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Old 3rd April 2014, 21:35   #526
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

30th March, 2014

The addiction to go to the forest is reaching alarming proportions. Unable to resist the call of the wild, wife & I planned a trip on the second last day of March that happened to be a Sunday. Informed my team of my plans and Harisingh said that on Saturday (29th) he would let me know the position of Big Cats in the jungle.

He called on Saturday noon to inform that ST 6 & ST 3 were together since Thursday evening and were near the Ghaanka check-post. And no, they had not ventured out of that area nor had separated.

Little did I know then that this trip would be a memorable one...!

Left at scheduled time as usual and took the same route as before - Gurgaon - Bhiwadi - Tijara - Alwar by-pass - Sariska. But today was something different. I saw quite a lot of truck movement on the Bhiwadi - Tijara - Alwar road, that was unusual and at one of the motels near Kishangadh Baas saw about 7 passenger buses parked. Was this something to do with the elections?

Well, reached the reception by 6:20 and handed over the printout of my safari booking ticket to Harisingh. It was my lucky day as I got Khagesh as my driver. He is the elder brother of my regular driver Rajinder and one of the most experienced tracker & driver of Sariska. Half of the time he is not available as he is taken over by WII (Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun) to drive their scientists & staff around.

After making the necessary entries at the gate we headed straight towards Ghaanka check-post. We had got the information about two more Tigers at the gate whose fresh pug-marks were found early in the morning. But we ignored that and went after the mating pair.

Enroute saw this Long-tailed Shrike far away enjoying the morning Sun.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3404.jpg

Scanning the surroundings with a keen eye reached the Ghaanka check-post to find already two jeeps parked. The tracking team too was there and they mentioned that both the Tigers were in a nearby nullah and had not moved at all.

For the next 2.5 hours it was a wait in that area only for all of us.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3405.jpg

The Cats did not move an inch and instead we were periodically exploring nearby areas and then coming back.

Finally as the clock struck 10, a general consensus emerged that now they would not move, but by evening there could be some action.

Harisingh told me to come before 2 pm so that we could enter at 2 and head straight to Ghaanka.

Went to Gulmohar Resorts to rest & freshen up.

to be continued.../-

Last edited by gd1418 : 3rd April 2014 at 21:47.
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Old 4th April 2014, 00:31   #527
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Afternoon

We both had Poori - Aloo ki Subzi at Gulmohar Resorts and topped it with Butterscotch cones. Left for Sariska reception at 12:45 pm. I was driving slowly as I would reach quite early and waiting inside the car in the hot Sun was not a good prospect. Enroute to Sariska, wife wanted to see the resort of a friend of mine - Sariska Tiger Heaven Resort that was about 4 kms away from the gate.

After exploring the resort we arrived at the reception. A bad and disappointing news was waiting for us - the Field Director had stopped entry of the tourist vehicles in Zone 1. The jeeps could go only till Ghaanka Tiraha and then divert towards Taarunda. This step was taken to prevent disturbance to the romancing pair.

Well, why did the department not stop the entry yesterday itself when the Tiger pair's amorous activities were at their peak? Strange are the ways the authorities think and act.

Harisingh, Khagesh and I went into a huddle to chalk out our strategy. Since early in the morning pug-marks of two Tigers were seen, we decided to search for them.

Reached the entry gate and while waiting for the necessary entries to be done noticed that some object was thrown in the bushes by a kid from a tourist jeep that was about half-a-kilometer ahead. It appeared like a bottle.

Had I been behind that jeep I would've berated the guide & the driver. So, when I entered, reached that point, looked around and saw this.

The kid had thrown a half-empty plastic bottle of Cola that this Macaque had picked up and trying to open to get the contents. As he was not able to open the cap, he tried biting the plastic bottle.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3408.jpg

Somehow he managed to pry open the cap and then like a human put the bottle to his lips and drank.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3410.jpg

How uncivic we can be? If wishes were true, then I wished for an entire garbage truck emptied in that kid's home. While roaming, I kept an eye for that erring kid, but it was his/her lucky day..

Went to Karna ka Baas and saw these Bar-headed Geese

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3422.jpg

Reached the Kaalighati post, waited for some information but there were none. headed towards Salopka which is the territory of ST 2 and her cubs.

