Tadoba – An enticing jungle

We were informed about the Sambar kill near the Telia waterhole, previous evening, my guess was right, most of the jeeps moved in the same direction as we did. Jeeps ahead of us were parked in the most favorable places enabling to photograph the right moment. Even before we reached the spot, there were around 25 jeeps lined up in the front and there was silence all over. All of us were eagerly  waiting for some action to start and kept a close watch on the sambar kill. With great difficulty we managed to see sambar half eaten. I could recollect a narration by Kenneth Anderson on how a Tiger devours its kill.

After an hour of wait the silence was broken by jeeps accelerating and moving out of the place, Did they see the tiger?? How many cubs?? Is it a male Tiger ?? the answer was…None. They moved towards Pandarpuni waterhole as Maya and her cubs was already in the water and having a good time. Our fellow group also took the decision to follow the crowd.

Our guide wanted to know if we should do the same? Should we follow them? my answer was no, we decided to wait for some more time, being the only jeep in the vicinity we got a right place to park and sat silently. Waiting for the the Tigers..

Finally, the heart beat thumped, I felt a sudden adrenaline rush and I am sure my heart skipped a few beats, there came a Tiger with 3 cubs!!!! what a way to thank our patience.

The next hour spent with this family was priceless….As it started enjoying the meal we sat their holding our breath, the tiger lifted it’s head and growled. I must say it was a life time experience seeing the Tiger with blood stains all over its mouth……

It’s not over yet,

Be with me and read this space ….

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An Aura of wilderness

I have visited Nagarahole many times by now, if I plan a wildlife trip to Nagarahole my parents and friends ask me one question “how many times you will visit the same place again and again?? Aren’t you bored???

My answer to everyone is a big smile on my face and a brief narration about wilderness I encounter every time when I visit Nagarahole… the jungle is as new as it was to me when I first visited the place…new sunrise… new excitement…a new ray of hope to sight big cats… Ahhh it is as fresh as new…


The trip was planned for 2 days from 1st April 2013 to 3rd April 2013 to Nagarahole aka Rajiv Gandhi National Park. The previous day we drove to mysore for a stopover at my cousin’s place, we made some free time in the evening to visit mysore city including Chamundi hills. Just for a change we planned to visit SubWay, after 2 hours of worthless search we ended up in a beautiful Punjabi hotel called Jwala. I recommend this hotel for all those who just can’t stop eating. yummmm

 Next morning we started at 4.30Am and reached Veerahosanahalli gate by 6.00Am, the first rays of the sun was peeping towards mother earth, the forest was engulfed with its warm golden sunlight. The splendid combination of the morning chills along with the warmth of the sun kick started our day.
A slow drive observing the forest took us more than an hour to reach FRH, hot upama for breakfast was ready to gobble. Mr. Lokesh is appointed as new RFO, a young and dynamic chap. A small introduction and casual chat with him explained his plan of actions with regards to conserving wildlife. 
Some times you have to be at the right place at the right time. Few things were lined up to buy from kutta a small village just outside Nagarahole. While returning back from our so called “shopping” we caught a sight of the big bird perched on top of the tree. Though we were not so sure of its identity we just continued watching the bird observing its behavior. As the excitement of spotting a new bird came down our focus widened only to spot 10- 12 more birds of the same family resting on the entire tree. We identified it was a vulture but which family it belongs was known later after referring the book. It was Red-Headed Vulture which is a critically endangered species of bird found in INDIA.
The Mantra still hold good. Few meters ahead a jumbo family crossed our path; it was so nice to see the little one veiling safely with its mother.
By now the sun was up in the sky and radiating his most sharp rays on to us. The scorching heat made us feel low and wanted a nap for sometime. The alarm woke us up for evening safari, Nagarahole game routes can be accessed only by govt. bus safari which is organized by forest department not always we are blessed with like minded people. The bus was filled with a variety of people, some who were interested in wildlife and few others who treat national parks as picnic spot. All our energy was exhausted in making them understand the importance of wildlife and national parks.
We had completed half the journey in the game route when our driver spotted a tiger beside the waterhole which was sitting on the boulder, the disturbance and loud noise chased the tiger away into the bushes. We waited for 10 mins hoping it might come out of the bushes; neither the bus driver nor passengers were interested or had the patience to wait.
A glimpse of the tiger made us happy; the safari came to end by sightings a herd of elephants and a lonely tusker.
The same evening we drove till Karmadu junction to try our luck for sightings but returned without any. After dinner we took a seat in the balcony listening to the sound sof the forest, the cicadas were calling in a unique pitch. The alarm calls of barking deer’s faded distantly, we could hear wild boar scratching the ground…

 

Next morning Siddanna care taker requested us for a drop to kutta, we crossed kutta check post and while nearing the village, a car approached us in the opposite direction , as we slowed down to give way we noted that the car was driven very hastily and in full speed. Not more than 10 seconds had passed since we passed the full speed car, we witnessed a huge male spotted deer lying beside the road badly injured. Unfortunately the deer was killed by road accident. We then related as to why the car flew past us in a hurry.
Immediately I called up my friend at Nagarahole FD and informed about the incident. A wireless message was passed to all 3 gates to ensure he would not escape. Finally the culprit was caught at veeranahosalli gate the car bonnet was torn and badly damaged as it had hit the spotted deer antler.
We did not leave until slayer was brought back to the spot where accident took place. RFO / Veterinary doctors and patrolling crew investigated and filed a hit-and-run case and took him to custody.
After tiring hours we came back to guest house with a mixed feeling, satisfaction for catching the killer, on the other hand we lost one huge male deer.
We had lunch and relaxed till next safari. Apart from sambar deer the forest was dry with out any sightings. The culprit and his family with the car were sitting at forest department; he was staring at me as if I have done a mistake by alerting the guards to catch him.
It was our last day at Nagarahole and next morning we had to leave for Bangalore, we started towards karmadu junction slowly observing things around us, forest was alive in the evening, herd of gaurs were gazing beside the road, we could hear elephant breaking the twigs in a nearby bush, but no alarm calls from any direction. All of a sudden from no where a sloth bear crossed the road. I was not prepared to capture the photo though I could only manage few shots.
Few meters away we spotted a crested serpent eagle – CSE on the perch, its watchful eyes drew our attention towards it.
After our final drive from veeranahoshalli gate we returned back to forest rest house, gazing the sky full of stars hearing cicada’s call all around we sat back and relaxed.
Nagarahole – is pristine and full of surprises….
Location:

Tadoba –the abode of the wild…..

When a man wants to murder a tiger, it’s called sport; when the
tiger wants to murder him it’s called ferocity.
– George Bernard Shaw

Tadoba is always special to me, when it comes to sightings it has never disappointed me. Waking up to the chills of early morning, to watch tigers ramble, to hear the breathtaking roar, to catch a glimpse of dholes which are on prowl, Tadoba always has its small packages of surprises in store for me. Be a part of my wildlife odyssey to Tadoba to experience the magic.

This time it was a new clique who joined me for TATR – Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve.

