Our Indian Adventure - Stalking the Tiger
Over the 40 years we’ve been going to India we have visited three different game sanctuaries in the hopes of seeing a tiger.
In Ranthambore we didn’t see a tiger, but we did see another kind of rare “cat”, Mick Jagger, in the jeep right next to us. In Bandhavgargh, even though we didn’t see a tiger we heard one roar. It was like nothing else on earth. The sky filled with the sound, and it reverberated in our very bodies.
But this time in our visit to Jim Corbett National Park with our dear friend and printer, Shashi, our dream came true.
Jim Corbett National Park is India’s first national park established in 1936; a forested wildlife sanctuary in northern India’s Uttarakhand State about a 5 ½ hour car ride from Delhi. In 1956, the park was renamed after the hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett who played a leading role in establishing the preserve. Rich in flora and fauna, it’s known for its tigers, leopards, wild elephants, wild boar and deer, along with hundreds of species of birds. (See the link to the book by Jim Corbett, below)
Our guide Sanjay was a wonderful naturalist who grew up in the area and had an encyclopedic knowledge of wildlife. He took us on four open jeep safaris, four hours each, morning and afternoon over two days. You are not allowed to leave the vehicle. On our first morning safari we were lucky to see the “tiger” of the bird watching community-(the Great Hornbill) thrashing about high up in the trees collecting berries in his throat.
On the second safari that afternoon at a fork in the road we saw a lone jeep. The tracker beckoned quietly to Sanjay for us to come closer pointing to the bushes indicating there was a tiger there. We drove up close to their jeep and stared at the greenery where they were pointing, looking and looking, but still couldn’t see the tiger, it was so well camouflaged. Finally, we saw the black stripes flickering through the leaves. The other jeep pulled back, (we found out later that the woman in the jeep was scared) and we pulled around in front of it. There, less than 10 feet away from us, in a parting in the foliage was the tiger sitting peacefully, facing us. Our driver pulled right in front so Kiran could get the perfect photograph. The tiger sat there for 10 minutes. We moved out of the way for some other jeeps to see. By that time there were 25 jeeps trying to see the tiger! And we had had the best position.
So, a dream come true.