Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trekking tiger at Corbett

It was just a faint sound that caught my ears. I knew well that it was an alarm cry of the Sambar. I brought the jeep to halt with a tap on the shoulder of the bewildered driver.

“There is a tiger here” I said to my guest from Germany. They were bit perplexed because they could not see one. Then the alarm cries of spotted deer confirmed my deduction. The deer were across the Ramganga river and could see them through my binoculars. They were constantly warning and moving in the opposite direction on full alert. I knew now where the tiger was.

It was somewhere on the bank of the river towards us and probably in the deep nullah down the slope of the hill we were on. We waited for a long time, the Sambar call from over the hill had died down and so had the calls of the spotted deer.

I told my guests that we have a fair chance to see the tiger if it decides to come out in the open , where we could see it. My guests were bit impatience doubting as to if the tiger was actually there. “Come out Mr. Tiger or I will be proved wrong” I whispered to my self.

I was screening my surroundings as we waited silently…then out of blue a small troop of rhesus macaque arrived on the other side of the jungle road.

“We will see the tiger now! The monkeys will fetch the tiger for us,” I announced elated. By this time the rest of our group had also arrived behind us. “Move slowly towards the macaques,” I instructed the driver. He did so and so did the rest. Now we were in full view of the mountain slope.

The rhesus is like a curious cat and is afraid of the tiger and emits a strange clucking sound as alarm cry. Unlike other prey species they do not move away. The rhesus or red faced monkeys have a habit of going right next to the tiger (up a tree of course) and give its game away. They did right that and an irritated tiger rose up from the nullah and came right unto our view.

We were on a birding trip to North India that covered Bharatpur, Nainital district and Corbett National Park in Uttranchal. After a successful bird tour, we were on the last leg of our trip at Corbett. Birding was our focus but so was the tiger…obviously.

Our package tour to North India for birding struck success with the tiger sighting. It is not always possible to sight tigers like this.

We could see it rushing past right through the short bushes. A tiger sighting had been made and people from far were elated. Tourists on tiger safaris come from far and wide to see the tiger. Whence they succeed in sighting the charismatic tiger all the effort, time and cost is paid for.