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Old 4th June 2012, 14:08   #61
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Taking an entire jeep is quite expensive in Ranthambhore unlike Sariska. At Rs. 700 a seat it comes to Rs.4200/- for the full exclusive jeep as one has to pay for all the six seats.

I had taken two seats and this meant there were going to 4 other guests. My resort was nearer to the Sherpur gate thus it was the last pick-up point. The jeep came at 3:15 and already the 4 seats were occupied with two pairs of foreigners. One pair sat on the front row and the other sat on the last row. This left one seat each at the front & back. I took the back seat while wife occupied the front. With my two cameras & heavy lenses it was uncomfortable and cramped as all the three occupants on the rear including me were able bodied. Had to manage. Zone 5 was allotted to us and this happened to be the area of T 25 (male) and the two grown-up cubs of the late T 5.

By the time we entered the forest it was nearing 4, but that didn't bother me since I knew that in this heat the animals would be resting in the shade or cooling in a waterhole.

The entire round of the zone 5 turned out be barren. Except for one or two deers, some birds and hordes of Langur monkeys we couldn't site anything. It was time to return back. My hands were paining and cramped because of the two camera bodies & the lenses.

I was wondering if the jinx had started. Then I heard a commotion and our excited guide pointed in a direction saying - "tiger sitting in a waterhole".

Suddenly the pain & the cramp in my hands vanished as if it was never there. I looked in the direction where the guide's finger was pointing and saw a Canter a few jeeps parked.

I have to share my observation & experience here for the benefit of all. Not all guides & jeep drivers of sanctuaries are good in terms of talent. Only a few of them are. A guide should be proactive, alert and be a part of the jungle. The jeep driver has to be competent, know how & where to position his vehicle for the best view and photography.

My jeep's driver was incompetent to say the least. He first parked the vehicle in a proper place and since the Cat was on my right side, I had an uninterrupted view. No sooner did I focus and locked on to the animal, he moved the jeep a foot ahead saying the view is better from there and I found staring at the c pillar of another jeep standing next to me through the lens. What I did not understand then was that the view was better for him..!

When I asked him to move a foot back, he couldn't as another vehicle had come and parked right behind me.

So I had to make do with whatever was availalble. The pictures shall explain, though I am not satisfied.


King's bathtub

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-0708.jpg

The hazy foreground is the C pillar of the jeep standing next to mine.

Disturbed by the cacophony & camera flashes - Moving off

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-0711a.jpg

Irritated

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6292a.jpg

The angry & annoyed look

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-0715.jpg

Then slowly T 25 vanished away into the thicket. We waited a few minutes to hear any alarm call to know about his movements, but there were none.

An auspicious begining. Sighting of this big male in the first safari itself. Returned to my room elated and spring in the steps. Had nice cool bath, ate dinner, set the alarm for 4:30 and slept peacefully. Tomorrow was the morning safari and I would've to be ready by 5:30 am.

to be continued.../-

Last edited by gd1418 : 4th June 2012 at 14:13.
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Old 4th June 2012, 15:09   #62
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

GD, sahab. Fortune favors the brave. Braving the record summer heat for an appointment with the king of the jungle. Looks like you are in for some really good sightings of the king. Excellent pictures, I am sure the ones to come next will be no less.
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Old 4th June 2012, 22:56   #63
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

This one looks pretty muscular and toned, I must say! How big was it - larger than average for a male?
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Old 4th June 2012, 22:56   #64
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Yes, it was large than an average male. But I was told that T 28 is bigger and Bamera of Bandhavgarh beats them all in size & strength.

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Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post

This one looks pretty muscular and toned, I must say! How big was it - larger than average for a male?


25th May, 2012

The previous night Guddu had called me and informed that from today onwards I would've have the company of two professional photographers who visit Ranthambhore almost every weekend and stay with him. They were scheduled to do 12 safaris. I was delighted. This would be good company.

The alarm rang at 4:30 and I was up in a jiffy. Generally not a morning person, it takes me time to get ready. My wife was waiting for her morning cuppa. I gulped a bottle of water, peered out of the window and saw a hint of fading darkness. Got ready, checked my camera gear and stepped out of the room. The dawn was just breaking in.

