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Old 25th June 2012, 17:09   #1
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Default Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-no-body-can-assure-sighting.jpg

Disclaimer - If you are looking for some average-to-decent tiger pictures, you have come to the right thread (@.anshuman’s lines on his Ranthambore thread, apologies mate, but the line was too good for me not to use it)

So June approached and the travel plans for marriage in the family at Raipur were getting decided and as usual I was praying that we drive instead of flying. Earlier the mere thought of doing a 1400Kms (One way) drive with one week of away from office was discouraging to drive, but having done it once, now it does not seem like a big deal.

So just so we have covered all the bases I asked my wife to check flight tickets and for four of us it was going to cost north of 40K. Considering petrol at Rs 80/- for 1400 Kms drive it would cost me not more than 12K one way (Including night stay at Hyderabad, and assuming fuel efficiency of 12, and including tolls etc). That is like half the cost and no brainer at all.

So the plan to drive down to Raipur was done, and in between @nilanjanray post about him doing a extended weekend drive to Tadoba looked very interesting

(http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-d...rtuner-33.html)

Quickly jumped on to @ranjip thread on his Tadoba drive and asked whatever questions I could, called up the resort guys and booked the rooms as well as gave relevant details to get a permit for jungle safari.

(http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...tadoba-ed.html (Humbly & Totally Tadoba-ed))

The distance to Svasara (Svasara Luxury Resort at Tadoba | Jungle Safaris, Tadoba Tiger Reserve India) resort is about 1050Kms as per google maps, and the road after getting off NH7 is told to be dark and might get difficult to find the resort. So starting early morning was ruled out as reaching there in evening, with a risk of getting late due to unforeseen reasons was not an option. So it was decided that we would start on Friday night around 12 in midnight and then hopefully reach Hyderabad early in the morning, and continue our journey towards Tadoba with hope of reaching sometime in the afternoon.

The plan was as follows
  • 22 June 2012, Friday (Midnight) – Start from Bangalore
  • 23 June 2012, Saturday (Afternoon) – Reach the resort in Tadoba, and chill for the rest of the day
  • 24 June 2012, Sunday (Morning/Afternoon) – Do two Safaris, and spend the night at the resort
  • 25 June 2012, Monday (Morning) – Continue our journey to Raipur and hopefully reach sometime in the afternoon
  • 30 June 2012, Saturday – Start from Raipur and reach Hyderabad by evening
  • 31 June 2012, Sunday – Start from Hyderabad and reach Bangalore by late afternoon.
Once the bookings were done I was waiting to the D Day, for the car serviced and some problems attended to, and then this thread with some lovely pictures came up

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ers-bison.html (Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison)

I have been an erstwhile photographer and stopped after being sick of getting films developed all the time, it was kind of expensive to maintain this hobby in those times (roughly 15 years ago), but the pictures on this thread were compelling to pick this hobby up again. So pulled out my 15 year old SLR Nikon N70 and asked around in the forum and elsewhere what use it might have now with mostly dated equipment.

As it turned out form DSLR thread and elsewhere that I can still use the Lenses, but the body is surely beyond its “Use By” date. So after much research I choose to buy Nikon D7000 which would have cost me about 52K. When I went to the store in Anand Rao Circle I quickly figured out that it would take me some time to exploit the capabilities of D90 (Let alone D7000) and decided to save some cash by buying D90 instead.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 25th June 2012 at 18:56.
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Old 25th June 2012, 17:24   #2
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Default Re: Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba

Friday 22 June Midnight

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-1.-all-zero-ready-rock-roll.jpg

Its 11 in the night and my earlier plan was to sleep from 3 in the afternoon to about 8 in the night so as I would not be sleep starved, but as luck would have it there was no way I could sleep with all the noise of packing and kids playing and cooking etc. going on elsewhere in the house, in spite of locking myself in a room. So grudgingly I stepped out of the room, and decided we will start driving anyway and if needed take turns to sleep while the other drives.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-2.-all-packed-civic-full.jpg

This was the first time I am starting my journey in the night, I never start my drives in the night, but they do end late in the night. Both may sound similar but there is a lot of difference, as in this case you are starting drive tired and jaded with lack of sleep. Anyways, sleep always hits after 2 so the last resort was to stop someplace (Like what @nilanjan did) at a petrol pump and the get some sleep.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-3.-gps-start.jpg

As it was in the night and HYD-BLR route is full of Volvo buses and some trucks, hence I kept the speed steady and never pushed it too hard. Lower 3 digit speeds felt safe and I kept myself to that speed.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-4.-after-116kms.jpg

At around 3 in the night, my co-pilot, got up and offered to take the wheels so as I can catch up on some sleep. She has always been a very safe and secure co-pilot (experience of last 11+ years) to have, and I can sleep peacefully when she is at the wheels.

