Joy Is ……..(No.7)

Breaking my tiger jinx…and HOW!

From zero sightings in over twenty five years of forest visits (including several with a forest officer father-in-law) to five in under 48 hours last weekend!
Nagarhole Tiger Reserve - Karnataka, India
All thanks to the stellar tracking skills of our young naturalist, MithunΒ Hunugund, who seemed to be able to preempt the movements of every one of those tigers! Mithun, also the son of a forest officer and currently working part time at the Bison Kabini Wildlife Resort, is due to appear for his IAS (Indian Administrative Service) exams shortly. I wish him all success, and hope that his passion and commitment will see him rise high in the ministry of environment & forests.

A rickety government safari vehicle with eleven excited first time tiger spotters, demanded far more experience and camera skills – and lenses – than I possess. I was hoping to use Mithun’s professional images for this post, but I couldn’t wait to share the joy.
Tiger at waterhole - Nagarhole Reserve
Tiger - Nagarhole Reserve

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

131 thoughts on “Joy Is ……..(No.7)

  1. Oh my word! Madhu, these are absolutely amazing shots and the second one is my top favourite! I just love and adore tigers! What a treat that must have been! Thanks for sharing this beauty. πŸ˜€ β™₯

    1. Hard to put into words how exciting it was to see these magnificent creatures in the wild Sonel πŸ™‚

      1. I know the feeling Madhu and I am glad you could share these beauties with us. πŸ˜€ β™₯

    1. Thank you Bronwyn. I would have been happy with that one sighting. Four more were an unexpected bonus πŸ™‚

  2. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!! Ever since I got to pet some tigers in Thailand, they have become my favorite animal. They are absolutely gorgeous — especially in the wild. Nice shots!

    1. They certainly are Julann! And this particular forest seem to be particularly rich with sightings since the past few months.

  3. Definitely jealous! In all my years in Africa I never saw a leopard in the wild! (And you see one if I recall?) Now a tiger! Hmmmm!
    πŸ™‚

      1. Don’t rub it in Madhu!
        πŸ™‚
        (Hope life is ok with you. Would Namaste apply?)
        πŸ™‚

        1. Namaste it is then and a great week-end. (No more tigers please!) πŸ™‚

  4. An excellent photo, Madhu, of the tiger lapping up the water. You are right to be excited. Wow! I know what you mean, though, about having an experienced person show you around the wilds. When I went to a nature shoot with a photographer, locally, and when we were in Costa Rica with a guide, our experience and sightings of birds were enhanced by these very alert folks. They directed our cameras aim toward shots that we would have missed otherwise. πŸ˜‰

    1. True, our sightings would have been fleeting glimpses without Mithun’s tracking skills. Thanks Judy.

  5. Goodness Madhu you really did deserve to see them – but I’m still jealous πŸ™‚ We can see ‘professional’ photos anywhere but yours are the real thing, thanks so much for sharing your amazing experience!

    1. Ha, our daughter and several friends are very jealous too πŸ™‚ I doubt this is a one off though. I think the chances of sightings have increased several fold.

  6. I feel as though we were all rewarded by your patience, Madhu. Your photographs confirm that the tiger is a magnificent creature!

    1. It truly is Elisa. I cannot imagine how our species could have driven such magnificence to the brink of extinction.

  7. This is where we should be seeing them. Free, wild, masters of their own lives…not locked away in a cage [for any zoo is a cage no matter how good it looks] that we may look at them at our leisure.

  8. Fantastic that you were finally able to see tigers. I am especially in love with that second photo of the cat leaning over to drink water. The color and its huge paws, and the reflection you captured are magnificent.

    1. Thank you Angeline. We were fortunate to have been able to position ourselves just right!

  9. Wow Madhu, way to go! Fantastic photographs to show for your efforts – 25 years is a very long time, but when you celebrate you really go all out! Five sightings in a day, very cool.