[Amit, Sindhu, Gowri, Amruth, Deepthi and Ashank
We reached Chandrapur by train on 28th Jan 2013 by 4.00Pm. My friend Shalik Jogwe had arranged transportation to Moharli MTDC. By evening 6.30Pm we checked in to our rooms and relaxed for the day.
The next morning was our first safari, we woke up by 4.30Am in the biting cold and packed our camera bags and waited for Ganesh our jeep driver to pick us up to Moharli gate. Ours was the first vehicle to reach the gate; Nilakant, our guide joined us at 5.45Am and we started the most thrilling game safari. 

Nilakant took us to Jamoon jhora via Telia Lake, since we could not find any fresh pug marks near Telia Lake we continued on the trail. 2 vehicles were already present at Jamoon jhora waterhole waiting for the glimpse of the tiger. According to sources, tiger movement had been seen in the same vicinity for the past couple of days. Our jeep was parked at suitable location which helped in clear sighting of the beast. Several other wildlife enthusiasts visited the waterhole but dint care to wait. Our guide was persistent about us staying put where ever we were. After a complete 3 hour wait, just out of nowhere, not even the sound of the leaves rustle, the tiger appeared through the meadows. The excited murmur of everyone as they spotted the tiger was indeed a great moment. And there it was, walking majestically towards the waterhole, unperturbed by the sound and commotion, to enjoy its morning exercise. We could hear only the sound of clicks and all of us where awakened in seeing the beauty drinking water, it was one of the sub adult tiger of Wagdho’s family.

 After few minutes its sibling also gave company, we were totally carried away in sighting 2 tigers at one shot and for me it was first time in my life to behold the scene.

It was time to retreat after marvelous sightings of big cats.

After a good lunch at Saras resort recapitulating the photographs captured in the morning safari and talking about the experience we passed our time waiting for second safari to begin. Ganesh our driver parked the jeep first to enter the game road.
We met eminent wildlife photographers
3. Mr. Malikarjun
5. Adhi Nagaraj Gowda
They all were very humble, down to earth, with immense knowledge about photography and wildlife conservation; we were amazed to see their collection of photographs. It is amazing and I need not certify as everyone knows about them. These masters gave us tips on photography; they shared their wildlife experiences and many more. The company for future safaris was truly red hot…
The second safari started at 2.30Pm, Nilakant guided Ganesh to drive straight to Jamun jhora waterhole. As expected all the vehicles drove in the same direction. The reason being very obvious….TIGERS HAS BEEN SIGHTED AT    THE WATERHOLE….
Ganesh approached the waterhole slowly and parked the vehicle aptly. And behold… 2 tigers were already there resting on the boulder under the shade. It was only a matter of time when a third tiger came into the picture and joined the others.

The muteness absorbed the surrounding for a while we could only hear shutter clicks; it was filled with fun and thrill to watch playful tigers. We spent good quality time for more than 3 hours in the evening. It was an awesome experience in the wild recapping about the extraordinary encounters.

With exaltation we started our morning safari hoping to sight the tigers again. We directly drove to Jamun Jhora. Even after 2 hours wait no action took place, it was time to leave and head to other game routes.

The morning safari yielded no sightings of wildlife other than few birding like White eye buzzard, Shikra, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Jungle Myna, Black shouldered Kite, Oriental Magpie Robin and few more to say.
After lunch we all gathered for second safari we passed our time by discussing about morning wildlife sightings and understood none of them got a chance to sight a tiger at Jamun Johra waterhole.
We entered the game route with greater expectations; this time we did not wait near Jamun Jhora instead we took Telia route and also visited Pandarpouni waterhole. However we were not blessed with tiger sightings that evening, it was time to leave the park and Neelkant suggested hitting the Kolsa main road and traversing Kolsa range might yield us in some sighting.


We moved on examining each nook of the forest for any action to take place. As we drove on the main road I saw a small animal crossing the road, it took me a few seconds to realize that it was the leopard. I was taken by surprise and nudged my driver to slow down but he could not understand and stopped the vehicle suddenly. The leopard got a hint of our presence and fled to the nearby scrubs. A glimpse of the stealth predator made us feel really happy and it also proved Neelkant has good knowledge about tracking and the Tadoba forest range.

After having dinner we relaxed for sometime playing UNO cards for an hour or so.


The next morning was our final day at tadoba, we had 2 safaris to toss our luck. It was windy and nail biting cold had engulfed the range. With hot sip of coffee we started our wildlife odyssey, as a routine check we drove straight to Jamun Jhora without any luck we moved towards Telia waterhole even there we could not trace any pugmarks. On the way to Pandarapouni waterhole we spotted 2 wild dogs which were relaxing on the roadside, it looked like their stomach was filled with  lavish meal, and as proof we saw spotted deer’s leg in its mouth it showed the clear indication of a kill.

 

We were not fortunate enough to sight the biggest male tiger [Wagdoh male] which crossed the road once we left the pit stop.
While returning we spotted a male guar beside the road which was calmly grazing and Rufus Tree pie which was busy cleaning the flies which are usually near eye lashes. Our morning safari came to an end without any sightings of big cats.
In the noon after lunch we spent some time photographing few birds near MTDC Lake, we could spot few migratory ducks, common hawk cuckoo aka brain fever bird, Black headed Ibis, Asian open billed storks, Painted storks, spotted owlet, Pied Starlings and few more.
   
We gathered near Mohrli gate for the safari at 2.15Pm, scorching heat was making us feel tiresome. Our plan was to go over kolsa range without waiting at any other waterholes. As we entered the track the pugmarks were visible in the path but we could not pick up after 200 mtrs. Nevertheless we moved on with hopes, two farmers came running in the field, we stopped our jeep to know why they came running and found a tiger is sleeping near by Nullah [water body]. An hour of wait near the nullah did not yield any sighting other than a loud roar.
During this time a rare mammal, four horned antelope also called as Chousinga crossed our way, it stopped for a minute and evaded from our sight.
Our trip came to an end without any sighting of cats that evening. It was a memorable trip to tadoba.
The harmony between wildlife and nature can truly be experienced just by being in midst of it. The call of the wild and the sound of the wind is all it takes for a person to fall in love with nature. Well… just by being in love isn’t enough… is it??? Taking care matters.
Conserve wildlife…conserve forest!!!
Mode of transportation we took:
Departure from Bangalore
         – Bangalore to kachiguda express – 6.15pm
         – train number 12786
Departure from hyderabad by kachiguda to chandrapur
        – secundarabadh jn to chandrapur -10.00am
         -train number 12791
Departure from chandrapur
        -dakshin express : chandrapur to secundarbadh
        – train number 12722
Departure from kachiguda
       -kachiguda yehvanthpur express

– train number 17603

Unwinding tales of Nagarahole

I weren’t an actor; I’d be a wildlife biologist or forest ranger.  – Rick Schroder

 This statement by Rick is so true; my body & soul always meander in wilderness though it is practically difficult to chase our passion because of our current profession.
This time I planned for Nagarahole aka Rajiv Gandhi National Park, it was almost 4 year since I visited the place. It is a pristine forest full of surprises which gave me an opportunity to sight tiger in the wild for the first time.
The booking at Gangotri forest rest house is made easy via telephone and booking can be confirmed by sending an MO to ACCF – Mysore.
Raghunath helped me by providing information of hotel Jungle Residency situated just before Veeranahosalli gate. Hmmmmm you should be lucky enough to get better half with the similar interest, I am blessed in such case. I and Sindhu [My wife] started our wildlife odyssey on Wednesday at 1.30 Pm and reached Nagarahole around 6.00Pm. The accommodation is decent enough for transit visitors like us.
 The next morning, at the break of dawn we left for our jungle drive. Luckily ours was the first vehicle to enter the check post. I began recollecting my old memories of Nagarahole. Few kilometers from the check post, we were fortunate to sight 5 wild dogs by the road which hurried into the woods as we slowed the car.

