INDIA. Tadoba, Maharashtra: Four days, and seven safaris at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, and the king of the jungle still eluded my eyes and camera. Disappointed, as I planned to call it a day, I heard an alarm call. An atmosphere of uneasiness appeared amongst the birds and langurs on the trees around us and I was sure that there was a tiger around.
During the first seven safaris at Tadoba, I only managed unclear sights of a tiger, Leopard, Bison, Langurs, Cheetals (spotted dears), Sambhars, Sloth Bear, wild boars, lots of birds, and raptors….. But the last safari was different.
As my jeep turned at the crossing, a female Sambhar came running from the bushes in front and after crossing my jeep went into the jungle. The alarm call and other noises continued. I stopped and tried to see what was going on?
Gaming by the Queen
The call kept moving, which indicated that the tiger was moving about. My eyes kept following the female Sambhar and suddenly I saw the tigress chasing a sambhar calf behind the trees. My patience has paid off, but dense dried grass only allowed me to view the entire game with no chance of photographing the killing.
The entire game sequence happened right in front of me – the chase which resulted in the calf getting separated from her mother and eventually being killed by the tigress. The sambhar’s crying noises made me a little sad as the tigress jumped and pounced on the calf, killing it, playing with the dead body for a while before dragging it into a deeper jungle to finally enjoy her lunch.
I was still waiting in our gypsy on the tracks, hoping that the tigress will come out of the dense grass and will enjoy her lunch in the open so that I can shoot her. Oh, Oh, please don’t take me wrong, I mean to shoot her with my cameras, and not a gun.
After lunch Nap
In the afternoon, after lunch, when I reached the spot again I found the almighty queen of the jungle enjoying the warm sun after her lunch. She sat there in the middle of the tracks and was totally undisturbed by our presence. The majestic tigress wanted to enjoy a nap in the sun and why not? Anyone would want to have a nice sleep after the tasty and delicious lunch as she had. This gave all of me more chances of watching her and taking her pictures. Even during her sleep she obliged us and gave some exquisite poses I haven’t seen before. There is no substitute for the first-hand experience and therefore this entire sequence of events since the morning got etched in my memory as the most stunning experience of my wildlife safaris.
I had arrived at Tadoba on a morning in February last year. Though summers would have had been the best time for a trip to the forests, then for Tadoba, as they say anytime is a great time to sight and shoot a tiger.
I was welcomed to the jungle by a few birds, Mottled Wood Owl, White-eyed Buzzard, bison, and a few langurs playing on trees. A herd of bison provided me a photo opportunity, but soon moved away in the jungle as they found me clicking their pictures nonstop and without permission; maybe they wanted me to pay them before taking pictures.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, “the jewel of Vidharva” is Maharashtra’s oldest Tiger reserve. Tadoba was established in 1935 and was declared a National Park in 1955. Andhari Wildlife sanctuary was notified in 1986 and the Park and the sanctuary were unified in 1995 to declare it as Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR).
TATR is one of the larger tiger reserves that is not well known. It maintains the pristine eco-system of the rich bio-diversity of the forest. Another specialty about this place is that it is one of the few tiger reserves that is open all year round. The monsoon sightings here are considered phenomenal.
The Park is situated in the Moharli hills of the West Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. It is 623 sq. km in area, the biggest amongst all National Parks in Maharashtra. It is a southern tropical dry deciduous forest with Teak as the predominant species. The reserve has three zones — Moharli, Tadoba, and Kolara. Moharli and Kolara are part of the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary.
Tadoba – Andhari Tiger Reserve is a good place for people who have loads of patience and want to enjoy the jungle in its entirety. The tiger is not just the only attraction. If one is willing to accept this fact then TATR is an excellent virgin destination for serious wildlife enthusiasts.
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