Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Dancing Queen of Kanha

Tigress Safari at Kanha National Park in India. 

We first noticed her pug marks on Link Number Nine mid way towards the Kanha Meadow. It was the guide who first heard the faint alarm cry of the langur near the Link Number Nine at Kanha National Park in India.  I was busy scoring the grassland in front of us. "Call from behind," the guide whispered.   "Move" I tell the driver. We move few paces to a spot at the junction from where we could see all the intersecting roads. 

Earlier, while passing through the meadow a small herd of doe and fawns had scurried across the road. There was trepidation sketched all over their countenance and their tails were erect . The driver paid no heed but the guide and me both old hands at Kanha did. We continued towards the Kanha Meadow and stopped to hear the alarm cries.  But still, there was suspicion lurking in my mind and I wanted to go back

"One alarm cry only" the other jeep driver told us. "Santosh move back!" I told our driver. "Yes Sir," the guide barked with excitement too. The driver was hesitant..."Move Back" I said in a commanding voice. We reached the spot and waited, many jeeps passed by us, one or two stopped and the rest did not believe us. 

The monkey warning call, our reverse movement, the emergence of the tiger from Link No.9 all happened with lightening speed.  "Tiger!" I shouted. In a split second Elizabeth turned around and clicked. I was stunned by her speed and alacrity. "Here have a look," she told me, "I got it."     

It was a dainty tigress but confusingly small. "Lovely lass" I whispered much to the chagrin of this beautiful lady. Unnh Uhoon! I could make out the meaning he! he!

We moved a short distance on road to Kanha Meadow and waited. By now some more jeeps had lined up in expectation.  We kept a significant gap in between from the jeep ahead. By chance the tigress emerged in front of our jeep and scurried across the road. She danced through the lazy bushes and vanished. Elizabeth from Sweden could take more good pictures by now.   

We than proceed to the meadow junction and waited. The tigress did not emerge. "By now it should be on that other part of the meadow" I whispered to the guide. The guide did not need any suggestion. The alarm cry confirmed my deduction and we had a good look at the tigress moving across the bush in the Kanha Meadow. Much to our surprise she was joined by one of her heavily striped cub. By this time a large number of jeeps had lined up and tourists were enjoying the sight of the beautiful tigress and her cub prancing across the grassland.  

Thermo-regulation that's what kept the big cats in the grassland. After a bitter chilly night, fog and mist the lovely Sun had emerged. We were all basking in the Sun's glory along with the big cats. This was a picturesque setting  and wonderful, ethereal, moment.

Tiger safaris can be thrilling but not always. This one was, and our guest at Courtyard House, Elizabeth had a whale of a time shooting the small family of tigers. But there was a hint of worry, and I wanted to make sure about the other cubs. They were not there, but I hope all have survived since tigress's give birth to a litter of three or four cubs. In subsequent trips we will discover. The best I could make out was the tigress was probably with her first litter and cub was about a year old.

This is all tiger tracking is about - split second decision, understanding of tiger movements and associates. A highly sensitive sensory apparatus. What not!He!He!

(Photographs awaited).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tiger Shot Dead in Ooty

Tiger Shot Dead Is this the way we manage tiger conservation in India?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Medal from the General at Kanha Tiger Reserve

 After a successful tiger safari I was presented with a medal by  General  Bakshi along with Mr. Neelesh Agarwal owner Courtyard House Kanha. It was a very pleasing moment for all of us. 
Uday Patel on Left in Black Koti  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dag's Tour to Kanha

Courtyard House Kanha
Wildlife Photography is an art but it does not necessarily has to be that always.  Sometimes amateur effort is purposeful enough to store a memorable event. That's what Dag did...sheer enthusiasm and love for nature he captured wildlife of Kanha for posterity.  On very first day we saw a magnificent tiger.  

He came along with a group from Sweden & Dubai including his parents and brother. The trip was full of fun and joy as good as a  tiger safari has to be.  Here are some of the photographs he clicked at Kanha National Park during the tour.

Ant Hill


Spotted Deer




Tiger on Jungle Road

Owl in Banyan Tree

Tiger Crossing

Tiger in the Bush

Squatting Tiger

Tiger in the Bush

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tiger for the General

It was just a chance discussion with the beat guards that lead to this magnificent tiger in Kanha Forests. We were going downhill at Dig Dola Road whence we met the guards, the true sentinels of the Kingdom. They walk on foot for hours to keep the animals safe from marauding poachers.  They come across animals of all sorts but return home unscathed thanks to their knowledge of the wilderness. The animals do not harm anyone but more often act in self defense. 

"Tiger Roar Sir at 300 meters," they informed me. We rolled down further than 300 meters, and I could hear the thunderous roar of the majestic cat. Deep inside the forest, it was discouraging, anyway we moved on and reached the Saunf meadow. There were clear cut pug marks on the jungle road, but the roar had ceased. At the instance of  crossing over to the mountains there were no alarm calls. This was puzzling since there was a deer standing about 50 yards from the spot. Is this going to be another fake chase? The thought was disheartening.        

