top of page

Updated: May 14

“There’s a call, pls be quiet” said our guide. And all of us tried to focus and hear. We were four adults and 2 kids in a gypsy, on our morning safari in zone 6 of Ranthambore. As we focused we could hear it was a langoor alarm call coming from a long distance. Common langoors are arboreal monkeys spending most of their time on trees, feeding on the flowers, fruits and leaves. They are amongst the animals who give an alarm call when they sense a predator around.

It was coming from 11’o clock direction. So the clock method is a way to tell direction. Consider the direction you are facing as 12’O clock, then 1’o clock will be 30 degrees to right and so on like a clock. In that way, 3’o clock will be your right, 6’o clock will be behind you, 9’o clock will be your left and other numbers will be the directions between them. Our guide asked the driver to take us to Saran Patta side. From Saran Patta we moved ahead to a three point area and took a left. The road was heading to the end of zone 6. On our right was a hilly range with a gentle upward slope. Here the “chacck” “chacck” alarm call of langoor started getting stronger. The canopy cover was very nice on both the sides. On the left side a little further down there was a small stream of river. It didn’t have flowing water, but there was water accumulated in many portions.

Following calls is the best way to help sight a tiger in the jungle. So when you hear such call, you simply wait for some action. We were waiting in anticipation and my mind transcended to 12 hours back in time to this same strip of road, on our yesterday evening safari.

We were in a canter, had gone to the end part of zone 6 which connects to zone 1 and there were many other gypsies and canters near by us. All were anticipating the sighting of Noor (T-39). The female tigress holding this territory. Because of her old age, she holds a small territory covering some portion of zone 1 and zone 6. She is around 13 years old.

Supposedly there were many calls coming from zone 1 side that had alerted all the gypsies who had come earlier and they were waiting in anticipation. And after us also a few gypsies came. There were 2 canters and more than 10 gypsies all waiting for the show. Being in canter is a bit of a disadvantage, there are limitations in maneuvering the vehicle, it cannot enter narrow routes, cannot take sharp turns and from photography point of view, there are challenges in capturing the subject at eye-level. But when the park is full you can’t be choosy and take whatever opportunity you get to get into the jungle.

Finally, our wait was over and the royal majesty herself was seen moving towards the zone 6, indifferent to all the awe-spiring eyes all pinned on her. She was at a distance but her direction was such that she would cross our path at some distance. Now the whole convoy of gypsies and canters was moving as per the movement of Noor. The vehicles who were ahead had the advantage as they could have the best of the sighting for them. We were far behind in the queue and we were just getting some glimpses. You have to be satisfied what you see. Then the tigress crossed the path and went uphill and slowly out of sight.

All the vehicles then dispersed some went in the direction where the tigress had disappeared in anticipation of seeing her again and some others went in other direction to explore possibility of another sighting. Some vehicles stayed back. We thought of initially waiting for some time but then we thought of exploring other parts of the zone and started moving. We took a right turn and were about to enter an area from where this area would not have been visible just then our guide asked the driver to stop and turn back as he could see some activity behind. Our driver hastily turned; it was impressive that even when he was driving a canter, he was maneuvering it smoothly like a gypsy. When we turned back and came back to the same strip of road, we could see Noor had come back crossed the road and was sitting in the small puddle of road now on our left-hand side. Still, it wasn’t a very clear sight but we could see her well and click some of her photos. The current photo is of this time. Then after a while she got up shook herself and dried herself up a little and started moving back to the road where our vehicles were lined up. This time she walked in a slanting line and to our happy surprise in our direction. Everyone in our canter was high on adrenaline as the tigress crossed the road right close by our canter and went inside the forest. We could track her for some time and kept looking at her till she disappeared in the woods.

I was brought back out of my trance by our guide’s information. He was informing how the calls of langur are different in case of different predators. In case of a leopard it is a small call whereas in case of a tiger it is a long call. So in current case he was suggesting that there must be a leopard resting on one of the trees. We were now running short on time and we had to be extremely lucky to get some sighting. The exit gate was at a distance, so even when the calls were going on we had to leave the action scene hoping that we will have an encounter with a leopard someday soon.

But the journey towards the exit gate was still happy as my mind was still reminiscing yesterday’s encounter with Noor. As this Urdu word translates, indeed she shined like a divine light in our minds.

Updated: May 14

30 November 2023

Zone 10, Ranthambore

Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve is located in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan. It was established as a game sanctuary in 1955. Under the Project Tiger of government of India, it was included as one of the tiger reserves in 1973 and then declared a national park in 1980.

Ranthambore is a dry deciduous forest with grassy meadows, presenting photographic landscapes. It also has rocky terrain in some Zones. The total area of the park, 1334 has many lakes. Of the total area, 5% portion is open for tourism.

We visited the park between 30 November to 2 December 2023. We had 3 safaris planned but couldn’t stop ourselves from adding one more in tatkal on the second day of our stay.

Our very first safari was in Zone 10. We were a group of 4 couples with 4 kids. We started our quest in two gypsies. This is a new Zone added in the safari routes; it has hilly terrain, deciduous forest and some water bodies. It was a little cloudy on the day and it had rained in last few days. The road was wet and muddy in some areas and there was water logging in some sections of the route. In all this our able driver, Mr. Ramavtar maneuvered very well. In such conditions, the chances of sighting a tiger are a little less. But that’s the beauty of jungle, you can expect the unexpected. A male tiger- Jai (T-108) was sighted in the morning, so our guide, Ms. Chhoti was trying to find the pugmarks to trace the tiger’s movement.

