On a Tiger Trail
A Visit to Tadoba – Andhari Tiger Reserve
Last year in March, I made my first visit to a wildlife sanctuary. I was both excited and scared. I had heard that a tiger can weigh more than 500 kg. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger reserve is located in Maharashtra near Nagpur. It has the highest density of tigers in India. The moment we reached our lodge, I could sense the excitement. An evening safari had just returned and seen a sloth bear, a spotted deer and a tigress. Summers had begun and tigers came to waterholes to drink water. I hoped we would see a tiger the next day.
We woke up at 6 am for our first safari in the core area of the forest. The hotel packed us our breakfast. A driver came to pick us in the lodge and a guide joined us at the Kolara gate. The open jeep made me a little nervous. Our jeep went past through the gate with other jeeps on a dusty route at a high speed. Soon we entered the forest and saw bamboo trees all over. All the jeeps went in different directions in search of the tigers. Our guide took us to the same spot where the tigress Maya was spotted last evening. She had made a kill there. He told us that a tiger feeds on a kill for many days. As we went there, many jeeps were already parked at the site. It was a waterhole. We kept waiting and watching. Some people had brought with them long cameras to capture the photos well. We had already waited for 30 minutes when suddenly Maya and her two cubs appeared. Maya was very majestic as well as huge. Her cubs were very cute.
She just sat in front of us and licked and groomed her cubs. It appeared as if she was posing for all the people and cameras. The cameras went click-click-click. She had beautiful stripes. Our guide showed us other waterholes where we saw many animals including deer, peacocks, wild bore, langurs and Neel Gain. We saw four types of deers – chausingha, spotted deer, sambhar and barking deer. Our guide showed us ghost trees that had no leaves and were white and shiny. They had an eerie feeling. Then, after breakfast under a shady tree, we came back to the lodge happy and satisfied.
The next day we went to Midnapur which was a bit away from the lodge. The afternoon sun was blazing above us. We kept looking for tiger in all the 4-5 waterholes in a area. The guides observed the deer and birds calling for signs of a tiger. He showed us tiger paws on the road along with cub paws. But there was no tiger. Suddenly, he got a call on his mobile that tiger had been spotted in waterhole 81. He asked the driver to dash the jeep at full speed. The jeep made many turns through the dry trees.
When we reached the water hole, we saw the tigress ‘Junabai’ drinking water. She must have been thirsty and drank water for almost 15 minutes. Then she sat in the water and cooled off in the waterhole. After some time, she rose and started walking. She came extremely close to us and I could almost hear her breathe. We were talking in whispers and taking pictures.
We followed her but she soon disappeared into the jungle.
What an adventure I had. Tigers are the pride of India and, we must do all we can, to increase their numbers.
Krishnav Puri, Shiv Nadar School, Gurugram, 10 years