ST 2's sub-adult cub sighted & photographed after two plus years of birth by a tourist

ST2 had delivered two cubs in June 2012. Since then the cubs were either caught in a camera trap or were fleetingly seen by some patrolling guards. Till date no tourist and seen or photographed them.

As we neared Salopka, a jeep full of tourists coming from the opposite side from Pandupol stopped and a little girl excitedly said that they had seen a Tiger sitting in the water near a bridge just after the Salopka turn.

That jeep's driver said that as soon as the jeep approached, the Tiger vanished into the bushes in a hurry as if scared. ST 2 didn't behave like this, then which Tiger was scared of the jeep?

Harisingh & Khagesh in unison exclaimed - "Sir, that must be ST 7 the sub-adult cub of ST 2. That fellow is very very shy and is a bit scared of jeeps & humans. Doesn't come out if sees one".

We rushed to that area and could clearly see the water trail left by the Tiger. Now this area is called the Kaaliraadi Pahadi and is quite dense & bushy. The We were sure that the Tiger hadn't climbed the hill or else we would have heard the deer call. This meant the Cat was hiding in the bushes there somewhere.

The clock showed 3:30 pm. Now for one hour we patrolled that small stretch to and fro several times peering hard into the bushes. We were looking at the wrong place. We were looking a bit higher on the hill while all along this fellow was lying down just about 30 feet away and wonderfully camouflaged. Even Khagesh couldn't spot him.

We came back at the water where the Tiger was seen and parked hoping there would be some movement sometime. Suddenly a slight movement ahead in the bushes caught the corner of my eye - Tiger moved its ears. I thanked the flies for bothering.... Time: 16:39

Now let me tell you here that even after 2+ years the correct sex of the cubs have not yet been determined. There have been several guesses but one thing is certain that one is a male and the other is female. Now which one is which is a mystery.

My eyes locked on to the movement and then slowly the shape emerged. The stripes on the yellow skin became visible. I pointed this to Khagesh & Harisingh and they too sighted and so did wifey. In the meanwhile some Jeeps & a Canter returning from the temple too had stopped and cacophony started.

This disturbed the Cat and it raised its head and looked at me as I was in its direct line of sight. Time: 16:40

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3425.jpg

The Cat's cover was blown. Realising this ST 7 got up and swiftly went inside deeper. Time: 16:52

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3435.jpg

We waited for almost 28 minutes that a Sambar called twice and then ST 7 appeared in an opening. Time: 17:20

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3458.jpg

It then vanished again to be found sitting near the water in the bushes 20 minutes later and looking at me with such innocent eyes that probably were saying or almost pleading - "just leave me alone". Time: 17:40

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3476.jpg

At that moment something snapped within me and I ordered Khagesh to leave. I had sighted one of the cubs of ST 2 at last.

Two of my above pictures were published by two leading newspapers of Rajasthan.

Samachar Jagat on 31st March

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

Rajasthan Patrika on 1st April

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-raj_patrika.png

p.s: I have to say something about the Rajasthan Patrika's correspondent. While the photograph is taken by me, the journalist did not mention my name and instead named two other guides whom I never take. I've now decided not to give any pictures to Rajasthan Patrika.

Returned home satisfied. Took the Bhiwadi - tauru - Sohna road to avoid NH8. Heavy dumper traffic on that road and a minor traffic jam. Reached home by 11 pm.

Last edited by gd1418 : 4th April 2014 at 00:50.
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Old 7th April 2014, 18:26   #528
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Another 10 days and it will be ideal to go to Sariska again. Early April would have been a good time but there has been so much rain till last week this year that there is foilage all around and water has not dried up in the higher grounds in Sariska.

Let me know when you are in the mood to go for another trip.

From the pictures the cub seems to be a male. Govardhan ( Fateh Singh Rathore's son ) also feels the same.

Sariska is safe for Tigers again. Time they relocated a few more from Rathambore where a number of old Tigresses and some newer ones are loseing out on territory battles.

Sariska has plenty of space and game for at least 12 more Tigers.

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Old 13th April 2014, 11:27   #529
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Good to hear from you Shahid Bhai after a long time. I'm always in a the mood if somebody takes me (and not in a Bolero please)

Quote:
Originally Posted by desertfox View Post

Let me know when you are in the mood to go for another trip.
I would like to disappoint you & Govardhan, both. ST 7 turned out to be a female..

