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Just Tigers!

I was in Bandavgarh National Park in central India from end of June till the begining of August for a training and selection camp of my new Job with Taj and CCAfrica lodges called Taj Wilderness Lodges. Unlike back in Karnataka where parks are opened through out the year, most states in India close their parks for two to three months during the monsoons. June 30th was the last day at Bandavgarh and I happened to be there just few days before the park closed and training was to start from first week of July.
On the morning of the 25th July when I entered the park, I had just heard and read about this park. It was mainly about Tiger sightings here but the forest was more indeed beautiful than I imagined - the grasslands, rocky hills, many small streams, huge Mahuwa and Sal Trees, the great fort with plenty of vultures nesting on the cliffs. Ten minutes in the park I saw my first Red Junglefowl and the bird life too seemed to be fascinating. Then came the news from other jeeps, obviously, about a tiger but not just about one but quite a few which were seen by that jeep and others. We also got to that spot, but by the time they had disappeared. In a few minutes though, we did see a big male crossing the road ahead of us and very close to one of the jeeps and rested under a tree in
thick bush not too far away from the road. After this, believe it or not, I saw five more tigers in two different places and that morning twelve different individuals were sighted in the tourism zone!

Seeing a tiger is very different from what I was used to before - track the alarm calls and wait till you get to see the tiger or have a chance encounter with it. Every time down south was thrilling. Out here, to see a crowd of forty jeeps and a tiger sitting peacefully on a rock close by, not at all bothered by the the commotion down below is much different from what I was used to. One thing is for sure is that you have very good chances of seeing their behavior - cubs playing with each other and their mother, courting behaviour and of course, if you are lucky you could witness the most exciting behavior which we always dream off, that is hunting!

I was lucky to witness one hunt by a dominant male tiger of the tourism zone called B2! It was in the morning safari when we had chosen a track which goes alongside of the park boundary. Just a few kilometers down we found a convey of Jeeps on the track - obviously following a tiger! As we went closer, I got my first glimpse of this impressive big tiger crossing the road from right to left and that too between the jeeps. As I told you, we were on a track which was parallel to Park boundary which was to our left, the other side of the boundary was agricultural fields and a village. The forest cover to the boundary side was just 50-100 meters and in some places the road was touching the boundary.


So this tiger was moving from the right of the road towards the left. He came back to right and disappeared to the forest and immediately many jeeps turned around and zoomed past us to go to the road which would lead towards the direction where the tiger had moved. We decided to stick our route as we did not want get into rat race with other jeeps and discomfort the tiger. We went ahead for a kilometer or so and our park guide said that we should wait there for a few minutes as there was a good chance of that tiger appearing there. As we waited another jeep came and stopped and the guide in that jeep said the tiger may come here in few minutes and believe it or not, the tiger actually crossed right behind us! He walked parallel to us in the forest as we followed him on the road. He was looking inquisitively towards the park boundary side and as we covered few hundred yards he suddenly came from a bush from the boundary side sneaking towards forest cover (you can see tha in the second picture below). He did so because he saw cattle herders on the other side of the boundary! There was another jeep up front, in which a very experienced guide told us, seeing cameras in our hands, to 'get ready for he is eyeing one of the cattle as he looks like he is hungry.' I did not believe it for a moment but these guys know better, so we stopped and watched him reappear on the road and stared at us for few seconds and walked on the road when we decided to give him lot more space as he may hunt! Now the road was joining the boundary and as it was curving to left, he disappeared while we waited for few minutes and went ahead. As we came to the curve we saw him stalking along the fence and crouching and I immediately got on top of the jeep and saw he was looking at some cattle on the other side of the fence which were pretty close to him as you can see in the picture below. In a few seconds he just went below the fence and jumped the small rubble stone wall and I got a glimpse of him charging a calf and jump on it! Other calves ran and because of thick bushes, I could not see anything more and within a minute he jumped back on the rubble wall with one calf. As we had read about cats jumping good heights and were wondering if he could jump with the calf and the guide said he may throw the calf inside!! However, he just came down in the gap between the rubble wall and the fence and tried to push through
the fence. At this time the calf was still alive, so he killed it there and to our surprise he just left his kill and walked away along the fence. We could not figure out what he is up to? Even as we were thinking, we suddenly saw him coming some fifty meters ahead of us walking on the road inside the park! He had gone further along the fence and as he knew every inch of his territory he knew there was a big opening in the fence! His stare was on the calf and he just came to it put his mouth through the fence and that time I was wondering how he could pull the calf to get it this side. Many tries I thought but no, in one mighty pull, as you can see, he pulled the calf and carried into the safety of the National Park!


