Nilgiri Tahr

Nilgiri Tahr
Nature Beckons you....Listen to her whispers.....

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Tadoba.........The abode of the Bengal Tiger!

Tadoba is very famous Tiger reserve in India!Infinite amount of info is available about the reserve and its denizens.This blog is about our experience of visiting the Tiger Reserve in mid Dec 2019.

Cat walk of a Tigress in Tadoba!

We reached Hyderabad one evening and stayed back there for the night.The next day boarded a train in the morning and reached Chandrapur by afternoon.We looked for taxis to reach Tadoba,but none were available at the Chandrapur railway station.A friendly auto-rikshaw driver approached us and enquired where we wanted to go.I was impressed with his behaviour and spoke to him.The rate was fixed and we were on our way to Tadoba!

The auto driver was very friendly ans spoke at length.He talked about his encounter with Tigers while dropping guests at Tadoba.There were occations when Tigers came very close to his vehicle.Even Tigress,Maya,the famous one at Tadoba,approached his vehicle!

A Tiger walk past!

We got down at our resort,and before that I took the phone no of the auto driver and promised to call him while going back.He wished us good luck and said passionately that "You will sure see Tigers during your safari sir".
Looking for its mate!

The resort guys welcomes us and served lunch.It was very delicious.We enjoyed the lunch and there was nothing to do for the remaining of the day,as we have booked our first safari only the next day.The restaurant was adorned with so many photos from Tadoba and all were impressive.There were so many books available and we took to our room.

Looking at us!

We took a nap and in the evening climbed up the watch tower and the scenery was just wonderful.We could see a mud road leading into a thicket and beyond.Tall trees could be seen all along the mud track.A few vehicles could be seen moving on the road.On another side,as we see from the watch tower,was a small pondwith little water.Later while talking with the hotel guys,we were informed that,Tigers do come to the pond to quench their thirst.

The Cross!

Dinner that night,again,was wonderful.As we ate the rotis and curries,we gazed at the magnificent photos adorning the walls of the restaurant.Our safari starts the next day at 5am and the safari car would come to our resort and pic us up.We went to bed early,dreaming about the excitement in store the next day.

We got a wake up call at 445am and hot tea and coffee were served.We quickly got ready and moved towards the safari car.I remembered to carry my camera and tripod.It was quite chilly and breakfast was packed for us and we kept it in the safari car.

By the lake side!

We started our journey towards the Navegaon Zone in right earnest.We were feeling cold and the gate was about 14 kms from our resort.We could see small villages with the citizens trying to relieve themselves by the side of the road.

The Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is situated in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra.The reserve is spread over 625 sq kms.Tadoba is taken from the name of God "Tadoba" or "Taru" and Andhari is the river flowing thru the reserve.Tadoba is a Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest with dense woodlands.There are about 88 Tigers inside the Reserve.

Wallowing Sambar!
Tadoba is divided into different Zones and there is considerable distance from one gate to another.You have to be careful in choosing the gates while booking your safari.

Safaris can be booked online and you need to keep a print out of the receipt and identity cards.The distance from Hyderabad to Chandrapur is about 470 kms.The distance from Chandrapur railway station to Tadoba is 20kms.

WE crossed the gate at Navegaon and our credentials were checked at the gate.We started moving inside the gate and were very excited about spotting the striped wonders.The driver and the naturalist in the safari car were very friendly and were giving a description about the reserve.
Green Bee Eaters

To start with the gate had tarred roads for quite some distance.Our first animal in Tadoba was a male Sambar deer which was taking rest by sitting under a bush.We could see it at close quarters.The road ahead was taking a deviation to the right and after a few seconds hesitation the safari car took the right turn.What was about to unfold was very exciting and it was a once in a life time experience!

The right turn was a upward slope and ended in an open clearance.We could see a few safari cars parked at a distance.We also rushed towards that spot and took position.We could see a pond at a distance and trained our eyes to the bank of the pond.There it was!A magnificent Tiger walking slowly by the side of the pond and moving towards the right!

Magnificent Gaur!
It was a huge animal and the naturalist informed us that it was Rudra,the Tiger who is resident of Navegaon.The Tiger moved slowly towards a small thicket and scent marked it.From time to time it was surveying the area for something.The naturalist said that it was looking for its mate.But we could not see any other Tiger.

After scent marking the bush it moved more closely towards our safari car and was just 100m from it.It made a careless look at the cars and walked on its way.The area was filled with grass and the Tiger looked majestic amongst the grassland.It again started surveying the territory looking for its mate.

Inquisitive look!
The Tiger crossed our car and moved to the left side.It moved along and was about to disappear in a slope dipping downwards.The safari cars immediately took action and started retracting the path in which they came.We came back to the tarred road and waited for the Tiger to appear from above.