Quote:
Originally Posted by desertfox View Post

From the pictures the cub seems to be a male. Govardhan ( Fateh Singh Rathore's son ) also feels the same.
Sariska is still not safe and lot more needs to be done. Out of the three existing villages inside the forest, Umri has been successfully re-located very recently. Two more are left. They need to stop the State Bus plying inside the forest upto Tehla.

Sariska once upon a time boasted of 30+ Tigers.

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Sariska is safe for Tigers again. Time they relocated a few more from Rathambore where a number of old Tigresses and some newer ones are loseing out on territory battles.

Sariska has plenty of space and game for at least 12 more Tigers.
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Old 14th April 2014, 22:08   #530
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

11th April, 2014

This day happened to be a Friday and not a day that I usually go to Sariska. But my two very good friends Sriskandh & his brother Akshay wanted to go along with their two friends and they wanted me to come along.

I've been doing Ranthambhore with these brothers since 2011 and they know that forest like their backyard. They had visited Sariska twice earlier but did not have any sightings. Was I their lucky mascot?

Meanwhile, Sariska was witnessing some administrative changes. The visit timings for summer came into operation from April Fool's Day.

Morning: 6 am to 9:30 am (to exit before 10)

Evening: 2 pm to 6 pm (to exit before 6:30)

Earlier one could book a ticket online and the zone was allotted when the ticket was presented at the counter before the start of the safari. Now the three zones ( STR-1, STR-2 & STR-3) were incorporated in the online booking system itself. While this up gradation of the software was going on, the online reservation system was shut down for a few days thus causing great inconvenience and chaos at all the Sanctuaries in Rajasthan.

Maybe, in long term, these changes would prove effective & good but in my opinion currently enforcing zone system is detrimental to Tiger Tourism. Out of the 9 Tigers in Sariska, 4 are out side the demarcated zones and are never seen. That leaves 5 Tigers and out of them only three are sighted.

The zone system works quite well in R'bhore, Kanha & Bandhavgarh because of healthy Tiger population. At least one out of two tourists has a sighting. It is not so in Sariska. So unless Sariska has a healthy Tiger population, enforcing zones will effect tourism.

Sariska off late has gained quite a popularity amongst the Delhi/NCR crowd, but if sightings become rare then it will suffer.

Another decision that is likely to impact tourism is ban on tracking tigers through their radio collars during the safari timings. Earlier the forest tracking teams had to take a signal every hour and relay this to the control room. The guides used to gather this information and then try to get a sighting for their tourists hoping for a decent tip. The flip side of this information was crowding of vehicles/tourists at one place creating disturbances.

To avoid this a decision was taken that the signal will be taken at 6 in the morning before the start of the safari and then at 10 when it ended and similarly for the evening safari. In between, strict radio silence is to be maintained.

I totally agree with the puritans that tracking a Tiger through pug-marks, alarm calls etc., is a thrill on its own as against locating with the radio signals. The charm of the wild diminishes a bit.

Sariska being a vast expanse with only 4 Tigers in the tourist zone, it is practically like looking for a needle in a hay-stack.

Well, let us see how things shape up in the future.

Coming back to our trip, Sriskandh & his team had plans to do three safaris with an overnight stay and I could spare only a day hence would come back the same day. This meant two cars were to be taken - mine & theirs.

As the park entry time was 6 am we left at 2 so as to reach by 5:30. The usual route was taken and after a tea break at Kushalgarh, we were at the reception by 5:20 and were the first ones. Not a soul around.

Well, within next 15 minutes activities started and by 6:05 we were entering the forest. While Harisingh wanted to go to Ghaanka to look for ST 6, I suggested instead to head towards Salopka as ST 7 was known to venture out early in the morning.

Went straight to Salopka and missed her literally by a whisker. The freshest possible pug-marks were on the track and we found a forest guard circling the foot prints. We kept on moving to and fro, waited to listen to some sounds, again patrolled the area and then went towards Pandupol.

Just before the Temple complex, we saw two very alert Peacocks giving alarm calls and looking at one particular direction on the hills. In all probability it was a Leopard. We stopped and peered in the hills. The habitat was such that the Leopard could just melt into it and would not be visible unless it moved some part of its body. And that is what happened - it was perfectly camouflaged. Then suddenly I saw its hind & the tail vanishing behind a rock. I was the only one who saw this. We waited & waited for some movement. But it was not to be and we proceeded to the temple.

