20th March 2017
WF traveller Sarah Morrow has just been on our India: Jungle Book Tour, where she had a thrilling close encounter with a tiger...
Having left the bustle of Mumbai behind, we arrived at the Tadoba Reserve, a beautiful forest of mainly teak, with an undergrowth of bamboo. Our first two drives into the Reserve saw encounters with the chital (spotted deer), sambar and gaur (a wild cattle along the lines of an Indian bison) and a multitude of different birds; we could soon distinguish between our drongos and rollers, coucals and koels – but no sign of the elusive tiger! We spent a little time observing a sambar and her fawn fishing for pond weed, each with attendant egret.
The next drive gave us a rare sight of a female sloth bear, with an adolescent cub trudging reluctantly behind. Still no tiger though. Only two more drives in Tadoba left. However, the next morning we were fortunate to observe not one, not two, but three tigers – the male, female and almost mature cub. I admit they were a little distant, but close enough to capture a reasonable image on a compact zoom. We were thrilled!
But on our final drive our luck peaked: our guide spotted a tiger resting under a tree by the lake, although not in good sight. A couple of other 4WDs gave up and drove off, but our guide spied a small herd of gaur, complete with calves, approaching the lake – this could be interesting! The gaur started to drink, when two large and imposing adults got wind of our tiger and gave a very determined charge, driving him straight in our direction. Safely clear, he then adopted a rather nonchalant attitude and plonked himself down at the water’s edge to cool off – just 30 metres away. We had about 10 minutes to quietly observe our dream encounter before he strolled off, back into the forest and disappeared. What a result!