She covered decent distance while I slept from 3-5. At around 5 when I took the wheels back, we were ~100Kms from HYD.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-5.-after-206kms.jpg

When we were close to HYD, I was advised by @ranjitp to take the ORR, unfortunately my minimalistic familiarity with HYD and the MMI GPS playing prank on me, I entered the city. From there on it was following the MMI recommendations. After going around in circles, I decided to talk to @ranjitp, and he guided me to get out of the city. While we were in the city we thought we could also finish breakfast, as there might be better places to eat in the city then compared to highway. So again with @ranjitp’s recommendation we went to a decent place and finished th breakfast and some freshening up. That was extremely valuable help Ranjit, thanks a ton for that, icing on the cake was you decided to pay us a visit while we were at the breakfast table, and for the first time my wife saw some valuable help coming out of team BHP, time well spent on the forum.

By the time breakfast was over, it was close to 8 and we filled up fuel and continued our journey towards Tadoba.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-6.-after-595kms-hyd.jpg

The roads before taking right turn from Karanji go bad, and once you take the right turn it’s the old school state highways with villages in between. So doing decent speeds is completely ruled out. The route we took was Karanji -> Wani -> Warora -> Chimur. Took the right turn from the Bus stop at Chimur and the resort was another 12 Kms from there.

It took us 16 hours to cover 1080Kms from Bangalore to the resort (Door to Door), with about 1.5 hours of break in between for breakfast and another 30 mins break for Lunch, and small multiple nature brakes.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-7.-after-1080kms-tadoba.jpg

Saturday, 23 June

We freshened up at the resort and while in the evening we were having tea the evening trip guys came in. When asked how was the sighting I was disappointed to learn that in the last 2-3 days there have not been much sightings of the tigers or the cubs. There was one family who had already done 6 rides and no sightings at all. My hopes of seeing tigers from close quarters were now getting diminished.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 25th June 2012 at 17:46.
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Old 25th June 2012, 18:09   #3
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Sunday, 23 June

It is not easy to get my girls ready at 430 in the morning, but this was no normal day. They got up in time and both were very co-operative in getting ready by 5AM so we could start well in time for the safari.

The ride for four hours, we spotted a Bear, I could only catch a fleeing glimpse of it on my camera. We kept checking all the water holes but no presence of tigers. Then the guide decided to jump inside the jungle on a very small road (errr pagdandi rather). After driving about 5 mins in silence we saw on the middle of the road a leopard. As soon as he saw us he started walking in the opposite direction so all the shots that I took were from his behind. I wanted him to turn so as I could take some shots of his face as well. It was not too easy to photograph from a moving Jeep, lots of shake and rattle was disturbing. Finally after we stopped and he turned right to get into the jungle I was able to take couple of shots of him standing sideways.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-leopard-01.jpg

The guide quickly took us to the other side of the road, hoping the leopard would come out that way. We were sitting quietly and he was trying to listen to the warning sound of birds, and barking deer, an indication that a predator (possibly a tiger) is near.

By this time, it was time to return and no tiger sightings yet. Once we reached the resort except one Jeep none of the other folks had any luck. Everyone was looking very disappointed, my wife and daughter were too.

For the evening ride I tried to take the same guide but unfortunately I another one because they have a rotation policy. Anyways, we continued on the same roads and 20 mins into the ride and we saw some jeeps parked ahead of us. There she was, a ~18 months old female tigress posing for the camera about 100 feet from our jeep. I started shooting.

