Well, here I am finally writing a blog after longest gap ever, three months. The reason is obvious – the busy corporate life and hyper-active personal life. I could hardly find time for myself and do What I enjoy doing, Write! This is short blog but maybe the most memorable blog of a tiger sighting. Tiger sighted was a Golden tiger. By Golden I’m not referring to color but my 50th Tiger.
It was my 75th safari till date when I saw the “Golden Tiger”. I have been going to jungle excursion pretty regularly until COVID-19 impacted us all in March 2020. After a gap of almost a year, I dared and headed to Tadoba National Park to do 8 safari in month of Jan 2021. This time my experience was that of extreme highs and lows. It started with high of sighting one tigress for more than 2.5 hours. I had gone alone for my first safari. What a show she put up. She showcased all classic signs of tiger relaxed and lazing in shade before moving out for evening walk. I was hopeful luck would favour in all upcoming safaris. I was doomed is what I felt after next four safari. All 4 dry safari. It was my lowest point because my guests were along with me and they didn’t get to see tiger. It couldn’t have been worst as a host. Not seeing tiger at Tadoba. The feeling didn’t sink in for me for a very long. It was a fact that was hard to digest. I felt my 8 dry safaris that I had in Corbett Tiger Reserve were no graver than this. But that is how jungle safaris are natural, wild and unpredictable.
Come my 6th safari with family and we saw tigress in first 5 mins of entering the park. She is a shy tigress and disappeared quickly. This sighting was followed by sighting of a male tiger who was making his presence felt to every denizen of jungle by roaring and scent marking. It was eerie calm and his voice made it clear who was king of jungle.
Then came the Golden tiger in 7th Safari. He had been eluding me for quite sometime. We were having report of male tiger cutting trails of tourist gypsy which were in hot pursuit of him. No one could identify, who he was. Anyways, towards end of day he was spotted in thick bushes and was surrounded by tourist gypsy. I had no chance of photographing him. But the chaos of gypsy movement ensured he got uncomfortable and moved away from crowd. We had been waiting for him near a waterbody in hope that he will come across to drink water and move ahead. Our gamble, hit jackpot. The male tiger exited the chaos from where my guide was expecting him to move out. Finally I could photograph him. He was Bajrang, dominant yet shy ruler of Moharli range of Tadoba. I was so thrilled to see him. No other tiger could have done justice to #50, to be called Golden Tiger. He is full grown adult tiger, aged 10-12. Small water body gleamed in silver and waterweed popped up like spike, his coat blended with grass and golden rays of sun created an unforgettable memory. My image is nowhere close to the goose bumps we had on sighting him.
Having said that I must mention he looked bit unnerved and seemed to be uncomfortable and restless. What could be the reason I pondered as he walked away with rapid long strides. It seemed as if he was in search for something. Something that I found the next day on 26th Jan in my 8th safari of this trip. What I saw next day was icing on cake and what every tiger lover dreams off…….What was it?
I will share my experience of 8th safari in next blog… “Icing on the cake”