A fantastic first day with three tigers seen in two drives. After a horrible journey that involved a 2 hour delay in Heathrow and a missed train in Delhi as a consequence, we arrived in Tiger Moon at 23:30. After food and some unpacking and preparation for the first game we snatched 4 hours sleep before the alarm went for the first game drive.
We entered the park’s main gate at about 06:00 and headed to the southern boundary, along route 2, to a waterhole where a tiger had been sighted the day before. After some time watching the local bird life a monkey alarm call alerted us to the possible presence of a predator. Within a couple of minutes the frenzied calls of monkeys and a stampede of Chital (spotted deer) confirmed the arrival of T22, an old tigress, who’s resident in that area.
Some good judgment and driving moved the jeep into ideal position for her when she walked out of the jungle, allowing us to grab a couple of nice images of her in beautiful early morning light. We spent the following hour watching her lie in a shady spot adjacent to the waterhole, but given the unusually cool temperature she was in no hurry to enter the water. We’ve seen T22 for the last 4 visits and each time our sighting gets better. It’s odd but I always think her facial marking make her look a little sad. Perhaps it’s just me.
Eventually time ran out and we had to leave the park with our tiger account well and truly open.
In the afternoon we had drawn route 4 which is always a hot route in the summer. After the cool morning temperatures, Ranthambhore was back in the mid 40s C, which is good for tiger sightings. However, some thick cloud started to roll in and soon the temperatures we dropping to a more tolerable mid 30s. After tracking some fresh pugmarks (tiger footprints) along a dusty road to a small waterhole, we sat with a few other jeeps and waited. After some time we started hearing some almighty splashes in an unseen pool some two hundred metres away. It could only be a tiger and the amount of splashing suggested it was the 14 month old cub of T41, a tigress who we’d seen first as an orphaned cub 5 years previously. After sometime the call “tiger!!” announced they were heading our way.
A very soggy mother and cub approached us through the long grass with the cub especially giving us a fantastic view. It’s always a thrill to see a tiger, especially a new one. We spent the next 30 minutes attempting to follow them through the thick undergrowth before the cub again came out into the open to take a look and the assembled paparazzi. In truly dreadful light conditions created by the approach of a storm, we grabbed a few more images before heading for the park gates.
A cracking start to our Ranthambhore visit. Hoping for more good luck tomorrow and hopefully some better light. A new development this trip is the deployment of a camera trap in the grounds of our hotel which borders the park. Hopefully we’ll have something interesting to show.