Expeditions to India

In 1990 Pollyanna visited the jungles of Southern India in search of tigers. For the first time, she was accompanied on a working trip by her daughter and business partner Anna-Louise, who acted as official photographer -as well as celebrating her 21st birthday in India! The journey was made in conjunction with The Born Free Foundation - then Zoocheck.

Along with the world-renowned vet Bill Jordan, founder of the charity Care For the Wild, they visited several of the charity's projects including the remarkable reserve of Bannerghatta. Here Pollyanna was able to sketch four of the five tigers rescued by Zoocheck form deplorable conditions in an English road side circus, now enjoying the warmth and open spaces of their homeland.

Travels in the project tiger reserves resulted in a brief glimpse of a wild tiger - and also sightings of elephants, deer, and a wide variety of bird life. Pollyanna has been pleased to maintain a close association with both Care for the Wild and Zoo check since her visit, and to be involved in the launch of the animal relocation fund. She has supported them with her artwork, including exclusive Christmas card designs.

Pollyanna's latest working safari into India in 2001 was a huge adventure - and included the closest encounter with a big cat she has yet experienced.

Accompanied by Anna-Louise, she spent most of her time in two project tiger reserves. Pollyanna chose to visit Ranthambore, probably the best known of the tiger reserves in India, where she wanted to sketch and paint the remains of the ruined fort and temples, among which the tigers still roam. She was lucky enough to see two tigers during her stay at Ranthambore - and also to get an incredibly rare sighting of a leopard. leopards live in the cliffs around Ranthambore, but are extremely elusive and only very rarely seen by visitors.

An arduous journey via night trains and accidental hitch hiking took Pollyanna on to the Corbett's National Park, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Here she stayed in primitive conditions in a rangers lodge within the National Park, and was able to travel on elephant, allowing her to penetrate much deeper into the reserve than is possible by jeep. She was jolted, rattled, scratched, cut bruised and bitten - and even charged by a wild tiger. "I have had one or two scary moments while travelling to paint endangered wildlife" Pollyanna said on her return, "but I have never experienced fear like looking into the eyes of a snarling spitting wild tiger from a distance of four feet".

This close encounter with the tiger left her shaken, but more determined than ever that this magnificent cat must not be allowed to become extinct in the wild. During her stay in Corbett, Pollyanna had the opportunity to discuss tiger conservation with the respected naturalist Imran A. Khan, and learn of his fears for their conservation. Mr Khan is afraid that if poaching and other threats to the tiger continue as they are, the Bengal Tiger could be extinct in India in just 10 years.

Despite the hugely valuable work being done in the field by charitable organisations, the tiger will not survive unless the Indian government makes conservation a priority, and Mr Khan urges everybody to write to the Indian Prime Minister expressing their concerns.

At the end of her journey, Pollyanna spent a few days on the west coast, where in complete contrast she chartered a boat, and went out dolphin spotting - the first opportunity she has had to observe dolphins in the wild.

The painting (left) was published by Bill Jordan's Wildlife Defence Fund to raise money for endangered species.

The Book 'The Eye of Tiger' tells the story of two of Pollyanna's expeditions into India.
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