I would like to share my experience at Nagarahole in the form of tales which unfolded in front of me during the trip. The serene calmness engrossed the forest, we moved on slowly towards Nagarahole passing karmadu junction.  

Tale1: Encounter of Indian Sloth Bear

 Watching closely through the depths of the forest, we spotted a black object sitting beside the road. It took us few seconds to realize that the animal which we were seeing was a sloth bear, it calmly came on the road and started walking in front of our car. It was first time I was seeing a sloth bear in such close proximity. It sniffed the bumper and started moving ahead.
I shifted the gear to reverse and parked my car giving space for the bear to walk. This bear was very daring and walked for almost 2 km in front of us.

Sloth bears are nocturnal and insectivorous; it was strange to see such a huge bear in the day light walking on the road without getting intimidated.  The scene was unforgettable, sighting wild dogs is a sign of good fortune for us…and needless to say we had already spotted the sloth bear.

 We reached Nagarahole forest department, showed the photos and narrated the story to them, curious to know about this strange behavior. We later found out that bears usually go sniffing around in search of honey combs.

Our reservation was made at Gangotri forest guest house, Gangotri is a beautiful place built in 1972; it has four rooms and a balcony where one can relax and get a glimpse of the wild.

Sidaanna, room caterer came in search of us to take order for lunch, it is a simple menu consisting of chapati curry along with rice, sambar and rasam.
What more can one expect? With the rains pouring through the lush green forest… sending a whiff of earthy odor into the air. Enjoying this perfect set up we laid back in the balcony watching spotted deers, and listened to the distant happy calls of langur… Ahhh it was simply superb.

In the evening we started driving along HD kote road, there was pin drop silence in the jungle, it dint yield any sighting. It was long since I had spoken to Chikkanna, a guard at Kallala guest house, the wooden bungalow stood magnificently in the middle of the jungle. After reaching the guest house we enquired with a caterer named Deepak and later found out that Chikkanna had been transferred. 

We called for the day without any sightings thereafter.

 Tale 2: On the prowl – Wild dogs
After dinner we grabbed the chair out in the balcony and settled listening outside, it was pitch dark as the check post at both the ends were closed from 6.00Am to 6.00Pm no vehicle moment was there. It is a strong belief that in the night predators will be on prowl and most of the animals might cross the roads and move through game trails.
I might call it is a coincidence, when I switched on the torch and threw the light on the road side of the forest bungalow I was surprised to see a couple of  gleaming eyes, crossing the road it took me few mins to conclude it was wild dogs… 🙂
Sindhu was thrilled to see the predator roaming around the guest house.
We were awake for an hour or so listening closely for any kind of alarm calls by chitals, but the wild dogs dint gave any clew and pushed off to its hide…

The next day morning we planned to hit the roads before the sun rise. It was a windy weather, last night the rains had poured like cats & dogs. The road was wet and welcoming. 

 A morning welcome by Indian Peacock our national bird made us happy photographing the beauty on the road we preceded towards karmadu junction. A herd of elephants were gazing peacefully beside the road. We moved on photographing the elephants.
 On the way back towards Nagarahole we spotted Lapwing, greater flame back woodpeckers and lot of tree-pies. It was time for breakfast and reached back the guest house and had sumptuous break fast served by sidanna.
 We returned to the cottage and opened the windows to breathe the fresh air. I dint believe my eyes when I saw the pack of 5 wild dogs relaxing near by, we then concluded it was the same pack we spotted the previous night, I took my camera and rushed outside without getting noticed by wild dogs. I spent a considerable amount of time observing and photographing the wild dogs in the close encounter a tempo traveler filled with tourist passed making loud sound which made them move swiftly into the woods..

Tale 3: Fight for the pride 

 The sighting of wild dogs was still fresh. I was ready with my camera mounted with macro lens to photograph insects around the cottage. The sound of dashing antlers made by spotted deers drew my attention, the combat between male spotted deers to flaunt its mate was spectacular, males sporting hard antlers are dominant when they are in rut they fight to defend small group of females with which they mate.
In the mating season male deers make a distinctive call to attract the females in the group. It looks like deers are soft in nature when it comes to prove its territory the power is truly amazing.
The fight between the male deers was for few mins; finally a male deer won the prize catch and walked away with pride… the scene was mesmerizing. The jungle is the teacher; learn every moment … 🙂
 The car was running out of fuel we planned to visit Sri Mangala which is around 20Km from Kutta to fill the tank. Kutta is a small village which is in border of Kerala and Karnataka. One can also visit Waynad Wildlife Sanctuary [Tholpetty Range] from Kutta.
 We also figured out the timing of Tholpetty national park and reached the place; unfortunately due to monsoon the forest was closed.
It made me happy to see a traditional post office which is still functioning at Nagarahole. I remembered the Kannada film featured on post office and postman’s routine job in “Abachurina Post office” by KP Poorna chandra tejaswi.
 By the time we reached Nagarahole it was 1.00Pm, we felt very tired and wanted to relax for sometime and grabbed a quick nap. We started our evening drive towards HD Kote road by 4.30Pm; guars were in plenty nibbling beside the road and found a single tusker near Karmadu junction. Apart from this we were not lucky enough to sight any big cats and drove back to guest house by 6.00Pm.
 
 Next day morning we checked out from the cottage and started back to Namma Bengaluru. The time we spent in the forest without hustle life style was fantastic.
Location:

Tadoba tales…

20th Dec 2011

Amidst our busy schedule we had managed to extract 5 days in December to visit TATR. Travel reservations were done 90 days in advance. We were just waiting for the arrival of the big day.. dec 20. The wait was over, next day at 9.00Am all of us me [Amit, Sindhu, Kathik, Veena, Ganesh, Pavan] team was geared up to TATR aka [Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve] at Chandrapur, Maharashtra.

This is my second trip to TATR after a long gap of 2 years. Me and sindhu reached railway station on 20th Dec 2011 at 8.30 am, just in time to know that our trains were delayed by 4 hours due to heavy fog in Itarsi and other northern parts of India. With low spirits I started calling fellow team mates to postpone their arrival.

Though Pavan, Karthik and veena landed up at 9.00Am. Mr. Ganesh my cousin grabbed the opportunity to treat his taste buds at the ever crowded Vidyarthi Bhavan to have mouth watering masala dosas…

I won’t take much of your time in narrating how we passed the time from 8.30Am to 12.00Pm. We went to Ayyappa temple next to railway station and had coffee after every half an hour.

After the long, boring wait the train finally pulled into the platform at 12.00 noon. Happily we boarded the train and settle down. An hour later we broke for mouth smacking variety of food packed from home.

