Posts Tagged ‘tiger’

Gauri and her cubs, Bandipur, 040212

February 28, 2012

It was nice to see Gauri, the tiger who gave birth to four cubs….we saw three of the cubs, too. As usual, it was past sunset, and quite low light when we saw them, but I managed these videos…



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Spots…and stripes

May 19, 2011

No, we didn’t get that “apex of sightings” (according to the Artificial Heirarchy of Jungle Sightings, developed by wildlife tourists)…no stripes. But on two of the three safaris we went on, we spotted spots. Here’s Panthera pardus, giving us a profile pose, nonchalantly:

lpd side lok 150511

However, the first leopard we sighted, was far away, and deep in the jungle:

lpd tree 140511

but yet we caught sight of it getting up and walking off:

lpd walkng 140511

There were about six jeeps full of people (including the regulation Bright Red Tee Shirt Tourist) watching it:

lpd wlkng 2 140511

The second one was sighted by my friend Yashpal. This was very apt, because before the trip, he’d emailed the rest of us that he was bringing along a special lens for a “decent leopard shot”. So of course I started teasing him, asking him, “What if the leopard is not decent? These animals don’t wear clothes, you know, they go around wearing only very expensive fur coats.”

We were almost at the end of the safari when he sort of choked out, “stop”…and the leopard was climbing down a tree not very far from us. The magnificient male then sat down in the drenched foliage (something I never realized big cats do!) and waited patiently, I think, for us to move out.

After a few minutes, though, he decided he was the one to depart, and so he did….here are the shots of him in the greenery:

lpd stng 150511

lpd pnning 150511

lpd fc cut 150511

lpd lping 150511 kbn

Something else seemed to capture his attention:

lpd fcng away 150511kbni

And off he went!

Thank goodness, no one asked us the usual question of “No tiger sightings?” …it seems that to most wildlife tourists, a safari is incomplete without sighting a tiger.

I’d posted a photograph of the leopard on INW with the comment that someone asked , “You didn’t see a tiger…did you ‘at least’ see a leopard?”

Santosh Saligram responded:

LOL, the inanity of the uneducated tourist is boundless. Still, that question is a lot better than one I was asked once when a man pulled up alongside our vehicle, which was parked somewhere in the forest on safari.

“Saw tiger?”

“Yes”

“How many?”

“One”

(Raising his brow and at a high pitch) “ONLY ONE?”

(Patiently) “Yes, only one.”

(Restlessly) “What about the other 23???”

(This reserve is supposed to have 24 tigers.)

Similarly, a tourist had once demanded his money be refunded because his guide “cheated him” by showing “only one” tiger and omitting the other “twenty-odd” that were “supposed to be living there”.

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night
You cast on tourists’ mood a general blight
If they cannot get your sight!

Here’s Mr Leo Pard giving us the “are YOU going or shall I?” look:

lpd fnt lk 150511

Artificial Heirarchy: The Tiger Fixation

May 12, 2011

I do understand that the tiger is an icon of the Indian jungles, and it is endangered, probably critically so. It’s always been the dream of the wildlife enthusiast, and the wildlife photographer, to get a sighting, and a good photograph, of the tiger.

But the fixation with the tiger may be totally counter-productive. It creates a skewed view of the jungle in the mind of the wildlife visitor, who thinks the jungle, and all its denizens, is but a background for the tiger.

As we get more obsessed with tiger sightings and photo ops, more and more animal-unfriendly measures (such as the Tiger Show in some of the northern national parks, and leaving bait for tigers) are being resorted to by resort owners and tour operators to bring in the visitors, and the money. Unhealthy, unethical and sometimes downright dangerous practices are adopted to get that much-in-demand tiger sighting, that tiger image.

What saddens me is that this tiger-mania seems so all-pervasive. If even more experienced wildlife enthusiasts do nothing but post photographs of the tigers, are they not sending the same message to people who are just getting interested in wildlife…that only the tiger is important, nothing else is?

When we were in Kanha, there was a family in the next room. Like many other visitors, they constantly bemoaned the fact that in three days they had not seen a single tiger, and said their visit was an utter waste. Finally, I invited the children over to our room, told them I was going to take them on a “photo safari”…. and showed them the photographs of everything else but the tiger, that I had shot in the last two days. I explained about the birds, the deer, the various plants.

