This account continues from the previous entry.
What our guide had spotted, when viewed with the binoculars, did turn out to be a tiger. And of all pleasant surprises, this tiger seemed to be headed in our direction. So far other gypsies had been unaware of its presence, but out activity alerted them, and before we knew, there were 15 safaris tracking this tigers every move.
Walking at a leisurely, unconcerned, regal gait, the tiger came up to the road, and crossed over to the other side of the meadows. That 15 safaris were lined up for its welcome, with at least 50-60 cameras furiously clicking away, was absolutely lost to the king. He walked leisurely near the road, stopping at a tree for marking, not even bothering the few deers who lay low.
After a while, the tiger decided to cross back where it came from. But before it crossed the road, it decided to walk a bit on the road. It was an amazing site, a tiger walking beautifully on a road, followed by 15 safaris driving at their slowest speed.
Finally, it crossed over, and people reluctantly started towards the gate. The gates close at 6:45 in the evening, and if you don’t reach in time, your guide gets penalized. But the whole walk lasted for about 20 minutes and was remarkable.
The next day, encouraged by our previous day’s experience, we promptly got up. After enjoying another sunrise, we headed towards the Kanha meadows. It is around this area that the jewel of Kanha resides – the Indian antelope or the Barasingha. Kanha is the only place where barasinghas can be found, and they are being now protected due to their dwindling population.
This morning, we came to know that a tiger had been spotted around Kisli, which meant we could enjoy a ‘tiger show’. We quickly went to the gate and got into a queue for tiger viewing. We were 16th in the queue, and it was more than half an hour of idle wait. Then, the forest guards told our driver the location of the show, and on reaching there, we sat on elephants and went just next to a resting tiger. I can’t even begin to explain how the experience was – the tiger was majestic, and was posing beautifully for the photographs. I was only sorry that I couldn’t get rid of the tall twigs and grass.
The elephants seem disinterested in the tiger, and the tiger reciprocates the indifference.
We were told that another tiger had been spotted at a watering hole. After the tiger show was over, we rushed to this place, which was atleast 25 min away by drive. However, despite waiting for more than half an hour, we could not site this elusive guy – he was near the water, but in a hidden spot.
Anyways, after seeing a few more antelopes, we returned. The evening safari was spent in pretty much the same way, until we hit a place where apparently a leopard had been seen. Excited, we got there – and there it was a leopard drinking water! It is such a small creature compared to the tiger, and much faster. Unlike the tiger, this one noticed the row of safaris and took immediate flight. The light was not good enough for a good photo, but here is what we could get.
In our last safari next morning, we went to a completely different area. This was a part we hadn’t seen so far. This was hilly terrain, mostly bamboo trees, and completely arid. In later parts, we also came across a large landscape which had recently been under forest fire. Though we didn’t see any of the ferocious cats, we nevertheless quite enjoyed this safari for the pretty forest and relative quiet (we didn’t see even a single safari throughout).
After this safari, it was time to go back. We had a quick shower and set out to Nagpur.
It was an unforgettable experience. Though Himalyas still remain my beloved destination, I will definitely return to the jungle in at least one trip this year.