Everything was smooth and nice until we were bored… the question on all our faces was what to do?? …. Pavan had the solution for this, he carried playing cards called UNO with him though he was also new to this game, he made an attempt to get KT about the game… believe it or not for next 5 days UNO became addiction to us…

We called our day by having dinner in the train.

21st Dec 2011 – Evening Safari

The train reached Chandrapur at 8.00Am. Shalik our good old friend who is a govt. school teacher and a wildlife enthusiast and photographer had arranged our pick-up from Chandrapur to Tadoba. We missed our first safari due to late arrival to TATR. Checked-in to resort Saras which is located just out skirt of moharli, relaxed for some time.

A jeep was dedicated to us for the next 2 days. At 2.00Pm the forest gates were opened for safari, we all were thrilled to be on the game road. Neelkanth was our guide for next 5 safaris. I will take few lines to introduce Neelkanth; He is one guide with very good knowledge on wildlife and tracking of tigers and other mammals. He was a dedicated guide for NGC filming “Secrets of wild India” which will be on air in mid 2012 at TATR.

The safari yielded in sighting of birds like Grey Headed Fish Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Jungle Owlet, Plum headed parakeets, Drongos, Bush chats, Bea eaters, Munia, Yellow footed green pigeons and with few mammal sightings of sambar deer, spotted deers, Nilgai. We called our day with nice dinner at Saras resort.

22nd Dec 2011 “D-Day” – Morning Safari

The safari started at 6.30 Am and it was chilling outside. Few minutes drive we spotted White Eye Honey Buzzard which flew and perched on top of the tree. The light was very dim and could not photograph it. Neelkant wanted to visit “Koshe kana” range. Other jeeps that entered along with us took different routes like telia, katezari, kolsa ranges.

The game road was silent and exciting; all of us were keen on observing any movement of animals or birds which took flight. Neelkant observed the fresh pug marks on the track, he told us that a female tigress has walked on the track, we almost tracked the pug marks for more than a km.

Suddenly Karthik shouted “TIGER!! TIGER” seeing on left hand side. The first glimpse of tigress was a treat for all of us. the tigress went into nearby thickets on spotting us. Neelkant advised us to maintain pin-drop silence as it would come out of the bush after some time. It was hardly 5 mins of silence and patience, TIGER came out of the bush and started walking towards us on the jeep track. Luckily no other vehicles were lined up to see the beauty of koshe kana range. Clicked!! Clicked!! Clicked that is all we did. We watched the TIGER for more than 15 mins on the track walking towards us, and we were retracing our route to give enough space for the tigress.  it was our day and you can say a perfect date with tigress…

First glimpse of tigress rushing inside the bush…
 

Stopped our jeep for 15 mins in anticipating whether tigress would return back, but it dint turn up. The body & soul was filled with joy never expected a tiger would walk towards us with in such close proximity.
We moved on further, and again Neelkant observed the new pug marks on the same track after 2km of sighting the tigress, this time it was a male tiger. Hearing this from Neelkant it was unmatchable bliss to see a male tiger.
Neelkant shouted “TIGER!! TIGER” simultaneously pavan too joined the voice, he saw huge creature sitting beside the jeep track from binoculars. It took 10 secs to spot where the tiger was sitting. AHH right there…
 First glimpse of a KING…
I could not believe my eyes, as I am seeing 2 tigers back to back in less than 30 mins of time on the same jeep track. It got up majestically and went inside the bush, this time too Neelkant suggested us to be silent and we moved back our jeep 300 mtrs away.

Pheww!! TIGER came outside the bush and stared at us for more than a min. It was huge male tiger; I never dreamt in my life I would sight such a huge male tiger. The luck poured on us; it emerged on the track and started walking towards us. May be I can’t narrate more on how we felt; one should feel it.

Thrice it went into bush after coming nearer to our jeep and again we took back the jeep away for 100-200 mtrs and within 5 mins tiger would peep out and come to track. This happened three times and I don’t think we should expect anything more. TATR trip was fruitful kudos to Neelkant and cheers to team.

Finally 3 other jeeps came behind us and this time TIGER went into bush and dint turn up after a long wait of 1 hour. We moved forward with contented smile on each of us.
 22nd Dec 2011 “D-Day” – Evening Safari
The morning energizer – TIGER sighting was fresh in our mind evening safari commenced at 2.30Pm, it was scorching outside, meanwhile Neelkant decided to move towards “Kate Zari” zone as there was a tigress with 4 cubs and if we were lucky we could sight the cubs too. Slowly we moved on the road observing both sides… hmmm no signs or movement of animals or birds, we reached Kate Zari range at 3.30Pm also we found the pug marks on the track, again everyone of our expectation of sighting TIGER was in full swing. But every day is not a Sunday… we spotted chitals and sambar deers in abundant.

Neelkant spotted “Lesser Adjutant Stork” which is a migratory bird and vulnerable according to IUCN.

The eco system is balanced perfectly with mixture of chitals, langurs, lapwings and storks and many more animals in one single waterhole and grasslands.
                   

The much waited tigress and its cubs dint turn up after waiting for long hours. We returned to moharli as it was time to leave.
 After dinner at saras we all sat playing UNO cards for 2 hours and went for a nap.
23rd Dec 2011 – Morning Safari

It was chilly morning drive inside the game root, Neelkant insisted to drive along koshe kana range once again, but we did not find any pug marks on the jeep track nor could we track the tiger in any form.

Further on we reached Telia range; this was the waterhole where I sighted tiger for the first time in TATR in 2009. Rest others were shocked to see the grasslands and serene beauty of TATR.

    
We stopped at telia for 10 mins and then drove towards pandra pavani, already 2 vehicles were lined up near waterhole they saw 2 tigers crossing the pandra pavani few mins back this was our first miss call of the day. Team dint move any further anticipating any movements. Time was slipping by we had to reach mohrali gate by 10.30.
Returning from safari we shared our experiences having poha[Avalaki] as breakfast at saras resort. We had shifted our stay from saras to MTDC.
Time was 1.00Pm when we settle down at MTDC and started playing UNO till our jeep arrived.
 23rd Dec 2011 – Evening Safari

The evening safari started at 2.00Pm. The plan included a slow drive towards telia, visit jamon jhura, wait till 4.30Pm and then again move on to telia.

We sighted sambars, chitals, brown shrike, mag-pie robin, ashy swallow, lapwings, rose-ringed parakeets, white eye honey buzzard, and jungle wabblers.

 

24th Dec 2011 – Morning Safari

Our last day at TATR, we had 2 more safaris and opportunity to sight wildlife. Morning cold had made us numb but it was the last chance to experience the amazing forest drive in the chilled weather. As planned, we decided to visit Vasanth Bandara range, drove along koshe kana.

Compared to other ranges, vasanth bandara is very calm with lush greenery. It has lot of birds to watch and photograph. On the move we just missed a drama which unfolded in front of us, it all happened in seconds and we were not able to capture the drama.

Time elapsed slowed as we drove through the jungle hoping for any movement. A sudden rustle of leaves drew our attention and we stopped the jeep. We witnessed the escape of a monitor lizard from the claws of death. A brown fish owl was denied of its prey.

The safari ended up in sighting sambars, lesser adjutant stork, chitals, and brown fish owl.
 24th Dec 2011 – Evening Safari – Missed Call drive.

