"In the Python's Grip"

Jaldapara, West Bengal State

Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is a 141 protected area in the Eastern Himalaya on the banks of the Torsa River. Primarily clothed in elephant grass, it holds one of the largest heads of Indian one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) on the sub-continent, and also provides sanctuary for Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris).

At Jaldapara we met up with Kolkata herpetologist Deepak Mitra and with his help located a small Burmese rock python (Python bivittatus) on the first morning of our search. During the day we were also called to another part of the sanctuary where the rangers had captured a second, larger python. Since this snake had already been noosed and made captive it was not filmed.

The dense habitat of Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary


Burmese rock python, Python bivittatus


We also visited a 'rescue centre' for leopards near the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary where a large number of Indian leopards (Panthera pardus fusca) are held in a maze of mesh cages. Another 'nuisance leopard' arrived while we were filming. It did not seem much of an existance for the big cats.

After three days, having found four Burmese rock pythons, we left for Bagdogra, and flew to Kolkata, a long flight via Assam and Anarachal Pradesh (I would love to have gone exploring there). We over-nighted at the Taj Bengal Hotel, which was just as well because our kit took hours to catch us up.