The King And I @ Kabini Tiger Reserve

img_9512-4 It was a very chilly morning in the month of November when 6 Puneites started theirmorning safari. No tiger sighting so far. All of us closed our eyes to pray our respective God/Gods or remember what we believed could be our lucky charm and we entered the Zone B of Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. Our guide was Ravi who himself was a very lucky person with amazing spotting capabilities. The jungle was cold and silent. All our cameras were inside our bags. Face, head and nose all covered. Since, the jeep was open, we could still feel the shivering of hands and legs in spite of the warm clothes we had wrapped ourselves with.  We reached the end of the jungle from where we had to take a U turn. No sighting of even a Wild gaur or Elephant till then. We waited for 5 minutes . It was so silent that we could even hear the dropping of leaves. img_9528-3 Suddenly few Jungle fowls started flying and three peacock flew and climbed up the branch of a tree one after another. All of a sudden there started alarm call. Our naturalist asked driver to stop the vehicle engine so we could hear the sound more clearly. Suddenly he started shouting in a whispering tone “Tiger Tiger Tiger.. Look to your right..” We all were standing by now, Our Lenses already zoomed in and then we see this huge male tiger coming out. There were heavy bushes and it was far far away, near the water body ,coming out after drinking water. We could see the contour of the body moving slowly and steadily. We decided to move our vehicle ahead without starting the engine so we can take a close up when it will cross the road. However, we see another vehicle coming in front of us. Out guide and driver show hands asking them to stop and also make a T sound to indicate it’s a Tiger. The purpose was to not make any vehicle sound or else the Tiger could change its course. But no, the other vehicle could neither see us nor understand our intensions. Instead it kept coming. So we had to start our vehicle and moved ahead till they could see us. Now both of our vehicles were standing at a good distance, silently waiting for the Tiger to come out. But then a 3rd jeep came. We lost all hopes. All 3 jeeps standing in a T waiting for it to come out of the bushes. We waited for 15 minutes. The tiger was in no mood to show itself. We thought it might have gone far far away from there in opposite direction. So we all moved. Now instead, we started hearing a leopard mating call and monkey alarm call. Our hopes of seeing the Tiger had died. At least we can see the leopard. We again waited 15 minutes. No luck. The other two jeeps moved ahead tracking the leopard sound. We were upset as we had lost the chance to see the Tiger again. But our Driver and Guide took the decision to come back to where we were standing initially and suddenly as we approach near the junction, our driver again started whispering loudly..”Hey Tiger Tiger…Look its crossing the road. Keep Quiet Please…”.. What a luck man. How is it possible. The Tiger had not changed it course. It was just waiting for all jeeps to leave so it could cross the road. But again as it heard us coming, it moved into the bushes. We lost him 2nd time. We moved a little ahead and decided to wait. And all of us were silent. Sometime back, we were all shivering. But now , we could not even feel the cold air. The Aura of Tiger is such that it makes you forget everything. There was only hope and silent prayers. Suddenly the tiger came out of bushes, It moved ahead, It scent marked all the trees which came its way and crossed the road. It looked at us twice. It was right behind us, a huge male tiger, beautiful and strong and ferocious and simply mesmerizing. I have never had a sighting of Tiger in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve I had this time. img_9515-3 We were all so content and so happy that day that even if we had 1 hour left inside the park, we had all kept our cameras on the side. We just decided to enjoy the park. We didn’t click any pictures any more. The Jeep moved inside the jungle blissfully . We enjoyed the Kingfisher flying from one branch to another, the wood pecker playing hide and seek with us and the Sambar happily grazing away. The Tiger show had ended but it stayed on our face and mind for a long long time. This was a non-tourism tiger, It lives in core area called Bisalwadi and hardly comes out to the Tourism Zone, hence it is called Bisalwadi Male I was really lucky and thanked God to let us spot it and get some shots to share. This was an experience and sighting of a lifetime.
  BY Soma Pradhan Save Save

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