    1. Ah, I guess I am my own worst critic πŸ™‚ I was upset that theses didn’t turn out half as sharp as my mango tree series for example. But the joy is plain to see. Pleasure to have you on board Meg πŸ™‚

  10. Madhu what great pics! They are great shots and a reminder why these gorgeous creatures need to be saved! I saw a tiger in Ranthambore many moons ago and realise how lucky I was.. look forward to more.

    1. It was harder in between when numbers had dropped dangerously low. Hopefully the bar will only move up from here on. We are hooked, and look forward to more too πŸ™‚

  11. And did you see – good news from the Raxa Collective – the 2014 tiger census estimated 2,226 tigers, a 30% increase since the 2011 survey.

    1. ‘Breathless wonderment’ describes our feeling exactly Meredith! πŸ™‚ The numbers are as thrilling as our first sighting. The South seems to have marked a larger spurt in numbers.

      Happy to see you here. Hope all is well down under πŸ™‚

  12. Joy indeed! Ah, Madhu, I can just imagine your joy, especially after all those years of sighting-less excursions. I did hear one, once, in the night, when I was at Periyar – that throaty, adenoidal rattle – it woke me to a moment’s terror till I remembered I was safely in the lodge. And I’ll never forget my sense of breathless wonderment when I at last came across a leopard in its environment. Even the elephants we came across a little later were a bit of an anti-climax after that! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Frank. We were positioned right to watch her amble down from her perch on the hillock (in the first shot) to the water hole!

  13. What an exciting job your father in law has. The sub-continent has such an abundance of wildlife species and its a happy experience to live in one of the huts over night and hear the sounds of the wild, and to see it in action during the day. Tigers are usually quite private so its a privilege to see them.

    1. My father in law is long retired at 93 Ian. R remembers great times with him in the wild. Strange that R hadn’t seen a tiger either in all those years of camping in forests!

  14. What a beautiful animal … !!!! You captured him in a way that makes him look like he’s hiding in his safe place. He has no problem showcasing those wonderful eyes. GREAT PHOTO !!!!! : )

    1. Thank you Isadora! That first one was a lucky shot, considering she was quite a distance away πŸ™‚

      1. Madhu, I have a feeling none of your photos are lucky shots. You are an amazing photographer and one I admire very much. When I grow up I want to to be a photographer just like you. πŸ˜ƒ

    1. I was close to tears too Sally. These photos don’t quite get the colour or the majesty right.

  15. How thrilling to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat. I remember the joy I felt the first time I saw wild parrots flying overhead (I had only ever seen them in cages). My heart was flying with them.

    1. Nothing beats seeing animals in their natural habitats. I understand the need for zoos, but I find them depressing mostly.

  16. Those are really cool pictures… wow! One way to look at it is that the tiger population might be recovering and improved your chances of sighting them… πŸ˜‰ Either way you look at it, happy that your patience and efforts eventually got you face to face with these magnificent creatures!.. πŸ™‚

    1. It HAD to be the increased numbers Paritosh. But still, not all of the ten to twelve vehicles allowed into the park at any given time, got to see these majestic creatures. So luck is certainly involved. And a very good naturalist πŸ™‚

  17. That’s a joyful 48 hours for sure, Madhu! Our first safari was in Kanha and we were lucky enough to spot a tiger multiple times…. over 3 days. it was an amazing experience. Nothing prepares you for the majesty of this creature, until you see it in person. Glad your jinx got broken, and hope you found it worth the wait. I am still awaiting my tryst with the leopard. Thanks for the link πŸ™‚

    1. Between Kabini, Rwanda and Tanzania, 2014 -and now early 2015 – has been a year of amazing wildlife encounters for us! So many firsts, beginning with our leopard last April! I hope your tryst with the leopard isn’t too far off πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks! Keeping my fingers crossed. Your Rwanda and Tanzania adventures have pushed Africa to the top of my wish-list this year.

  18. What a prize catch, Madhu !!!

    Capturing this mighty animal in wild is a photographers dream I feel.

