Page Loading, please wait ..... Do not touch that mouse!
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

I was in “Tadoba”. I saw the tigers – mother with her four cubs! It was an anti climax of sorts for me. India keeps throwing up such unimaginable scenarios that one soon gets to easily accept the unusual. My “Tadoba” experience to say the least was unusual. However, I learnt a great lesson on how precious water is to all living beings!

The bolder of the four cubs at TATR!

M. N. Jayakumar, IFS, (MNJ) casually asked me if I would like to Join Ajit Huilgol (AH) and himself to Tadoba, Bandhavgarh and Pench sometime in April 2010 to enjoy the company of tigers. As it so often happens I readily agreed. He later informed me that Diinesh Kumble (DK) was joining too. I had never been to Tadoba or Bandhavgarh though I was in Pench for the “2007 INW meet”. I was looking forward to the experience, a slight deviation from my usual “birding trips”.

9th April, 2010. Our 10.40 am Kingfisher flight out of Bangalore to Nagpur hopping via Indore was exciting for us cricket fans. We had the entire “Deccan Chargers” troupe on board. They were to play a IPL T20 cricket match in Nagpur the next day. Our flight landed in Nagpur at about 2.30 pm and after enjoying a wonderful lunch in one of MNJ’s classmates house, we hit the road to Todoba!

The more or less 200 kms drive from Nagpur via Chandrapur took us close to five hours. A forest officer from “Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve” (TATR) welcomed us and wished us a happy stay. Manish Varma who was assisting us with the vehicles was at the gate. We quickly boarded the two Gypsy’s he provided and headed off to the Forest Rest House (FRH) at “Kolsa” that MNJ had earlier booked for us. A quick and simple dinner and off to bed, tomorrow we shall be shooting tigers, or so I thought.

10th April, 2010. We left the FRH by 6 am and wandered the entire “Kolsa” range for over five hours! It was hot, it was dusty and we had no sightings, no clicks. Just Gypsy following Gypsy! Eventually, we met a group of researchers who showed us fresh “camera trap” images of a tiger with her very young cubs that had been recently discovered in the area! Inspiring!

Though the forest was “Southern tropical Dry Deciduous” type with teak as the dominant species, I was seeing “Bamboo” everywhere! Towards the end of our morning round, MNJ and AH were able to get a glimpse of a tiger!

I decided to rest for the rest of the day at the rest house ☺ . The others went on an evening round and DK was able to get a great image of a tiger cub! Inspiration for the next day!

11th April, 2010. Again we left “Kolsa” before 6 am and this time drove towards the “Moharli Range”. Unlike yesterday, today DK and myself were on our own and were not following the other Gypsy. I was glad to meet several fellow photographers and our hot and dusty, no clicks, morning round ended at the “MTDC Tourism Complex”! DK and myself relaxed for a few hours in the company of renowned wildlife photographers Dhritiman Mukherjee, Jagdeep Rajput and N C Dhingra, while exchanging some inspiring wildlife experiences!

After lunch, I had a small chat with Manish and learnt that all the action happens on the main road sometime in the evening when the tiger with her four cubs come to one of the water holes by the road side for a drink!

That afternoon, DK and myself decided to explore the “Tadoba National Park” area of TATR. Sighting a tiger in the wild is always a chance, and we must take ours! For nearly three hours we sat in the Gypsy, moving slowly, part of a long line of vehicles all in anticipation of a tiger sighting!

It was almost dusk, after exiting the “Tadoba National Park”, we were returning to “Kolsa” when we noticed a large number of vehicles parked on the main road, in the “Moharli Range”. As we joined the “gang”, just as Manish had described, I saw a tiger cub sitting in the small “man made” water hole by the road side! 

My first sighting!


Very soon the mother walked out of the undergrowth and joined the cub. I alternated between my still and video cameras and became extremely busy for about ten minutes. The bold cub played a bit while the mother drank her fill. Mother gave us a final "hiss" as they silently disappeared into the undergrowth.

"Hiss of disgust"? or "Warning to cub"?

A bit ahead in the next water hole the other three cubs did the same. We were just about able to get a few snaps of the three cubs before the sun went down!

It was more or less a repeat the next day. Except that the mother did not make an appearance! I was shooting mostly video and focused a bit on the crowd enjoyment. I could see the excitement on the face of many a future wildlife “conservationist”!

The four cubs...

This is what is incredible about India. On a hot Sunday evening, mid-summer, over thirty vehicles with some hundred odd “informed” tourists are parked on a main asphalted road hoping for a “darshan” and a tiger and her cubs walk out of the undergrowth for a drink!

I must add here that the forest officials were constantly moving on the road keeping a close watch and the crowd was extremely well behaved under the circumstance. I guess, there must be a reason why the “water holes” are situated on the main road?

So, that is my story of Tadoba! This mother with her cubs is currently (April 2010) the main draw. Even otherwise the forests of TATR are impressive and holds an estimated tiger population of 41 individuals! MNJ and AH were able to spot and photograph a pair of mating tigers in the Kolsa range and a single tiger in the “Tadoba National Park”. Dhritiman showed me a wonderful photograph of a tiger drinking water he had just shot at the “Tadoba National Park”. TATR is no doubt serious tiger country!

Also, In the short time we were at TATR, in addition to tigers we sighted Panther, Wild Pig, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Gaur, Sloth Bear, Wild Dog, Four-Horned Antelope, Barking Deer and plenty of Hanuman Langur.

The most important lesson I learnt as I mentioned earlier is the importance of water. Almost all the wild animals and nearly a hundred species of birds we saw were near or inside water! This video I made will surely make you think! Watch ->

13th April 2010. We vacated the Kolsa FRH at 6am and drove straight back to Nagpur! Somehow the return journey was faster and we took a route that did not pass through Chandrapur! We had a wonderful surprise breakfast with “Anil Kumble” at the “Pride Hotel” and then proceeded on our long drive all the way to Bandhavgarh!

Please get more information about this tiger reserve here -> TATR

Vijay Cavale
April 2010