Checked my directional compass and sat facing East; wanted to capture the sunrise over the Ranthambhore hills.

And then saw this amazing scene.

Sunrise

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6295.jpg

With the corner of my eye saw the resort gardener in action. He washed his face in the lawn and drank water from the hose.

Thirsty...

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6297.jpg

It was 6 am and we were waiting for the jeep. It arrived and had two occupants in the rear seat - two brothers - Akshay & Sriskandh Subramanian.

Sriskandh

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Both major wildlife enthusiasts and had visited almost all the sanctuaries in India, many times over. They knew Ranthambhore like the back of their hand (this I came to know when we entered the jungle) and almost every driver, guide and the forest rangers were known to them. This was a blessing in disguise. They carried two Canon 7Ds and an array of lenses.

Zone 2 was allotted to us and this was the overlapping area of the famous T 17 or Sundari, the daughter of Machchali and star male T 28. Akshay was the defacto guide and kept on telling the driver to go to various nook & corner of Zone 2. The jungle was unusually silent and not a single alarm call was heard. We waited patiently at a couple of places hoping for some action. Finally we returned empty handed.

I must mention something very interesting that we observed. There is a famous Ganesh temple inside the Ranthambhore Fort - Trinetra Ganeshji. Everyday hundreds of devotees on foot, cycle, M/cycle and cars visit this temple from morning till dusk. Many a times they also have seen the Big Cat enroute but there have been no instance of any man - animal conflict. Once in a month the forest authorities on the day of "chauth" allow the devotees to undertake a full parikrama of the temple. The parikrama route is through the inside of the jungle and takes about 2 hours. Kids, young & youth, old & infirm undertake this. This has been going on for hundreds of years. Sightings are common on this route, but nothing untoward has happened till date.

Today was the day of the parikrama. I saw hordes of people undertaking this. Devotion overcomes the fear.

to be continued.../-

Last edited by gd1418 : 4th June 2012 at 22:59.
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Old 5th June 2012, 00:31   #65
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Returned to our room, had breakfast, took a refreshing bath and rested. Had a talk with Guddu and booked one extra seat on the jeep. This was to keep my both cameras and also to have more space.

Got ready after lunch and the jeep came around 3 pm. Akshay told me that we had got Zone 3. This was the Padam Talao & Rajbagh area of Sundari and further up of T 19 with her cubs.

While waiting at the entrance gate to the zone for entry of the vehicle, saw this blue Dragonfly devouring a fly on the wall. While I had seen various colored dragonflies in the past a blue one was a first.

Blue Dragonfly

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6300.jpg

The Rajbagh area presented a peaceful scene with a herd of Sambhars standing in the middle of the water body munching water weeds & grass. Though that body of water boasted of crocodiles, the Sambhars appeared unconcerned, though I saw one 8 footer swim past them.

Sambhar herd

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-0722.jpg

On the banks a big herd of Spotted Deer were grazing in the grasslands.

Herd of Spotted Deer

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-0723.jpg

Also saw another 8 feet croc sunbathing.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6302.jpg

In total the jungle was peaceful. We returned empty handed. I started wondering, if the jinx was returning. Was also a bit disappointed. Returned back to the room totally exhausted in the heat. What would the next day hold in store for me?

Thinking about that fell asleep.

to be continued.../-
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Old 5th June 2012, 14:12   #66
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26th May, 2012

As usual the alarm woke me up at 4:30 and by 5:45 we were waiting for the jeep. It came at 6 and was being driven by an old wizened man who was addressed as "Panditji". Appeared quite experienced & seasoned. At that time did not know what was in store.

I would strongly advocate visitors to Ranthambhore to avoid him.

Entered the forest and drove a bit fast to catch up on any action. The Tambahkhaan waterhole (where I saw T 25 on the first day) in Zone 5 is just at the 'tiraha' from where one turns to right for Zone 4. Although one has to stick to their respective zones, drivers & guides sometimes break rules if a tiger is sighted there.

