Playing peekaboo with the tigers of Ranthambore

By @Saravana |
Spotting a tiger in the wild is a once in a lifetime experience for any tourist and the wildlife park officials know it well. A successful spotting means big tips for the guides and they literally leave no leaf unturned in the forest inorder to spot a tiger.

This is especially true in Ranthambore, the park is well known for its of tiger sightings. The tigers themselves are used to all the attention and dont seem to be bothered too much by the jeeps and canters milling about around them. Hence they are tagged as being 'friendly' by the park officials.

How "friendly" they really were ?? Well.. i was about to find out.

The Ranthambore National park is located on the outskirts of the Sawai Madhopur town, 180km South-West of Jaipur. It is well connected by buses and i had no trouble getting there. Almost all hotels in town arrange bookings for the Tiger safaris and it is just convenient to let them handle things for you.

I signed up for both the morning and evening safaris with the hope of maximizing my chances. I was even prepared to spend a few extra days in town and keep going on the safaris till i spotted a tiger. I needn't have bothered coz i spotted two on the very first day itself.

My first sighting happened early in the morning. A big male, walking nonchalantly through the forest undergrowth. He was a majestic creature, perhaps taking a morning stroll to his favorite watering hole. Canters and Jeeps rushed in, vying for the perfect vantage point for their patrons. There was lot of excitement and commotion around, but the tiger did not seem bothered by it. He just walked on with a lazy gait, crossed the road and disappeared into the bushes.


Our guide was visibly relieved after the sighting, and he then proceeded to show us the rest of the wildlife in the park and there were many. We saw lots of Sambar deer, some Chital deer and even a few majestic Nilgai. All in all it was a wonderful morning of wildlife spotting.
The afternoon safari, however, did not start well. Wildlife was hard to spot, let alone a tiger. I had tagged along with a huge Gujarati family and they were hell bent on seeing a tiger. Our guide drove around the park, frantically searching for a tiger, without much luck. Suddenly the radio crackled with news of a tiger sighting.

We rushed to the spot, and there he was... barely 20 ft away from us, a young adolescent, sprawled in the grass enjoying his afternoon siesta. His body was hidden in the grass and we could only catch small glimpses of him. The only time we could see him properly was when he looked up to see us. He'll throw a small glance in our direction and then go back to his siesta.

Suddenly, everyone started making noise to attract his attention. Some people started calling out to the tiger, some started banging their plastic bottles together, while others started shaking the nearby branches. They worked up quite a ruckus but the tiger seemed least bothered by it. While the din was going on something unexpected happened which had everyones heart in their mouths.

A little kid, around 5-6 years old, was caught up in all the excitement and fell off the side of the canter. The tiger, as i said before, was just 20ft away, and could've been upon the child in the blink of an eye. But luckily he continued to ignore us while the adults scampered to get the child back on board. Everyone let out a collective sigh of relief and a few of us couldn't help laugh at the situation.

Luckily for us the tigers of Ranthambore lived up to their 'friendly' tag.
Talking about friendly tigers, take a look at this famous video on youtube of a tiger attacking a man on an elephant. Compared to the height of the elephant, the canter was just two-thirds the height and a tiger could've been easily in our midst if he so desired.

Something for everyone to think about, especially the ones who find it amusing to create ruckus to attract a tiger's attention.
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