Tigers, leopards, jungle cats and hyenas! What a day! We started off by finding a large male tiger right at the gate. He was relaxed, and gave us a good look at our first large male tiger of the safari. We spent most of the morning with him, and our patience was rewarded with some good photographic opportunities. As luck would have it, we found the same male tiger in the afternoon, in a different section of the reserve, but he was being less obliging and slept through the heat of the day under a tree quite some distance away. The real action started at the end of the day however, when we spotted a leopard walking along one of the cliffs. We managed a solid half an hour with the leopard, and got some good images of a difficult species to photograph in India. A second leopard was seen not long afterwards, sitting on the boundary wall of the reserve. It was a little more nervous than the first leopard, and moved off quite quickly. On the way back to camp though, we still had 4 striped hyenas and 2 jungle cats appear in front of our cameras!
After all the luck we have had with the tigers, we thought we would see if we could find some of the other inhabitants of the reserve. We tried a completely new section of the reserve, with the goal of finding leopards and sloth bears. We came very close, and we had strong audio of leopards mating in the bushes near us, but unfortunately the happy couple didn’t show themselves. We did however add a new species of mammal to our already full list, one of only 2 antelopes found in the reserve, the Indian gazelle.
The tigers were putting their fantastic camouflage to work, and remained hidden for most of the day, but we did find a young female tiger midway through the afternoon safari. She took a while to emerge from the bushes, but when she did, it was amazing. She walked right up to our jeep, and started drinking and relaxing right in front of us. Needless to say, the cameras had a field day and the photography was fantastic. While we were waiting for a different tiger to come down to a waterhole earlier in the day, we were treated to a spectacle of deer coming down to drink; close to 100 of the packed in around the waters edge.
After the great start we had it was always going to be difficult to beat the first day, but the tigers had something else in store for us. Midway through the morning we found a tigress, and she had a sneaky surprise waiting in the long grass. Her 3 cubs (one-year-olds) came bounding out the grass and joined their mother walking right past us – several times! What a privilege to see and photograph 4 tigers on just the second day of our safari. We spent the rest of the morning with the striped family, and the afternoon trying out some new sections of the reserve, where we were rewarded with a great sighting of a golden jackal.
Starting the Tiger Safari with 3 tigers is always a good thing! We came across a mother tiger and her 2 cubs early in the afternoon, and got to spend a fantastic 3 hours with them. There were ample photographic opportunities, as each one of the tigers were going about their business on their own, this made the only tough decision, ‘which tiger should we photograph?’ We also managed to see most of the regulars, including a majestic blue bull, or nilgai, and finished the day being surprised by a jungle cat, which ran through the camp during dinner. A great start to a great safari!