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Found 16 results

  1. Trip Report Ranthambhore April 2017 Ranthambhore is the first tiger reserve or for that matter first protected area that I have ever visited in my life. It was way back in December 2007. My wife and I had finished 1 year of our private practice (we both are doctors). We decided to celebrate the occasion by going on a 10 day trip to Rajasthan. We had never been to any forest/ nature reserve before. We had never had been exposed to wildlife as kids and always had very little time to spend on anything other than studies as we finished our respective professional education.As an afterthought we decided to visit Ranthambhore just to see what it was all about. Since we could not get a safari booking at the end of our itinerary, we decided to start the trip with Ranthambhore. It was December, freezing cold, we were all layered up. It was our first experience to sit in an open vehicle with the wind blowing in our faces as we made our way from our hotel to the entrance of the park. That in itself was a altogether thrilling experience! After entering the park we got onto route 5. Being part of an enthusiastic group we were the first vehicle in the park. It was foggy and visibility was down a 10 metres or so. And lo behold, a tigress was walking down the road, through the mist, straight towards our vehicle. It was a nothing short of spectacular! She walked on, not a care in the world, making absolutely no sound while the driver reversed our car. This went on for good 10 minutes….I managed to take a couple of blurry foggy pictures with my little point and shoot camera. I still have those pictures which barely show some orange on a white background but the memory is as fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday. Our driver could reverse no more due to a line of vehicles that had formed behind us. The tigress was least bothered and she walked beside our vehicle close enough for my wife to reach out and touch her (which of course she didn’t!) To say the least we were hooked! The safari bug had bitten on our very first day in a national park and the fever has not gone away still and probably never will. Our rest of the trip visiting palaces and museums paled on the background of our Ranthambhore experience. After coming back we immediately started planning our next trip. After this trip I made a very short trip to R’mbore in 2013 with a friend of mine. We were not very lucky with tiger sightings on that trip (just one good sighting) as it was winter and the trip was planned at the last minute resulting in not getting zones of choice. So when I got an email from my friend Aditya Singh (incidently we stayed at his hotel Ranthambhore Bagh in 2007 just by pure chance), saying he is arranging a 4 full day safari trip for a few friends, I jumped in. My wife decided not to come especially with our son being just 3 years who wouldn’t enjoy 40C April heat of Ranthambhore. (He has already seen a leopard and a sloth bear at the age of 1 and a big male tiger at the ripe old age of 2!). The trip started on 15th April 2017. I got onto the August Kranti Express leaving Mumbai at 1730 hours and reached Sawai Madhopur next day at 0630. I had booked AC First Class. I was amazed by the cleanliness, courteous service and palatable food offered by Indian Railways. It was certainly a pleasant surprise after being used to poor service and unpalatable food for years together. It was a 5 day trip. First day was a full day photographic workshop at the hotel hosted by Theo Allofs, a German photographer settled in the US. (He is an outstanding photographer having won Natural History Museums Wildlife Photographer of the Year award several times apart from several other awards and publication. Please do check out his website especially his aerial photographs from Rift Valley). The group was varied. One person was from Manila, One from Mumbai, One from Dubai, 2 from Hyderabad, One Sri Lankan from Melbourne and me from a little town on the west coast of India. Since it was a full day safari, Aditya had booked 2 Gypsies (Suzuki 4X4s) with very experienced drivers but without any guides. (Guides are a must for normal drives). The plan was to concentrate on one particular tigress called T-39 or “Noor” and her 3 4 month old cubs. There was another tigress T-60 with 3 grown up cubs (1 1/2 years old) a little further down the road in the same zone (Zone 2) who would serve as a backup plan. Another tigress called “Arrowhead” (T-19’s daughter) had territory close to the entrance gate of Zones 2 and 3, so we had a chance of sighting her as well. Males of course, we could bump into anywhere. With this plan set, we started nice and early on Day 1. It was 0530 as we left the hotel. Weather was surprisingly pleasant. We made