It was our final safari; I would say it was a miss call evening, where we missed seeing 2 tigers and 1 leopard. Firstly we went to pandra pavani the time was 3.pm and RRU [Rapid Response Unit] patrolling team spotted a tiger on the same trail that we had just passed. This was our first missed call.

Further we moved on the track suddenly 2 wild dogs came into sight, it is the only animal which I have not missed in all my wildlife odysseys till date.

Forest itself is a treasure of surprises, we were following the wild dogs on the jeep track for more than 20 mins, and suddenly we encountered huge sambar deer on the jeep track. Prey and predator on the same frame, can’t believe it. Sambar became very alert and stamped the foot hard to ground when 2 wild dogs approached it. It was on high alert. It stared 2 wild dogs in fear, but wild dogs moved on silently.

First time in my experience I have encountered prey and predator in single frame. It was mesmerizing scene to all of us. Time was 4.30Pm when we planned to visit telia in the evening, on the jeep track while returning a group of chitals were on high alert starring in a particular direction. I insisted to stop the vehicle for some time and observe, but Neelkant told it might be a false alarm and we moved without stopping. When we approached the road we spotted a Jungle cat.

 Stopped for sometime and clicked few photos, it was a record shot to me. Then came the jeep which was behind us and showed us the photo of tiger which crossed when the deers where on high alert. Oh man this was our second missed call.

Had only few minutes in our pocket and Neelkant planned for jamun jhura, while travelling suddenly Neelkant stopped the jeep and told driver to take back. That is when we saw a sloth bear rushing inside the bush. It proved once again Neelkant is master tracker.

Time was 5.10Pm when we approached jamun jhura waterhole, driving along the waterhole we heard the alarm calls of langurs and chitals. Neelkant suggested to stop the jeep and wait for some time, quickly a vehicle in front of us moved and even we too moved slowly, we could only witness something moving very fast in front of us. Not realizing what it was we continued to look in the direction of the alarm calls. Guide who was sitting in the jeep in front of us told it was leopard. We noticed a langur lying dead on the ground; a fresh kill was made by the leopard. A third and final missed call of the evening.

To our fate train was delayed by 7 hours from the time of departure!!!

 
Team-WildlifeOdyssey[L-Pavan,Ganesh,Sindhu,Veena,Amit,Karthik,Neelkant]
Hats of to TATR!! For the surprises it offered.

More pics on : Wildlife Odyssey
 
Birds spotted at TATR:
1. Indian Roller
2. Lapwing
3. Purple sunbird
4. Brown fish owl
5. Oriental Honey Buzzard
6. Grey headed fish eagle
7. Oriental mag-pie robin
8. Grey wagtail
9. Jungle Peafowl
10. Rose-ringed parakeet
11. Plum headed parakeet
12. White throated king fisher
13. Common kingfisher
14. Pied king fisher
15. Indian Pond Heron
16. Little Cormorants
17. Open Billed Stork
18. Lesser Adjutan Stork
19. Hoope
20. Jungle Babblers
21. Lesser flameback woodpecker
22. Scaly Breasted Munia
23. Yellow footed green pigeon
24. White Ibis
25. Spotted Dove
26. Darter
27. Drongo
28. Racket tailed drongo
29. Rufous tree pie
30. House crow
31. Jungle crow
32. Jungle Mynah
33. Green Bee Eater
34. Brahminy kite
35. Crested serpant Eagle
36. Red vented Bulbul
37. Red whiskered Bulbul
38. Large Brown Shrike
39. Barn owl

 Mammals spotted at TATR: 
1. Common Langurs

2. Spoteed Deers
3. Sambar Deers
4. Jungle cat
5. Nilgai / Blue bul
6. Crocodile
7. Wilddogs
8. Ruddy Mangoose
9. Tiger
10. Sloth Bear
11. Barking Deer
12. Wild Boar
13. Black napped hare

 

 

 

1411 – Count the King…

The newspapers published saying “Volunteers required for Tiger Census”. Whom to contact? How to apply? Where to submit? all these questions jumbled in the mind. Few weeks later the date of commencement was also published. The time ticked… if i miss the opportunity i don’t know whether i could attend next time…

I called up my cousin with regards to TC programme, he redirected me to a gentleman called Shashidhar, it was a short notice to him all the formalities were completed he said he will try to take with him. I crossed my fingers…

Jan 22nd to 28th was the date announced by WII[Wildlife Institute Of India] it was 6 days programme, divided into 2 batches Jan 22nd to 24th and Jan 24th to 26th. Shashi called me on Jan 21st and said you are in the 2nd batch and along with you 2 other persons will join and you 3 should report to hunsur wildlife division on Jan 26th morning by 10.00am. Everything was set for the big game…

I reached Mysore on 24th morning at 8.00am and called Balasubramanya who was supposed to be my batch member in TC. Mr. Srikant also joined us shortly, we reached hunsur at 11.00am and met RFO. He was busy with the schedule, other team of batch 1 were back from TC and the discussion among themselves was hot.. “Maga what a sighting.. was it”. RFO called us and allocated our stay for next 3 days.

It was my dream to stay in APC[Anti Pouching Camp] for at least one night and hear weired sounds the dream came true not for 1 day i was blessed with 3 days.

We rushed towards APC with guards and freshened up and had a casual chat with guards asking them how was the TC going on.. how many TIGERS did they sight directly? and with the same enthuse the guards replied to our questions.

The clock ticked 3.00pm, we planned to sit near a waterhole to watch the forest activities an hour lagged the guard gestured us to the direction where a tusker came to waterhole.

The day came to an end with sighting of beautiful tusker, we headed back to APC and sat exchanging our experiences.Tomorrow early morning we had to start our trail, so everyone went for a nap.

Next day we woke up at 5.30am and started to our designated trail in search of KING.. we got an opportunity in sighting of chital, guars, and barking deers, we reached a waterhole in search of any pug marks available. We recorded few details of the pug marks and scats of the TIGER.


It was very thrilling to see the pug mark in the waterhole, the trail came to an end.

To maintain the confidentiality, I am not disclosing further details like which place? APC name.. such things.

The next 2 days was breathtaking, overall it was an ultimate experience, though we could not sight TIGERS upfront we were lucky enough to see its existence in form of pug marks and scats.

With heavy hearts we returned back to Bangalore.

