It’s only everyone’s dream to spot a wild Tiger in the jungle, and so is mine. After almost 25 years of watching out for wildlife in the forest and with not much luck with spotting tigers, I have other things in mind now, especially after getting into Birding. On the other hand, I have spotted close to 40 Leopards in the last decade, prior to which I had seen only one in Topslip. To date, I’ve spotted about 6 Tigers but almost every time it was only for a brief moment. So, I’ve never really had a chance to photograph one. Now, my eyes are tuned to look for leopards even though watching a Tiger to my hearts content is still a dream. However, in June 2013, when we visited Kabini, I was in disbelief when our naturalist pointed out to a Tiger. It took all of us in the safari vehicle almost a minute or two to actually locate the Tiger. That’s how far away it was from us. It was a 20 minute sighting but only through a binocular or my 500mm lens. Even then it was merely bigger than a spot. I was fortunate enough to take a photo of the tiger just as an elephant was entering the scene. My day was done. I have an elephant and a tiger in the same frame, but again, I was really disappointed with the image quality. It was all grainy and I had to crop it really tight to get a good view of the animals. I thought to myself, “Not posting that one”!!
However, I got lucky last month. I had my friend Shivangi visit me. We went to school together in Singapore. And, as usual when ever my friends visit me from where ever they are coming from, they want me to take them to the jungle. And I love it! The whole experience of how we got to spot the Tiger itself was awesome. I am going to post an image, and explain along how it actually took place.
As soon as we entered the park, we drove on the elevated road adjoining a huge waterhole (Just to give you an idea, the waterhole would have been about 10-15 medium sized sedan lengths).
Upon reaching “Stop 1”, I heard the spotted deer alarm calls towards our left. I instructed the driver to stop for while to analyze the situation. Right now, the alarm calls are chaotic, it was as if the cat launched an attack, it was all haywire. Our driver then took a left and drove towards the temple where we heard the alarm calls from.
Surprisingly, some deer there were absolutely normal doing their own thing. These deer rely on their ears, nose and eyes to watch out for a predator. Usually when they hear an alarm call, they must have seen or smelled a carnivore around them. Until the predator launches an attack, the deer have their eyes locked on to their animal of prey. It’s much more complex than how we see it.
Since nothing much was happening there, we got back to our “Stop 1” only to hear the second set of alarm calls across the waterhole at “Second Alarm Call”. Immediately we backed the Gypsy to “Stop 2”. After a clean surveillance, we proceeded towards the “Final Stop Facing Waterhole”. Assuming the carnivore is going to emerge from the water hole and walk towards where we were parked, we reached the spot and were ready with our cameras.
We waited for 10 minutes in silence, the deer had already settled down, it was absolutely quite. All hell broke lose when my friend heard something cracking behind us. Without wasting a second, I turned around to find a fine looking Tigress in her prime feeding on a Spotted Deer carcass. I got to spend 3 minutes with the Tigress, watching her eat and pick herself up to disappear into oblivion. Here are the photos from this series. Hope enjoyed the experience.