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Old 21st April 2012, 01:39   #316
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

18th April, 2012 - 23:25 hrs

I was watching news on the TV and preparing to go to bed that my wife came into the room and nonchalantly said - "Is it possible to go to Sariska tomorrow morning"? My eyes almost popped out and I thought I was imagining. Asked her to repeat and the same thing was repeated.

My last visit to Sariska was on 25th March and since 11th Dec, 2011 I had not sighted the Big Cat.

I said yes to my wife and asked her to prepare for the trip, called & woke up Harisingh to inform that I would be coming the next day and put the camera battery on charge. ETD was scheduled to 3 am on Thursday. Set my alarm for 1:45 am and tried to catch some sleep but failed.

Organised my camera gear, took the bean-bag, rain-cover, binocs and went down to keep these in the car.

19th April, 2012 - 03:105 hrs

Headed to Sariska via the Dharuhera-Bhiwadi route & by the time reached the reception area it was 6:30 am. The summer timings were implemented from 1st April and we were late by half-an-hour. This would prove to be a big mistake. Harisingh was ready with the necessary permits along with Rajinder and the clock read 7 am when we finally entered the forest. Today being a week-day there was absolutely no rush at all and ours was the second jeep to enter the forest.

At the entrance I was told that ST 6 was in the Ghaanka area as some very good Sambhar calls were heard around 6 am and we immediately headed there. We saw a set of very fresh pug-marks and started following them. The direction of the foot-prints indicated that ST 6 was headed towards Bandipur that was located across the road behind Sariska Palace Hotel. We cautiously rushed because if the Cat crossed the road then there would be no chance of having a sighting today.

After a while the pug-marks vanished as it was hard ground but we continued and emerged on the main road. Scouted the area for some foot-prints but couldn't find any. Came back into the forest and roamed around. The entire jungle was eerily silent except for a few pea-cock mating calls and some rutting calls of Cheetal.

Saw this jungle hare running across and by the time I could lift my heavy camera gear, the fellow had gone into the bush. I could barely manage this shot before he galloped away.

Jungle Hare

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6190.jpg

In the meanwhile we ran into the ST 6 tracking team and they said that they had not got any signal since morning and that they were headed towards Bandipur to locate. Tourists are not allowed in that reserved forest and only forest personnel go on patrolling duty.

We headed towards Daarunda water-hole in the hope that some animal would come to drink water as the temperatures were rising. Reached and parked in the shade and waited. Clicked these two interesting birds.

The Woolly-necked Stork or White necked stork (Ciconia episcopus)

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6196.jpg

The White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) also known as the White-breasted Kingfisher

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6200.jpg

And a Sambhar called twice and it was close-by. Our senses alert & tingling we waited with baited breath. Harisingh exclaimed - ज़रक (zarak). What the hell was that?

Then he said - "Sir, hyena". In the local lingo a hyena is called as 'zarak'. I couldn't see anything as a big tree was blocking my view. Rajinder said that it was a male and quite big. And then he appeared. It was the Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena). A big male scavenger that is a highly nocturnal animal. I was seeing him at 8 in the morning.

Striped Hyena

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6202.jpg

This was my first ever sighting of the Hyena in the wild. I had not seen one in the zoo as well. This fellow was sprinting as if chasing something or heading with a purpose.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6204.jpg

He passed in front of my jeep at 200 feet and then suddenly took a detour on a hillock.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6205.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6208.jpg

On my right was a meadow where normally the deer grazed. If he was headed there for a hunt then why on the hillock? And then it dawned on me that he was avoiding being sighted by the deer. I told Rajinder to start the jeep and follow him and cut him off by a shorter route so that we reach the meadows before him.

The Hyena did exactly what i had guessed.

He climbed the hillock, came down into a nullah that opened up straight into the meadow and emerged there. A big herd of Sambhar, Neelgai & Cheetal were happily grazing and none had spotted him. The Hyena slowly advanced and then he was spotted. Suddenly the jungle came alive; a chorus of alarm calls, stomping of the hoofs and the run. The Hyena sprinted fast to wade into the herd.

The following sequence of photos shall explain better:

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6209.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6210.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6211.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6212.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6213.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6216.jpg

The hunt failed and the dejected predator moved further towards deep into Daarunda. We again preceded him by a shorter route and waited. Saw this huge male Neelgai grazing peacefully. I was a bit intrigued as to why was he not alert.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6217.jpg

On a one-to-one this Hyena could not take down this Neelgai. Then a Cheetal called. This alerted the Neelgai and he started staring at one direction.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6218.jpg

And then gave an alarm call. He had seen the Hyena.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6219.jpg

We tried looking in the direction where the Neelgai was staring but couldn't see anything due to thick cover. After sometime the Neelgai resumed his grazing. The Hyena had moved away somewhere else and the jungle fell silent again.