Coming from Film based SLR, I have a habit of waiting for the right shot, but in this new DSLR age you don’t need to do that. I saw folks going rat-rat-rat on the shutter. With change of mind, quickly switched the camera on multi frame mode and started shooting rat-rat-rat at her. This one just goes at 4 frames per second hence it isn't the fastest in the market, but good enough for me for now.

Just then she decided to turn and walk towards our direction, at about 13 feet to my left she stopped and gave a wonderful look.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-01.jpg
Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-02.jpg
Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-03.jpg
Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-06.jpg
Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-04.jpg

After staying there for few minutes she decided to walk towards our Jeep, I was frozen for a second, hands were trembling but did not let go of the shutter. She crossed the road from the backside of our Jeep while crossing she was about 6 feet away from my camera. She took a good look at me and a full-grown human male with a camera did not look very exciting to her, so she walked away. We kept following her she was marking her territory or maybe learning to do it, as she was yet to be separated from her mother (possibly another few months and then she would be all by herself).

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-05.jpg

By the time she went into the jungles and out of good shooting view I had already exhausted half of my storage (~500 pictures out of available 1000+). Thought to myself, few more sightings like this I will have to change to secondary card and move to JPEG. Time to buy additional 16GB card for times like these.

30 mins later we drove to another water hole and saw some Jeeps standing there on the right side of the road, my driver did not park on the left side of the road instead went ahead and took a U turn and parked behind the Jeeps. When asked why didn’t he parked on the left as there was enough space and we wouldn’t have blocked anyone’s view he said there are rules so he cannot, but then the Forest officers while Honda city was parked on the left side, possibly blocking people view. This is not conveying the right picture of the authorities here.

There was another incident, there is a rule that you cannot get down from the jeep, but we saw a forest ranger on a motorcycle consistently getting down from his motorcycle (with two other folks sitting behind him) and walking towards the tigers with a stick and a camera in his hand to take closest pictures. If there are rules they are for everyone, anyways back to the tigers.

So there were three tiger cubs sitting near the water body behind the bushes. They were not in the clear line of sight hence could not shoot good pictures of them. Just then one of them decided to drink some water, and my camera started rolling rat-rat-rat.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-2-07.jpg
Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-2-08.jpg
Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-2-09.jpg
Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-2-10.jpg
Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-2-11.jpg

Then all of them went into the bushes, and one of the jeeps decided to follow them on the jungle trail, I asked the guide if we could do the same and he asked the driver to move in that direction. After getting in, there they were, all the three cubs with their mother walking on the narrow road.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-2-12.jpg

The Camera

The D90, isn’t the greatest and latest from the Nikon range, I choose to buy this one as I am experimenting again with SLR, it would take time for me to be able to exploit all its capabilities. It did not disappoint in this trip. The pictures have come out reasonably ok, might look at changing the lenses sooner than later, that was the only area i was constraint by. There were folks with huge bazookas going rat-rat-rat on the sightings.

The Return
We left the resort on Monday morning for Raipur, this week we are in Raipur and the return journey is planned for next Saturday.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 26th June 2012 at 04:56.
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Old 26th June 2012, 09:10   #4
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Default Re: Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba

Moderator's note: Moved out of assembly line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th June 2012, 09:49   #5
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Looks like one more of the tiger sighting travelogue! Loved the first toon pic..where did you sight that? The pic of four beasts (one lying and three strolling) is a good one.

Would you be reviewing the resort as well? Would like to read that. Lets see more pics pouring in.
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Old 26th June 2012, 10:42   #6
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Default Re: Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba

Nice pictures Mayank. Liked the 4 tigers, and the first one of the tiger (snarling).

You were very lucky to see the leopard. I heard that leopard population has gone down because of the rising tiger population.

The D90 is a pretty capable camera, it has taken me a while to figure out stuff and become familiar with it. I will complete 3 years with it next Feb...I plan to go for the Nikon D400 after that (if it comes out).

You might want to tweak things a bit when you shoot, specifically, make sure that you increase the shutter speed through higher ISO or by using the shutter priority or manual mode. I usually shoot at ISO 400 when I am in the jungle. With the newer cameras, one can shoot till ISO 800-1600 with very little noise.