While we were having tea, Sriskandh's two friends went inside the temple to have a "darshan". We had the "prasad" and then started towards exit slowly.

The sun was bright & warm and there was no chance that the Cats would venture out unless absolutely necessary.

Just as we neared Salopka area, we saw these two fully grown Peacocks fighting it out for mating rights.

Sizing up

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3493.jpg

Posturing

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-56.jpg

The first move

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3489.jpg

The duel

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3483.jpg

The Killer kick


Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-43.jpg

The defeat & run

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3490.jpg

The fight was over and the territorial & mating rights were established. There was a buzz in the forest that the PCCF ( Principal Chief Conservator of Forests) was on a visit from jaipur. All the rangers & forest guards were in their uniforms that were crisply ironed.

The forest jeeps were moving in and out ensuring everything was in order.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-40.jpg

We exited the forest hoping for some action in the evening. Sriskandh & his team were booked in Tiger Den. I as usual left for Gulmohar Resorts to return back by 1:30 pm.

to be continued.../-
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Old 16th April 2014, 11:33   #531
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

The Bolero has been sold after 5 years of yeoman service.

Now the option is Scorpio, Innova or Thar.

How did they determine its a female ? Is this one collared as well ?

Relocation is a different political issue.

But right now Sariska can easily take another three pairs of Tigers from Rathambore.

Why do Sariska Peacocks have a much shorter tail than Peacocks in Gurgaon ?

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Old 16th April 2014, 19:36   #532
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

By the pug-marks and visual evidence. The two cubs of ST 2 are not collared as yet.

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How did they determine its a female ? Is this one collared as well ?
Now this is a matter of zoological research.

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Why do Sariska Peacocks have a much shorter tail than Peacocks in Gurgaon ?
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Old 16th April 2014, 20:06   #533
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In continuation

I came back from Gulmohar to Tiger Den to find the brothers & their friends asleep. Woke one of the brothers and then waited for them in the lobby. Though I want to, but will not comment on the Tiger Den. The less said the better. Harisingh arrived with the jeep by 2:15 and we were entering the forest around 3. It was a hot afternoon and experience said that there would be no action or movement before 5.

We again went to Salopka area in the hope of sighting ST 7 or her mother ST 2. We also went upto the Salopka water-hole hoping to find a Tiger cooling in the water. It was not to be. On our way back met a ranger who informed that ST 7 had crossed over to the other side of the road. Well, all hopes of sighting vanished since there was a deep nullah on the other side of the road that was inaccessible and provided a cool environment. In the meanwhile the ranger also said that ST 2 was not being seen for the last several days. This meant that she had either delivered or was to deliver. A second time mother..! How very exciting. The coming season from Oct '14 should be quite interesting.

I was desperately & silently praying for a sighting. Why? I had come back from R'bhore without a single sighting in Oct 2010, inspite of 6 back-to-back safaris. It were the Subramanian brothers who showed me Tigers in R'bhore in 2011. So, it was payback time.

We came to the Kaalighati check-post and got to know from the chowki in-charge that the entire forest officials including the PCCF were to descend again on the Salopka area to look for ST 2 & her cubs. And with that he whispered two words - ST 3, Tehla Road. And that's all that we needed.

On the way to Kaalighati saw this Cheetal mother & fawn.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3494.jpg

Without raising suspicion amongst the other jeeps parked there, we slowly headed towards the Tehla Road as if to explore. Except for one jeep the others did not follow. As we reached the Kaapri Maala area we saw the ST 3 tracking team returning back after taking the signals. They stopped and we stopped. An eyebrow was raised from our side and they pointed a finger in a direction. No words were exchanged. 

Another gesture by Harisingh meant please take a signal once again and they complied. Pointing to a direction they circled there finger. This meant that the Tigress was within that radius. The tracking team moved away.

Both the jeeps intensely patrolled the area keeping each other in line of sight so as to inform of any action. Nothing stirred. She must have been sleeping in a cool shade. We parked our jeeps and staked out. Sooner or later she would come out or make a movement.

Beneath the place where my jeep was parked was small nullah and Harisingh & the driver peered into that a couple of times but found nothing. The driver even said that it is too small & narrow for a Tiger to rest. Little did we know about the drama that was to unfold.

