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Old 14th June 2012, 12:27   #106
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Whoa, things just keep getting more interesting with time. The irritated Leopard, the close encounters with the Tigresses, the Tigress with her kill and the family portraits of T 19's family are simply awesome.

EDIT: After viewing so many jungle shots lately, even I've begun contemplating checking them out!

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Old 14th June 2012, 13:41   #107
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Default re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Excellent as usual. The shots are amazing and the narration of the events make me feel as if I am right there. A Leopard also added to your list now. Great!!!
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Old 14th June 2012, 21:45   #108
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Question re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Hi GD sir,

Amazing pics and great narration. You were extremely lucky to see a leopard as well as a tiger hunting in action The picture of the tiger with a deer kill itself speaks a lot. Fantastic !!! When I had been to Ranthambhore, we never got the permit to venture in zone2. In all the rides we always got the zone 1, lakes area. Looking at the pics, I think it's time I re-visited Ranthambhore again maybe in October or early next year.
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Old 19th June 2012, 19:59   #109
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

I just changed the last part of the title of this thread from "Jinx broken..." to Big Cats call again...!.

Went to Sariska on Sunday the 17th June and in the morning missed a sighting by a whisker, while in the evening waited at a waterhole deep inside the jungle for about an hour & 45 minutes; a lone Sambhar called continuously & then intermittently and finally fell silent. We knew that the Tiger was there and would come to drink water, but the skies opened up an that was the end of it.

The itch became a scratch and then a rash and before it could turn worse, decided to go to Ranthambhore before the season ends and the park closes.

Will Machchli oblige me with a "darshan"?
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Old 21st June 2012, 12:57   #110
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Sirji just one word Awesome!!!!

Amazingly crisp photographs and an engrossing narration. It was as if we saw it through our own eyes. I m inspired and have made up my mind, a forest trip is due. May be after the parks reopen post the Monsoon.

Have been to Sariska before but without any luck. Hope this time it changes for good.
I always loved the Tiger, your photolog has increased it many folds. So many tiger sightings would also mean that the magnificent Sher Khan numbers is on the rise. Is nt it? That would be wonderful news.

Cheers
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Old 21st June 2012, 20:16   #111
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Leaving for Ranthambhore tomorrow, 22nd June, 2012 at 4 pm along with Wife, Sachin (sach.sri) and his family.

Four safaris together on 23rd & 24th and then Sachin leaves back by train. I do an extra safari on 25th and then drive back.

Yoo hoo...!
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Old 23rd June 2012, 08:34   #112
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

GD Sir. Keep em coming. Cant wait to see the Striped cat through your camera lens.
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Old 23rd June 2012, 09:26   #113
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Leaving for Ranthambhore tomorrow, 22nd June, 2012 at 4 pm along with Wife, Sachin (sach.sri) and his family.
Yoo hoo...!
Again??????
Already Cooolcat21 is complaining. Get back with something greater, all the best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coooolcat21 View Post
But then people like me who dont get such many opportunities.....
Regards
I have every reason to really crib, seeing these lines from you.
Regards,
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Old 24th June 2012, 14:49   #114
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Fazalbhai be my guest. I've been telling you for long and this offer stands for Cooolcat21 too.

Couldn't get anything greater to surpass what Sundari did last time. But she did give a direct stare through my lens to me just about 8-9 feet from behind.

Sundari's look

‎10 minutes of pure bliss - Sundari or T 17 walks with me, in front of me, besides me and behind me from 9:20 to 9:30 am today morning.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7234.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by fazalaliadil View Post

Again??????
Already Cooolcat21 is complaining. Get back with something greater, all the best.

I have every reason to really crib, seeing these lines from you.
Regards,
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Old 24th June 2012, 16:12   #115
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

GD Sahab,

I will take up your offer someday soon, treat it as a rain check.

Sundari, as beautiful as her name suggests, last time and now again?
Pray its not developing into a love story between you two, that started with 'Love at First sight'.

10 minutes and 10 feet...you lucky guy!
Regards,
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Old 28th June 2012, 23:45   #116
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Continuing from post Nos.: 109 & 111

Most of the wildlife sanctuaries in India close on 30th June for monsoons. Love is in the air as the manna falls from the skies and it is the mating season for the fauna.

The sanctuaries re-open in October. Keeping that in mind I decided to visit Ranthambhore again. The overpowering desire to see Machchli was the catalyst.