Flickr photo stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wildlifeodyssey

Wildlife Sightings:

1. 05 Tuskers
2. 3 Wild Dogs
3. Chitals
4. Barking Deers
5. Guars
6. Malabar Giant Squirel

Tadoba – The Real Land of Tigers

It was our first wildlife odyssey outside Karnataka, Me, Karthik and Raghu planned for Tadoba after seeing “Telia- Tiger hunting a sambar” show in aajtak I started gathering information about “Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve aka TATR”, I read few blogs and did basic home work to reach TATR and found genuine source who can help the wildlife enthusiasts at the best to visit TATR.
Shalik Jogwe, young chap working as a teacher by profession in govt. school. Passionate towards wildlife conservation and photography, I called up Shalik and informed our visit to TATR and sent our itinerary. Safaris, Accommodation were booked and were ready for TATR.
Due to many reasons we did not get our train tickets and planned to travel by road. The route was: Bangalore à Hyderabad à Chandrapur à Tadoba, which was horrifying journey but our never ending passion did not stop in reaching TATR.
Telanganna issue was hot on the day we started to Hyderabad, and we crossed our fingers to reach safely to TATR. Shalik coordinated with a person called Sri Vardhan who was also on a visit to TATR; luckily we joined him and drove safely to Chandrapur on the same day by 8.30Pm.
Tadoba National Park lies in the district of Chandrapur in the north-eastern part of Maharashtra. Tadoba is named after the local tribal god ‘Taru’, who was killed in an epic fight with a tiger.
We planned for 3 days stay and 6 safaris; we had no much expectation of big cats but it was a different forest altogether compared to south Indian jungles.
Our first safari started at 6.00AM and we hit the game road… for all 6 safaris our guide was Mr. Shravan and gypsy driver was Mr. Mubarak. Shravan asked us or you guys interested to see only TIGERS, only Birds, or both… The answer was only TIGERS.
Day1#
Shravan took us directly to Telia waterhole strong alarm calls of chitals and sambar was herd we tuned our eyes and ears towards the waterhole, nothing turned on… with few drongo and samabar photos we ended our safari.

Tadoba has many watch towers and machan built to observe wildlife but not allowed to sit.
We came back to MTDC and took rest for few hours, as our evening safari was at 2.00Pm. Mubarak came at 1.45Pm to MTDC and picked us up, Shravan joined us near Tadoba gate and he directed to go to Telia waterhole again. He had an instinct that the TIGER will come out of the meadow because it’s her territory and she missed her morning turn. He guaranteed us to show the TIGER, but we had no expectation because high expectation results zero.
The time ticked 2.45Pm when we reached the waterhole; it was a bright sunny day and was very hot. Patience is the only reward in wildlife everyone was prying to see the large meadow with anticipation to sight big cat.
It was 5.00Pm when strong alarm calls started, Shravan said the predator is on move and all our eyes scanned each and every corner of meadow Mubarak started the vehicle and planned to take turn and park the vehicle whence another vehicle which was parked 300 mm from us gave wireless message to us saying “Gela” Gela” Gela”, first thing we did not understand the meaning of [Gela-TIGER] and enquired Shravan and he said TIGER is there… We were so anxious to spot the TIGER, for first time we were seeing a TIGER too close to us… I just clicked… clicked… clicked.
We were so cheerful to see the KING OF THE JUNGLE so close and Shravan just laughed looking at us the day came to an end. The whole night we discussed about its majesty looks and charming eyes, we called up our friends, parents and narrated the story about sighting a TIGER so close.
Day2#
The second day morning safari begun, and today also we insisted to go near Telia waterhole but Shravan said no we shall go to an another waterhole which is called “Yenombodi”, Sri Vardhan and Shalik were already there waiting for alarm calls it was 7.00AM when we got wireless message from Shalik saying “Gale” we rushed towards the waterhole, the TIGER was sitting inside the bamboo thicket we felt so happy to see everyday a TIGER and remembered the hanging at the gate “Tadoba – Real Land of Tigers” we were not fortunate to photograph it as it was thick bamboo covered but we filled our naked eyes with mesmerizing scene happening in front of us. Our morning safari ended with few birding photographs.
The time was 9.00AM; Shravan said we shall go to Tadoba gate and have breakfast. We halted for an hour or so and had breakfast “Poua” which means Avalakki, and then photo session started… and finally exited the park.
We took quick nap till 1.30Pm and were ready waiting for Mubarak for evening safari. Shravan directed to go to “KateZari” place which was closed since 3 month and opened the same day because a TIGER had given birth to 3cubs… hearing this we were so happy and Shravan said if we go to KateZari we can sight 4 TIGERS if we are lucky we nodded our head with acceptance.
We parked our vehicle near a waterhole at 2.45PM and just observed silence. The safari path was full of fresh pug marks but unfortunately we were not lucky enough to sight the TIGER and its cubs. We ended our day with few paradise fly-catcher and racket tailed drongo’s.
Day3#
Today was our final day at Tadoba; we had to bet our luck. As usual Shravan directed Mubarak to go near Telia waterhole which is a promising one. We reached Telia at 7.00AM and waited patiently, time ticked 8.30AM no sign of activity suddenly a huge sloth bear emerged from meadows but unfortunately it did not pose to our camera.
 Barking deer passed our vehicle without fear. It was 9.45Am and had 20 mins to exit the park with contentment of sambar and few birds we ended our morning safari.
The last chance to see the elusive cat came to nearer, last and evening safari started at 2.00PM and Shravan said we shall go to a place called “Janombodhi” bet our luck and come back to our first waterhole Telia by 5.00PM. We reached the place at 2.45PM the day was harsh… we waited near a waterhole, suddenly Raghu screamed wild dogs… and luckily 2 wild dogs came to waterhole, it gave us 20 mins of time to click…click and click…
The time was 4.20PM and Shravan reminded us if we want to bet our luck to see the TIGER we need to leave to Telia waterhole and rushed towards Telia water body. We reached Telia in anxiety and we were too late… TIGER had come into sight visitors had queued up to see the King of the Jungle…
The meadows were crowded with visitors and we dint get an opportunity to photograph the TIGER; we could only catch a glimpse of it.
With heavy hearts we adieu TATR… It was an amazing wildlife odyssey…
You can view more pictures @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/wildlifeodyssey with tag named TATR…
Wildlife Sightings:
TIGER [3]
Wild Dogs [pack of 2]
Wild Dogs [pack of 4]
Sloth Bear [1]
Crocodile [2]
Sambar [10]
Barking Deer [5]
White Eye Buzzard [1]
Alexander Parakeet [3]
Rose Ringed Parakeet [2]
Asian Paradise Fly Catcher [1]
Pond Heron [1]
Little Egrets [2]
Black Drongo [5]
Racket Tailed Drongo [2]
Green Bee Eaters [10]
Langurs [5]