There were fresh pug-marks at the 'tiraha'. Panditji stopped the jeep, got down and walked a few steps ahead, peered into the ground and proclaimed - " T 25 का है. पानी में बैठा था. अभी उठ के गया है. पानी के निशान है ".

The foot-prints pointed to Zone 4. Akshay & Sriskandh surmised that the Tiger was moving ahead and we could possibly catch. We followed and after a while lost the foot-prints. The Cat had turned into the deep and settled down. Akshay suggested that we should go to a place called Bakula ka Naala as normally a Tiger is found in the water. Headed towards that area and enroute saw a few caves. In this heat Tigers have been found resting/lying here in the cool environment.

The Caves ( शेर की गुफा )

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6310.jpg

Didn't find anything inside there and proceeded towards the naala. As we neared that place heard a cacophony of alarm calls. The herd of spotted deer had gone berserk. A single jeep with tourist was parked there. Some hand gestures were exchanged between the drivers/guides of two jeeps and we came to know that a Leopard had just killed a Spotted Deer.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6332.jpg

Excited we turned the corner, saw the kill and then a few feet away saw this beautiful Leopard. He was annoyed by the constant calling of the rest of Deer herd as it would attract unnecessary attention and ran after them to chase them away. And then he sat down.

We parked ourselves at a respectable distance knowing very well that the Leopard was a very shy animal and waited in silenceA for it to come to its kill. It would have been a great opportunity for all of us.

IT WAS MY FIRST EVER LEOPARD SIGHTING IN THE WILD IN 7 YEARS OF WANDERING IN VARIOUS SANCTUARIES..!

All this while the Leopard kept on looking at us as we were directly in its line of sight.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6316.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6324.jpg

And then disaster struck. A noisy canter with noisier occupants ambled up the trail. We had heard it from far away and were wishing that it won;t come this side. But, sure it did. This agitated the Leopard more and with one disdainful angry look it scrambled away.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6330.jpg

We waited patiently for the commotion to die down and slowly the canter and other jeeps started leaving. We were sure that the animal would return to its kill when there would be silence.

Now here "panditji" came in his true colours. First he had parked the jeep in the Sun. When we asked him to move it in the shade, he parked in such a place from where the kill was not visible. When we pointed to a shady patch near the kill, he wouldn't budge. Finally a sharp rebuke made him comply. We were irritated and annoyed to say the least.

The minutes turned to an hour and there was no sign of the Leopard. It was surmised that it would not return now as it had been highly disturbed. Since there were no apparent signs of eating of the kill it was also assumed that the resident Tiger also may not come to steal the kill as it wouldn't smell till it rots.

Then something else amazing happened. We spotted a big male boar approaching. He had not spotted the kill. He was grazing and looking for some roots. And then he saw the kill.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6338.jpg

Instead of narrating I shall let the pictures do the talking.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6339.jpg

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The exit time was nearing and leaving the boar to feast we moved out. On the way saw this beautiful Kingfisher on a branch.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6380.jpg

to be continued.../-

Last edited by gd1418 : 5th June 2012 at 14:14.
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Old 5th June 2012, 17:10   #67
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

I believe the Brits used to feed prisoners to wild boars during the middle and feudal ages. Boars are quite omnivorous, and extremely brave - brave enough to approach a leopard's kill.

Seems you had fantastic luck in this safari!
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Old 6th June 2012, 00:12   #68
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Returned back to the room and was quite delighted too as I had seem my first Leopard in the wild. What would the evening safari have in store for me? One of my agenda was also to see the famous Tigress Machchli, who at 16 years was very old. She has lost all her canines, finds difficult to hunt and the forest officials are keeping her alive by giving a live bait.

2012 maybe her last year.

Emptied the contents of my camera's memory card's data onto the hard disk, cleaned the cameras of dust and took some rest. Finally got ready after lunch and waited for the jeep. It arrived at the usual time and the permit was for Zone 3 that was straddled by two sisters - T 17 or Sundari of the lakes and T 19 of Mandoop area.

