The Tiger, By William Blake.
"Tiger Tiger.burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry"?
This is the scene every morning outside the Khursapar Gate,
Pench National Park.
These are some of the guides( men & women)waiting to be assigned.
Visitor vehicles start arriving at around 05h30
as the gate opens at 06h00 and everyone wants to be the first in.
Aside from a driver,and in our case a naturalist on board,
each vehicle has an assigned guide.
In order to be fair to the workforce,
visitors have a different driver and guide each day.
It seems that this gate was frequented
more by the locals than tourists like us.
I suppose for that reason neither the driver nor the guide interacted
with us other than to say "Hello" and "Goodbye".
The roads were incredibly dusty and being at the head of the "motorcade"
was the best place to be...but not always attainable.
The early morning light through the tree made for a spectacular setting.
This particular spot became a regular stopping point
as the watering hole here was where we saw our tiger every day.
This is a Langur Monkey.
Although not the apex prey species for tigers,
they do often get killed and eaten.
It therefore makes sense that they sound the alarm
when they become aware of a tiger in the vicinity.
To hear what their alarm call sounds like:
And THIS was the first sighting for me.
Not only of Baras, as that is her name, but of a tiger in the wild.
I have seen them in zoos...and many years ago at a circus in the USA,
but never in the wild.
A heart stopping and emotional moment for both my wife and I.
For reasons known only to tigers, they like to reverse into water.
After having slaked her immediate thirst, Baras turned around
and slowly manoeuvred herself into the water.
And this is her, drip drying as she walked off
There are currently only about 3500 tigers alive in the wild.
There are actually more tigers in captivity.
There is something so majestic about a tiger walking towards you.
What you cannot see, is a line of vehicles behind us.
All trying to get THIS shot.
This is how good their camouflage actually is!
The markings break up their silhouettes and the dappled lighting helps them blend in.
This Starling kept dive bombing Baras,
who seemed to be blissfully unaware of the intrusion into her "air space"
All that is missing is one of those yellow rubber ducks.
I am uncertain if this is a behaviour or
she just was enjoying tapping her paw on the water.
Thanks for stopping by...
Time to head off.
There are 6 species of living Tigers:
Siberian, South China, Indochinese, Malayan
Sumatran and this particular species, the Bengal Tiger.
On one of our drives, Omveer Choudhary, our naturalist,
asked if we would like to see a different tiger.
We, of course responded in the affirmative, not thinking it would actually happen.
But lo and behold, look what we discovered...
Tigers do not drink by lapping the water, although it might look like that.
Instead they cup the rear of the tongue to flick drops into the air,
and close their mouths over that.
This 5 month old cub is one of three that lives in this area.
As yet unnamed, it seems to be the boldest as we followed for some distance
without it being bothered by the plethora of vehicles that was following.
How do tigers compare to our South African cats?
Seeing that Baras is female, I will use that as the benchmark,
as males of the various cat species are invariably heavier than the females.
That being said, Kg for Kg,
I would back a Tiger in a fight against any other cat.
On our final drive, I was the one who spotted Baras
standing on the side of the road.
It was almost as if she had been awaiting our arrival...
( we were the first vehicle in that drive)
Looking through the 65 images that I shot during this encounter,
I realised that she had only been with us for 2 minutes!
This was our final view of Baras on our last game drive from Khursapar Gate.
It was almost as if she had come to say goodbye as she did not head for a nearby waterhole,
neither did she return to her "regular" spot where we had seen her on 5 previous drives.
She walked off the road, into the bush...and disappeared.
Our itinerary was superbly handled by this travel company.
And more specifically, Mr Aman, their senior travel adviser
I would highly recommend that you contact them,
should you be considering a trip to India.
For more information on what they offer,
visit their website:
Our naturalist/ guide for the duration of our stay
at Tuli Tiger Corridor,