Wilderness Beckons…

It was since 3 months passed visited “Kyathadevarayana Gudi” aka K Gudi. It is one of my favorite wildlife destinations. The wilderness beckons this time too…
The plan was to go on a week day to avoid the crowd, who are always a disturbance to core wildlife lovers; we took leave on Sept 30th & Oct 1st 2009 and departed from Bangalore on 29th night by 11:00pm.
This time there was a new addition in our team, Mr. Varun who was my classmate in 10th he too loves adventures and trekking a lot. Finally I, Karthik and Varun were ready for wildlife odyssey. The plan was to go in my car till K Gudi and go to safaris in forest department jeep.
By 11.30PM we were on our usual route MYS-BNG highway, our first halt was at CCD Maddur. We usually take a break for an hour or so to purposefully kill time, our intention is to reach BR Hills Forest check post by 4:00 AM. Why do we do this? It is only because our vehicle will be first to hit the game roads… and also for the most part of the cases if you silently observe you can also hear spotted deers/barking deers alarm calls. You will be welcomed with early morning bird chirps.
We reached CCD [Maddur] by 1.00Am time passed for an hour or so and continued our journey to K Gudi. Clock ticked 3:00AM when we reached BR Hills check post. The weather was pleasurable parked our car and silently slept hearing bird chirps… It was 5:00 AM when the alarm awaked us. The guard who slept inside the check post came out yawning, he was in a urgency he received a message from K Gudi forest department saying Chamarajanagar DCF is visiting BR Hills in next 20 mins. By 5:45 AM DCF came to BR Hills check post two gun mans accompanied them and left to K Gudi.
The check post gate opens at 6:00AM to publics it was still dark so we intended to leave by 6.30 AM, and slowly started the most anticipated game road…
After 30 mins drive we got to sight peacock. And mongoose crossed the road though we could not manage to click the photos of either. Further drive gave us an opportunity in sighting bison herd when we approached all rushed into bushes. I could manage to take a photo of one such bull.
 We directly headed to K Gudi; it is 18km stretch to K Gudi from BR hills which is always rewarded in sighting wildlife. There is a waterhole on road side and it is a favorite spot for Blue headed King fisher till date I was unlucky in capturing the beauty of the lake. But this time luck was in our pocket and I could photograph it.
 Reached K Gudi at 7:15Am and I rushed to enquire and book jeep safari in forest department then we came to know that speaker Mr.Jagadish Shetter is visiting K Gudi and now we could relate why Chamarajanagar DCF came in hurry… Forest department personnel said morning safari has been cancelled.
With heavy hearts we started to BR Hills. Varun with disappointment slept I and karthik were talking about the inconvenience caused. Looking around greenery I told to karthik “What if TIGER crosses the road? Imagine the yellow stripes in the green background”, the statement I made was still not faded, it was a curve suddenly karthik shouted “TIGER! TIGER! TIGER!” I think few seconds earlier it has jumped on boulders beside the road.
Phew… it was majestic imagination came true… the luck showered on us we were so fortunate that no other vehicles were present in rear and front. I quickly switched off the engine TIGER stared us between two huge trees for more than 40sec I clicked… clicked…clicked with the limited equipments I could manage only this….
We could see the KING OF THE JUNGLE for more than 2 min; I think what else is needed for a true wildlife lover, we waited for more than half an hour in anticipating it could return back. Hmmmm no sign of it… We decided to head back to forest department and record in TIGER sighting register.
It was funny in seeing 20 officials waiting in the game road for security to speaker who had been for safari. I now realized and it was so fortunate that we missed the safari. We showed the photo to the officials who were present there and Mr. farooq identified that the TIGER is a solitary male of “Basavana Kadu” range. Everyone was happy in seeing the TIGER photo;
With full of happiness and joy we started back to BR Hills, this time each one of us were more keen in observing the activity around us. We again halted for sometime in the place were we sighted the TIGER, but no activity. The time was 10:30 when we reached Giri Darshini for break fast. I called my friend who usually helps me in booking the room in BR Hills and reported him saying we will check-in the room in next 30 mins.
Varun was literally contented and his happiness was uncontrollable because this was his first wildlife tour with us and he was so fortunate in his first visit he sighted TIGER.
The body & soul requested for some rest, we slept for 3 hours the phone alarmed us at 3pm. Started to K Gudi, we halted at the spot were we sighted TIGER in the morning. I could see a barking deer which is a very shy animal rushing into bushes.
The evening safari was also cancelled because the jeep had been to Chamarajanagar as convey to speaker. One can get the good photographs of bonnet macaque easily at K Gudi JLR, without wasting time I managed in clicking few photos.
 We waited till 5:45pm and no sign of jeep safari and then decided to return back, this is the time when jungle becomes active slowly we started to BR Hills we killed some time parking near the spot were we sighted TIGER. It was completely dark and time was 7:30Pm one cannot narrate the experience the drive in the night in the forest. Samabars and Deers assemble near the road side for grazing, here is one such sambar photo.
 Without much sighting in the night we ended our day. The best bet was hitting the game road early morning next day, the alarm awaken us at 5:30Am early in the morning I peeped out of the window it was chilling weather and mist covered the plain…
We started by 6:00Am to K Gudi the drive was pleasant and no activities was witnessed.
The jeep had not returned to K Gudi from Chamarajanagar and it was understood that the safari is again cancelled, I enquired the forest official who sits in the forest department and he explained same bull shit to us again.
Forest continues on the other side too which is a road to Chamarajanagar, via you can have a very good wildlife sighting for at least 15km stretch, we decided to go till “Budhipadaga” road and come back while heading back we sighted a guar crossing the road.
 We came back to room and took rest, decided to go for a round by 4:00pm Varun had a telephonic interview scheduled and he did not join us that evening. Usual drive took us till K Gudi and fortunately jeep was present but only 2 of us and we decided not to go. We were running out of fuel and decided to fill in Chamarajanagar which is 27km drive.
It was 5:00pm when we left K Gudi to Chamarajanagar we knew that we cannot come back by 6:00pm it was a purposeful drive… I told to guard that we stay in BR Hills and we will fill the fuel and come back as early as possible, he warned us to come back by 7:00pm and that was sufficient, our intention was to join the game road by late evening.
We could manage to enter Chamarajanagar forest check post by 6:45Pm it was already dark and it was a wild drive. Carefully watching for Elephants which frequently come to road in the evening we continued the journey, at one stage we had to halt for few mins as a guar bull was grazing beside road and it was blocking half the way.
 We also managed to sight samabars and spotted deers the most expected sighting of most elusive cat LEOPARD, hmmmm but luck was not in our pocket. We reached room at 8:30Pm while Varun was waiting for us. Had dinner and narrated the night drive experience to varun and slept with satisfaction of sighting the TIGER on first day of out visit.
Next day we wrapped things quickly had break fast and started back to Bangalore the reason is it was oct 2nd “Mahatma Gandhi Jayanthi” the crowd already started peeping inside BR Hills.
The wildlife odyssey was very memorable and mesmerizing moment we never forget in our lives….
Wildlife Sightings:
1. Guars [herd of 5]
2. Mongoose [1]
3. TIGER [1]
4. Elephant[1]
5. Spotted deers [herd of 25]
6. Sambars [10 individuals]
7. Barking deers [2]
8. Wild Boars [5]
9. Peacock [2]
10. Hare [2]
11. Lapwing [1]
Location:

Unforgettable trip to Bandipur

TIGER!! The word was in the air, “Hey Tiger spotted @ Bandipur”, “Maga Tiger!! 4 cub’s in bandipur anthe”…

We decided to bet our luck, and started our journey to “Bandipur” on April 30th @ 9.30 PM from Bangalore. Rajeev invited us for dinner at his place mandya without considering huge risk, we reached his place by 11.30 PM, hmmm had nice Vangi bath and Curd rice… Spent good time with his parents and started to Mysore.

Finally reached Mysore by 12.45 PM, the plan was to stay at Ravi’s cousin Mr.Niranjan’s place. We decided to leave at early morning by 4.00 AM to Bandipur. The wildlife odyssey kicked off as expected and reached bandipur at 5.45 AM on 01/05/09.

The safari busses were ready to hit most anticipated game reserve in next 5-10 mins, already bus was filled with tourists. Our intention was to hire gypsy. Unfortunately it was booked for 6.30 slot and we had to wait for next gypsy safari at 8.00. I don’t know whether it was unfortunate…or fortunate…..