All along we were looking in a wrong direction on the hill slopes. Let me illustrate with a picture.

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This picture is not of 11th April but of 30th March. The jeep in the picture is parked exactly above the nullah that I've referred to. But it is on the right side. My jeep was on the left side. Harisingh was standing exactly in similar fashion like this guide in the jeep is standing but one of his leg was on the ledge since my jeep was parked very close to the ledge. I hope now you can imagine the scenario.

We waited and waited. Harisingh played a male Tiger's roar on his mobile repeatedly, I played a Cheetal's alarm call on my mobile, Akshay tried to imitate a Tiger's roar. All this to goad the Tigress to make a move. And move she did and when she did we were not at all prepared and Harisingh almost became her evening snack.

The heat and the wait made some doze. I too was dozing on & off. Then I heard a rustle - सरसराहट right next to the jeep and in a flash ST 3 emerged from the nullah looked at me & then at Harisingh and growled and bared her teeth. The distance between her & Harisingh's leg was barely 2 feet. The next moment was all chaos. Harisingh shouted - "अरे बाप रे", lost his balance and fell in my lap trapping my hands and the camera. The others too were not ready and a great shot missed. The Tigress was equally stunned to see all of us and in a bound went up the hill, sat down, looked at us with irritation for having disturbed her siesta, scratched her self and then got up and walked away.

All along she was beneath us in the nullah and we were looking for her somewhere else. She must've been laughing at our funny & stupid efforts to get her out...

Harisingh escaped by a whisker; literally.

Let the pictures talk.

The annoyed look

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3513_a.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3517.jpg

You can't have everything in life. She sat down behind two Dhok trees that obstructed a clear view.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-61.jpg

A juicy leg missed..?

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-65.jpg

Again the annoyed look

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-67.jpg

Itchy itchy Cat

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-70.jpg

She got up and started walking on the wall towards Kaapri Gate. We reversed along with her but the undulating landscape and failing light made it difficult for taking picture and also the clock read 5:55 pm. We had to get out before 6:30 pm. Leaving her alone we moved out. Crossing Kaalighati we got to know that the entire forest department had left Salopka and was headed towards Tehla road. The brothers & their friends were staying overnight and I had to leave for home. It was a wonderful and hair-raising experience.

After crossing Bhiwadi thought of taking NH 8 and as I approached the highway saw a huge jam towards Gurgaon. Made a u-turn and took the Tauru - Sohna road. By 11 pm I was at home.
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Old 26th April 2014, 20:57   #534
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

GD sir
There is some good camera work through the foliage on post 527. I have been following your exploits in sariska closely. What are the timings of the bus which is plying inside the reserve till Tehla and what route does it take ?

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh
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Old 28th April 2014, 11:09   #535
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Thank you Abheek. And I too have been following your conquests in the jungles of Central India on FaceBook, but yet to see the photographs.

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GD sir

There is some good camera work through the foliage on post 527. I have been following your exploits in sariska closely.
The State Bus does three trips to and fro from Alwar to Dausa via Tehla during the day.

When coming from Dausa the timings at Kaali Ghati Check-post are 8:30 am, 12 noon & 5:30 pm. And when from Alwar the timings are 9 am, 2 pm & 5 pm.

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What are the timings of the bus which is plying inside the reserve till Tehla and what route does it take ?

regards,
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Old 28th April 2014, 12:53   #536
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27th April, 2014

If everything would have gone according to the original plan, then I would not be writing about my experiences at Sariska. Instead it would have been Ranthambhore.

I was scheduled to be in R'bhore on the 26th & 27th doing 4 safaris in search of the newborn cubs. But due to un-avoidable circumstances it got cancelled at the last moment and suddenly I found myself at a loose end.

Since the "visit jungle" itch had already started and before it took alarming proportions, I planned a trip to Sariska. Called my team and asked them to make necessary arrangements.

I had planned to leave by 2 - 2:15 am since the forest opened at 6 and I wanted to get in the first. Saturday turned out to be very hectic and I couldn't get any rest. Left home at 2:10 and by the time hit NH8 near Honda Chowk it was 2:27.

