Camera, Sound, Light, Action…Part 2 (Concluding part) Tiger Safari in Kanha National Park

After following the Umarpani Male Tiger for almost 30 minutes, we took a break for 10 minutes by driving in a relaxed mode just enjoying the wonderful sighting we had. The smile on my face would have perhaps foxed any spiritual seeker whether I was in a samadhi of sorts. We reached Babathenga waterhole and just stood there with every muscle relaxed, clearly unaware of what was to happen to us shortly. Naren said, Sir let’s move slowly towards the gate, I only confirmed my willingness to him. The moment he pressed the self in the car, there was a SambarDeer alarmcall, our breaths stood suspended. The deer called again, we exchanged looks and looked into the direction from where the call came. Within moments a group of spotted deers and a couple of Sambar deers bolted as if a 10000v current was given in their spines. And then we see the face of a Tiger emerging from the bushes. The guide said, it’s a female, only when he was completely out of the bush that Naren remarked, Sir, this is Bheema, another male Tiger of this zone. I took to my equipment like a soldier to his artillery, ready to fire. Naren waited for a few moments to gauge the direction in which Bheema would move. On getting confirmation that he was moving towards the track, we placed ourselves at a distance ahead of him on the track.

He seemed to be in search of prey and wanted to mark his territory again as all his markings must have got washed in the rain the night before. His authoritative walk was brisk, and his eyes were searching for an unsuspecting prey. This Tiger meant business, and his swift walk only made the job of Naren tougher, cause my focus was to take some good pictures, and his focus was to keep a distance from the Tiger, to keep looking back to see the direction of his walk, yet stop the engine at times to give me a shake free shot, and then restart the vehicle. Having been in similar situations earlier I know most of the drivers allow the excitement to get the better of them, and mess up the whole experience. But Naren was like a Rock of Gibralter, in control, and steady. It was now that I realized how good this young Tiger lover was, internally I kept thanking him while taking the pictures. It seemed that the Tiger also understood that Naren was on the wheels hence he was carefree in his approach, and importantly the two other cars in the vicinity also gave full respect to Naren and the Tiger simultaneously. Not once I had to say start, stop, wait, etc which is usual with all naturalists. Bheema walked behind us, and soon Naren told me, Sir, we will have to now let him go, as it is time to move out of the park. Much against my heart, my mind agreed to him, and only once we moved away, and looked at the watch we realized that it was 25 minutes that Bheema walked behind us. We left the place allowing the experience to soak. And only when Naren confirmed that this was his first time in Kanha in last 10 years that he had two male Tiger head on and following his car for this long in one safari, that I realized the rarity of the occasion. Was it a benediction? or just a stroke of luck, I leave this to you to decide but for me this was a lifetime of experience, surely among my top five wildlife safari experiences so far not only in Kanha National Park, but in the Wilds of India.

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