The next day, the parents came along and asked if they could see the photographs too. The mother told me, “We never realized how much else there is in the forest to look at, today we have enjoyed our safaris very much and are not bothered about tiger sighting.” I don’t know if they ever saw a tiger…but certainly, their visit became a fruitful one instead of being barren just because they had seen no tigers.

Here

is an excellent article by Madhusudhan Katti…who, I think, says it much better than I do!

As more and more wildlife visitors visit the jungles, and more and more stress is laid on tiger sightings, I wonder whether we are actually pushing this animal further towards extinction. We recently had a face-off with one resort which “guaranteed” a tiger sighting to its visitors. They finally did change the wording on their website, and I do hope they are not leaving bait to ensure tiger sightings, which is,unfortunately, a widespread practice in our wildlife resorts.

Alas, I find this kind of obsession in all the wildlife fora I belong to. A tiger’s photograph gets 122 comments…the picture of a very rare butterfly…about four!

IF, as a wildlife visitor, I see a tiger…well and good. But if I don’t…there are SO many other animals and birds and trees and insects and reptiles and amphibians and algae to see, observe and learn about…that no tiger is also well and good!

Vikram Nanjappa

mentioned on his blog that once someone asked him, “Oh, you didn’t see a tiger? Did you at least spot a leopard?” This kind of artificial heirarchy that we seem to create in the natural world is ridiculous. We may term some animal as being at the “top” of the food chain. But I believe that the food chain is cyclical, not pyramidal.

The world is not human-centric just because our species is over-running every other mammalian species, and similarly, the jungle is not tiger-centric just because they are more elusive than, say, deer or mongoose….just the plant world is not lantana-centric just because it is over-running other plant species.

In fact, go through the blogs of experienced wildlifers like Vikram or

Karthik

and see how often tigers are featured. Certainly Karthik has dinned this lesson into me for years now! Look at the way Vikram photographs deer, macaques, otters, and the way Karthik is able to spot drama and wonder in the smallest of living creatures. On a nature trail with Karthik, we joke that at the end of three hours we might not have moved more than a few inches…but we would still be amazed and stupefied at what we have seen!

I think it’s up to all the more experienced wildlife enthusiasts to create the awareness that Nature is important in ALL her forms and beings, and that no one animal, whether the lion or the tiger, is the lord of the jungle. The tiniest ant, scuttling along on the forest floor, is as important a part of the world of Nature, as the largest elephant which roams the jungles.

Let’s learn to observe and enjoy everything that we see in nature…and our enjoyment will be far more, and our knowledge, too, will be more holistic and we can move towards a balanced understanding of how our world is.

I am no scientist…just a layperson, and this my point of view….

The Amur (Siberian) Tigers at St Louis Zoo

April 30, 2009

Since the hospital was not ready to take in A as rooms were not free, I went off (with KM) to Forest Park for a long walk, and to see the five (yes, five!) Siberian tiger cubs that celebrated their first birthday yesterday. The big cat breeding program has been very successful in St Louis Zoo; I have already written about their success at breeding cheetahs.

Well, the Siberian or Amur Tiger is a critically endangered animal, and the Zoo has successfully been able to breed five cubs! And a birthday (whether of my GD or of Amur Tigers) is no small affair, so it was lovely to be able to see them….

Here’s the sign about the Amur Tigers’ birthday:

amur tiger cubs birthday 280409 st L zoo

and info about the tigers:

amur tiger sign 280209 zoo

And here are two of the cubs…

280209 2 tiger cubs playing

And three more….

280209 3 amur tiger cubs st l zoo

The tigers are nearly the size of their mother! But their baby fat and their mischief identifies them.

How playful children are, no matter where and what they are!

oh, no, not quite that quickly…

April 28, 2009

I was up at 5 am, getting ready so that we could leave for the hospital by 6.30 am (there’s always that last-minute rush for the hot water!) and at 5.30 am, we get a call from the hospital, saying that many women came into the hospital in a state of advanced labour, so elective procedures like inducement of labour had been postponed…so DnA will probably get a call only this evening or tomorrow morning (more likely). All dressed and nowhere to go…DnA went right back to sleep but me, the insomniac…I went for a nice long walk!

