Tiger! Tiger!

19 Jun 2011
Posted by Kiran

As we drove through the Bandipur Forest in the safari jeep, the mood was getting increasingly desperate. We hadn't sighted a thing! On the safari the previous day, a lady in the seat behind me had been yapping off as though there was going to be no tomorrow and whatever chances we had had of sighting any wildlife, diminished with her high-pitch, high-volume voice regularly piercing through the forest. We pinned our exasperation on her and requested a more private safari for our next day.

Today we were on our own and yet, things had gone from bad to worse. Even with the lady's continuous commentary, we had managed to see a family of elephants yesterday. Today we hadn't even seen a langur! It was like the light rain had driven every animal into some secret hiding spot deep within the jungle.

At each fork on our trail through the forest, with each turn we took, I found myself wondering "Are we taking the wrong turn? What if there is an animal just beyond the line-of-sight on the path we aren't taking?" Turn after turn we saw only wet trees and muddy puddles.

After having fruitlessly driven through the forest for more than an hour and a half we had all but given up hope of seeing any wildlife. It was then that our luck changed.

We saw another jeep ahead of ours with some excited faces on board. As we raced to join them, we soon learnt that they had spotted a Tiger! The sullen faces of the entire group on our jeep suddenly changed into wide-eyed anticipation! Would we really spot a tiger today?

Tiger having a drink
Tiger having a drink

Pin drop silence for about 15 minutes and then — "Tiger! Tiger!" our guide whispered excitedly! There they were — an adult tigress with her two cubs. Oh what a sight it was as the feline family crossed the road right in front of us and disappeared into the bushes on the other side. Though I did click some shots here, I was crestfallen when I realized that I had made an error — the shots were out of focus!

Our forest guides then raced us to another spot ahead of where we had just spotted our stripped friends, hoping to catch another sight of them. Now many more safari jeeps had joined us and there was quite a commotion on, which made us skeptical of our chances of sighting the tiger family again. To add to our woes, the driver of one of the safari jeeps raced on to the road just when the tigers peeped out of the bushes, scaring them away.

While some of the tourists gave up and sped away, we held on. Another wait ensued. Our patience was rewarded once more as the big cats came into the clearing crossing right in front of us.

It's here that I managed to get some shots of these majestic animals.

Majestic felines
Majestic Felines!
Tiger crossing
Tigers crossing!

Having sighted a tiger, all of us were so enthused, we returned from the 2½ hour safari jubilant. All that fatigue and desperation of not encountering even one animal in those initial 2 hours evaporated, replaced by pure joy and elation. The mood had changed from one of desperation to one of triumphant achievement. These three tigers had made our day! Once back at our resort, we were treated as though we were some celebrities — here were the folks who had been lucky enough to sight a tiger in the Bandipur rains.