How often do we get to see a Tiger/Tigress walk up to you on a tar road at Kabini? Surely first time for me, I have always had this amazing experience at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, while driving through Moharli. If you wish to read the entire narration to get a real time feel of this dramatic sighting, then continue reading…
I along with few friends visited Kabini during the weekend, despite having heard that the sightings are at low. We started the evening drive with overcast weather, thanks to the cyclone effect at Chennai that did bring down heavy showers across various parts of South India that included Kabini too. The two hour drive as expected was completely a dry one, with no movements of animals or alarm calls by the prey. Finally it was time to call it a day, but I requested our driver Chotta and Naturalist Revu Kabini (Revanna) to try the 5 km check board road. This road is currently closed for public transport for past over 5 years, that was originally the state highway leading to Kerala. However the forest dept claim this 5km road as high animal crossing zone and since then it has been closed.
Fortunately the safari vehicles have permission to drive on this road, it was an amazing sight, I remembered my good old memories having driven on this road several times and encountered elephants in the middle of the road, but now it seemed like an abandoned track. No movements of any vehicles whatsoever, all I noticed is heaps of elephant dung and could hear melodious chirping of birds.
Time was running out so we couldn’t drive the entire 5km and we decided to turn back after a while as we moved on, at a distance we spotted a Tiger. Believe me this cat was miles away, I had some first timers (guests) in the vehicle and they all were over excited and began talking aloud. Such is an impact this animal can make, no wonder “Tigers are the most beautiful creations made by God on Earth”. I was busy seeing through my 500mm lens and discovered it was a tigress and she looked quite nervous with sudden human presence and loud noise. I requested the guest to remain calm and also advised our driver Chotta to stop the jeep and put off the engine. A direct approach towards any animals or birds will make them feel even more nervous and they tend to disappear in a flash.
Our plan worked the tigress decided to walk towards us on the middle of tar road; she was miles away so after taking a few still images I decided to film using my camera. Later as she started approaching even closer, not as close as one may expect, probably over 200 mts + away. I switched over video to still image mode. It was amazing to see this beautiful tigress walk head –on, and suddenly there was another drama to this sighting.
A small group of spotted deers were spotted by this tigress on her right and she started stalking and moved off the road, I managed to take some lovely pictures of the stalking behavior. And gradually she disappeared into the bushes and few deers were seen giving loud alarm calls and others were seen running helter-skelter out in the open on the main road.
Finally it was time for us to leave but we thought we will reverse the vehicle to check if the tigress can be tracked, we did see her again but she moved away into the dense area and unfortunately for her it was an unsuccessful hunt.
Camera – Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon f4 500mm lens
EXIF – ISO 1600 Av 4 Tv 1/250 EC -0.3, Time shot 6:10pm, small crop
13th September 2013