We roamed in the jungle further, went to Kalighati and then to Karna ka Waas. The water hole had shrunk further, the crocs were not to be seen and a few birds were looking for food in that depleted water.

It was time to move out and we exited the forest. The evening safari was not holding any promise as all signs suggested that the Big cats had moved up in the hills in cooler environment and would not come down. Decided against the evening trip and came back.

Thus ended my this visit to Sariska....

Last edited by gd1418 : 21st April 2012 at 01:41.
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Old 21st April 2012, 21:24   #317
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

lovely! this is even the first time that i have seen a picture of a striped hyena. Beautiful rare pictures!

P.S:- I once missed seeing a hyena in Sariska by a whisker, just saw its ears!
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Old 22nd April 2012, 12:15   #318
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Quote:
Originally Posted by sach.sri View Post
lovely! this is even the first time that i have seen a picture of a striped hyena. Beautiful rare pictures!
Same here or rather I think this is the first time am seeing a snap by an enthusiast and not a 24X7 wildlife photographer. One of the animals in my wishlist
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Old 22nd April 2012, 12:38   #319
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

I was posted at Alwar for 4 years and have been into Siriska a number of times but have never been able to anything beyond Langoors, Neel Gai, Deers etc. Real nice pics gd1418

BTW have they restored the road upto Pandupol. The road had broken beyond the Temple. Also did u get a chance to go to the Kankwadi Fort?
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Old 22nd April 2012, 17:32   #320
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Thank you Mallu. I'm ticking off one-by-one on my wishlist, A few remain yet. BTW, what is the difference between an enthusiast & a 24x7 wildlife photographer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post

Same here or rather I think this is the first time am seeing a snap by an enthusiast and not a 24X7 wildlife photographer. One of the animals in my wishlist
Thank you Saxena. Kankarwadi Fort is on my wishlist for long but never got time to visit.

By a SC order the road - 2 kms eah on either side of the Sariska Gate and from gate to Pandupol can't be restored. It has been left untouched to deteriorate and once that happens completely then it will be turned into a mud road.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhondusaxena View Post
I was posted at Alwar for 4 years and have been into Siriska a number of times but have never been able to anything beyond Langoors, Neel Gai, Deers etc. Real nice pics gd1418

BTW have they restored the road upto Pandupol. The road had broken beyond the Temple. Also did u get a chance to go to the Kankwadi Fort?
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Old 23rd April 2012, 11:53   #321
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
BTW, what is the difference between an enthusiast & a 24x7 wildlife photographer?
An enthusiast will offer/display his photos for free, while a 24X7 professional wildlife photographer will charge you for the same

But I think this was surely 'lady luck' since it was your better half who initiated the trip, surprisingly!!
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Old 3rd May 2012, 23:57   #322
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Amazing writeup and your new "toy" is living upto his/her reputations.Some of the pictures are astounding.Loved the picture of the hyena and the entire sequencing of those photos.

Thanks a ton for sharing the links.Reading them up one by one,just managed to go through this one now.
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Old 5th May 2012, 12:15   #323
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

GD bhai, That was a great jungle escapade with some amazing pics. I just kept scrolling down for more. The pics keep you captivated. Great job you've done with your Nikon.
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Old 31st May 2012, 22:36   #324
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

The call of the jungle made me visit Sariska again on the 13th May and as the temperatures were rising steadily, the prospect of spending about 5 hours between the the two safaris (morning & evening) seemed quite daunting.

RTDC's Tiger Den & the supposedly swanky Sariska Palace is pathetic to say the least. Hence decided to do only the morning safari and return back.

A quick call to Harisingh took care of the logistics and also got to know that ST 6 and ST 3 both had descended from the hills. This was some good news.

13th May, 2012

Packed a few butter sandwiches and with the camera gear in tow, my wife & I left for Sariska at 2:30 am. Taking the usual route through Dharuhera and halting on two occasions, once for a cup of tea and once for relieving we reached the reception area by 5:45.

TB II at the reception area

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6224.jpg

In a jungle safari, the time you enter is very crucial. Being summer, the park opens at 6 in the morning and so does the ticket counter. So by the time you get your ticket and reach the forest entry gate you loose 30 minutes. Another 5 to 7 minutes are wasted at the entry gate making entries etc. I fail to understand as to why the ticket counter can not be opened at least 40 minutes prior to the entry time.

So, inspite of reaching there at 5:45, by the time I entered the forest it was 6:40 and this proved very costly. ST 3 was spotted at 6 am at the tri-junction (tiraahaa) near the Ghaanka Chowki.