Called up Sachin (sach.sri) to find out if he could also tag along and he said that though he couldn't get any more leave from his office, a weekend trip would be manageable, but he would have to be back on Monday morning to attend the office. This meant that we had to leave sometime on Friday evening, visit the jungle on Saturday & Sunday and leave back for home on Sunday night itself. I was not in favour of driving in the night after an exhausting safari. A couple of phone calls were exchanged and the plan was finalised thus:

16:00 hrs - Departure to Ranthambhore by road
22:00 hrs - Approximate time of arrival at R'bhore

23rd June - 06:00 - Morning safari
23rd June - 15:00 - Evening safari

24th June - 06:00 - Morning safari
24th June - 15:00 - Evening safari

24th June - 21:15 - Sachin & family leave for Nizamuddin by train

25th June - 06:00 - Morning safari

25th June - 12:00 - Departure to Gurgaon by road.

Sachin made online train reservations for him & his family and I called up Guddu Bhai in R'bhore to make hotel bookings at the Jungle View Retreat.

The team was:

1. Self & Wife
2. Sachin, Annu (his wife) & Shikhar (his 7 yr old son)

22nd June 2012

Reached home from office at 3 pm, checked my packed bag & camera gear and went in for a shower. By the time I came out, wife was ready and all the stuff was lined up. We left for Sachin's place at 15:45 to pick him & his family. They were ready & waiting. At 16:07 we were rolling. The route was the same as before (post#: 56). Nothing had changed in a month. The Dausa-Lalsot section was bad as before except for that 4 Km small patch of tarred surface.

The clock read 22:15 when we reached Jungle View Retreat and turned left. The approach to the Retreat resembles trails of Chambal ravines. And I lost my way. While we all could see the lights of Retreat, the trail was untraceable. Sachin got out to explore but it was scary as Leopards are known to roam those parts. He took a couple of photographs.

TB II lost in the wilderness

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-8689.jpg

The Pilot

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-8691.jpg

Frantic call was made to Guddu Bhai to send his man from the retreat to guide us. Shortly we saw a torchlight flashing & bobbing and a person from the Retreat arrived on foot to guide us. Reached the Retreat and proceeded to our rooms. Room #: 1 for me for the third time and room #: 2 for Sachin.

Dinner was laid in my room for all immediately and after a sumptuous meal we called it a day. The action was to start tomorrow.

to be continued.../-

p.s. A mild commotion in my room as my wife discovered three crickets in the washroom. The staff was summoned, the insects removed and peace prevailed.

Last edited by gd1418 : 28th June 2012 at 23:55.
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Old 29th June 2012, 00:40   #117
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

23rd June, 2012

The morning was usual for us. I woke up at 4:30. The hotel staff knew our requirements by-heart. Tea was served to my wife at 5 am and by 5:45 we were out of our room and sat in the lawn waiting for Sunrise, Sachin & Jeep in that order.

The Sun rose at 5:49 and this celestial show never ceases to fascinate me.

The Sun rise

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-6998.jpg

While I was busy clicking pictures of the Sun, Sachin & family arrived all set for the safari. The Jeep came at 6:10 and Zone 5 was allotted to us. Since we were 5 people and I had booked an extra seat for my camera gear, the entire jeep was for us. The resident male of Zone 5 - T 25 was known to roam its area in the morning and was seen resting at the Tambahkhan water-hole the previous evening.

We roamed the zone looking for tell-tale signs but nothing was visible. Not much animal species too were seen surprisingly. No alarm-calls as well except for the usual peacock bellows.

Near a bush we saw this jungle Hare foraging. Till date I've never been able to photograph the Hare properly. The fellow is nocturnal and rarely seen during daytime, very fidgety and won't stay still at one place. This fellow was peacefully looking for nuts etc.

Jungle Hare

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7003.jpg

The click of the shutter startled him and he moved ahead. It was then that I noticed a limp in his front right foreleg. What was the reason?

He turned around to face me and at full zoom I clicked. Only when I saw the picture on my laptop I could know the reason. He had a deep gash on his leg that exposed the bone. How did he get this? Escaped from an attack probably by a Jackal or a Caracal? Maybe.

The injured foreleg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7007.jpg

And then with a leap & bound he crossed in front of my jeep.

Crossing

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7015.jpg

We moved ahead and came at a tri-junction. T 25 was known to walk on this trail. We waited there for sometime to listen to some rustling sound, alarm call etc., but in vain.

The tri-junction

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7021.jpg

Moved deeper into the Zone towards a water-hole in the hope that the Cat might be cooling off in the water. Saw this snake furiously climbing a tree. I'm no snake charmer hence couldn't identify. The guide said that it was a Viper and jumps from tree-to-tree and hence is also called the flying viper. To me it looked like a juvenile snake.

