Tiger crossing road in Bandhavgarh
The main reason for our trip to India was to see the royal bengal tiger. These are the biggest of the big cats. The national parks in India have a lot of other wildlife as you saw from my previous posts but the main attraction are the tigers. I didn’t have high expectation to get a lot of great photos of tigers but with a little bit of luck, a bit of skill, the right equipment, a little patience, a good guide, and some crazy drivers we were able to get some of my best wildlife photos to date. Professional wildlife photographer Talat Khalid of Wild Life Photo Tours arranged this trip for us to visit his two favorite spots for tiger photography. Bandhavhargh and Kanha tiger reservers. As you can see below, there is a good reason these are his favorite parks.
Tigress - Aama nalah (our first tiger sighting)
We saw a total of 13 different tigers over our 10 days in the parks. Some we saw on multiple occasions and every one of the sightings was an amazing experience. The tigress pictured above is named Aama nalah for the area of Bandhavgarh that she claims as her territory. She was the first of our 13 tiger sightings and it was amazing. She was huge!!! (most girls probably wouldn’t want you to say to them that but I think its ok in the tiger world). She came so close to our vehicle and eventually walked right in front of us. If the trip would have ended with just this one tiger sighting it would have been worth it. They are truly magnificent animals. It didn’t stop there though… it only got better…
Tiger - "New Male"
Tiger - New Male profile
“New Male” pictured above, is the son of “B2″ who is the son of “Charger” who is arguably the most famous tiger in India given his many appearances on national geographic, BBC, etc. Charger passed away several years ago after his son, B2, killed him. B2 is 17 years old now, the same age as his father when he killed him. Sadly, history is about to repeat itself. New Male is expanding his territory and needs to kill his father (B2) in order to get the mating rights to all the females in the territory. We witnessed one such encounter.
All of the sudden we saw B2 run out of the woods and our guide knew that New Male must be chasing him. A fight was almost sure to happen, he said.
Tiger B2 running from New Male
B2 ran across the road dangerously close to a vehicle. A few years ago one tourist got mauled when a tiger jumped into the vehicle when being chased. A very simliar situation to today.
Tiger B2 running close to vehicle
Then out of the corner of my left eye I spotted another tiger. It was New Male. My camera was still focused on where B2 ran across the road so I just kept the shutter pressed and captured the action at my cameras maximum 9 frames per second as he disappeared into the trees after B2.
Tiger New Male chasing B2
We feared the worst. We thought it was over for B2. New Male was sure to catch him. He was only 50 meters behind and catching up. We quickly moved our vehicle to where the guide thought they might come out of the woods… if B2 would even make it out. About 10 minutes later we found B2 walking along the road. Looking back to see if he son was still close behind.
Tiger B2 looking for his son
You could see the fear in his eyes. He was worried. He knew what was about to happen. However, what happened next surprised us all.
New Male came out of the woods but he seemed to be confused. He was walking in the wrong direction. He was still very close to his father but he seemed to have lost his scent. He walked up and down the road around our vehicle but then eventually found a nice spot in the shade to lay down.
Tiger - New Male laying in the shade
B2 was safe… at least for today.
Tiger - New Male
While we were all sympathetic for B2, there was no denying that New Male is a magnificent tiger. He was much bigger than he father, younger, and more muscular. Just look at those canines. Every part of this tiger was massive. Even though they are pure breed killing machines they have a lot in common with tame house cats if you watch them long enough.
Tiger - New Male winking
Tiger - New Male (thats a lot of tiger drool)
He had a lot of foam-ish looking saliva hanging on his mouth and just like a ordinary house got he got rid of it with a couple little head flicks.
More tiger pictures after the break…