It was neither rain nor even what we call a drizzle in India, but what is called a “fine Scotch mist”….when one can feel the moisture on one’s face, but can’t really feel the raindrops. It was a beautiful walk, and I came back with chilled hands and face (oh, it’s been cloudy and cool here for the past 2 days, back from the HOT weather of Sunday), made myself some HOT coffee (which will not bear any comparison to the Park View baitu coffee) and wanted to have a nap, but meanwhile, I had to update D’s parents, and itsalouwelylife, too….

So..no nap; but on the walk, I got the New York Times, and the St Louis Dispatch, and learnt from the latter newspaper that there are now five AMUR TIGERS which are exactly one year old today, at the St Louis Zoo …since I seem to have a bonus day today, off I am going!

Here are the details about the Amur Tigers .

Meanwhile, here are a few images of the Gateway Arch , the iconic structure of this city….

arch vista

more arch-images

The Eagles…

February 1, 2009

Spent a lovely afternoon playing board games, and then a very pleasant evening with VV …and learnt a lot more about him, and about the Eagles.

VV is both a guitarist and flautist (no, that doesn’t mean he flauts the rules) and seems to straddle eastern and western music with ease…and when we got to talking about difficulties with the guitar, I mentioned how AM had been very frustrated, trying to reproduce what the Eagles played in the song, “Hotel California”, he instantly put on the song for us…and we all enjoyed that marvellous piece of guitar-playing. He told us that there were 6 box guitars and one bass guitar playing….and that when the Eagles broke up, and someone asked, when they would get back together again, the reply had been, “When hell freezes over.”

So when they got back…just once…., they made an album which was called “Hell Freezes Over”….my favourites in that album are Tequila Sunrise and, of course…Hotel California…quite literally, “haunting” lyrics, and music that makes me lose myself!

Want to hear it?

Here it is:

Oh…that guitar-playing….

Tiger At Kaziranga….Warning, Lousy Photographs

December 31, 2008

Since it looks as if we are returning home only next year :D, and I have got the computer for just a little while, I think I will also post my lousy tiger photographs from Kaziranga…

It was the 13th of December, and we had nearly finished the safari in the Eastern Range, and were photographing the Black-Capped Kingfisher using the last of the light available, when our guide, Polash Bora, suddenly pricked up his ears. So did I, and I heard what he did…a lot of alarm calls. We slowly moved forward down the bank of the canal, and there, in the gloaming sat a fully-grown male tiger….


>

He did look a lot different from the other tigers I have seen in India (north India, mind you. The SIT does NOT exist until I sight one!)

What was fascinating was that when HE looked at the deer grazing off to his left, he assumed a skulking position. Here was a Crouching Tiger, and no, we did not see a Hidden Dragon:

He remained like that for a few minutes; I put down the camera and decided to just watch, as the light was very poor anyway. (Almost all my tiger sightings have been those of Dusky Tigers, no matter HOW orange they may have been!) We were hoping that we would be watching a hunt, and tried to contain our excitement.

But alas, our excitement contained itself quite quickly when, for some reason, he gave up the idea of a meal, and got up from his “let’s have a look at the menu” pose:

And he wheeled around and walked away, melting noiselessly into the bushes:

This post is dedicated to anirudhc, and I hope he gets to see his first big cat soon!

The rest of the mammals and the wonderful birds of Kaziranga once I get back home….

Here’s to all you LJ friends, who have been a great bunch, always; I have been very lucky in knowing many of you face to face, and here’s wishing you all good health, happiness, and peace of mind in the year that’s coming up!

Off to Bandipur, tiger, tiger, can you burn a little brighter?

April 25, 2008

Here’s my favourite shot from Bandipur ….

Baby Elephant at Bandipur 9Jun07

Bandipur has always been one of my favourite areas…and what once used to be “Prakruthi” restaurant has now morphed into the Bandipur property of JLR . Almost every room there has a beautifully painted wildlife mural .

Well, since I can do a bit of “swalpa adjust maadi” with itsalouwelylife and her UK friend, I am executing a sneak to Bandipur tomorrow.

Alas, this time I am not going just to see what I can see. Usually, that’s what I do. And I come back happy with whatever I saw, but never a glimpse of any stripes…..Then, I was told by someone, when I said that I had never seen a tiger in south India: “You lack focus. You are too happy and contented with what you see, so you will never see a tiger.”