Rajinder, my driver, rushed there and we could only see the pug-marks vanishing away in the thicket. Roamed that area and the near-by surroundings but in vain. No alarm calls, no movement; the jungle was silent. She must have sat down in a cool shadowed place. She would move only if thirsty or hungry.

Dejected at having missed a sighting by a whisker, we moved around to look for ST 6 or a Leopard. The Sun shone bright & warm and we could see the Sambhars, Cheetals, Peacocks etc., resting under the shade. The langurs too had come down from the tree-tops and sitting on the ground under the trees.

This indicated that nothing was going to stir in the forest and most probably only sometime in the late evening some action would happen. We in any case were scheduled to return after the morning visit ended.

On our way back while exiting I asked Rajinder to go via Karna ka Baas. Invariably one is bound to find some animals & birds here. On the way saw this Jackal on the roadside sitting exhausted by the heat.

Himalayan Jackal

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6235.jpg

At Karna ka Baas saw Tortoises, Crocodile & a Neelgai drinking water. Let the pictures do the talking:

Tortoises basking in the Sun

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6244.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6250.jpg

Crocodile basking in the Sun

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6249.jpg

Neelgai drinking water

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6259.jpg

Thus ended my morning safari to Sariska.

Last edited by gd1418 : 31st May 2012 at 22:51.
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Old 1st June 2012, 12:03   #325
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Bad news for the Tigers in the wild. Sansar Chand, the master poacher who wiped out Sariska is released on bail.

Notorious wildlife criminal Sansar Chand gets bail - The Times of India
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Old 19th June 2012, 21:54   #326
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17th June, 2012

Just four days back I had visited Sariska and the itch re-surfaced. A casual chat with my friend Sharad on Facebook and he was ready to accompany.

Wife, as usual was ever-ready. Packed our stuff that mainly was the camera gear, Milton ice-box and some knick-knacks and we were ready to go. Departure time was set to 2:30 as Harisingh had told me to reach latest by 6 am. Sharad was supposed to come to my place at 2:15 but got delayed and by the time we left it was already 3 am.

Taking the usual route via Dharuhera, we reached Sariska and stopped for Tea just 2 kms before the reception area. We had not stopped anywhere in-between as that would have meant more delay.

Harisingh's phone was coming switched off since last night and that was worrying. At the reception area found Harisingh at the ticket counter and also came to know that the mobile network had crashed, hence no signal. We told him to come to RTDC's Tiger Den as we went there to freshen up. Unfortunately my regular driver Rajinder wasn't available so a different jeep came driven by Raju, a young lad. Initially I was uncomfortable, but once I saw Raju driving inside the forest my opinion changed.

ST 6, the big male, was spotted at 5:30 in the morning crossing the Gate and moving towards Ghaanka. We headed straight there. It had rained three days back and damp earth and water puddles could be seen. Since the powdery dust had settled down no pug-marks were visible.

We kept moving in and around the Ghaanka area but in vain. On the way we encountered the tracking team of ST 6 and they informed that the last signal they had received was from Taarunda area. This was bad news because the access to this area was stopped a few months back by constructing an anicut. So the water-body was now not visible.

Anyway we went up to the anicut and Harisingh & Raju ambled atop the anicut to have a look at the water-body. A lone sambhar was drinking water. The jungle was silent. Did a quick reccee to Goolarghoom area as ST 3 is known to roam around, but no activity was happening. There was little hope as it was quite hot and the animals would be resting in the shade.

We returned and on the way visited a village inside the forest inhabited by the van-gujjars for decades. A relocation process is underway. Had tea with them, interacted with the kids and came out. Thus ended our morning safari.

Sharad with the village kids That's his D7000 with the 70~300 VRII

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-sharad1.jpg

to be continued.../-

Last edited by GTO : 21st June 2012 at 16:24. Reason: As requested
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Old 20th June 2012, 00:17   #327
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The evening safari would start at 3 pm. Spending 5 hours somewhere was a very big question. The less I say about the RTDC's Tiger Den, the better it is. The nearest place was Alwar but it had nothing much to offer. We thought of going to Hotel Highway King, located on the Delhi Ė Jaipur highway (NH-8), approximately 12 -15 kms before Shahpura, have lunch, spend some time and then return. It would have been a long drive. Almost 60 kms one way.

So we set off towards Highway King. After we crossed Viratnagar, we saw The Gulmohar Sariska Resort on our left. Earlier when I used to take the NH8 route to Sariska, I always used to pass by this property, but never stopped to explore.

Gulmohar Sariska Resort

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We all three decided to stop & explore. My wife & Sharad went inside to find out and then Sharad came out and gave .