Jai is a 7 year old male tiger. He was born in the fourth litter of tigress Ladli (T-8) in Zone 6. The litter had 3 cubs, out of them two survived to adulthood: Jai and Veeru (T-109). These names were given as an ode to their brotherhood as both were sighted together all the time. They moved from Zone 6 to Zone 10 which was the territory of Fateh (T-42). In the territorial fight with Fateh, Veeru was killed. Later Jai defeated Fateh to claim his territory in Zone 10.

With this background story from our guide and driver, we were excited if we can sight Jai. We reached the resting point where we took a break for 10 mins. In this first half, we saw scattered populations of Spotted deer, Sambhar deer and Nilgai. Birding wise we could spot some common birds- White throat Kingfisher, Rufous Treepie, Partridge, Drongo, Spotted owlet and other common birds. Red-headed vulture, an endangered species of vultures, are found in Zone 7 and are also rarely seen in Zones 6 and 10. So we were keen if we can sight them, but so far there was no success.

While in the rest area, our driver saw a message on a group about the sighting of Jai. He asked us to get seated quickly and off were we on a roller coaster ride through the forest. What an adrenaline rush! In about 5 mins we reached a point of a very small puddle like waterbody where our hero- Jai was sitting with his hind legs immersed in water with his back on our side. That was the best sighting of a male tiger in an open area for me so far. He was unbothered and un-fazed by the vehicles coming in to see him. He just stayed in the water like that, giving some odd look by turning around once every few intervals. He must have stayed in the water like this for almost an hour. During this quiet time, some Spotted deer passed from a close proximity of 10-15 meters unaware of the danger around them. As the waterbody was low lying, he could easily hide himself. But apparently, he wasn’t hungry; he was well fed on the buffalo kill that he had done a couple of days ago. He attentively watched the movement of the deer but didn’t charge.

Now it was nearing to the end of our safari time. We were hoping that Jai comes out of the water and shows us some of his better profiles. That’s human nature, “yeh dil mange more”.

But Jai didn’t disappoint us, he came out of the water, walked a few steps away from us, then turned left, sat for a brief second and rolled over on his back. I was lucky to capture this sitting position which lasted for a split of the second.

137 views3 comments

Updated: May 14

20 May 2023

Madnapur Buffer Tadoba

Madnapur Tukum, Maharashtra 442906

Coordinates- 20°22'54.2"N 79°23'41.9"E

This was the third and final safari on our list in this Tadoba trip. This season all the buffers on the North side of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Researve (TATR) were bustling with cubs. Just one day earlier we had seen Bubli tigress and one of her cubs in the Alizanja buffer. Morning safari at Kolara core had gone dry in case of tiger sighting, but there was good activity in case of birding.

At around 3 pm, we were waiting at the gate. There was some delay in getting the entry at the gate as the documents were not being matched for some reason. We were getting desperate, but finally they could figure it out and we entered the gate. We started the safari about 15 mins late. Another gypsy from our group had already gone in. Our driver directly took us to Madnapur Tukum area where there is a big lake. Zhunabai tigress and her two cubs were sighted there in the morning and the tigress had made a kill there. So the probability of the sighting was very high. The driver took us to the west side of the lake where there was some vegetation typically seen on the dry land surrounding the fresh water bodies. We could see there must be around 20-25 gypsies waiting there in the shade of big trees. The gypsies coming in from the Madnapur gate and also the ones coming in from the kolara core were all waiting there. This is the speciality of safaris when people come to witness the Royal majesty of the Bengal tiger. Any hint of tiger presence and everyone congregates at the location.

We waited there for about 15 mins, it was very hot and we didn’t get a good spot in the shade, so we had to wait in the scorching sun. A mild breeze would just drift for a few seconds. It carried the smell of rotting flesh confirming the story of the sighting and kill in the morning. Then a thought crossed our mind that let's explore the nearby water holes and keep coming back to this point to check whether there is any activity every short while. Also looking at the temperatures of hot summers, you don’t expect high activity during that period. Either the tiger would prefer to relax in shade or be near/in the water body. So both the gypsies from our group set out on the exploration. We went in different directions. Our gypsy had Sagar, Lahu, Satish, Sandeep, Abhijit and myself. We went first to an artificial water hole nearby. This waterhole was on the opposite side of the vegetation where all the gypies had gathered and were waiting. There were no signs of movement in the water. Then we went ahead to another artificial water hole again with no activity. From there we went to the Zhunabai temple where there is a natural pond. No activity there either. Then it was time to go back to the Madnapur Tukum area and check. It so happens sometimes that you go out on exploration and the tiger decides to bless everyone waiting with a nice sighting and you are amongst the very few to miss out. We did not want to be on that list and so we started going back.

Especially when you are not successful with the explorations your morals are low and you get thoughts “what if everyone else has seen it and we haven’t”. We were in those thoughts and our driver said “to bagh tiger” (“see there tiger”) and all the antennae were up in a moment. We must be about 100 m away from the artificial water hole we had been to first. Even from such a long distance the driver could spot it. None of us had seen it. We hurried towards the spot but couldn’t see any tiger. He said it has gone in the water hole. The water hole was a square body with mud enforcement raised to a height on all four sides. You could not see the entire portion of water but could see only some part. The water was still, so we had doubts whether our driver had actually seen the tiger, but he was confident. We decided to wait there. And in just about a couple of minutes, we would see ripples in the water. And thus it was confirmed that the tiger was there. It was now a matter of time when it would come out?

We did not have to wait for long, while we were focusing on the ripples in the water, we could see a small portion of the tail moving, then small portions of the ears. Just when we were busy focusing on the visible parts, The Zhunabai tigress decided to bless us with a lifetime experience. She started coming out of the water and gradually from ears to face to the whole body; the tiger started taking shape in front of our eyes. The photo is of the time when the tigress was at eye level and having eye contact with us.

89 views0 comments
bottom of page