After a some wait I sent one of my jeeps ahead for the search. I was positive about the direction the tiger was heading...but aware of the jeeps it could have stayed in hiding. The pug marks looked fresh but the confusion was compounded by the silence of the deer.   

Jeep returned without sighting the tiger."Let's go for the tiger with the kill," the guide suggests. He is a highly experienced guide and I am tempted. After some time I say "wait!," The tiger on the kill is a three day old story so not much of meat. We are in three jeeps. I suggest the guide to go and check once more and we follow. And Bingo" tiger on the road.    

Just as I thought the tiger had descended from the mountain after the jeep had returned. All clear he must have thought. We met him across the bend about 100 yards from where the pug marks were. 

This is Munna, I thought. The tiger was trudging head on without even a glance at us."The tiger sir, I whispered to the general who had already seen the animal. "Big Cat," he said. "Yes Sir, a male tiger and of impressive dimensions."     

The cat continued to trudge head on and we followed. There was an assemblage of about seven jeeps now but the tiger was relaxed and did not bother to look back. "We will have a fair idea about its dimensions whence we look at it sideways." I said, "It appears to be small because of its height. Two and half feet maximum." 

It was an ethereal settings as the animal trudged along at a leisurely pace.  The accompanying alarm cries invaded the already charged electric atmosphere.  "This is fear emanating from the herbivores," I said, "this is the advance warning system among them." 

The big cat moved graciously into the dense thickets on the cross road. Then a wonderful thing happened. The tiger started to roar again. We were absolutely thrilled by this development. After two tiger safari we were finally able to see the tiger in the wild. The General and his family's wish was fulfilled, a tiger was finaly sighted in the enchanting forests of Kanha National Park.      

I was duly rewarded with a medal of appreciation.  Jai Hind!
Army Tents at Courtyard House
GOC Medal

Courtyard House near Kanha National Park
Tiger Photo By Uday Patel

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year with Karai Ghati Tiger

Thirty First December & First January spells crowd at Kanha Tiger Reserve in MP. Even after limiting the number of vehicles the park was swathing with a great numbers of gypsy plying on the road.

We had been allotted the Sarhi Zone and hence decided to go via the Karai Ghatti. I was adamant that we go via the Karai Corridor, the guide was also in favor hence there was no pride lost. We advanced on the cold day surprising this was the least cold winter I had ever experienced on 1st January.    

Karai Ghat is one of the picturesque ride in the park. It is mixed forest with Bamboo and Sal here and there. The zone is well inundated by Sulkum and other tributaries of  major rivers like Banjar. It is dotted with numerous water bodies that form small lakes ideal for big cats in the summers.  

We were cruising along the Sarhi Zone on the Maua Dabri Road. There was hardly any jeep on this road and we were at the forefront. It was a pleasant day thanks to the rising sun. Our eyes were all the time glued to the forest glades as well as small narrow strips of grasslands that we came across. 

I had hoped for something to happen today. "Hope something exciting happens tomorrow." I had told my guests over dinner the last night at Courtyard House Kanha. Paul Fear and Alison Baines from UK had already seen a tiger on their safari in Kanha Zone. They wanted more, who does not?

On the finest patch of forest that something exiting happened. The tiger emerged like an apparition in the mist laden ambiance. We could see him heading towards us. It first appeared like a termite mound some distance away. But the termite mound was moving right towards us. WOW!

"That's a tiger," I informed my guests. With baited breadth. 

The big cat came towards us as we moved the reverse gear in order to maintain a safe distance. The majestic cat took my breadth away. "It is not Munna", I whispered to the guide. 

"It is larger than Munna," the guide whispered."And in prime."

Munna is one of the largest tiger seen in the Kisli Range and neighborhood. It is aggressive and does not give way to the jeeps at all. The Maua Dabri tiger was definitely larger and in prime being around six years in  age.          

This was one of the most mesmerizing spectacle I had ever witnessed in my life time of wandering in the jungles of India.  The lithe graceful charismatic creature was a breadth taking sight and invoked fear. In the soft sunlight it shone like a magical delight. The reddish orange brown fur coupled with pure white was at its shiniest best. In the natural surroundings the beast looked captivating as it came upon us with a gentle stride. We were constantly reversing in order to maintain a safe distance. But in case of hesitation, I observed that the tiger moved towards the bushes on the edge of the jungle road. It did not mock charge or come very near to us. 

"It is busy,"I told the guests."Territorial marking". The tiger was spraying pheromones along with his urine on the leaves and grass. In the ethereal moment my guests could admire and photograph the majestic creature. Paul & Alison were kind enough to send me the images captured by them. 

I have added images of that majestic tiger below so that you can be a part of my exotic journey in the tigerland called Kanha.
                         Tiger Photographs - Paul Fear UK