Bandhavgarh, December 2015

Tala Zone Bandhavgarh Gypsy

Bandhavgarh National Park is one forest that wildlife enthusiasts often look forward to when it comes to seeing and photographing Tigers in the wild. Spreading over an area of 450 sq. kilometers, this pristine deciduous forest is home to a good number of Bengal Tigers and its population density is one of the highest known in India. Apart from Tigers the forest also houses a variety of other mammalian species such as Sambar, Nilgai, Barking Deer, Indian Leopard, Jackals, Dholes, Striped Hyenas, Gaurs and also a variety of bird and reptile species.

This was my first trip to Bandhavgarh and it undoubtedly was an amazing one!
The 4 days trip was organised by Nature’s Trail, a kolkata based wildlife photography tour company, and our stay was at Nature Heritage Resort, a beautiful and serene resort with a perfect blend of the jungle right inside the property itself. The hospitality and service of the staff was excellent, and the food was absolutely brilliant!

We went for a total of 5 safaris and were able to see and photograph quite a good number of wildlife.

This pair of sniffing Jackals were the first to welcome us into the forest!

 

A Lesser Adjutant preening its feathers
A Lesser Adjutant Stork preening its feathers

 

Peahens at a waterhole
Peahens at a waterhole

 

Spotted this group of Griffon Vultures hovering over a field while returning from the first morning safari.
Spotted this group of Griffon Vultures hovering over a field while returning from the first morning safari.

Interestingly this was the first time that I saw Vultures. These birds were once quite common in India, even in urban locations. But due to the widespread use of Diclofenac in veterinary medicine, there has been a major collapse in their population in recent years.
Among this group of Griffon vultures, we also saw a few Red-Headed Vultures.

The Red-headed Vulture also known as the Asian King Vulture is a species of Old World vulture found in the Indian Subcontinent. This species of vulture is listed as a "Critically Endangered" species in the IUCN Red List.
The Red-headed Vulture also known as the Asian King Vulture is a species of Old World vulture found in the Indian Subcontinent. These beautiful birds are listed as a “Critically Endangered” species in the IUCN Red List.

 

Ruddy mongoose (Herpestes smithii)
Ruddy mongoose (Herpestes smithii)

 

A Sambar drinking water
A Sambar drinking water

 

Crested Hawk Eagle
Crested Hawk Eagle

 

It was back in 2008 when I went to Corbett National Park with my family and that was my first ever visit to a Tiger reserve. We got to see a number of species but unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to see a Tiger. Since then I visited about 3 Tiger reserves but still no luck for a Tiger, the recent one was Sunderbans where we missed a sighting just by a couple of minutes.
Our first morning safari at Bandhavgarh (in Khitauli zone) gave us only a few common species but, I still had a hope that we might get to see a Tiger in one of the remaining four safaris.
Next up was an evening safari at Tala zone. Initially we were quite optimistic about this zone as it is often known as the best zone for tiger sightings in Bandhavgarh. The duration of the evening safaris are just 2 hours and we had spent more than an hour without a trace of a tiger. I now started to feel that bad luck had crept in already. The safari was almost over for that day and we were heading towards the gate. There was a short bend ahead on the road and just as we took the turn we noticed 4-5 jeeps ahead, from which one of the guides signaled our driver to stop and our guide quickly whispered “bhaiyya tiger hain!” (there’s a tiger ahead). Trust me, those three words were one of the best things that I’ve ever heard 😀

My long time wish to photograph a tiger in the wild was finally true! We were blessed with the sighting of a phenomenally beautiful Tigress called “Spotty” or “Spot-T”. She is one of the first litter of the Tigress called “Sukhi Patiha” and also the sister of another young Tigress called “Dotty Krishna”.

As soon as we saw her in the bushes, I quickly took a couple of burst shots thinking that the sighting would just be for a few seconds and she would disappear into the thickets.

There she was, looking straight at us from the bushes!
There she was, looking straight at us from the bushes!

But, to my utter surprise, she came out of the bushes and started walking right through the middle of the road! Our driver kept on moving back and she continued walking straight towards us, giving us a perfect opportunity for head-on shots.

I was absolutely stunned to see how fearless she was. There were so many cars behind her but she walked ahead calmly, without caring at all!
I was absolutely stunned to see how fearless she was. There were so many cars behind her but she walked ahead calmly, without caring at all!

 

What a gorgeous young lady she is!
What a gorgeous young lady she is!

The entire sighting lasted for around 10 minutes with an extra few seconds of eye contact at the end! Absolute love at first sight, this undoubtedly will be one of my most memorable moments in life.

An eye to eye with the queen!
An eye to eye with the queen!

 

This was the only Tiger sighting that we had throughout the trip. Our last safari was at Magdhi zone where we missed a sighting of a young male tiger by just a few minutes.

Tourists watching a herd of wild boars. This was shot at Magdhi zone and that road ahead had drag marks of a chital (Spotted deer) kill, probably made by a young tigress. The wild boars seen here were cautiously inspecting the ground!
Tourists watching a group of wild boars.
This was shot at Magdhi zone and that road ahead, had drag marks of a chital (Spotted deer) kill made by a young tigress. The wild boars seen here were cautiously inspecting the ground!

 

Tamed elephants that are used for patrolling by the forest guards.
Tamed elephants that are used for patrolling by the forest guards.

 

A golden jackal
A golden jackal

 

Crested Serpent Eagle
Crested Serpent Eagle

 

An alert Sambar
An alert Sambar

 

Chital (Spotted Deer)
Chital (Spotted Deer)

 

White Eyed Buzzard
White Eyed Buzzard

 

All in all it was a very successful trip, came back with lots of images and my first Tiger sighting made it extremely special!

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Bandhavgarh, December 2015

  1. Hello, Bandhavgarh has never let me down.My first time was in 2010 and second time in 2013 of November. In both trips saw 6 plus tigers in each trip. B2,Mirchani and cubs, late Jhurjura, Rajbehra…Its my favorite place. In April of 2016 I will be going to Corbett and Ranthambore. My goal is to visit all corners of India to see the majestic of all(Tiger) . Lovely write up and happy you saw a tiger:-))
    Take care …Christina

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow….you’ve seen almost all the legendary inhabitants of Bandhavgarh. All the best to you for your upcoming tours 🙂 Even I am looking forward to more tiger tours in the coming years. Lets see what’s in store for me.

      Like

  2. The Sambar in your pic may not be drinking water. It is foraging for underwater vegetation which is succulent. Or else it would not have submerged its entire head under water. But good article.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s