Since you were an erstwhile SLR shooter, it will take you little time to master it - if you put in the effort, that is.
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Old 26th June 2012, 11:10   #7
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Wow its raining tigers on TBHP. Very nicely composed crisp description of your encounters in Tadoba. Lucky you that the tiger came next to you and made a face at you . I guess they are getting too used to human proximity but the tale of forest guards approaching the tiger with a stick to take pictures is atrocious. It encourages other over enthusiastic tourists to push the limits. As a result tiger tourism as a whole gets a bad name.
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Old 26th June 2012, 11:17   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Nice pictures Mayank. Liked the 4 tigers, and the first one of the tiger (snarling).

Since you were an erstwhile SLR shooter, it will take you little time to master it - if you put in the effort, that is.
Thanks, and fair assessment of my rusty photography skills . Is there a Digital photography 101 thread (If not i would request you take a lead in starting one), i will subscribe to it to pick up a few tricks. I did try playing around with ISO and shutter speeds but the pictures on the LCD looked over exposed, so rather than wasting lot of time getting the right settings i choose semi-auto modes for now.

When she came close, because of trembling hands (Never had a tiger so close in the wild) i somehow managed to spoil some of the close shots that could have come out awesome. I consulted one of my photographer friends and he asked me to use the Nikon Software to play around with RAW images and then convert to JPEG, not sure if that will make the images look better.

@TaureanBull, the toon was painted on the toilet which was in between two jungle ranges, it was very apt in describing what we were going through in the morning ride.

Will process some of the pictures and post soon. There are quiet a few tiger pictures to play around with .
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Old 26th June 2012, 11:47   #9
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Thats the great trip report Mayank,

glad that you could see the big cat on your second safari, lucky to see 4 of them together and the close encounter should have really been exciting, I'm sure.
Very good pictures and narration, do share more if you still have some keepers off those 500-100 clicks thats how it is with DSLR, you get to shoot a lot in the beginnig and later you kind of slow down and keep looking for the best ones rather than going full burst (I use that to get the right moment and focus captured in low/diff light conditioins, else the single shots would do).
Thanks for sharing,
drive safe.


@Samarjit, those may be the trackers with the FD out there, they usually go on bikes and tracks animals so that you dont miss them during the safar (my understanding from my Gir trip last year). However, those should not be approching the animal with cameras, they are there to ensure sightings and none breaks the rules.

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Old 26th June 2012, 11:59   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Thanks, and fair assessment of my rusty photography skills . Is there a Digital photography 101 thread (If not i would request you take a lead in starting one), i will subscribe to it to pick up a few tricks. I did try playing around with ISO and shutter speeds but the pictures on the LCD looked over exposed, so rather than wasting lot of time getting the right settings i choose semi-auto modes for now.
I am just a self taught amateur who picked up a DSLR a couple of years back, and photography (with a 12X mega zoom) 6 years back. There are a couple of threads in the shifting gears section that have good info on techniques etc., with some experts posting regularly. But I suggest you just Google, as I did. And that you read the D90 manual thoroughly - or frequent some forums about the D90. All you need are some research and experimentation, steady hands, good familiarity with the camera and anticipation (I am talking about wildlife photos). And most important, some luck with sightings

Edit: you might also want to try some shoots with the JPEGs. Most cameras do a decent job of processing, and shooting RAW is more time and memory intensive. I have pretty basic post processing skills, and I feel that the image quality difference between a good JPEG and a processed RAW image is not significant enough (given my post processing skills) to warrant shooting RAW - especially when one is shooting lots of photos. Also, D90 doesn't have that good a buffer. Shoot RAW if you are willing to invest the time in learning post processing techniques and spend time post processing (unless you tweak the settings, some RAW images can appear dull or washed out without further processing).

When I can devote more time to photography, and upgrade my laptop, I will shoot RAW. Till then, with a D90, I will stick to JPEG most of the time.

P.S.: if you really screw up white balance by any chance, just convert the image into B&W and say that you were in an artistic mood :-)

Last edited by nilanjanray : 26th June 2012 at 12:21.
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Old 26th June 2012, 12:20   #11
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@Samarjit, those may be the trackers with the FD out there, they usually go on bikes and tracks animals so that you dont miss them during the safar (my understanding from my Gir trip last year). However, those should not be approching the animal with cameras, they are there to ensure sightings and none breaks the rules.
Ketan - i dont think there is this tracker thing out here in Tadoba. The tracker thing is only in Gir as far as i know. Here - these are normal forest guards and not trackers - they dont track the animals in the mornings and direct you to a sighting like in Gir. They will help you if you ask and they know - but nothing more than that.