My instinct proposed to go for bus safari at 6.30 which was ready in a min or so. I expressed the same to Karthik, the next moment the tickets was with us and finally ascended the bus.

It was habitual to karthik when ever we headed to wildlife watching to woods. Karthik dreamt about tigers, leopards sometimes man eaters also the result was we were landing up without sighting even a Barking Deer!! So this time I strictly told karthik not to sleep or don’t dream about tiger sighting at bandipur and this time he followed honestly…

Bus headed to safari track, it was 5 mins drive. It all happened in 5 seconds adult Tiger and a cub was sitting beside the safari track Karthik and Ravi excitedly shouted TIGER!! We were around 25 people in a bus and only 8-10 of us could catch a sight…. I was able to capture photo in naked eyes. Those memories last long…..

We stopped the bus for almost 20 mins waiting it would return back… but no luck…L with eyes widely open peeping outside each nook of the forest hoping again we might have an opportunity to sight the big cat.

The safari ended at 8.00 with few snaps of CSE and Peacocks.

Our gypsy safari was at 8.30, we were more thrilled to enter into woods with great expectations and I narrated the whole scene of Tiger and its cub passing beside the safari track to jeep driver [Mr. Sunil]. He was very happy and asked us to show the place where we sighted the TIGER, gypsy halted there for more than 30 mins we were so fortunate to see fresh pug mark on the mud.

After an hour or so our jeep safari also ended with sighting of few sambars and chittals . The last hope was our next evening safari at 5.30 PM.

We had 6 hours for our next safari and quickly planned to “Gopala Swamy Betta” which is 20km from bandipur, the temple was heavily crowded with more than 300 -350 tourists.
The Gopala Swamy betta is attracting more tourists from all corners, but one sad thing is most of the people are careless, arrogant, illiterate they throw plastics and waste materials where ever they want. Though forest department board says “Plastic Free Zone” you can see plastic bottles, covers, eatable covers in many places which are harmful to environment.

We had good lunch at temple took few hours rest enjoying to climate and nature witnessed in front of us. Planned to leave by 3.30 to bandipur for our last safari.

The evening safari was yet to start and unfortunately the climate turned worst and it started raining heavily and we thought our plan would be flop mean time our TL: Trip Leader Govardhan distributed snacks which we got it. Mr. Sunil made it clear “Sir I don’t think we can sight big cats in this rain” Man proposes God disposes, we were helpless. We could sight a herd of 20-25 elephants and a herd of 15 bison. The safari ended at 6.30 due to bad weather.

Hats off to BANDIPUR… 5secs of TIGER sighting will last long in memories.

A trip to Nagarahole.

Friday at the office was a hectic day, for even though I was physically in my office, my mind had already wandered away into the wilderness. My heart and soul was aching for a wild getaway…anywhere! Where, when, how, and with whom to go, was unclear. Until lunch time.
I met Shreyas for lunch near SLV and the casual conversation developed into a concrete weekend getaway plan to Nagarahole National Park, aka Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Next moment, I was telephoning my friend to reserve a room at Gangothri in Nagarahole for Saturday. We got a positive reply saying “your room is booked”. All set for a wild weekend!
 
 At the National Park, we intended to sit at one place and observe the wildlife activities. We decided to sit at the watchtower (WT), but who are we to decide?? The Range Forest Officer (RFO) has to give us permission to sit at the WT. We thought, if we get the permission, then well and good. If not, there was always Plan B. We had even prepared ourselves for a negative reply from the RFO. Plan B was to just walk in and around Nagarahole main road like H.D.Kote Road, Karmadu Road, Kutta Road, Murkal Junction… and so on. I have read many trip reports, which said the wildlife sightings can happen on the road side also. So, if the WT plan was a failure, we still had an alternative plan.
 
 We left Bangalore on the same evening at 10:00 p.m., stopped at Chennapattana Coffee Day, spent an hour, and continued to Nagarahole. Our aim was to reach Nagarahole Forest Check Post by early morning 5:30 a.m. Of course, we reached earlier than planned. Earlier, the better! It increases the chances of wildlife sighting and movement on the road side!! And with good luck, we may even spot big cats. We drove slowly at 20 km/hr. As the Sun rose from behind the horizon and its rays
 penetrated the lovely Teak forest, the birds wished us ‘Good Morning’ in their melodious early morning calls. Shreyas spotted a Serpent Eagle perched on a branch of a tree and took a few photographs. We also saw Chittal (Spotted Deer) grazing by the road side.
Finally, when we reached Nagarahole, I went straight to the Forest Department Office to complete the formalities for lodging. After few minutes, a guard named Sannappa came along with us to show the room and handed over the keys. After the overnight journey, we wanted to take a quick nap for at least 2 hours. We woke at 10.30 a.m. and decided to meet the RFO, Mr. Poovaihah, to obtain permission to sit at the WT. He asked us several questions. “Who are u?” “Why should I allow you to sit in the WT?” “What is you intention?” and so on. We answered his questions and assured him that we are true Nature enthusiasts, and not pseudo wildlife observers. Finally, he agreed and he sent a gunman with us in our vehicle. Shreyas and I felt very happy as it was our first experience to sit in a WT and observe wildlife.
 The RFO reminded us the protocols set by the Forest Department, which had to be followed very strictly when we are in the park. We agreed it is our responsibility to obey the rules and regulations, and started our journey to the WT located amidst the jungle. Nagarahole has two WT’s; one is on the safari track and the other is deep inside the woods. We were told that we’ll be seated in Nagarahole Main WT, which is in deep jungle.
The RFO had permitted us to sit there from 11:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The gunman, Shreyas and I, quietly climbed up the steps of the WT. The watchtower is situated in a location from where you can see in all four directions. In front of us was a big waterhole. The first sighting was a herd of elephants in the waterhole; it was an amazing, wild experience of our life.
After an hour, the herd returned to the woods, and later a Guar (Indian Bison) visited a salt lick and thrilled us for the next one hour or so.
Beside the WT was a tree, on which a Langoor monkey (Hanuman Langur) settled down. With their sharp eyesight and keen hearing, the Langoors are the first to spot a predator. It signals with its alarm calls when it sees a predator. So, we thought it is a good sign and crossed our fingers in anticipation of sighting a big cat!
 Exactly at 1:10 p.m. Shreyas suddenly shouted “TIGER… TIGER…” and I was left searching for the tiger. The striped cat descended from a hillock, which is next to the waterhole. Its majestic walk and the fiery looks was a mesmerizing scene. Wow! That was the first tiger sighting in my whole life. The scene cannot be explained in words until it is personally experienced. We witnessed the show for more than 20 minutes and then the tiger disappeared into the woods.
Until 2:30 p.m. we were watchful, hoping we might get a chance of sighting a tiger once again. But, we had to be content with one sighting. We felt very happy and satisfied after seeing a tiger from such close proximity. It is one of the rarest sights in South India. We also spotted Guars, Elephants, Sāmbhar, and Chittals that revisited the waterhole and saltlick.
It was soon 5:00 p.m. and the gunman insisted that we leave from the WT. With the scene of the tiger descending from the hillock still fresh in our memory, we bid goodbye to the wilderness that surrounded us and came back to Gangothri. At 5:45 p.m. the gunman picked us up and we started our journey back to Bangalore.