An Unforgettable Morning @ Ranthambhore

I was getting restless waiting for Ashish (Dhir) who wasn’t very sure of making the trip till the very end and considering the fact that if he decided to drop, I would have no alternative to visit Ranthambhore – the last chance to spot and photograph a tiger before the park closes down for monsoon. I had already cancelled my Train ticket to go along with him by road and I alone couldn’t make it.

Finally he came by 9 pm driving his new (swift) Desire and without spending any time we headed off to Ranthambhore via Gurgaon-Alwar-Dausa-Swai Madhopur.

A tea break near Alwar and a light meal in between, a mock race with a train going towards Kota, some music and few bad patches kept us awake and alert on the wheel and finally we reached Ranthambhore at around 3am. We had only 2 hours to sleep before getting ready for the first safari at 5:30am.

Zone 4, that is what we were allocated for the morning safari and till about 7 am there were no signs of any tiger. The Gypsy was moving on a rough road throwing us in the air regularly. Ranthambhore was completely dry and every tree and bush seemed to be waiting for the rains to come. A few Sāmbhar and spotted deer here and there and each one of us were looking as far as the eye could  see trying to spot any movement of the striped beast.

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Ranthambhore is arid, dry and deciduous forest strategically placed in the Aravalli Range. It’s location, terrain and abundance of prey base makes it a favorable and thriving tiger habitat. It is also one of the best places in India to easily spot a tiger, mainly during summers. Suddenly at a distance, we saw many gypsy’s parked side by side with tourist looking enthusiastically at one direction. Within minute we reached the spot.

“T6 and T41”, the guide told us. Two full grown tigers walking side by side, a male and a female. They were very intimate and while walking they would wait for each other to follow to catch up. “They will mate”, the guide told again. They were walking lazily and after few steps the female lay down on the ground under a dry tree to get some shade and the male sat down beside her guarding and yawning. He was staring at her sleeping and was making sounds of lover in waiting.

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After few minutes, we had the first sight of them mating. For many tourist present their including me, this was the first sight of tigers mating. I couldn’t believe my good fortune, I never expected a sighting like this and that too at such a close proximity and in the open.

They mated four times and every time after mating, the female would go few steps away and lie down on the ground and the male would follow her. After few minutes they would look for each other, get up from their position, walk few steps and mate.

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The 9 am sun felt like mid noon and the mercury was rising fast and how. They started walking towards a cooler place under the shade near a waterhole. The female was the first to go followed by the male. It was time for us to return and spend some time going through the photographs at the resort and discuss the awesome sighting that we just had.

*The trip was made in June 2011.

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