    So nice to see these images and thank you so much for sharing πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Sreejith. You would do a fantastic job. You should plan a visit now, tigers seem to be all over the place in Kabini and Bandipur! The South has apparently seen a more spectacular rise in numbers.

  19. Are these images ones that you took or are they an example of Mithun’s skill? Not that it really matters … kudos to the photographer, be it you or him. The photos are extraordinary, either way. πŸ™‚ Beautiful tiger.

    1. These are mine Marcy, of just two of the five tigers we spotted. I messed up the rest badly. Mithun has promised to send us his images, shall upload them when he does.

      1. I will look forward to that post. I love cats of any size. Tigers are so unique in their coloring. It has always amazed me how Mother Nature can repeat her patterns without ever repeating them twice. πŸ˜‰

  20. How thrilling it must have been for you Madhu! Love that second shot with the tiger reflected in the water.

  21. Such a majestic animal and you do it justice with these great shots… Beautiful Madhu, what an adventure.

    1. Thank you Randall. I owe thanks to the friend who insisted we meet there, even while i was reluctant to return πŸ™‚

  22. What noble, majestic creatures – I would probably have a harder time keeping still if I were in your shoes! Truth be told I didn’t know about the 25-year-long tiger jinx when you mentioned these sightings by email. So glad the tigers finally came out to see you. πŸ™‚

    1. Ha, I am so grateful they did James!! πŸ™‚ The forest was quiet with so many tigers on the move though. Hardly any leopard or gaur (Indian bison) sightings and few elephants!

      1. So true! It must have been fun to go with your father in law to these amazing forests,

  23. So excited for you Madhu and what great shots, the second one feels so close and how (almost) well camouflaged is the tiger in the third!

    1. Thanks Patti. Did you spot the deer in the background in that last shot? They look like cartoon characters! πŸ™‚

      1. Oh, I see them now! How funny that you say that, but it is true. Though I would have been worried if I had seen them, afraid the tiger would get them. These are wonderful, Madhu. Thanks for sharing the joy. πŸ™‚

        1. Don’t they look funny? πŸ™‚ They would have bolted if they were in any danger of attracting the tigress’s attention.

  24. Oh! I would’ve been utterly breathless with joy & wonder! How were you able to remain cool enough to take such wonderful photos!! πŸ˜€

    1. Keira, these were all I could salvage. The final sighting was a spectacular road crossing that I blurred beyond repair. Can’t tell you how disappointed I was 😦

      1. Oh it happens…can be frustrating, right? The clear ones turned out to be great! πŸ˜‰

  25. I actually got goosebumps FOR you! It took me a long time in Africa before I saw a leopard, so I know a tiny bit how you feel. But tigers!! I hope someday to get these same goosebumps for myself as I view them!

    1. Yes, and most unexpected Niranjan. I heard Karnataka has the highest concentration of tigers at the moment. Nearly a hundred in Kabini alone.

    1. It sure was Lynne! There were six actually, but only Mithun spotted the sixth – one of two cubs of the tigress in the last shot – which ran back into the bushes when a vehicle came too close. A sign I hope that our tigers are coming back from the edge πŸ™‚

  26. Five tigers in just 48 hours is amazing! I think going to the zoo is the only way to top that — but that would undermine the real satisfaction of seeing one in nature. I love cats, small and big, and tiger is truly a beautiful animal.

    1. Bama, our daughter suspected we had wandered into a zoo when she received the string of excited messages from us πŸ˜€

  27. What a treat! I hope your young guide passes his exams as his obviously has an affinity with nature.

  28. Wow wow wow. How exciting! We spent 2 days in Ranthambore, but alas no tigers. One day I will see tigers in the wild! So happy for you.
    Alison

    1. Thank you Alison. Time to plan a return. The latest census numbers that everybody here is celebrating, are obviously not cooked up πŸ™‚

  29. Wow !! Ferocious images !!
    You are so very lucky !! πŸ™‚

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