Jungle Book…

Jungles have a special place in my heart since childhood. Being brought up in central Indian region, surrounded by jungles, I have had my share of safaris since childhood. I really liked the jungle atmosphere but not the idea of disturbing animals in their natural habitat with roaring Gypsy vehicles and camera clicks. Any safari I went for, I always came back with an amazing jungle experience but had no luck siting big cats. I had given up all the hopes to see the big guy and decided not to go for safaris ever!

On my recent visit to my hometown, my father and one of his photographer friend invited me to come along on a safari to a lesser known tiger reserve – Tipeshwar. There were reports of frequent siting in this area and so the chances of seeing one were high. I was not hopeful at all about seeing a tiger but was definitely excited about this random plan and an opportunity to get out in the nature.

When the safari started, seeing a tiger was not at all on my mind. It was the remotest possibility considering my luck whatsoever. Then a miracle happened! Within 30 min, I saw him .. lying there near a water hole, not bothered by 2-3 cars and 10 people within his territory. He was sleeping on his back with one leg hanging in the air… looking like a big cuddly fur toy – so peaceful!

We waited for 45 min for him to get up…and again a miracle! Another healthy looking cub (2.5 years old – 6.5 ft) came out of nowhere and sat near this sleeping beauty. He tried to wake the other one up. No luck! The second tiger then saw these cars and wanted to entertain us a bit. He started coming towards us like a handsome model and sat right in front of one of the vehicles. (5-6 ft distance). All good and exciting – oh my God – I am looking at the jungle king from such a close proximity….nothing scary – he was looking happy and calm. All cameras clicking and this fellow was enjoying the paparazzies around him. (At least, he did not look bothered by them). For him it seemed to be a normal day – as if its a drill – that a bunch of folks come to see me and click my pictures. So he posed for the pictures and when he thought he had given enough, he went back to the waterhole. He poked the sleeping tiger again. The sleepyhead yawned and got up for a brief moment, looked at us and everyone captured the two tigers in their cameras. The drama continued for almost another 30 min. The model tiger again started walking towards us and came right behind me – 5-6 feet. Still the mood was looking pretty okay. The sleeping tiger also started to walk towards us by then. Both the tigers played with each other for some time and then started walking on the road – in the same direction as of our way back. The vehicle drivers waited for 5 min and started taking our cars out to leave the zone. However, the tigers were still on the road blocking our path.

Ideally, at this point, we should have collectively asked the driver to take the longer route and go back when we had a chance. But as the route was one hour long and the driver and the guide thought that the tigers will leave, we waited for 10 more min. I think the model tiger either got into a playful or irritated mode by then. He started growling and snarling. We started to feel like its started to show us who is the boss. The atmosphere started to feel very tensed in just few minutes. Excitement was turning into a bit of fear. I was continuously watching the tigers’ movement with a thought that what if he jumps at me or someone in my vehicle – what can I do. (probably nothing :)) All we could do is to wait at that point in time. The tiger came as close as 2 ft every now and then. We stopped using our cameras or moving but there were others who were still not satisfied. We insisted our driver to reverse the vehicles and go from the longer route. Considering the gravity of the situation, they agreed quickly. Our driver slowly started to reverse the vehicle. After few min, we were at a ‘safe’ distance from the tigers. I turned my head and bid a goodbye to the tiger with a big smile on my face…

You can watch the video of our experience here…

4 thoughts on “Jungle Book…

  1. Very well narrated!!!!!
    It was. Really a life time experience to witness and spend 3 hours from a distance of 5 -20 feet with almost all activity of 2 full-grown The king of Jungle.

    Liked by 1 person

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