The expressway was full of trucks & trailers at that hour and moving slowly. Nearing the toll there was a kilometre long jam. By the time I payed the toll and moved on it was 3:30 and I was feeling irritated. By 4:15 I reached the first toll on the Bhiwadi - Alwar Mega Highway. Precious time had been lost and that would prove to be costly.

Nearing the third toll a wave of tiredness enveloped me and I had to slow down. Tried to beat the sleep by drinking water, taking pit stops and wiping the eyes with wet cloth. Stopped for tea at the Kushalgarh Tiraha. By the time I reached the reception the clock read 6:20.

Harisingh & Khagesg were ready and I immediately transferred my camera gear n the jeep and off we went. At the entrance gate there was que of other jeeps, but we jumped the line to the consternation of others and entered.

We decided to drive straight towards Salopka & Kaalaraadi as ST 7 had given excellent sightings on Saturday. Actually it was a private car going to Pandupol that saw the Tigress first.

On the way at Kaali Ghaati got an information that fresh pug mark of ST 7 were seen around 6:10. I cursed the Manesar toll for the delay.

Raced towards Salopka and found three guards on foot patrol circling the pug marks. There were two sets of pug marks. One was that of ST 7 but the other one was a huge one and that of a male. No it was not of ST 6 as he was at Kundli and had not moved out since last evening.

This was the footprint of ST 4 and he had come all the way in ST 6's territory in pursuit of a mate and had followed ST 7. One of the guards said that he had seen a glimpse of ST 4 vanishing in the bushes where ST 7 had gone. A bit further we also found ST 4's pug marks indicating his return.

Ever since ST 4 was pushed out of the jungle by ST 6, this was the first time that he had ventured this far.

ST 7 had made a kill two days ago in the vicinity and could be nearby. The forest department had not located the kill yet. While waiting in the shade we got a waft of rotting flesh. Was the kill nearby?

Then we saw some crows creating a ruckus and fighting with some Babblers. Oh, the kill was somewhere close. Khagesh & Harisingh got down to investigate and found the kill in the water - it was big male Sambar. Though most of it was eaten, the rib-cage, head and legs still remained.

Then I heard a low-growl. Was ST 7 nearby? When I heard the growl quite close to me and from behind, I slowly turned around to look. My wife had dozed off.

We waited and waited. As the temperature kept on steadily rising, hope receded. We saw other animals too slowly finding shade and resting. However the peacocks were very active and amorous and entire Sariska had dancing Peacocks at every nook and corner today.

While waiting saw this Red-necked King Vulture on a branch on top of the Salopka Hill. The bird was very far away even for my 300mm f/2.8 that was mounted on D 7100 in the 1.3x crop mode. This gave me almost close to 600 mm - 300 x 1.5 = 450 x 1.3 = 585.

I'm falling in love with this camera. A lot of people told me that it is quite difficult to shoot in the 1.3x crop mode. Lot of experienced photographers have made mistakes. But somehow I took to it like a fish takes to water and found no difficulty in composing & shooting in the 1.3x crop mode.

A record shot of the King Vulture

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-121.jpg

It was time to return back. On the way Harisingh said that he had spotted a Hare in the morning. Thankfully I had not seen it. However Khagesh & I in unison said "no wonder we missed the Tiger by a few minutes".

Returned back for the noon safari at 3. We once again decided to explore ST 7 as it was very hot and she would come and sit in water. We explored every water body in the Salopka & Kaalaraadi area and a bit further too. But no result. Returned to Kaali Ghaati to get some information. While waiting suddenly loud alarm calls of Peacocks started nearby. I saw a big group of Peacocks moving at one direction and being very very alert. Even the Lapwings were crazily flying around making loud noises.

Was there a Leopard or a wild Cat? Decided to explore and slowly drove around. After a while they all fell silent. Whatever it was, probably moved away. While coming back to Kaali Ghati saw a Hare run across.

Well the jinx hit me with full force. I knew that I wouldn't have a sighting today.

Went in search of ST 6. He hadn't moved out since morning. Found the tracking party waiting there. They confirmed that no movement had happened. Waited in the hope that by 6 something might happen. But that wasn't so. Moved towards exit passing the enclosures on the way.

Saw some activity there. Some forest personnel were assembled there and discussing. I enquired. A striped Hyena was caught from a nearby village and it was to be brought to be released in the forest. Before that the Hyena would be kept in the enclosure for few days.

