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Walk on the wild side Saad Bin Jung
Walk on the wild side Saad Bin Jung

Saad Bin Jung talks about living life on the wild side, on the banks of river Kabini

“Most of us living in the city do not know how it is to be in the middle of a man-animal conflict zone,” says Nawabzada Saad Bin Jung. His latest pet project — The Bison — is a nature camp on the banks of Kabini river in Karnataka, overlooking Bandipur and Nagarhole National Parks. This, like the previous ones he developed in the last three decades, focuses on eco tourism. This Bush Betta-Bison project targets those looking for a holiday in the wilderness and do that bit for conservation. “Imagine living the way our ancestors did a 100 years ago, close to nature. There are eight tents, equipped with super deluxe facilities. Vacationers can indulge in the spa, take up treks and safaris. At night, you might be woken up from sleep by the sounds of the elephants, chitals and sambars. Only the tent clothing separates you from the forest,” he explains. The camp staff, he assures, are trained tribals. “We don’t use guns. There are a few tricks to deal with wild life. Scouts who man the camp at least 300 feet away alert guests in case of necessity,” he says.

When guests are done with the trappings of vacation, Saad Bin Jung urges them to pitch in with conservation activities — interact with people in the tribal belt on how they can make a difference by not damaging the ecosystem, patrol the camp at night to assist villagers or learn to fight forest fires. Wildlife and cricket are Saad Bin Jung’s twin passions, true to his lineage. He was in the limelight as a budding cricketer and the nephew of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi until illness forced him to change tracks.

“I spent more than two years in the hospital faced with multiple diagnosis after collapsing on the field during a match. Once I was back on my feet, Kapil Dev met me and urged me to play for the Haryana team. I played for a year. In the early 80s, you had to be among the top three players in India to make a career out of cricket. I took a realistic view and moved out,” he recalls.

Today, he is immersed in wildlife projects. Saad bin Jung and his wife established their first camp near Bandipur National Park in 1991. After his book Wild Tales from the Wild, he plans to chronicle his experiences with the mahseer fresh water fish.

His camp on a private stretch of river Cauveri where enthusiasts can take up angling adventures was rated among the best angling camps in the world by BBC.

SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO

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