We are at Kanha on tiger safari. My guests from Sweden and India are excited and intrigued. This is their first tiger safari in India and expectations are high. We climb up the Sal Ghat Road in the Kisli Range hoping to see Munna and a female that often arrives here.
With their cameras ready the guest priority is the tiger which disappoints me. I would like to give equal importance to birds of Kanha. Searching for tigers in their wild habitat is a tough task whence they are not stressed out to be on the move. But there is always a chance of sighting one on the jungle road,
As we move forward we see no signs of the big cat but plenty of other game like sambar, spotted deer and many birds. We continue driving uphill on the torturous trek my eyes glued for moving leaves or rustle in the bush. My ears are alert to catch the tiger vocals...it is a desperate bid in this season as tigers do not move much unlike the summers.
The jungles of India always hold big surprise to those with patience. About half way up the Sal Ghat we come across excited chatter of jeeps the ensuing commotion is suggestive of the big cat. We hold our ground as Munna emerges behind the jeep and heads toward us.
The tigers are not very tall and maximum height is two and half feet. This helps them in ambush as they can easily hide in the grass and bush. Seen upfront the size is not evident. but when we saw this animal sideways we were stunned by the size. The huge tiger is about 250 KG and dominates the Kanha Park by its sheer size and strength.
We drove on reverse as we have to maintain a distance of twenty meters by the park rules. The tiger walks very fast and it came upon us very close. Oblivious of the jeeps and commotion the animal kept on invading. This is the moment whence the inexperienced are frightened. Big male tigers do not bother about safari jeeps albeit they are aware. You have to give ground to these tigers else they come frighteningly close. In case of delay in moving away the tiger slips into the adjoining forest. It is truly a gentleman.
Munna is a dominant tiger and moves around the major portion of the park with brazen impunity. He has sired many cubs through tigresses in his territory. As long as he is strong he will hold on to his kingdom and eventually lose to an emerging male. This is how nature works the survival of the fittest through best gene selection.
My guests were happily clicked away to their hearts content. Things are not always the same after seeing this big cat. We moved on silently happy and excited after the marvelous tiger tour at Kanha National Park in Central India. Back at the Courtyard House accommodation in Kanha I could look at the images. The images sent by our guests are included in this blog.
On subsequent jeep safaris my guests came across a sloth bear with two cubs. The sighting is no less exciting for true nature lovers. Animals big and small are charismatic creations of nature and we should admire them. Kanha Park is popular with birders from all over the globe. Keep a good pair of binoculars on safaris.