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Old 16th July 2012, 18:43   #61
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Default 5th safari, 2.45 pm - 6.45 pm

Sorry for the absence folks - it has been a while, and I was busy with work and other pressing matters.

------

5th and last safari, Kolara

We were one of the first folks to enter the forest gate. This time we had the best guide in Kolara - Vinod. A big difference from the other ones. As we drove, he gave a narration of what has been happening here, the struggle to convince villagers to move, the regular attacks on livestock, 4 deaths in the forest from Kolara village alone, tigers straying outside the forest during rainy season.

Things that we hadn't heard in the resort or from the other guides who were careful to give neutral answers.

We were going on a narrow road when we saw the usual jam of Gypsys. Tigers ahoy! Unfurtunately this was a 10 feet wide road, with no way to pass. And there were too many vehicles ahead of us to get a sight of the two tigers who were sitting beside a waterhole. After 5 mins the tigers got up and went inside the brush - the word was passed back to us. We could see glipmpses of the tigers as they passed through undergrowth. Meanwhile, 3 Gaurs came and went into the same brush. We waited apprehensively. Soon, there was a loud snort - the Gaurs had smelt the tigers! We knew that there would be no fight given the numbers and the age of the cubs, but the situation was somewhat tense. We could hear the giant herbivores moving forward. These were the Panderpauni cubs, one of whom I had photographed the same morning. The 3 Gaurs felt that they were enough to handle 2 not fully grown tigers. And so they decided to shoo away the tigers. We felt that the tigers would come out further back and cross the road. I told the driver to start reversing. But he hesitated for some reason. And the 4 more vehicles came behind us and jammed the road. Stupidly all these guys were waiting near the waterhole as if the tigers will come back after seeing 10 vehicles parked.

I was desperately trying to see if we could reverse. No way. Too many Gypsys and private vehicles had come up behind and were blocking the road. I gestured to the rear-most vehicle and asked him to reverse...but he just stupidly waited there.

As expected, one tiger emereged behind the last vehicle. It pee'd, walked on the road for a while, looked at the commotion, smiled (or so I thought), crossed the road, waited for a while for its sibling to join. But that one didn't come out - it moved parallel to the road - we could see it through the brush - but decided to keep on walking without showing itself clearly. When the first tiger saw that the other one wasn't coming out, it too went into the undergrowth on the other side.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5667.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5677.jpg

I was too far away, and had no clear shot in spite of gymnastics. Pity - the last vehicle would have had fantastic sightings of the tiger. The photos you see were take at full zoom and then cropped.

We moved ahead. After 1 km, we saw a couple of vehicles parked beside another waterhole. There was a tiger sleeping in the bamboo.

After looking closely, I could see the tail and part of a hind leg. It showed no sign of coming out, so we decided to move ahead. This was probably the mother of the Panderpauni cubs, as per the guide. 3 tigers in the first 30 mins. Someone joked that at this rate we will end up with a record total. Hmmm...

We went to Tadoba lake and did a chakkar. Saw the same old Honey Buzzard, a couple of Grey Ibises, and the same croc at the same place.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5691.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5697.jpg

Coming back from the lake, we went past a small bridge where we had seen the Paradise Flycatcher during preious safaris. Good decision - there were a Changeable Hawk Eagle and a Serpent Eagle sitting there! Got some shots of the CHE, though it was a little too far away for great shots given my 70-300mm reach.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5712.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5719.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5750.jpg

Next stop was to be the #2 tanka. While we were on the metalled road leading to the tank, I told my co-passenger that I wish I get a photo of a Gaur crossing the road. 2 minutes later, my wish was fulfilled.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5777.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5784.jpg

Someone joked that I was being prescient this day. Before thet safari started, I was saying that it was a pity that the best guide of Kolara never accompanied us - and how I wish we would get him at least once. That wish got fulfilled. Now the Gaur road crossing happened. What next? Sometimes greed is good. I replied that 'it would be great if we again see those cubs'. And what do we see after a few kms? A few Gypsys parked on the road - like in the previous afternoon - and one flashing its lights at us asking us to stop.

So we stopped. Too far away for my liking - even factoring for the 20m distance one needs to maintain. We were like 75ms away from the likely crossing zone. I requested the driver to move ahead for 10m and then stop, but this guy was too slow to react - meanwhile another vehicle came and took that place. I was one of the first guys to see the movement in the undergrowth on the left side, so was ready for what happened next.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5788.jpg

The tigress emerged, walked onto the road and gave us a nasty stare. Then she started walking towards us, but stopped after 10 metres as her cubs started coming onto the road. One cub came right upto her and gave her a kiss (well, a nuzzle). My camera was ready, and I caught those precious moments of affection between cub and mother.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5803.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5813.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5814.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5816.jpg

Each cub that came onto the road gave us a glowering look full of attitude ("dare you come close to us!"). The Gypsys parked on the other side of the tiger family could only see their backs because these cats kept facing us as the family of 5 crossed the road and disappeared into the jungle.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5819.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5821.jpg

How luck plays a part! If we hadn't stopped for 5 mins to shoot the Eagles, and then for 1 minute to shoot the Bisons, we would have missed all the action - or would have caught the fag end of the action.

