Moving on to this week’s post, our last visit to the Bandipur national park has been one of our most memorable ones till date. We could not have asked for more – one evening safari we came face to face with a huge Bengal Tiger. And the very next morning we witnessed a spectacular wildlife moment – the Leopard verus Dhole (Indian Wild Dog) confrontation. But that was not all. Lady luck was smiling on us and there was more in store.
After witnessing the Leopard Vs Dhole confrontation, we decided to go to the location where we had spotted the majestic Tiger the previous evening – just in case he was still around. When we reached the spot, we slowed the Jeep to a crawl and peered into the thick lantana hoping to sight him. We were still holding our breath and keeping our fingers crossed, when suddenly Saru spotted some movement inside the lantana. Our excitement knew no bounds and with bated breath we looked closely – yes, it was another Tiger! And as we continued looking, what do we see – a tiny cub bounding up playfully. Thats when we realised that it was not the same Tiger as the previous evening, but a Tigress with her cubs. This was sheer luck, as seeing a Tiger cub in the wild is almost next to impossible.As we watched the wildlife moment of our lives unfurl, we spot another cub playfully run towards the Tigress. She looked content, having her cubs around her. And when we saw her lovingly lick one of her cubs – we held our breath and revelled in the moment. Very soon the arrival of another Jeep unsettled the cubs and they got restless. And the mother decided to move deeper into the lantana. We were a little disappointed as we thought that was it. But the Tigress, after walking about 75 feet inside the lantana, decided to change direction. She came to the edge of the Lantana, drank water from a small puddle, walked to a tree, scent marked it and started crossing the Jeep tracks. The cubs followed suit. Did I say earlier that there were two cubs – imagine our excitement when we see not 2 but 4 cubs about 6-8 months old crossing the jeep tracks, following their mother. It was a breathtaking and emotional wildlife moment for all of us.
The Tigress crossed the Jeep tracks and is walking towards the lantana on the other side in this image. EXIF – D300, 300mm f2.8 lens, handheld (beanbag supported), 300mm focal length, f2.8, 1/2000s, ISO200, -0.7EV.The Tigress is staring at us from the edge of the lantana, contemplating whether to cross the Jeep tracks; one Tiger cub is also seen, partially hidden in the tall grass in this image. EXIF – D300, 300mm f2.8 lens, handheld (beanbag supported), 300mm focal length, f2.8, 1/1000s, ISO200, +0.3EV.We were lucky to get a image of a Tiger cub through the distracting lantana using manual focus. EXIF – D300, 300mm f2.8 lens, handheld (beanbag supported), 300mm focal length, f2.8, 1/320s, ISO200, 0EV.Here’s an image of the Tigress along with two cubs walking along the lantana towards us. EXIF – D300, 300mm f2.8 lens, handheld (beanbag supported), 300mm focal length, f2.8, 1/2000s, ISO200, -0.7EV.And in this final collage, you can see the four Tiger cubs crossing the Jeep tracks at about 100 feet from us. EXIF – D80, 18-200mm f3.5-f5.6 VR lens, handheld, 200mm focal length, f5.6, 1/250s, ISO200, 0EV.
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