Viper

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7023.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7030.jpg

The day was getting warmer and the chances of a sighting were diminishing by the minute. Disappointed & exhausted we returned to our room.

After exiting from the zone we saw this on the road leading to the main exit gate.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7036.jpg

Today was Vinayak Chaturthi or Chauth. This falls once in a month & the forest authorities then allow the devotees to do a complete "parikrama" of the Trinetra Ganeshji that takes about two hours to complete. The route passes through the core of the forest in Zone 2. Causes a lot of disturbance to the animals and though no mishap has happened till date, in my opinion this should be stopped.

to be continued.../-

maybe better luck in the after-noon...!

Last edited by gd1418 : 29th June 2012 at 00:52.
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Old 29th June 2012, 01:16   #118
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We retired to our respective rooms after placing orders for break-fast. By the time I had a shower, the break-fast had arrived. Tried resting for a while but couldn't sleep.

I had done a blunder. Due to oversight had left my camera's 16GB Extreme III CF card at home. Fortunately had two spare 4GB CF cards in the camera bag. After every shot I was checking the count. It was quite irritating too.

Lunch arrived at 2 pm and we all were ready by 3 waiting for the jeep. It came at 3:20 and this time it was Zone 2. This was the area of T 24 & T 23 and also the "parikrama" route. I had not much hope today. The constant inflow of devotees from 6 in the morning till 4 pm was a cause of major disturbance. The animals would have moved deeper.

Any way as we entered the zone saw this very small herd of 4 female Sambhars drinking water from a small hole in the ground.

Sambhars

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7039.jpg

They did not bother to look our way and we moved ahead to find this young male Sambhar resting in the shade. He had shed his antlers and the new velvety antlers were looking too good.

Male Sambhar

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7040.jpg

Reached a waterhole and saw a few jeeps waiting. We also decided to stakeout. During this period saw the little green bea-eater.

Little Green Bea-eater

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7045.jpg

With a bee in its beak

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7061.jpg

When nothing stirred and silence prevailed, we decided to look somewhere else. And on the way saw this Black-tailed Mongoose searching for food.

Black-tailed Mongoose

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7066.jpg

A short distance from the mongoose was this Hare also looking for food.

Jungle Hare foraging

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7070.jpg

The day was unusually hot. We were dejected, sweating & exhausted. Exited from the gate and the news there too was not very encouraging. Throughout the day there had been no reports of any sighting from any of the zones.

Thus the day ended for us. I emptied my memory card on to the hard-disk, cleaned the camera gear and slept peacefully after having dinner.

to be continued.../-
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Old 1st July 2012, 13:05   #119
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24th June, 2012

The alarm rang at 4:30 am and I was feeling lethargic. Hit the snooze button and went back to sleep. The alarm rang again 10 minutes later and I pulled myself out of the bed. Peeped out and the hint of dawn was visible. Will today be my lucky day?

By 5:45 all of us were ready and the jeep arrived by 6:10. It was driver Maajid who had taken me around during May along with Naturalist Rajesh Gujar. The zone allotted to us was 3. This apparently is the best zone in the whole of Ranthambhore with three Tigers - T 17, T 19 & T 28 that are known to give sightings very regularly. This elated our spirits and we raced towards the forest without wasting any time.

We decided first to race to Kachcha Chhatta water-hole in the Mandook area with the hope of seeing T 19 with her cubs. In May she had given excellent sighting to me with her two cubs. Drove upto high-point, circled around, came back again to water-hole and waited for a while. We passed a few jeeps on the way and all heads nodded in the negative. Some official jeeps with guests went towards a no-entry area to explore. They can and the normal tourist jeeps can't. The official jeeps came back without any luck.

While nothing stirred at the Chhatta water-hole, Rajesh suggested that instead wasting our time here we must head towards the lake area as Sundari or T 17 is bound to make a movement as she has not been seen for the last three days. This meant that Sundari was nursing her litter and sooner or later would come out to hunt as she would be hungry.

Reached the lake area and saw different fauna & scenery. The photographs shall convey better:

Crocodile basking in the Sun

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7074.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7127.jpg

Crocodile swimming

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7130.jpg

Spoon-billed Ducks

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7076.jpg

Gotcha...!