Since the tiger family had crossed the road, we didn't go to the water tank but went offroad to go to Wagdow area. Apparently the Wagdow male (Vicky Donor) had decided to spend a few days with his Wagdow family after having spent the last 3 days with his Telia family. He should be arrested for maintaining two wives! Anyway, it is very unusual to find a large male tiger tolerating cubs from two different families.

We crossed a couple of vehicles, and they said that the tigers were near the waterhole. By then, we - at least I - didn't have any expectations left.

There were too many vehicles near the waterhole to get a clear shot of the tigers. But we did see them from time to time as we inched forward in the narrow lane. With great difficulty (half hanging out from the vehicle and bending down to get a view through an opening in the bamboo clump, climbing on and then holding onto the roof of the Gypsy) I got a few shots.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5949.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5974.jpg

Some of the initial opportunities were wasted. Somehow in the last 10 minutes I had managed to inadvertently knock the selector to manual mode, and the manual settings dialed in were not at all appropriate for daytime (I had been shooting in M mode the previous evening, and shutter speed etc. were configured for dim light). Luckily I noticed what was happening and corrected course before all shots were wasted.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_6026.jpg

We saw the huge male, the tigress and two cubs. The cubs came into the water after the male had left. Before going away, a cub gave us a nasty snarl (or maybe he was sniffing the air for other tigers i.e. his dad as someone explained - was it Sach Sri??).

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5921.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_6041.jpg

12 tigers in one safari was one of the highest scores in Tadoba. It took time for the fact to sink in. I keep going to the Southern forests, and have 2 tiger sightings till now. And not a single tiger photo from the Nilgiris.

As we started on our way back towards the forest gate, the sky darkened and a few drops of rain started falling. We put away our cameras and just enjoyed the cool breeze. All were quiet as we thought about what had happened in the last few hours. Luckily, even in reflection mode, while in the jungle I keep my reflexes sharp. That is how I saw one black ball in the middle of the road. This was about 0.5 kms from the exit gate, so I wasn't expecting any sightings. But when that black ball moved, we realized that it was a sloth bear. I grabbed for my camera case and started taking out the camera while telling the driver not to go very close. Then 1 ball became 3 - one big one, and two small ones. A mother with two cubs! Luckily I forced the driver to stop far away, and was able to get a couple of snaps of the family before they vanished. Three villagers were walking on the road, and the moment the bears became aware that there were humans in front and humans behind, they just scooted into the bush. We gunned the engine and moved forward, but could see no sign of them. If we had moved forward instead of stopping, we wouldn't have been able to take any pictures.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_6050.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_6052.jpg

Tadoba is the only place I have seen that allows resident villagers to move around like this inside core area.In fact, the villagers stay inside the core area.

After crossing the forest gate and just before entering the resort, we saw this small raptor swoop down, catch something and fly off to sit on the wires. The dark sky and the stiff breeze were a welcome change from the usual heat and dust of the golden Tadoba sunsets.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_6062.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_6078.jpg

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_6081.jpg

That evening I was up till late, chatting with other guests and my fellow safari passengers. Since I went to sleep at 2am, I decided to miss the morning safari - I desperately needed to rest before my drive. Besides, I wanted to end the safaris on a high note - things were likely to get anticlimatic on a morning safari after night rain.

Went to sleep thinking of the magical day I had experienced, and the upcoming 1000+ kms drive.
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Old 18th July 2012, 17:51   #62
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Wow. Too good. It's so nice to view the pictures and re-live those moments ! Thanks a lot for sharing these pics. O.T: are you there on india nature watch?
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Old 18th July 2012, 22:11   #63
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

A perfect combination of narration, driving, photography and luck. This is a wonderful collection of tiger photos. I am planning to visit Tadoba next summer and I hope I will be half as lucky in sighting the tigers.

Look forward to your next wildlife phototravelog.

Regards

Saji
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Old 18th July 2012, 22:16   #64
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Quote:
Originally Posted by W.A.G.7 View Post
Wow. Too good. It's so nice to view the pictures and re-live those moments ! Thanks a lot for sharing these pics. O.T: are you there on india nature watch?
Thanks. I registered on INW, but have posted only a couple of photos till date and then not bothered to post anymore.

Btw, regarding the snarling cub photo: the face looks blurred since there were intervening (hanging) leaves.
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Old 19th July 2012, 08:44   #65
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Again Lucky B$$$$$$!!!

Your thread had motivated me to spend a night at a WLS while doing cross country traverse. But rains the night before meant no sightings. However that let down is more than compensated for by your excellent pictures and narration. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 20th July 2012, 09:18   #66
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Quote:
Originally Posted by SajiNSalin View Post
A perfect combination of narration, driving, photography and luck. This is a wonderful collection of tiger photos. I am planning to visit Tadoba next summer and I hope I will be half as lucky in sighting the tigers.