we see him going towards boundary to the left


suddenly coming back to the right after seeing cattle herders


Comes back again and stares at us


we find him looking at the cattle out side the fence


Squeezes under the fence


comes back in a minute with the calf


Kills & squeezes the calf inbetween the fence & rubble wall


Comes back inside the park


one mighty pull



carries off for undistrubed meal

Next day we went and saw the place where he had squeezed through and it was just 6 inches big and where he had dragged the calf was just 3 inches! This behaviour was amazing to watch and of course, he did not kill any wild animal like deer or sambar but it shows how clever the animal is. This fellow even comes into the campus where I work here at Bandhavgarh! Hope I will see him face to face on foot here one day.

Comments

Thanks! Yes! i agree with Kalyan but the difference is few Tigers in Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore & Kanna Natonal Parks are not shy at all towards human (tourist) presence. So you can see the above behaviour commonly.

Cool Pics

Hi,

Awesome pics - compared to the amount of tiger we got to see in B R Hills late August, this looks like a bumper lottery. Nice write up too.... Had added your feed to my news page (http://sgowtham.net/news/people/) and was kinda eagerly looking forward to an entry from you... worth the wait :)

-gowtham

Re: Cool Pics

thanks! will do, cheers
Wow. Nice write up and images! :)
thanks for helping me in editing!
Nice images and an equally good text to compliment that. Hope you had a very good learning time there.
thanks! i am still having a very good learning time here....
Lovely pictures harsha. Nice to know tigers are doing well there
Sakkth pix .. watching a hunt is a dream for lot of people

BTW, the josh in the writeup is amazing !

WOW excellent pics, your writeup was equally good.
amazing pics and write up!!!

Nice meeting you

It was nice meeting you at Bandhavgarh after such a long time. How are you feeling now ? Recovered completely ?
Sorry I couldnt call you before leaving. We were all in a hurry since the Taxi guy wanted to leave early that night.
I've got some good snaps from Bandhavgarh. Will keep posting them on INW. Hope to see you back there.

Re: Nice meeting you

Hey! it was realy nice of you to drop in. Thanks i m feeling better now, almost recovering.Waitig for more pics, good Tiger shots.Will mail you when i m back.
Welcome back to LJ after a long time...and what a way to return! Chirdeep told me he met you. Hope you are feeling OK now.

Unfortunately LJ never updated my friends'page with your post...but then all my wildlife friends like Amogh, Sanath, Chirdeep, etc,let me know immediately they came over home.

Have set my heart on a trip to Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench sometime in March/April next year..you will be at Pench then I think...looking forward to more posts, even if they are not quite as sensational as this!
Thanks! i m doing much better now. yes hopefully i may be in Pench by then. Sorry i was really busy packing when you wanted to meet. We'll meet soon, thanks again.
totally awesome photos, and amazing experience, thanks so much for sharing it.

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(Anonymous)

Продаю сертификаты Вебмани.

Привет.
Продаю персональный сертификат WebMoney за $99.
Можете проверить: WMID 322973398779 Redfern
Всё чисто, не одной жалоб. Сделан на утерянные документы. Всё законно.
Если нужно, то есть сертификаты ещё.
Стучацо в личную почту на Вебмани.

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(Anonymous)

B2

I have seen these photos before,though I have to say each time I see them,it makes
me miss him even more.He is the KING OF BANDHAVGARH even though these where taken a couple of years ago.I look forward to my next visit and seeing him again in November.