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7135.jpg

The Trail

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7087.jpg

View of the Ranthambhore Fort with the Lake in foreground

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7078.jpg

Juvenile Cheetal in the grassland

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7079.jpg

Ruddy Shellduck or The Brahminy Duck in a line

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7090.jpg

Surveying the surroundings

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7109.jpg

Black-winged Stilt practising Yoga

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7105.jpg

Angry Drongo

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7113.jpg

Purple Heron gingerly putting its feet forward

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7101.jpg

Purple Heron with its catch - a hapless frog

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7117.jpg

Black-necked Ibis

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7125.jpg

Grey Egret

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7145.jpg

Aviary at Rajbagh

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7080.jpg

While we were leaving the aviary I spotted my friend Balendu Singh (post #:19) who is now the Honorary Warden of Ranthambhore going into a banned area (for tourists) in his jeep. Did he hear or see something? Well, we couldn't follow him. Slowly we started moving out towards the exit while circling the Padam Talao.

to be continued.../-

Last edited by gd1418 : 1st July 2012 at 13:33.
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Old 1st July 2012, 16:59   #120
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Before continuing, I must refer to the 7th para of post #: 68. What happened today was similar to what I've mentioned in that post in the month of May.

While crossing the Rajbagh area nearing the open grasslands we saw a scene and immediately Rajesh Gujar mentioned - "Something is wrong somewhere". A big herd of Sambhar deer were coming out of the lake in a line and moving to safer place. Some of them were alert with their tail held high and nervously looking left & right while sniffing the air. Something had scared them. What was it? Could be either a Leopard or a Tiger?

Sambhar Deer - exodus

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7081.jpg

Two jeeps were parked there and we also stopped and decided to wait. We still had enough time on our hands. Then we saw a young female Sanbhar with her fawn following briskly. Nothing unusual except for the fact that one of the drivers said: "इसका मुंह लाल क्यों है" ? That startled us as we couldn't see anything at that distance. I picked up my 80~200mm, zoomed it to the fullest and looked. Oh boy, was he right? He was absolutely bang on target. The female Sambhar's mouth was badly mauled and it was as fresh as it could be with the flesh hanging & blood dripping.

Mauled Sambhar

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7083.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7084.jpg

What had caused this? Was it a crocodile attack or this Sambhar was plain lucky and escaped an attack by a Tiger or Leopard? The latter looked improbable and we all surmised that it could have been a failed crocodile attack. And also was this the cause of this exodus? Waited some more time to see if some action would happen and when nothing stirred proceeded towards the exit. The clock showed 9:15 am. We saw a Canter coming behind us and I told Majid to stay ahead of him to avoid the cloud of dust thrown up by the canter.

And then everything exploded. The guide on the Canter gave a sharp whistle, Majid braked hard and made a u-turn and Rajesh muttered - "Tiger". We rushed behind the Canter and saw Balendu's jeep with him gesturing towards a nullah. A Tiger was there in the nullah. The jeep couldn't go near the nullah but the tourists on the Canter could see something. The Tiger was coming out.

I had in the meanwhile changed the lens to 300mm prime. I was carrying three lenses with me - 24~70 f/2.8, 80~200 f/2.8, 300 f/4 & a TC14E-II. I had thought that I could change the lenses in a jiffy depending on the scene. Easier said than done. Try doing that in a bouncing jeep and you'll know what am I talking about.

Never ever did I feel the need to have a second camera body so badly as today.

There emerged Sundari from the nullah. With the TC & a DX camera my lens's focal length became 630mm and I was helpless. The emerging Tiger shot would have been a killer but I only got this.

Sundari emerging from the nullah

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7147.jpg

She came out, looked nonchalantly at all the commotion she had caused and started walking on the trail. Regained my senses and changed the lens to 80~200. I was sitting in the middle row of the jeep and that allowed me some space to lie down and put my head & camera out to get some good eye-level shots.

The pictures:

I was sitting on the left side of the jeep and T 17 appeared on the left maintaining eye-contact with me. I could see her shrunken stomach. that meant she hadn't made a kill for sometime and was on the lookout of prey.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7152.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7153.jpg

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Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7167.jpg

Balendu's jeep following - Balendu sitting with the driver

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7179.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7183.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7185.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7195.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7212.jpg

Sundari went into a thicket and emerged just next to me - I could've stroked her head. I was thrilled, but not scared this was shot with the 24~70 at 66mm f/2.8 - 1/250 sec

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7224.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7226.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7229.jpg

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Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7234b.jpg

We took our jeep to the extreme right to allow her to pass

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7237.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7241.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-7243.jpg

to be continued.../-

Last edited by gd1418 : 1st July 2012 at 17:19.
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