Murugesan scanned the forest keenly with his eyes, ears, and nose, searching for signs of a tiger or elephant in the vicinity. The hooting sounds of the Nilgiri langurs echoed loudly through the forest. The cicadas were, as always, having their own little party. “The forest itself is so melodious,” Murugesan said, as he peered out of the window. “Why do we need any other music here?”
I am inside the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, 391 sq. km. of core area in the Palakkad District of Kerala, sandwiched between the Anamalai and Nelliampathy Hills. Including the buffer zone, the reserve spans about 644 sq. km., and is home to innumerable creatures, great and small. Murugesan is one of the forest guides in the reserve, and he’s accompanying me from the entrance to my accommodation (I’d picked a treehouse, from the variety of options available). Nobody is allowed to amble about on foot within the reserve.
This is an excerpt from an article first published by The Better India. Read the original article here: Soldiers of the Forest: Meet the indigenous tribes that guard the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.