Monday, June 08, 2009

Finally! A tigress in Bandipur!

Tiger tracking can be a frustrating experience if you are obsessed with the most beautiful of India's wild creatures. I had called myself "Tigertracker" a decade ago, but I am one tracker who has nothing much to show for it. My rare encounters have been only in Corbett and that fault is mine. I never spend enough time for the tiger to reveal itself.

Whenever I go to Bandipur, I go with an open mind. Tigers in south Indian jungles are rarely seen. I go to enjoy the peace the forest brings to the mind. So when Bandipur's tigers became less shy this summer I was a little hopeful.

May 20th, 2009 saw me packing my bags to Bandipur yet again. This time it was a carefully chosen mid-week break to avoid the hordes of tourists who flood our jungles and drive out all the poor creatures with their boorish behaviour.

Basavanna had told me it that had been raining for a week. The weather was an impediment but at least it would bring back the elephants & gaur that had migrated. The monsoon had hit the shores a week early according to the met department and I was geared for a wet experience.

The first safari on that excursion was an experience. Dhole standing up to a majestic bull gaur. Hope soared. This was a good beginning.

The next morning I asked Bomma, our driver, to turn back to the area we had seen the dhole pack. I had a gut feeling that it was the area to hang out in. An advice from a friend, Mithun, who knew these jungles well was - Trust your instinct; and it worked.

My first tigeress in Bandipur showed herself. The excitement was too much. The camera forgotten and when I finally remembered, I forgot my manual focus!! Ganga, as Mithun confirmed later, moved majestically through a screen of bamboo. Bomma was trying to keep pace in reverse but Ganga disappeared in to the dense undergrowth. To all of us in the vehicle, except perhaps Bomma, it was an ecstatic experience.

It seemed that this was the trip of the year. A tigress in Bandipur is something I never plan for because jungles of South India are denser and sighting a well camouflaged cat is usually difficult. This was a bonus, or so I thought till my sister hissed - "Tiger".

There, in front of the jeep, not 30 meters away was Ganga's cub. Ambling along the track for a while before turning off into the bamboo clump like her mother.

This was totally unexpected. My heart had just about started to settle down after the first sighting. Now it was all aflutter again. I was feeling elated. After years of woodcrawling, a tiger sighting in my favourite pilgrimage spot.

Perhaps God just decided to show up!

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 09, 2006

For an Audience with the King.....

I never go woodcrawling with a hope of a royal audience. Kings are not easy to meet and missing them by a whisker is be coming a habit. Location: Corbett National Park; 8th, May 2006

Location: Muthanga WLS; 8th August 2006

Location: BRT WLS: 4th September 2006

Missed by minutes on all three occasions. I never regret the occasion. I celebrate it because the King has learnt to survive!

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A king without a kingdom

The Indian tiger is a harried creature. Hounded out of its territory, killed for its skin and bones and persecuted mercilessly in the small pockets it survives in. Truly, a king without a kingdom.

I have been tracking this King of the beasts out of concern for years now. I realize that he has become more elusive because of the constant presure imposed on him by insensitive humans. It make's him a reluctant royalty who abhors public appearances unless in captivity. Still, the tiger remains one of God's most beautiful creatures whether captive or running free.

Labels: ,