And yes, once a sighting happens and there is a huge queue of vehicles - they do organise the darshan with 5 mins per vehicle and if you have to see again, you have to go and come back again at the end of the queue.

@Mayank - great sighting of the siblings together and the snarl of the tiger .

Did you know that this snarl is when the tiger is trying to take in the smell of other tigers and identify who that tiger is, the cubs do it to hide if there is an unknown male in the area or stay assured if it is their father...

On the photography gear - I think the camera that you have is more than adequate, mostly you should look at upgrading your lens to bigger reach and aperture. But this is often a trade off - because a big and fast lens often will cost you as much as a hatch so you have to trade off between reach and aperture most of the times.
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Old 26th June 2012, 12:36   #12
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And yes, once a sighting happens and there is a huge queue of vehicles - they do organise the darshan with 5 mins per vehicle and if you have to see again, you have to go and come back again..

Did you know that this snarl is when the tiger is trying to take in the smell of other tigers and identify who that tiger is, the cubs do it to hide if there is an unknown male in the area or stay assured if it is their father...

On the photography gear - I think the camera that you have is more than adequate, mostly you should look at upgrading your lens to bigger reach and aperture. But this is often a trade off - because a big and fast lens often will cost you as much as a hatch so you have to trade off between reach and aperture most of the times.
We missed quite a few good shots because of the 5 minutes musical chair. And when VIPs come, obviously they get more than their share of 5 mins.

Didn't know about the snarl/sniff - thanks for letting us know!

@ Mayank: I don't know what lenses you have, but in case you want to buy a zoom, the 70-300 VR is a good lens that balances price, capability and size. We Nikon shooters don't have the nice 100-400L lens, and the Nikon 80-400mm is not that good as per reviews. There is a 18-300 lens that has been launched. Expensive. But if it is good, then it make for a great walkaround lens in nature.

Btw, the forest guard who went down and took photos - where was this i.e. which area? Near #2 Tanka?
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Old 26th June 2012, 14:56   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806

Tadoba
.
Hey Mayank,wonderful to have met you guys in Hyd.Great to see that you had a feast of a sightingEverybody must have been super thrilled.Its begun to rain in Hyd and surrounding areas so expect to run into some black clouds on your return drive from Raipur.
As for the ranger getting down from the bike,they must be the tiger census people who are doing the actual counting exercise based on actual sightings and not based on pug mark counting.The counting is on in Tadoba at the moment.By and large the Tadoba forest authorities are pretty disciplined as opposed to some of the other parks in the country.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull
Would you be reviewing the resort as well? Would like to read that. Lets see more pics pouring in.
TB,the resort has been extensively reviewed on my travelogue.You could take a look at that for inputs.Mayank has attached the link above

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...tadoba-ed.html (Humbly & Totally Tadoba-ed)

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Old 26th June 2012, 16:43   #14
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Ok some more pictures after processing, with my Newbie status in processing RAW. Still learning so please excuse. On the forest ranger thingy, @ranjitp i do not think (with best of my intelligence) that they were census folks as they were with a couple of civilians and a Canon SLR camera with <100 ZOOM. So they intended to get closer to the tigers to get a better shot hence all this drama.

@Sach.sri, thanks for the info on snarl. Got to know quiet a bit at the resort by reading the books there. I was astounded to learn that the tigress eats her kids excreta so as no predators could smell it and look for them. All this for the safety for her cubs. She goes great lengths in protecting her cubs and ensuring order. Learn't all this and more from an elderly well read gentleman who had amazing knowledge on Tigers. Will disclose more in subsequent posts.

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-07.jpg

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-08.jpg

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-09.jpg

Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba-tiger-1-10.jpg
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Old 26th June 2012, 17:48   #15
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Default Re: Hello Tiger – Our trip to Tadoba

I also should plan a trip and get to see a few live ones in wild before all of them end up in Chinese medicine shops.

And not bad pics at all.
For better pics put a 35mm prime lens on the camera and use you legs as zoom. :-)
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