T 19 had given birth to three cubs (2 males & 1 female) in 2011 and successfully reared them. Now they are 15 months old and are often seen with their mother.

This whole area also happens to be the prime territory of Star Male T 28, who fathered T 19's litter last year and T 17's this year. This is T 17's first litter and they have yet to be sighted.

The jeep was driven by Mohan Singh and the guide was Rajender. Why am I taking their names specially? I was to find out their skills inside the forest. I would recommend them.

Entered Zone 3 after making necessary entries and unlike our previous safaris, the Subramanian brothers who used to tell the jeep to be taken particular areas, too told the guide & driver to take around as they desired. I was intrigued. But soon this turned into admiration.

As soon as we neared the Rajbagh area, Mohan Singh muttered - "action ho gaya". We could see nothing, hear nothing. All quiet. I asked him as to what happened. He pointed out to the Sambhars standing inside the lake coming out and the herd of Cheetal grazing on the grassland moving out. This was unusual. It was just about 4 pm. Mohan Singh said - "sattrah was-paas hai aur movement karegi (seventeen is nearby and might move)".

True to his prediction we heard a Sambhar call. After a couple of repetitions it ceased. Now the skill of Mohan Singh became evident. He moved his jeep, took it around the backwaters of the lake and stopped. He said - " yehin se nikalegi (she will come out from here)". A couple of more jeeps also had converged by then and waited. We all waited with bated breath.

And then the show started that went on for full 10 minutes. Sundari emerged and started walking on the edge of the water body. Surprisingly no alarm calls.

My jeep was parked at a very strategic point. All the other vehicles were behind us. She walked, stood and stared somewhere, turned and started walking towards my jeep. The cameras of my jeep almost matched an AK 47.

Why did God not give us humans 4 eyes and two brains? While taking pictures I also wanted to enjoy the show. You can't do both simultaneously. Either you take pictures or sit back and savour the show.

I was shooting with the 300 mm. Sundari walked within 4 feet of my jeep. How I wish I had carried my wide-angle lens with me. Well, you can't have everything. Can you?

I shall let the pictures do the talking.

Emerging from the thicket & walking on the edge of waterbody

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6387.jpg

Stopping & staring

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6398.jpg

Turns around & walk towards our Jeep

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6401.jpg

Coming closer

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6407.jpg

About 8 feet away

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6415.jpg

About 5 feet away - ain't she gorgeous? Aptly named Sundari

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6416.jpg

Near the bonnet of the jeep The minimum focus distance of my lens is 4.8 ft

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6425.jpg

Passes by near me - about 3 feet

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6426.jpg

Oh boy, this was exhilarating & scary too. She looked at me through the lens. I could have just leaned and stroked her. She too could have done the same to me. The result would have been disastrous. And then she crossed over the track. I had the other camera with the 80~200 lens on it. But all this happened so fast that I couldn't switch the cameras. Shall be careful next time. The Subramanian brothers operated their cameras with different lenses. One had the 70~200 and the other had the 300 mm.

to be continued../-

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Old 6th June 2012, 01:04   #69
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No sooner did T 17 cross over to the other side of the track, Mohan Singh fired the engine & furiously reversed. I asked him what was he doing? He replied - " jis tareeke se who chalti aayi hai, koi khans vajah yogi. ya to bachchon ke pass jaa rahi hai ya kill par ( Her purposeful walk suggests that she has something specific in mind. Either she is going to her litter or on a kill)". How could he be so sure?

Well, after reversing he raced on the track to cut her off and reach before her and sure he did. We reached the other side of the water body just in time and saw her cautiously coming out of the bush. And then we spotted the kill. It was a male adult Spotted Deer.

After she had crossed the track in front of our jeep, other vehicles left the area and went towards the farther side anticipating that she would come there. But Mohan Singh proved to be smarter than them. Here except us no one was there.

She approached the kill gingerly, probed it with her front foot and in a flash grabbed the Deer's neck and lifted it up. Sundari is a very strong female. We could see her rippling muscles. She also is a lactating mother. The swollen nipples indicated that. She put up an awesome show. Let the pictures say their own story.

