View Full Version : CORBETT: In search of elusive Tiger : Feb 1973

Saktipada Panigrahi
11-10-2015, 12:30 PM
Canonet 1.9, 45mm, Agfa 200 ASA
We went to famous Corbett N.P in Feb,1973. We met Chief Conservator of Forests in his Lucknow HQ. He immediately approved 3 nights reservation in Dhikala F.R.H. He said you have to board the train that day itself otherwise 3 days( Rs.30 per day) booking was not possible, all other days were booked by foreign tourists. He also talked to Shri Negi, Deputy/Asst. Conservator based in Ramnagar to take care of us.

In those days live baits were tied up in the afternoon every alternate day near to a dense grassland (tiger habitat) which could be combed next morning if the Tiger has made the kill in the night. We got only one chance but the powerful tiger was successful in tearing the rope and dragging the buffalo to some hide and after combing thrice no trace could be found. 'He has gone up the hills', experts said.

In the afternoon we used to hire a trained elephant and roamed at our will. One afternoon the Mahut had shown us a tree at a distance and said there was a King Cobra nest there and whether we wished to go closer, to which we replied in the negative. We saw fresh kill ( Chital) but could not see the Tiger. Mammals were seen but their numbers were much less compared to sightings in May 1988. Only exception was Hog Deer, which was commonly seen in Feb 1973. I think, their best habitat was inundated under water of Kalagarh lake.


Mrudul Godbole
13-10-2015, 01:49 PM
Its great to know about your safari in Corbett nearly 40 years ago and also see a photograph from that era. Was this before 'Project Tiger' was started by the then Prime Minister Mrs.Indira.Gandhi? This photograph was taken from a hill? Thanks for sharing this rare photograph and write up.

Sabyasachi Patra
13-10-2015, 04:24 PM
Amazing sight. The joy of watching such an old image is indescribable and we yearn for more. The Project Tiger was officially launched on 1st April, 1973. So this image was just two months prior to the official announcement of Project Tiger. Many of our members were not even born in those days. I hope you can share some more images. I would love to also see an image of a bait tied, as that is how people used to watch a tiger those days.

How big were the machans? I guess all of you would be directly climbing on to the Machan.

I am wondering what was the value of Rs. 30 in today's standards. I would love to see some more images. Am compelled to use the once popular Pepsi slogan "Dil Maange More". :)

Thanks for sharing.

Roopak Gangadharan
15-10-2015, 09:26 AM
Great to see this sir and it is indeed a privilege to all of us here that you have decided to share some moments from times when as patra sab says many of us were not even born. when perhaps even most of the conservation initiatives today were not born. when most of the terminology and equipment we use today to research or record were not around. when the way and mediums in which we share experiences today were not born.. How I wish some day, some of us can sit around a fire on a clear night and hear from you in person of places, people, sounds and sights of the jungles in those days.... It would indeed be a great privilege, maybe some day. Many thanks for sharing Shakti da


Debasis Bose
19-10-2015, 08:09 PM
Fabulous image Saktida, fossilized moment in Corbett, carbon dating (Saktida) confirms 42 years ago.

The image presents the truth of February 1973: frozen eternally, existing as a reminder that you can never, ever go back to any one moment again. Corbett Tiger Reserve was different that time, things have changed. Today in Corbett, it is a different story, thinking of a bait would be a crime and to meet Chief Conservator would be more difficult task then meeting our PM. This image is an living example showcasing that nothing remains same forever, the landscape, the thinking of people, even what used to be good work few decades back is now termed as crime.

Thank you Saktida for taking us back into time. By the way, is this image shot from a watchtower, it seems it is now known as watch tower no.2. I am attaching a image shot in April 2014 from tower no. 2

Saktipada Panigrahi
08-11-2015, 12:24 PM
1.The photograph was taken from back of one of the trained elephants earmarked for our use.
2.In the 'Tiger Show', all the visitors (say, 30-35 mostly foreigners in Feb, 1973 ) had to stay on elephants' back; while some other elephants were assigned for ' Kheda' like operations through elephant grass for a few times during the morning after forest officials decide on the most likely cover where the Tiger may be lying with the kill, or resting.
3.There were very few ' tree top machans' not far off from Dhikala where we also sat during some afternoons, while wandering through jungle on elephant's back.
4.Animals were very shy and will simply dash into the deep jungle on sight of trained elephant with human beings on back.
5.There was one huge tusker which came out just like Shivalik hill and our mahut (though an armed guard was provided to us) fast retreated as that tuskerwas known for attacking forest department elephants.
6.The mahut had shown us one tree at a distance where he knew about a 'King Cobra nest, but we did not venture.
7.We saw one fresh 'Chital Kill' but not any tiger.
8.While coming from Ramnagar, the vehicle took Rs.70 and while returning the forest department could not arrange any transport for almost the whole of the day and ultimately arranged an imported vehicle (brought by a foreigner) which was going to Ramnagar for filling at Rs.10. We enjoyed one full day free of cost at Corbett!
9.Things were altogether different when we visited next in May 1988.
Kind regards,

Subhash Shrivastava
29-01-2016, 09:12 PM
Thanks for sharing such a beautiful image and giving us the glimpses of a long bygone era, may be centuries ago. I have come back to this image many times while in office, looked at it for a moment, felt nice and again went back to the mundanes.
Thanks again, Sakti da.