My latest tryst with the tiger, at Ranthambore

Photo Credits: Ameen Ahmed / Diwakar Sharma / WWF-India

I sighted my first tiger one summer afternoon in south-interior India's Bandipur Tiger Reserve, I guess in 1981 - 82. This was from an elephant back during a trip with my immediate family. I was 6 or 7 then and the tigress was with its cubs at a waterhole.

Ever since, I have occasionally seen tigers in the wild. But I never got close with a camera, like the one below. On 25 June this year, I made my decent use of this oppurtunity, 27 - 28 years later at Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve in North India's state of Rajasthan. I was there with my colleague of WWF-India Dr. Diwakar Sharma.

We were able to sight and photograph 'T17', a friendly tigress that roams just behind the entrance gate to the safari area in Ranthambore National Park. She is said to be the daughter of 'Machili', a widely known and photographed tigresses in this park.

We were lucky to observe her behaviour for more than half an hour during a game/ safari ride into the forest.

Tigers are usually shy animals and normally hunt in night (nocturnal behaviour). But in many parks of India they are not that shy and venture out boldly even during the day. Ranthambore is among the parks where tiger can be seen in broad daylight.

When we first saw her, she was sleeping on a rock behind the bushes besides the game ride in Zone 2.

She slowly woke up and scanned the surroundings.

Then she moved towards us. A tiger looking into your eyes has to be seen to be believed.

Tigers are found of water. Summers in this part of the world are harsh. The temperature shoots up to 47 deg celsius many times in June. To add to this are the stones that absorb and radiate the heat. Under this situation, it is invariable for the tiger to visit the water.

  She cooled off in the water taking her own sweet time.

Though we got many closeup images of this beauty, I feel the radio-collar adds an element of artificiality to this animal.

'T17', new queen of a territory in Ranthambore National Park, looks over her domain.

She decided to walk off after a few minutes.

'T17' is among the most camera friendly tigers of Ranthambore National Park. Here she is, posing for the tourists.

One of the interesting beahaviour of tiger that can be photographed is it marking its territory. It sprays its urine all along the path it walks. Any other tiger that enters this territory finds out that there is already another tiger in this area.

The tiger surveys its territory frequently to see if there are any intruders, other tigers, in it.

Here it is, spraying again on a stone along the forest path. It is observed that female tigers have smaller territories than male tigers. Also the female territories overlap with male territories. Male tigers can mate with more than one female which occur in its territory.

Ranthambore Park is among the best places in the world to sight tigers. It did not disappoint us during this visit.
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  1. Any idea why these are named in code like T17, B2 etc.?

  2. No idea Laxmeesh. Does it refer to the forest beat? Territory?

  3. Gret shots and thanks for letting us view this beauty.

    one thought that always bothered me is...

    tourists going on safaris inside national parks and the tigers getting curious about them. This makes the tigers come near the tourists and pose for photos or pass by inspecting them. Now if it is tourists or wildlife photographers or conservationists then fine. but if thy happen to be poachers then? now the tiger can't differentiate between poachers and others.

    Human proximity to tiger (safari) in national parks should never be allowed in the first place. Tigers get used to people and so it becomes that much easier for poachers.


  4. Hi Rajesh,

    Thanks for the comments.

    Tourists getting close to Tigers in parks is always tricky. Some people argue that if tigers are opened to tourists then locals benefit from the same. This will ensure the locals help protect the wildlife.



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