Probing the kill

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6429.jpg

The Grab

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6431.jpg

Looking at us with the corner of the eye

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6434.jpg

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Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-0762.jpg

Look at the swollen nipples

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6489.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-0762a.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6442a.jpg

Dragging away the kill into the bush

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6455.jpg

The Sundari show ended. We waited a few moments to see & hear any other activity but everything was silent now. Mohan Singh said that we should go to the Mandoop area where T 19 was frequently seen with her cubs. We agreed and headed there.

to be continued.../-

Last edited by gd1418 : 6th June 2012 at 01:09.
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Old 6th June 2012, 01:34   #70
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Whoa GD sir! I seriously don't wanna jinx it but seems like luck has been on your side (in spite of your fears). Beautiful pics and narration as well.
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Old 6th June 2012, 01:46   #71
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Boss,

What brilliant narration and amazing stories. Absolutely amazing. Gripping material. Seems you are getting damn lucky these days. Next year I shall return to the sanctuaries in summer. Summer seems to be the real deal i guess
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Old 6th June 2012, 07:50   #72
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Fabulous write up and snaps BCG...as ever.
The snaps of Sundari are, well, phew ! Could almost smell her - from what I remember of what a tiger/ess should smell like, from my very adventurous & dangerous trips to zoos.

Surprised that despite the numerous forays in the wild you spotted ol' chap Leops only now. In Mumbai/Thane they regularly walk into colonies from the nearby SG National/Notional Park. I guess they must be the slick urban types.
We had spotted one in our colony years ago which was later captured and transported back to the park much to its annoyance. May be next time you want to get up close and personal with Leops come down here.

Keep those snaps coming.

Last edited by Guderian : 6th June 2012 at 07:57.
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Old 6th June 2012, 09:39   #73
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Thank you kapoor. Glad you liked. The jinx now stands broken.

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Originally Posted by nkapoor777 View Post

Whoa GD sir! I seriously don't wanna jinx it but seems like luck has been on your side (in spite of your fears). Beautiful pics and narration as well.
Thanks Hitanshu and don't cast an evil eye... There is more to come.

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Boss,

What brilliant narration and amazing stories. Absolutely amazing. Gripping material. Seems you are getting damn lucky these days. Next year I shall return to the sanctuaries in summer. Summer seems to be the real deal i guess
Thanks Harry. Valued comments. Unfortunately inspite of those numerous forays, Mr. Spots decided only now to grace me with a sighting. While I have seen footprints as fresh as few minutes old at other places and have waited for long after hearing confirmed Langur calls, Spots had eluded me till date.

I keep hearing about and see the visuals of the strayed Leops from Borivili park to nearby human habitat. Feel sorry for the Cat as it is we who have transgressed into their abode and displaced them.

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Fabulous write up and snaps BCG...as ever.
The snaps of Sundari are, well, phew ! Could almost smell her - from what I remember of what a tiger/ess should smell like, from my very adventurous & dangerous trips to zoos.

Surprised that despite the numerous forays in the wild you spotted ol' chap Leops only now. In Mumbai/Thane they regularly walk into colonies from the nearby SG National/Notional Park. I guess they must be the slick urban types. We had spotted one in our colony years ago which was later captured and transported back to the park much to its annoyance. May be next time you want to get up close and personal with Leops come down here.

Keep those snaps coming.
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Old 6th June 2012, 09:47   #74
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

@GD: Thanks for this. Just one word for the pics: M-A-G-I-C-A-L. It's raining tigers for you in the heat of the summer!
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Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
The jeep was driven by Mohan Singh and the guide was Rajender. Why am I taking their names specially?
I presume you have retained their contact info.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 6th June 2012 at 09:48.
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Old 6th June 2012, 09:56   #75
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Talking re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

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Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Thanks Hitanshu and don't cast an evil eye... There is more to come.



Thanks Harry.
hey the bhagwan. itne khush ho gaye ho ki naam bhi ulte kar diye.

how does nkapoor become hitanshu?
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