Friday, November 4, 2011

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve Day 2...

Tiger Safari Day Two:
This morning we started the same as yesterday. We were on route D-B and saw some peacocks and a barking deer, then quickly saw tracks on the side of the road. The guides said they belonged to Contucky. She is a mother of two cubs. I wasn’t getting too excited as we saw lots of tracks yesterday. Basically you are on a sandy/rocky road and there is dense jungle on either side of the road and occasionally you come across a small open field or small watering hole. We made our way up the mountain on this very twisty, rocky road, then started back down again. On the way down the guides heard an alarm call. (When the monkeys see a tiger, they freak out and sound an alarm for the other monkeys that a tiger is in the area. The deer hear that and they go into a tizzy too). Coming down the mountain side, we come around a corner and see 5 jeeps on the side of the road. 
First Tiger Sighting; For the Bandhavgarh
enthusiasts, I believe this is 'B2'.

Our guide briefly talks to one of the other guides, looks back at us and says “hold on”. All of a sudden we are flying down this small twisty road with hair pin turns. He slams on the breaks and about ten seconds later this large male tiger meanders out of the bush on to the road. He walks toward us a bit, then the driver again puts the pedal to the metal so we can wind down the road one more turn to get us into position for a few more shots. Sure enough the tiger appears from the jungle again, walks towards us 20 feet, then heads back into the jungle again…And that was my first sighting of a male Bengal tiger in the wild. A sighting that I will likely remember for years to come.

On the way back to the lodge we found a troop of lamur monkeys and although the sighting wasn’t as exciting, the light was perfect and we sat and photographed them for about half an hour.

On our afternoon safari, we went back to the area where the male was seen in the morning drive and waited for a couple hours. Drivers were taking this opportunity to have a little snooze, everything was quiet, there were 11 jeeps full of tourists and photographers just waiting. All of a sudden we heard one alarm call (It sounds like a high pitch “oo”) from across the valley. Seconds later, eleven vehicles were started and went racing down the narrow mountain roads. (The Japenese have nothing on our Indian drivers with their controlled slides). All of the vehicles lined up and we watched as the tiger was about a kilometre away on the mountain side. He was too far away, so one by one we headed back. We got to a corner and spotted a female tiger and the excitement began again! The idea is to get ahead of the tiger and guess where she is going to go so we can get good pictures of her. So we take a few pictures, then the driver says “hold tight”. That is your two second warning. By the time he starts the engine, you had better be in your seat and holding on because it is pedal to the metal within seconds. The guide doesn’t just want to get ahead of the tiger, but he also wants to get ahead of all of the other vehicles, so he can position his photographers for the best shot.

All in all a very exciting day. The only good pictures that I got today were pictures of baby langures, but we have about ten more days of tiger safaris, so hopefully on some of those drives we will encounter nice tiger photographic opportunities in nice light.

A fun day. On the way home we even stopped for a quick sunset picture showing the mountains in the background where we were photographing the tigers.
Here's my wildlife images from India.

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