Our friends wonder as to why we end up at Tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh (Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh ) every year while for the same money a ‘normal’ holiday would possibly have been a nice 'resorty'place in Singapore, Dubai, Kerala etc.
The answer is quite simple …. Nothing quite engages and enthralls you quite like the sight of the Royal Bengal Tiger . Having spent a lot of our time on African Safaris and having been up close and personal with lions , leopards and Cheetahs , the Tiger , however many times we see it makes us sit like start struck teenagers in front of their rock star idol !
The entire fascination of listening to the jungle alarm calls , chasing pug marks and then finally observing a well camouflaged ear or limb making way for the entire picture as the tiger rolls out of his slumber and onto the open …. That moment is worth every sun burnt hour spent in the scorching Indian Summer.
No camera and no expert cinematographer can quite capture the goose bumps , the elevated heart rate , the wide eyed staring , the whispered oohs and aahs , the 'I will miss the action if I blink' feeling which one encounters with the Royal Bengal Tiger . The absolute disdain with which he looks at you , the one look that humbles you and exposes you to the human frailness stays with you for ever .
Once you have seen the tiger and captured a nice close up on your camera to show off to your friends , you don’t need to go to a wildlife park again right ? One couldn’t be more wrong . Our different visits and even different days with the same tiger have exposed to us amazingly varied examples of tiger behavior.
The big male speading fear while patrolling his territory to lolling around in the grass and looking like a tubby cat ….his cubs approaching him fearfully while he rests and then discovering he is a loving father after all …The mother allowing her cubs to pull her whiskers, jump all of her and then disciplining them with one stern call …. cubs playing , mock fighting , running up and down rocks and then resting out of breath and jumping in the water pool to cool down and the as the heat of the day becomes intolerable.
Being regaled by stories from guides on their varied experiences, tiger encounters , territorial fights …. To meeting noisy and impatient tourists who expect the tiger to be posing and doing what they want for that perfect shot ! All that is what makes us go back year after year after year and every year and every visit and every new day is a new experience !
As an Indian , one is obviously proud of the fact that the largest populations of wild tigers is India. Sure we could do more and we must to protect our wildlife . But we must also spread awareness that the tiger population is thriving well , albeit in small pockets and foreign tourists should be vary of unscrupulous travel agents getting them to visit stating that the wild tigers will disappear in 5 years from the Indian jungle …nothing is farther from the truth.
We chanced upon a documentary during one of our recent visits and for us the big learning was that we still have sufficient Indian Jungles left to house 10,000 tigers .Like the worldwide steps to protect the Elephant and ban ivory trade , we need concerted efforts worldwide to stop trading in tiger parts for Chinese traditional medicine .
We clearly need to do more than ‘like’ the Save the Tiger page on FB. Do visit this website , read 'The Truth about tigers' and watch the documentary to get a new perspective on tigers.
(This is a guest post by my husband. Pics - Mr. & Mrs. Blogeswari)