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Tadoba-Land of Tigers !

Tadoba Nestled approx. 140 kms. away from Nagpur (being the nearest airport), home to many birds, reptiles and mammals species, this is the largest wildlife reserve in Maharashtra. TATR boasts about 88 tigers (2018 tiger census)  with being habitat for endangered species like the marsh crocodiles and Indian pythons. The forest is a typical tropical dry deciduous terrain. TATR has six popular known gates from which jungle safaris can be done.  Moharli, Kolara, Navegoan, Kolsa Zhari, Pangdi, and Kutwanda. Welcome to Tadoba the Land of Tigers.

Our guests had a stay of 3 nights and we had around 6 safaris in the core zone of TATR -Moharli gate. As always, while you want to enjoy the forest and it’s beauty, the greed of sighting the big cats never stops haunting you.  Irrespective of any number of safari trips done or sightings one has had in the past,  every time one is about to start this forest excursion, there is always anxiety like the opening batsman of cricket on “how good the opening safari will be”. The better the opening score the lesser pressure on the following safaris. So hoping our opening safari to secure good sightings, our first safari in the core zone of TATR commenced.

We were debating between Teliya lake area and  the spot of previous known sighting to the guide. Not less than half an hour in the forest, thanks to the strong guts of our guide, we reached the spot at the correct time and saw this young sub adult Tiger of Tadoba –  right in front of us crossing the road.  Although it was not a very long sighting but a close and distinct one.

Now, it was time to follow the second instinct and check the Lake Teliya area.  It is known to be the beautiful tigress Sonam’s territory. We reached the lake. It was dry but still was one of the most scenic spot of TATR. So we waited there admiring the landscape, listening to the restless chirps of the birds, sounds of the jungle for sometime. Few clicks of glossy ibis, hovering pied kingfisher and the commonly found white throat kingfisher were all that the cameras managed to capture.

Our Upcoming Tours to Tadoba

The forest was in its peaceful slow pace and we were calmly enjoying its rhythm which was broken by our guide’s exclamation – “Tiger”.  All in attention towards the direction. our guide pointed out, we saw a really huge male tiger walking into the bushes. He had come to drink water and was slowly moving back gracefully with his poised majestic walk. This was again a real good sighting and an exclusive one with no other gypsy being around. He was called ‘Bajrang’. So our instincts had given our maiden safari a good opening score !

Second safari was rather peaceful with not much action. Spotted deer seem to be under no threat of the presence of any big cats and gazed peacefully. We did follow a few calls from Samba deers but resulted in no sightings.  Now the significance of good opening score relieving the pressure of the later safaris was reinstated.

As soon as we were in the core area of TATR for our third safari, we received news Of Tigress Maya and another dominant male tiger ‘Matkasur’ being spotted by few gypsys resting at Pandharpauni. Obviously, we made our way to the spot. We had missed that sighting but not lost hope. Most of the gypsy had decided to move away. We waited there almost for an hour strongly feeling hopeful.  Then our patient waiting was paid – Walked in great style, the partner of Tigress Maya – Matkasur to fetch himself water. Least bothered with our presence he focussed on quenching his thirst and walked away. And all the cameras were grinning with the joy of capturing the show he put up for them.

By now we were getting to our score board scoring runs maintaining a good average and were he hoping the same for the remaining three safaris. Our fourth safari in the core zone was pretty action packed. Picking clues and a lot of running around. We first checked the Teliya Lake and were in no luck there so we decided to check the spot where we had sighted Tigress Maya and Tiger Matkasur during the previous evening.

Our Upcoming Tours to Tadoba

There were quite a few alarm calls so we continued following those cues till we got the news of the sighting of Tigress Choti Tara by few gypsy early  that morning. So we took a call to go towards that spot and try our luck. The guide estimated it to come out a particular spot. Around 20+ gypsy waiting like us. Almost an hour without any significant movement or clue or any alarm calls discouraged the spirits of the waiting gypsy. It was being concluded that the tigress had taken a break from walking and was resting somewhere in shade because of which there was no movement or sound or signal coming from the usual news breakers like spotted deer, samba deer, peacocks, monkeys etc. who give alarms warning the other animals about the presence of the big cat or other danger that they sense.

As usual, we were a little more patient than the rest. Other gypsy recoursed backwards in search of Tiger Matkasur and Tigress Maya while we hanged around. We were just deciding to leave with the passage of significant time without any clue or action. As we started moving slowly, Tigress Choti Tara decided to honour our patience and appeared right in front of our gypsy ! Yes, we were ahead on with Tigress Choti Tara – again exclusive sighting. Again we were happy to get amazing frames of Tigress Choti Tara walking head on appearing from the bushes, marking her territory with her own composed pace ! This surely by far was the highlight of all sightings.

Next safari, we got lucky with the sighting of a new male in a new territory. He is called “Rudra”. There are guesses and speculation of Tiger Rudra posing a tuff competition to Tiger Matkasur. The final safari is as important as the first one as it will decide the final position of the scoreboard. We focussed on other mammals, aimed at wild dogs and sloth bear and were lucky with the sighting of both. Finally, the last safari and the trip ended with the bumper head on sighting for close to half an hour of the handsome tiger Matkasur.

So, we were happy with the position of our score board at the end of six safaris in the core zone of TATR with 3 different male tigers including a new one, 2 beautiful tigresses through seven different sightings, sloth bear, wild dogs, many species of birds besides the usual spotted deers, samba deers, langurs, neelgai etc.  So the opening and closing over were hit to give our  guests lifetime memories with some great frames and captures to cherish !

Sharing a few takeaways our guests listed:

  1. there are good number of water bodies because of which the tiger sighting probability in TATR is decent;
  2. follow your instincts vs. follow other gypsy movements ;
  3. Patience and hope are two key operating words;
  4. Staying focussed and following the sounds of the jungle helps; and
  5. Dare to go a path other than being popularly followed and you stand a chance of being rewarded for the risk.

We bid good- bye heading to Nagpur airport secretly hoping to get back to this forest soon again for another spell of such happening sightings !

Tigress Sonam at Teliya Lake - Tadoba