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Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year with Karai Ghati Tiger

Thirty First December & First January spells crowd at Kanha Tiger Reserve in MP. Even after limiting the number of vehicles the park was swathing with a great numbers of gypsy plying on the road.

We had been allotted the Sarhi Zone and hence decided to go via the Karai Ghatti. I was adamant that we go via the Karai Corridor, the guide was also in favor hence there was no pride lost. We advanced on the cold day surprising this was the least cold winter I had ever experienced on 1st January.    

Karai Ghat is one of the picturesque ride in the park. It is mixed forest with Bamboo and Sal here and there. The zone is well inundated by Sulkum and other tributaries of  major rivers like Banjar. It is dotted with numerous water bodies that form small lakes ideal for big cats in the summers.  

We were cruising along the Sarhi Zone on the Maua Dabri Road. There was hardly any jeep on this road and we were at the forefront. It was a pleasant day thanks to the rising sun. Our eyes were all the time glued to the forest glades as well as small narrow strips of grasslands that we came across. 

I had hoped for something to happen today. "Hope something exciting happens tomorrow." I had told my guests over dinner the last night at Courtyard House Kanha. Paul Fear and Alison Baines from UK had already seen a tiger on their safari in Kanha Zone. They wanted more, who does not?

On the finest patch of forest that something exiting happened. The tiger emerged like an apparition in the mist laden ambiance. We could see him heading towards us. It first appeared like a termite mound some distance away. But the termite mound was moving right towards us. WOW!

"That's a tiger," I informed my guests. With baited breadth. 

The big cat came towards us as we moved the reverse gear in order to maintain a safe distance. The majestic cat took my breadth away. "It is not Munna", I whispered to the guide. 

"It is larger than Munna," the guide whispered."And in prime."

Munna is one of the largest tiger seen in the Kisli Range and neighborhood. It is aggressive and does not give way to the jeeps at all. The Maua Dabri tiger was definitely larger and in prime being around six years in  age.          

This was one of the most mesmerizing spectacle I had ever witnessed in my life time of wandering in the jungles of India.  The lithe graceful charismatic creature was a breadth taking sight and invoked fear. In the soft sunlight it shone like a magical delight. The reddish orange brown fur coupled with pure white was at its shiniest best. In the natural surroundings the beast looked captivating as it came upon us with a gentle stride. We were constantly reversing in order to maintain a safe distance. But in case of hesitation, I observed that the tiger moved towards the bushes on the edge of the jungle road. It did not mock charge or come very near to us. 

"It is busy,"I told the guests."Territorial marking". The tiger was spraying pheromones along with his urine on the leaves and grass. In the ethereal moment my guests could admire and photograph the majestic creature. Paul & Alison were kind enough to send me the images captured by them. 

I have added images of that majestic tiger below so that you can be a part of my exotic journey in the tigerland called Kanha.
                                    
                         Tiger Photographs - Paul Fear UK