straight for Zone 2, driving towards T-39s territory. There were a lot of tiger pug marks on the road but no sign of the owner. All the favourite waterholes were empty with no sign of any big cat. Since we were in 2 cars, a plan was made. We stuck around T-39’s area while the second car made a dash for T-60’s territory. There was no way of communicating as no radios are allowed and cell phone signal are patchy. But as more and more vehicles made their way to the area, a message could be conveyed by passing vehicle. We waited for 30 minutes more. the other vehicle came back empty handed. We continued our search and finally came across this. Noor and her cubs were lying in an area well away from the road, but we could see them through the thickets. They probably had made a kill there but it was difficult to see. We waited for Noor to make a move. Our driver Himmat Singh predicted that as the weather heated up, they would move towards either a waterhole or a shady area. After some time, the family started moving. Not something that you see everyday! Himmat correctly predicted where they would cross the road and drove ahead. He was right (which became the de facto norm) of course. We were treated to a spectacle not many people get to see. The tigers were moving in the direction of a waterhole. It would have been nice if they had decided to do just that. We drove towards the waterhole and waited. Unfortunately, the family had other plans. They did not show up at the waterhole at all. Himmat Singh and Aditya predicted that they probably had moved towards an area with some natural caves. the area was well away from the roads. Hoping against hope we waited at the waterhole. This gave me time to click some other denizens of the forest. This time some feathered ones ! Rose ringed parakeets feeding on flowers of "Flame of the forest" Peacocks were plenty. National bird of India is certainly among one of the most beautiful birds in the world, especially in breeding season.
  2. So we've been hashing out an itinerary for our 2nd trip to India and I'd appreciate any comments. (Our first trip last year was to Tadoba, Pench, Kanha, and Kaziranga.) We still have lots of time to make adjustments but in my eyes this is looking good. I can't really add any more days, we are pretty much at our limit of time once you add in the travel days from the US! The aim is 1) to return for more tigers; we really only had decent sightings of tiger in one park on our last trip (Tadoba) even though we visited three different tiger parks. So tigers and tiger photography is a priority. For that reason we have five nights in Ranthambhore utilizing their new permit system which allows for full day drives on three full days. 2) birding; we are pretty serious birders and bird photographers and so wanted to hit another, different area of India where we could pick up new species. 3) To see Asiatic Lion and hopefully some of the other species which would be life mammals such as Striped Hyena, Desert Fox, Indian Wolf, and Caracal (which has eluded us in Africa!) Its a lot of long drives, but we want to go to Bera for leopard as well as the magnificent looking landscape. The stop at Shapura is just to break up the long drive, but it looks like a lovely place to stay and may have time for some birding on the grounds. I hadn't realized everything in Gujarat was so far apart! Day 01 Arrive Delhi (Pride Plaza Aerocity) Day 02 Train Delhi to Bharaptur - (Afternoon Birding) (The Birders Inn- 2nights) Day 03 Bharaptur birding Day 04 Early morning birding, then train to Ranthambhore (Afternoon Game Drive) (The Ranthambhore Bagh-5 nights) Day 05 Ranthambhore (Full Day Game Drive) Day 06 Ranthambhore (Full Day Game Drive) Day 07 Ranthambhore (Full Day Game Drive) Day 08 Morning Game Drive, Later drive Ranthambhore to Shahpura (to break up drive to Bera) (200 kms/4 hrs drive); Evening birding around lodge (Shahpura Bagh 1 night) Day 09 Shahpura to Bera (260 kms/5 hrs drive) Afternoon Game Drive (Bera Safari Lodge 2 nights) Day 10 Bera (Morning & Afternoon Game Drives) Day 11 Bera (morning game drive) then drive to Little Rann of Kutch (275 kms/5-6 hrs drive) (Rann Riders 2 nights) Day 12 Little Rann of Kutch (Morning & Afternoon Game Drives) Day 13 Morning Game Drive at Little Rann of Kutch, Later drive to Gir (315 kms/6 hrs drive) (Lion Safari Camp 3 nights) Day 14 Gir (Dual morning & an Afternoon Game Drive) Day 15 Gir (dual morning & an Afternoon Game Drive) Day 16 Gir to Velavadar (220 kms/4-5 hrs drive) Afternoon Game Drive at Velavadar (Blackbuck Lodge 2 nights) Day 17 Velavadar (Morning & Afternoon Game Drives) Day 18 Morning Game Drive, Later drive Velavadar to Ahmedabad (150 kms/3 hrs drive) , Fly Delhi (Indigo 6E 162 at 1750/1935 hrs) & Departure Any thoughts appreciated, re: accommodations or otherwise!