Look forward to your next wildlife phototravelog.

Regards

Saji
Thanks Saji. Here's wishing you all the luck regarding sightings. End April - May would be the best time to see tigers (with free saunas under the sun).

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Again Lucky B$$$$$$!!!

Your thread had motivated me to spend a night at a WLS while doing cross country traverse. But rains the night before meant no sightings. However that let down is more than compensated for by your excellent pictures and narration. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Sudev. I wondered what had happened in your safari. I am thinking of a Corbett trip in November, will check with you then if you are interested in joining with your Grand Vitara for a quick drive.
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Old 13th August 2012, 00:23   #67
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Default The drive back

Left the resort at noon. Wanted to reach NH7 (Karanji crossing) in 2 hours. Overshot by 3 minutes. As I was going through the ghats between Adilabad and Nirmal, the sky became overcast, and a thunderstorm came. Was lovely driving through the rain. I opened all the windows and enjoyed the fresh rain and the smell of wet earth. The Fortuner's permanent 4WD sstem helps in maintaining traction on slipper surfaces, so was able to maintain a decent speed.

Panderpauni cub
Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_5374.jpg

Light and shadow on a tiger cub. Did you notice the peeping ear?
Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_4594.jpg

Reached Hyderabad outskirts just after sunset. Ran into heavy traffic, so was able to cross Hyd and hit NH7 again (Shamshabad crossing) only around 8 pm. Stopped for dinner at the place that comes after some kms on the left when going South. Drive-in place - with statue of a car - and a CCD next door. Had a heavy dinner. Big mistake!

Hungry Kya?
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Looks like an oversized tabby
Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_4562.jpg

Started feeling sleepy soon after, and maintaining steady cruising speed was an effort. Had to repeat the jumping jack act quite a few times, often on deserted dark roads. Finally managed to crawl home around 3 AM. The return trip of 1100 kms took one hour extra due to Hyderabad traffic, stopping for dinner and slower speed due to drowsiness.

A Sambhar stag approaches as the setting sun shines on him
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Was back at work 6 hours later

The mad 2200km, 4 day trip was worth it because the Supreme Court stopped safaris in a number of National Parks soon after. Things yet to get resolved. When will I again get the chance to get so close to big cats?

Last edited by nilanjanray : 13th August 2012 at 00:44.
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Old 13th August 2012, 21:28   #68
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Default Tourism ban in Tadoba...and bus rides

Tadoba has been closed to tourists from late July onwards after the Supreme Court ruling. The park would have been closed anyway because of monsoon, but I am not sure what parts would be opened in winter.

Meanwhile, some wildlife enthusiasts have found an ingenuous way to get over the ban - they go for man rides on the state transport bus that plies on the one tar road between Moharli and Chimur (the road pictured in a number of my photos in this thread e.g. tigers crossing). Seems some folks have had sightings of leopards and tigers beside the road while traveling in the bus.
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Old 15th August 2012, 06:57   #69
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Tadoba is anyway closed till Oct 1st week due to monsoon season.

The SC ruling will not affect the Tourism activities in Mohurli range which will still be open. Tourists may not be able to go past Khatoda Gate even for day trips.

Another option is to explore buffer areas in the South East of the Tadoba range: interesting from a wildlife perspective and with some lucky sightings. Ofcourse, not exactly tourist friendly.
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Old 3rd September 2012, 17:54   #70
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

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Originally Posted by COUGAR View Post
Tadoba is anyway closed till Oct 1st week due to monsoon season.

The SC ruling will not affect the Tourism activities in Mohurli range which will still be open. Tourists may not be able to go past Khatoda Gate even for day trips.

Another option is to explore buffer areas in the South East of the Tadoba range: interesting from a wildlife perspective and with some lucky sightings. Ofcourse, not exactly tourist friendly.
The buffer zones are rather interesting if you can stay safe inside a vehicle. When I was there, I wanted to go on evening drives but was too tired after the safaris. Most of the human killings happen in the buffer zones. And as per a guide, the buffer area has the same number of tigers as the core area.

I have seen leopards crossing the road in front of me in the evenings, would love to have that same experience with tigers.
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Old 5th July 2013, 21:39   #71
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Default Some reprocessed photos

Worked on some photos from this trip recently, sharing them for the Panthera tigris tigris lovers.

Close-up of a Telia cub
Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-big-cat-close-up2.jpg

Stalker
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The look
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Old 6th July 2013, 07:53   #72
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

Amazing pictures. What a family of Tigers! Hope they all survive well and produce good enough litters!
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Old 23rd September 2013, 23:33   #73
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

I will be visiting Tadoba again in October just after the park opens. Driving down. Hope I get some decent sightings.
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Old 24th September 2013, 11:41   #74
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Best of Luck! May you be blessed with many sightings and regale us with your adventures.
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Old 22nd May 2014, 16:35   #75
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Default Another Tadoba trip, June 1st week

Plan to do 4 safaris in Tadoba this time. Hope to have decent encounters with stripes.

Here's one photo from the Oct 2013:
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