I visited Tadoba tiger reserve, this February. I have visited Tadoba so many times before that I lost the count. Its less than 200Km from Nagpur where I grew up. What was ‘first’ about this visit was that I spotted not one but four tigers.
My uncle is a conservator of forests posted at Tadoba and is pretty much the boss around here . So the accommodation and open jeep safari was taken care of. We (my cousins, uncle and me) stayed at the Tadoba guest house, nestled halfway around the dense jungles overlooking the breathtaking Tadoba lake.
My uncle had invited a couple of guys who were familiar with the jungle and trained tiger trackers. We started around 4:00 PM that day and went on endlessly in the jungles. The guys were checking every hiss or call or a footprint. But after going around the most frequented waterholes, there wasnt a glimpse of the cats. May be it was me.. and my fate. At about 9:30 PM while on our way back to the park entrance, a car leading us suddenly stopped and turned blocking our way. The driver had the headlights on this shadowy figure emerging from behind dried bamboo thickets. That! was my first tiger (tigress actually).
It walked casually along the road oblivious of the audience; moved in and out of the bamboos a couple of times and then disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared. Pretty mundane photo above. I know. My most telephoto lens was the 85 f1.8. This was iso 1250. We returned to the guest house, I, with lot of hope for the next day as the jynx was broken.
We started at 5:30 the next morning with lots of sambar calls and tiger roars but no sightings. Though I got some decent pics of the other inhabitants of the jungle and the landscape bathed in early morning light. We stopped by a meadow where there were herds of grazers and langurs.
Heres a spotted deer that veered across our jeep.
Two spotted deer males locking horns.
A pair of langurs grooming
And life just goes on…
It was pretty uneventful till early afternoon. We had lunch and started off again. I was running out of time and had to be lucky in the next 2 hours or so. We started off to a tiger ‘hot-spot’ waterhole we had been the previous day. But this time it wasnt empty. We got our second tiger just standing by one of the trees. Here it is lazying in the shade.
We moved on to another waterhole and this was the most spectacular sighting of all. There was this tigress with 3 cubs, just a few months old. The cubs kept moving in and out of the bushes and it was such a treat for us. That is something I will always remember. I was so engrossed watching them that I just tucked my camera in the bag and enjoyed the view. Truly awesome.
Here are some of the other pics.
All shot with Canon 7D, EF85 f1.8 and EFS 10-22.