  3. We are planning our Indian safari for February - March 2018, and I just discovered that the Holi holiday is March 2 in that year. Our itinerary would probably have put us in Ranthambhore around that date (we have not set specific dates yet, but the idea is now to start in Gujarat while its a little cooler in mid- to late February, then head to Ranthambhore and Bharaptur in early March.) I would think we wouldn't want to be driving anywhere on that day! but I'm also wondering if it will be crazy around Ranthambhore and if the park will be extra crowded. Should we move our whole trip back into February so as to avoid Holi? (Normally I'd say it might be very interesting to see the festivities...but it seems like it has the potential to be pretty disruptive as well.) Unfortunately February only has 28 days in 2018 so we'd pretty much have to depart India on Feb 28 if we want to avoid it. Thoughts appreciated, especially anyone with first-hand knowledge
  4. 25 pictures from the 40 odd safaris that I went to in Ranthambhore in April 2016. Got another 20 to go in May, starting from tomorrow afternoon.
  5. In one of the many ancient "baoris" or step wells in the Ranthambhore tiger reserve in India, I witnessed an amazing natural history moment on the 25th April 2016. An Indian Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosa) had caught a Bull frog. As the snake tried to swallow the frog down, the frog inflated its body and kept trying to force himself out of the snake's death grip. The struggle between the predator and the prey went on for about 10 minutes and I could see that the frog was bleeding in a few places. After about 10 minutes when it seemed as if all was nearly over for the frog, the frog, surprisingly managed to break free of the snakes jaws to disappear in the mucky water. The frog's escape was so fast that we could not even get one shot of that. The Rat snake is a very aggressive hunter but the Bull frog is no push over.
  6. Spend first part of my "Chasing Monsoons in India" plan in ranthambhore welcoming the rains. Here is a collage of the same :-)
  7. It is the end of season and as I look back at the hectic 9 months, some of those glorious wildlife moments keep flashing in my head. With more than 150 game drives in Ranthambhore, the focus of the season was on Krishna and cubs. My brief fortnight-long stints in Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Corbett and Sunderbans were rewarding as well. Escorting some of the best photographers in business, it was a great knowledge sharing experience on the field. Though in most of the game drives I wasn’t shooting much since I was escorting and mentoring photographers, I did squeeze in time for some personal drives in Ranthambhore and those were the times my camera was in action the most. Presenting a compilation of my top 14 wildlife moments for 2014-2015. Click here for more details:
  8. The days of innocence are finally coming to an end in Ranthambhore. It was a quite morning around the lakes in Ranthambhore. Krishna (T19) and her young battalion of 3 cubs were scattered all over the lake area and there were no signs of the tigers for the first few hours in the morning. Scenarios can however change within seconds and Krishna sprung out of a dry river bed with the 3 cubs and they marched towards the hunting palace in the middle of the lakes. One of the cubs separated from the family suddenly got distracted because of a cheetal fawn and sprung up in action sprinting towards the prey in dense foliage. The cub caught hold of the cheetal fawn but catching hold of the prey is just step 1 of being an experienced tiger in the wild. Bringing the prey down with that lethal blow is the key for a successful hunt. The cub definitely lacked this experience as the canines are not yet effective to suffocate the prey. The painful cries of the young fawn echoed in the forest as the young tiger cub failed to understand how to kill its first catch. The tiger then started ripping the fawn apart from its hinds and started consuming the morning meal alive. Experience does matter to survive in the wild! T19 cub chasing a cheetal fawn The young cub catches hold of the cheetal fawn The cub makes a repeat attempt to kill the cheetal The hunt attempts continue The cheetal is torn apart and is being eaten alive A painful end but the cub finally manages to consume the kill