As expected the Tiger arrived and crossed the road.It smelt the bamboo bushed and scent marked it.The Tiger made a casual look at us and disappeared into the thicket.We parked there for some time hoping the animal to appear again.But the Tiger had vanished into the jungle!

We continued our safari and for the next one hour did not encounter any animals.Then we reached a lake and plentiful action was happening around it.We could see a troop of Hanuman Langurs frolicking around,a herd of spotted deer and a group of wild boar.The deers were intently looking in one direction and the naturalist opined that there may be wild dogs at a distance.But we could not see any.

Contemplating a disappearance!

Before reaching the lake we saw a lonely male Sambar deer wallowing itself in a pool of dirt.It was enjoying itself to the fullest and our presence nearby did not deter it from whatever it was indulging in.We saw a crocodile swimming past close to a large lake.There was a board warning people not to venture into the lake for swimming as they may not come back alive!

Our morning safari was coming to a close for the day and we were satisfied in seeing the Tiger and a few other animals.We were dropped of at our resort and we bid thank you to the driver and the naturalist.

We did did not book any safari that evening and spend our time roaming around the resort.The thatched rooms were very comfortable and there was plenty of space inside.THE watch towe was just behind our room and we ventured to climb it again and spend some time looking at the birds.

The next day our booking was from Zhari (Kolsa) gate and we have reserved for both morning and evening safaris.We came to know that the Zhari gate is little far off (50 kms) and we have t start early if we had to reach the gate before the safari start time of 6am.We hired a car from the resort and started at 445am.We reached Zhari gate just before 6am.

Casual Walk!

We sat on the safari car and started our trip with excitement.Unlike the Navegaon Zone this Zone lacked grasslands.There were plenty of trees all around and a few waterholes.RIght at the beginning of safari we encountered a mammoth male Gaur.It was so huge and was having a threatening demeanor about it.It casually walked by the side of our safari car and disappeared into the jungle.

We visited a waterhole and there was a watch tower there.But we did not get down from the car.We waited patiently for a few minutes there listening for any sort of noise.It was more or less silent except for the chirping of a few birds.After sometime we moved from that waterhole.

We continued our safari and encountered a herd of Gaurs with little calves.They were curiously looking at us and then continued to graze.After that we moved towards another waterhole and on the way we saw pug marks of a Tiger.The naturalist said its fresh,probably 2-3 hours old.We surveyed the jungle with excitement for movement of any stripped animal but did not see any.

Tigers are fascinating animals!

Our morning safari ended without seeing a Tiger.There were a few hours to go before the start fo the evening safari and we decided to spend time in a nearby resort.We had lunch there and waiting for the evening safari.

The evening safari also traversed the same places which we did in the morning.We saw a few Gaurs and wild boars.The Tiger was conspicuous by its absence!

Rnning for cover......Gaurs!

We got back to our resort after the evening safari the there was one more to go the next morning.The Agarzari Gate was close to our resort and we started at 530am.We reached the gate just before 6am and started another safari.

We spoke to another safari car and they said there is a Tigress nearby.We stationed ourselves near a river and waited for the Tigress to emerge.This particular Tigress is nursing its young cubs and we were excited in the prospect of seeing them.But nothing happened despite waiting by the river for few minutes.
Quenching their thirst!

We moved from that spot and passed a by road.The safari cars in from gesticulated to us to look to the side road.There it was!......A magnificent Tigress strolling her way towards the junction of the tri-road.

We moved with the Tigress little behind us following.It was a fantastic sight to watch the Tigress make her walk carelessly and without giving any heed to the numerous safari cars parked at a distance.It walked for almost 200 meters behind us.It gave me plenty of opportunity to photograph it.

The Tigress then scent marked a bush and disappeared into thejungle.Our car tried to station on the other side of the jungle and waited for the Tigress to emerge.But it did not!

Curious Gaur calf!
After sometime we moved on looking for other Tigers.But none came in front.We saw a few Sambar deers and traversed thru some tall trees and thick jungle.THe driver stopped the car and pointed towards a thicket and said "there is a Chousingha".

Chousinghas are 4 horned antelopes and are very rare to sight.But here,a Chousingha was standing feafully looking at us without moving.Then it came to the road and crossed it with two thuds and disappeared.It was our first experience in spotting a Chousingha.

After that we came to the gate and reached our resort.The time has come to say good bye to Tadoba and get back home.I called the friendly auto driver to come to the resort and drop us at the railway station.On the way to the railway station the driver was as talkative as he was before.He was glad that we could see a few Tigers!

WE reached Hyderabad and stayed there for the night.The next day we boarded our return flight back home.We have good memories about Tadoba,the place,the people and the animals.We promised ourselves that we will definitely come back to Tadoba!