OK, this time, focus, focus, focus. Ever since chirdeepshetty went to take up a 2-month voluntary assignment as a naturalist there, he has apparently seen nothing but tigers. They are crawling out of the woodwork….he posted to the JLRNTP egroup about sighting 5 of them recently. And whoever has gone there from the NTP this past week….Praveen, Avinash, Amogh…have been also been doing nothing else.

So having once cancelled my train ticket for today, I went back and bought a bus ticket for tomorrow, and I am FOCUSSSSSSING as I go off. Wish me luck everyone. I have a great fear that these other tiger-sighting characters are swifty exhausting the April 2008 Tiger-Sighting Quota before I arrive there, and will do the usual “The tiger was sighted HERE yesterday” or “Look! Tiger Scat!” (That’s a polite and technical way of referring to tiger shit tiger waste-products.) I even had one naturalist who enthused, “OH! It’s FRESH and STEAMING!!!” as if it was a fragrant breakfast dish of idlies that he had found.

I don’t want tiger claw marks, I don’t want pug marks. I don’t want to listen to other people’s tiger-sighting stories. I WANT MY OWN TIGER SIGHTING IN SOUTH INDIA. This means YOU, you tiger hiding in the forests of Bandipur. Come on out you coquette, I want to see if you actually do exist, or are a piece of these other people’s fevered imaginations….

Want to see some of my Bandipur posts?

click on this

adarshraju told me he hopes I will sight one. That was nice of him.

He also told Anush not to go with me as anyone with me would never see a tiger. That is NOT nice of him. I am deciding whether to smile at him or growl at him the next time I see him….

I do love Bandipur, tiger or no tiger. But I would prefer tiger to no tiger… Sigh.

Orange and Black…

May 21, 2007

Trying to take photographs while going in the JLR van for the herbivore/bear/big cats safari is a real challenge. There is a huge grille attached to the outside of the windows, at an odd distance of a few inches away from them. The sliding glasses in each window ensure that either the person in front of you, OR you, can get the camera out…but not both. The glasses are quite smeared up and practically translucent. And the van rattles about on the uneven paths, jolting us, and our cameras, around.

Tiger….er…bear all this mind when you see the photographs and don’t click your tongue at the not-quite-in-focus stuff

Here’s my favourite pic of that day…

T, T, Burning Bright...

As we were clicking at the three sleeping tigers that I posted earlier, Sachin Nayak…er…spotted a spotted owlet; when I turned the camera that way, I was struck by the fact that a “face” with two “eyes” and a “mouth” was what I was looking at…can you see it in the snap below? The spotted owlet is sitting in the “mouth”:

two 'eyes" and a "mouth"....

For some more pics of the NT Program, wait for my Metblogs post!

JLRNTP…and Vyshnavi

May 19, 2007

Today I went to attend one session of the ongoing Naturalists’ Training Program that is being run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts…or rather, by its Chief Naturalist, S.Karthikeyan or Karthik, about whom I have written a lot on LJ!

I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Bannerghatta National Park, where JLR has a property thankfully far away from the tourist crowd who come to visit the enclosed Safari Park…but we still went on the herbivore/bear/big cats safari like the tourists do…

I met a great set of people, some of whom actually read my LJ…!

Of course, it is late at night now, and I will have to post my photos to Flickr before I can describe the sights, sounds and scenes from the wasps’ nest being built to the wonder of a shikra swooping literally overhead as I went home…but just as an appetiser, here’s a picture everyone except hardcore naturalists will like:

Bannerghatta,JLRNTP-1, 19 May 07

Naturalists cannot count the tigers, lions, and leopards at the Bannerghatta National Park as “wild” at all…these animals are so used to people going past in the safari vans they might almost be called semi-domesticated. But the fact is that they will never be entirely used to humans and will only tolerate them at best…. as was proved by a ghastly incident some years ago when a girl was pulled from a van (which had no grilles then) and killed and dragged away into the undergrowth.

We had a little tourist in our van who, after seeing several tigers (including an albino) lisped to his parents, “Awright we saw tigers…where’s LION?” One day his parents will have to tell him that in the wild he will not find them together! ;-))

After I came home, and got rid of the day’s heat and dust with a glorious swim….vyshnavi came over. Welcome, Vyshavi and hopefully, with you, ti22 and several others of your gang, too!

Will post pictures and an account of the NT Program in a day or two..