Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tiger On The Road

"He has just crossed over at Karia Ghati and heading this way (Towards Silyari Jalasay)", the excited girl on the jeep said. We were right there at the Silyari Water Hole in Kanha National Park in MP. 

I could see the excitement on her face. In these tiger reserves you can make out if tourists have seen the tiger or not. And you can also make out the grim countenance whence the tiger is not seen. This is applicable to one and all including me since my job is to fetch the tiger for my tourists.        

There is an excellent tiger tracking mechanism in place amongst the forest guides. 

Not to boast I do have a roll to play at times in fetching the big cat out as we are close friends - rather age old friends as I have been visiting the park since seventies. Out of love and faith they heed to my request and make a special appearance (Only for me) Hic!.  

Anyway we were  waiting at the water hole for some time since tigers and other animals localize around the water during intense summer. The big male tiger we call Munna (Loved One) had probably gone deep into the forest to check on Lal Aankh another big male challenging Munna's territory.

We knew that Munna hangs around a hidden creek near the water body whence the sun goes up and hence we were waiting in expectation. As it transpired the tiger did not appear and we went towards Karai Ghati in order to check him out. There was no sign of him....

"Turn Around," I told the driver. So we returned to the water body to begin a long wait. In between we saw many birds and a monitor lizard on a Saaz tree. When you are in a tiger land the world comes to stop and your eyes cease to focus on every thing but yellow and black...the mystical stripes and ignore the surroundings... and your ears await the nerve wrecking roar and your heart thumps incessantly. But I always keep a look out for numerous illusive & amazing creatures in this wonderland as well.   

At Courtyard House while leaving for the tiger safari our German Tourists had requested to see a tiger on the road. But so far there was no alarm cry that would have signaled the tiger's approach. 

We had to leave the park by 9.30 am since the guests had a long drive to Bandhavgarh. "Another half an hour", I requested Raimond. He agreed and we waited. The thrilling and nerve racking alarm cry epitomizes harbinger of death.

And that is what we heard, a staccato of sambar alarm cry from a distant followed by a barking deers terrified bark. Our eyes where glued towards the direction of the calls. And then spotted deer near the water body started crying in extreme frenzy. Out of anticipation the guests held their camera ready. 

The tiger emerged from the far end of the water body. He completely ignored the deer, langur, wild boar and sambar foraging in the neighboring grassland on shore. We could see him walking at a brisk pace  nonchalantly towards the jungle road we were on. The tiger paid no heed to the men on jeep, he completely trusted us knowing we were harmless. This makes one realize how cowardly the big cat hunters were. And how ruthless betrayal  do the poachers indulge into.  

He was about twenty five feet away from us whence he came upon the road and then crossed over. "He has gone into the creek and we won't be able to see him" I said. But that was unwarranted, my guests had a good load in their camera for memories sake. 

"Incredible" Raimond said. His wife shook her head gleefully in affirmation.

"Chalo", I said to the driver. 

Male Tiger
Photo Teerath Singh