“I am great believer of luck, harder I work better it gets” – Thomas Jefferson

This blog is on my experiences of seeing tiger during jungle safari. I have always believed when the number “1” is operational tiger is surely seen. 1st time to any jungle, 1st safari, 1st time to particular jungle. Luck always favour 1st in jungle. Let me share few experiences.

I was with group of 11 guests for their first visit to Pench National Park Maharashtra. All of them were first timers. Pench national park in Maharashtra is not so popular for seeing tiger as it more of weekend spot. It was April 2015 and it was raining intermittently during summers. Rainfall reduces chances of seeing tiger, I was in dismay. I knew I would not see tiger. But to my surprise we saw a tiger. We saw not one but two tigers, few minutes before closing time of safari.

Tigress from Pench Maharashtra shot in extremely poor light!

My first trip to Bandhavgarh, Tala zone June 2015 – First safari. The legendary Rajbhera Tigress sitting calmly in water body.  She is one of biggest tigress I have ever seen. She is the one who got me infatuated me to tigers.

Rajbhera relaxing in water body

My first individual safari to Tadoba November 2015, I saw Maya and cubs playing along edge of Panderpauni 2 – the fabled water body. Oh boy it was sighting of life time. I missed those shots because she was too far for my entry level gear and my shortcoming of photography skills.

One of my poorest shot of Maya from Tadoba!

My first safari to Corbett April 2016, saw Grassland male in last 10mins near machhan on thandi sadak. It was evening safari. Next day morning I had three guests joining me on safari. It was first ever jungle safari for all of them at Corbett. The moment they entered Dhikala area we saw grassland tigress. Moments they still cherish.

Grassland tigress at Corbett!

My in-laws had always been curious about my infatuation with jungles. I insisted my in-laws to join me on jungle safari. Again first timers. Finally they agreed to join me at Tadoba in March 2017. Oh boy… we saw Matkasur male within first 20mins of safari. He walked right across the road, scent marked on tree and disappeared. We saw him 3 times in next 3 safaris along with Choti Tara, Chota Matka and late Tarachand.

1st sighting was too close for comfort… Matkasur marking his territory!
Matka sighting again in evening safari!

My first trip to Ranthambore in Oct 2018, I saw legendary Arrowhead while I was busy clicking a snake sitting on tree. It was in the first 30 mins of safari. Bonus was another tigress within another hour. 1st safari ever to Ranthambore – two tigers.

Arrowhead darting on road @Ranthambore
Sub-adult tigress @Ranthambore

As an adult , my first trip to Kanha was with young couple in December 2018, we saw tiger at end of second safari. It was sub adult male from Kisli zone.

Sub adult male at Kisli zone of Kanha National Park

March 2019, I trooped two families to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra both families had never been on jungle safari before. Both families saw tigers in first safari itself. One of family saw total of 7 tigers in 4 safari. Talk about luck!

Chota Matka the Sub -adult .. Challenger to throne of this father …
Matkasur the dominant male of Tadoba range

This is about “first” time. No analysis would be complete by looking at other side of coin. Let us look at stats when nothing was first. Statistically speaking the chances of spotting tiger goes lower as we do more and more safaris. Doing jungle safari to see tiger is like gambling with your money and time. Sometimes you hit jackpots but you lose more often. I have done more than 50 safaris in last 4 years and have seen 30 individual tigers but the hit rate of spotting the tiger is less than 50%. So my assumption that wild spirit does favour well guided first timers, stands true. But why does wild spirit favours first timers? What about aficionados like me who go repeatedly to jungles? What is the complete story? I can only guess…

Maybe it wants the first timers to feel the serenity and solitude that jungle provides. Or maybe show them how beautiful nature is and what we urban denizens are really missing. Or maybe it wants to create awareness in them by making them experience the wild like no one else around them. Or maybe want them to just enjoy life!

Happy faces at Pench!
Happy first timers!!

Happy first timers!!

Whatever the spirits wants to convey, I have seen most first timer return to concrete jungles with memories to cherish for life and few like me get addicted to calls of wild. For aficionados like me, we are already addicted and living life on wild side. Luck or No luck, we keep going back to jungles because our heart mind and soul live in jungle with the spirits of wild.

Me… Running on wild side!

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