Parked the vehicle & went inside. Large spacious lobby with a dining room that was air cooled. probably the rooms were air-conditioned. The bathroom was squeaky clean. A good sign. Freshened up and ordered lunch. Kadhai chicken, assorted indian breads and curds. Excellent food.

Next time if I've to do two safaris in a day and need to spend time, this is the place I'm going to choose.

Dhiraj (deky) was supposed to join me for the noon safari and I received a text from him saying he was on his way. I asked him to come over to the resort that would be on his way. He arrived around 1 pm and had got paranthas. Since we all had just finished lunch couldn't taste the paranthas. After Dhiraj finished his lunch we ordered hot beverages, paid the bill and were on our way for the noon safari.

Parked our vehicles again at Tiger Den and told Harisingh to come there. He arrived again with Raju driving the jeep and off we went in search of ST 6 that was still in Taarunda.

Since the earlier approach road was blocked by an anicut, we took a detour on an uncharted route that was treacherous to say the least. It was here the Gypsy's reputation as a mountain goat was displayed in good measure. I did not take the photographs of this route as tourist vehicles were not allowed here and we were taking a calculated risk. This route would circumvent the anicut and take us directly to the Taarunda water-hole. Quite a few times the 4x4 was engaged to navigate, sometimes both Raju & Harisingh had to get down to re-arrange those big rocks so that the gypsy could go over.

Finally reached the water-body. It had shrunk in size to a small watering hole in which a few Sambhars were standing & cooling off. We had expected ST 6 to be in the water. Driving on the dried water bed we headed further till the trail ended. On our left was a hillock and on the right was an abandoned temple. Harisingh went and climbed on the pillar of the temple's gate to have a good look.

Harisingh scanning the area

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6980.jpg

Raju the driver got down, raced up the hillock on the left and reached the peak to look around. This young lad was nimble footed and knew the terrain like the back of his hand.

Raju on the hillock

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6985.jpg

We were sitting in the jeep waiting. And then a Sambhar called. And then it called again and yet again. While Harisingh raced up the stairs of the temple and Raju came bounding down from the hillock & followed Harisingh.

Raju racing down

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6988.jpg

The Sambhar was calling at regular intervals. Harisingh & Raju gestured us to come-up. First Dhiraj & Sharad went up and I followed after a little while. Wife chose to sit in the jeep. She got scared after sometime sitting alone and then she too came up escorted by Dhiraj.

There was this water-hole beyond the temple down below some distance away. The Sambhar's call indicated that the Tiger had descended from a hill and headed towards this water-hole to drink water or cool.

Water-hole

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6992.jpg

We decided to wait. It was hot and humid and sooner or later the Cat would come out. With nothing else to do, but wait, clicked this bee-hive.

Bee-hive

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-6979.jpg

And then the mood of the weather changed. Heard a thunderclap in a distance and the sky started turning grey. Rain clouds were building up. Soon dark clouds were gathering and a cool breeze started flowing. The Sambhar stopped calling. Tiger had settled in a cool place. Big droplets of rain started falling. With every passing minute the possibility of the Cat coming to water receded. The thunderclaps grew louder.

We decided enough was enough and returned. While coming down the stairs the rain started. Shielding our cameras we ran towards the jeep. The rain cover was pulled hastily and we left the place. The return journey was scary to say the least with the vehicle skidding & slipping on rocks. The Gypsy held on ably handled by Raju.

We made it to the exit gate in time. We were not disappointed. The adventure on an uncharted route, the wait in a desolate place made up for everything.

Settled accounts and headed home. Dhiraj left for Jaipur and I for Gurgaon. After I crossed the second toll on the mega-highway started feeling drowsy and handed over the wheels to Sharad. Sat on the rear seat and took a nap. When I woke up we were at the Manesar Toll. Reached home by 10:30 pm.

Thus ended this trip to Sariska..
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Old 20th June 2012, 15:04   #328
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

This trip was actually very nice. I found the Tarunda area to be very beautifull. Especially the wait for ST6 to appear at the Temple ruins was kind of exciting. I somehoe enjoyed the setting of the temple, the ruins, the old banyan tree, the water hole, the dense forest and all the Sambhar deer's calls.

BTW, your date says 17th May, think it should be June!!

Secondly just came across this news in TOI-Jaipur

ePaper Lite - Times of India Publications

Read the last news article below on the right
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Old 20th June 2012, 16:24   #329
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

It was an awesome trip!
Lovely post @gd1418 - enjoyed the snaps!
adding some of my own.

Will add more over the next few days!
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Old 20th June 2012, 20:11   #330
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Default re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Another Tigress shortly to be relocated to Sariska in a day or two. Thus there shall be 4 Tigresses in Sariska. Chances of motherhood?

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