There are days on a safari which are exasperating and then there are some days which are extremely exhilarating, but we never knew you could feel both those emotions in one safari. The whole idea of a safari is the chase of finding different animals. When the animal in question is a tiger, looking for it makes the search even more exciting. So many years of being on safari have taught us that when you’re looking for the tiger it has a funny way of eluding you and the most unexpected way of revealing itself. The following is a true incident which happened to us 3 years ago and is etched in our memory forever.
It was the April of 2011 when we had left for the morning safari in Kanha National Park. So here we were on our merry way into the jungle when we heard alarm calls. (Alarm calls of animals like the langur monkeys, chitals (spotted deer) and sambhar are a dead giveaway of a predator in the area.) Patience is the name of the game and it seemed to be our unlucky day as the animal had moved away from us deeper into the jungle causing the alarm calls to stop. Some of the other cars had seen the tigress we were searching for named the “Mahaveer Female” (she is named after the one the roads that runs through her territory). We had seen her the previous year when she was only a cub so the thrill of seeing her again was high as she now was a mother to two cubs and an independent tigress. We spent hours searching her territory, looking for her, following her fresh pug marks but to no avail.
After spending 3 hours in the car and with the April heat kicking in, we gave up hope of seeing her that day and decided to have breakfast at one of the allocated spaces in the jungle, however, our guide Naren (the tiger man our beloved name for him…lol) who was more disappointed than all of us and turned around to explain something to us…(we expected a motivation speech from him ..lol) ,but instead he screamed “tiger” “tiger” “tiger”. In all honesty, we thought he was playing a cruel joke on us or taunting us but when we turned around, we stood frozen in sheer amazement.
There she was, as if appearing out of nowhere, without any alarm calls or warnings to proclaim her arrival, walking on the road towards our car in all her feline glory .She was probably 20 metres away when we spotted her and had to start reversing the car in order to keep a safe distance, She walked towards our car for a good 30-40 minutes, coming closer each time forcing us to reverse almost 2-3 kilometres while she scent marked the trees.
She was just there as if “cat walking” only for us which made our day. To see a tiger in the wild is an indescribable and an amazing experience. In the last few years we have seen plenty of tigers and the jungle has been kind to us, but yet, every time we see one in the wild, we get goose bumps looking at its magnificent beauty and sheer power.