  9. 9th April 2011. In the morning safari some jeeps saw a pair of tigers walking from Ranthambhore national park towards the Kalapani anicut in the Kundaal valley at the edge of the national park. In the evening we found the mating tigers (T24 male and T39 female – both young adults) in a rocky plateau across the Kalapani anicut. The plateau had a short grass cover and some low trees. The sun was behind the tigers and the back light was very strong. Most of the time the tigers were in the shade and were no good for photography. After about half an hour the tigress suddenly got up and started stalking towards the edge of the plateau. A mother bear with two small cubs riding on her back was walking towards the mating pair of tigers and the tigress had gone to confront them. By the time the bear realized that there were tigers close by, the tigress had got very close to them. That’s when the mother became aware of the tiger’s presence. The bear appeared to be in serious trouble and we expected the bear to bolt away but the bear had other plans. The bear cubs flattened themselves on the mother’s back while the mother charged at the approaching tigress. I don’t think that the tigress expected the bear to charge and tried to get out of what was by now a messy situation for both of them. The bear blocked the tiger’s path and stood up on her hind legs to confront the tigress. By this time the tigress desperately wanted to get out of the confrontation and kept backing off. T 39 in a young tigress who probably did not have the experience to take on a desperate mother. The bear started screaming loudly and got increasingly aggressive. Soon there was a loud slanging match between the two, which the bear won. The tigress beat a hasty retreat while the bear stood her ground. By this time the male tiger who was observing the drama from a little distance decided to get involved. T 24 is about 4 years old and had just come into dominance. We were worried for the bear. We had seriously underestimated the power of an angry mother. T 24, the young male star of southern Ranthambhore, could not even budge the bear. These two had another loud slanging match that went in the bear’s favour. T 24 soon realized the fury of an angry mother and started backing away from a now “one sided” fight and did not stop till he reached a safe distance. All this happened in exactly two minutes and 10 seconds. When the clock started it seemed that the mother bear had got herself into a very dangerous spot. In ten seconds she had taken control and two minutes later she had forced two tigers to back off. The victor walked off leaving behind two sheepish cats. Pardon the large watermarks but these pictures have been downloaded and used by far too many people / agencies without any credit.
  10. I had made a Family tree chart for all the tigers at Ranthambhore that I would like to share with you. The chart also has the Id's, with their given names and the area that these big cats roam at Ranthambhore. I am unable to put the chart here itself so I am posting the link to the chart here. I hope I am not breaking any rules by pasting the link!! Few points to note 1. The chart is made as per the available data from 1998 till March, 2014. (Will update it soon) 2. With T-19, loosing 1 cub from her last litter (not updated in the chart), the tiger population at RTR as of today is as follows Male : 25 Female : 21 cubs : 11 Total Tigers (adults + Sub adults + Cubs) : 57 3. Credits have been given in the chart itself. Regards
  11. T39 We were profoundly lucky. We saw her on our first game drive, and then never again in all subsequent days and drives. Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) 25.98810,76.44380 (25°59'17.2"N 076°26'37.7"E) December 2010 7:46am Nikon D3S + 400/2.8 VR 1/1000s f4 ISO 1600 EV0 400mm Ranthambhore, Rajasthan, India
  12. to read the full article click Some Pictures of Ranthambhore during Monsoon...a visual delight
  13. As the news of T17 giving birth to a litter of 3 cubs gets verified, the legacy of Machli- Grand Old Dame of Ranthambhore Continues. Click the below link to read the full article.

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