the hedgehog till its burrow and then decided to leave it alone. Soon others joined and I showed them the pictures of my hedgehog (notice how I have adopted it). Soon we all agreed that the creature last night must have been the hedgehog and not the porcupine.
As the Tal Chapar forest rest house is right at the edge of the jungle and the owners have a policy of wildlife first they have not removed the nests of the birds on the property and I saw some sparrows building nests, while on the top of the Gazebo there was a peahen fiercely protecting her eggs.
- Birding in Tal Chapar Rajasthan ( Gives how to reach Tal Chapar )
- Salt Pans of Tal Chapar Rajasthan
- Reptiles of Rajasthan in Tal Chapar
- The Cunning Fox of Tal Chapar
- Train to Rajasthan
- Thali for lunch in Rural Rajasthan
Update: Do check this post about the last few Hedgehogs in the London Zoo, that shows how sensitive these little critters are and we should never take any creature for granted.