Near the entrance saw this 'wise old man' waking up. For him the day was just starting.

Spotted Owlet

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-123.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-128.jpg

The itch subsided and we returned. By 11:15 we were at home.
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Old 30th April 2014, 10:52   #537
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

From this year onwards Waterhole census conducted on Budh Poornima in May every year has been discontinued. There were several complaints. While there were serious enthusiasts, for some it was a picnic.


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Old 1st May 2014, 17:48   #538
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Whatever the accuracy, atleast some count was done. Why discontinue even that ?
No census will only encourage more poaching.

Only those who are serious can be invited. The Picnicers and revellers can be left out for sure.

On the subject of the new cubs in Sariska would definetely like to seek out more details on pug marks and their sex determination.

When is the next trip planned Sir ?
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Old 1st May 2014, 20:11   #539
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

Not till the 17th of May for sure Shahid as daughter's college exams are approaching.

Quote:
Originally Posted by desertfox View Post

When is the next trip planned Sir ?
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Old 17th June 2014, 19:57   #540
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2

18th May, 2014

A few days back I had received an email on one of my non-operative accounts and hence did not read. The sender, after waiting for a response, contacted me via PM on an another forum of which he & I are members. His name was Samridh Bhardwaj and he wanted to go with me to Sariska. I was in any case scheduled to go today and agreed. We exchanged some SMSes to get to know each other and also conversed by phone. He was already aware of my gruelling schedule.

I had already alerted Harisingh and when I reached Sariska I was surprised to see very less tourists. When I asked, I was told that due to heat the footfalls have reduced. All the more better. There weren't any encouraging news about the Tigers and for the last two days there were no sightings.

As usual the driver was Khagesh and we immediately decided to go straight to the hills of Kaali Raadi near Salopka in search of ST 7. Nearing Salopka, we saw fresh pug-marks of ST 4 and that was surprising. He had ventured into ST 6's area. Was he looking for a mate? The pug-marks were going towards Pandupol and we decided to follow. After some distance the footprints vanished since the terrain became rocky & hard. In any case we went upto the temple but found nothing.

After having a cup of tea at Pandupol returned to scan other areas. Drew a blank. Came back via Karna ka Baas and saw the following:

Marsh Crocodile basking in the Sun

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-0129.jpg

Purple Heron

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-0130.jpg

Black-winged Stilt

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-0134.jpg

River Tern's Egg - I was seeing it for the first time

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3539.jpg

Thirsty Babbler

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-0141.jpg

Exit time was approaching and we left hoping for some action in the evening. Harisingh told me to come by 3 pm as due to heat there would be no movement.

Evening

After resting & freshening up at Gulmohar Resorts, returned by 3 and within 10 minutes entered the jungle. There was an encouraging news near the gate. Tigress ST 3 was in the vicinity of Ghaanka. We did a reccee till the Ghaanka water-hole, found nothing and decided to go again to Salopka area to stake-out for ST 7.

While waiting saw a Peacock trying desperately to impress & win over his mate and she wouldn't budge. She wanted to move away but this fella with his feathers opened wouldn't let her. Maybe the pictures would explain better:

He had cornered the Peahen

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3540.jpg

The Kidnapped Peahen

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3545.jpg

Looking for a way-out to escape

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3546.jpg

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3553.jpg

Takes refuge in the bushes

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3548.jpg

Langur watching with amusement

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-3541.jpg

While we were picturising this, a forest guard on his M/cycle came along and said that ST 3 had emerged and moving. We rushed towards Ghaanka area and on the way this news got confirmed at Kaali Ghaati post. When we neared Ghaanka area we saw this on the road.

Gurgaon - Sariska - Gurgaon - Phew...Finally sighted one of the Tiger Cubs of ST2-0142.jpg

ST 3 was moving and we also heard intermittent alarm calls of Sambar & Cheetal. The white Bolero in the background was of the forest department. She had to cross the road to get to Karna ka Baas to drink water. But the crowding disturbed her and she sat down. We waited and waited but she didn't emerge and we had to leave. While nearing the exit gate saw the jeep of DFO entering. This meant she was sighted by the forest guards and the DFO was coming to have a look. The perks of the office.....!

Thus ended my this visit to Sariska where we missed a sighting literally by a whisker.
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