The Jungle Look

You are here: Info » trip-reports » lakkavalli-tiger-22oct06

Day 4 (25 October 2006) at Lakkavalli Forest Range, Bhadra Tiger Reserve

Tale of Two Tigers and a Herd of Gaur

Vijay, Yathin and I were visiting the Jungle Lodges and Resort located at Lakkavalli Forest Range in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, over looking the beautiful Bhadra Dam. We stayed there for 5 days. On the 4th day, Yathin and I were still deciding whether to stick around the JLR campus and do bird photography or take the morning safari. Our previous jungle safari was not a fruitful one, though we had heard of a lone tiger sighting by another group. Finally we decided to go ahead with the morning safari accompinied by a family of 4 (all adults). We set off at 7:15 in the morning and headed straight towards the backwaters on Mavinhalla Road. That’s a beautiful place with a fantastic view, where the backwaters are seen. We spent some time scanning the place for any sight of animals. We then decided to continue on Mavinhalla Road for some more time but Yathin suggested that we head back to the main road in the jungle. We came back to the main road and after sometime noticed a herd of Gaurs in the distance. I did notice something sitting on the road in the shade. And suddenly the driver Mutthu whispered...Tiger...Tiger. That was the moment....

10 years of wildlife photography and I had never seen a tiger in the wild, leave alone photographing one. Many of my friends adviced me to go to Bandhavgad if I wanted to see a Tiger. But I always had the wish to see my first Tiger in the wild in the south Indian forests. On March 17th 2006, I had seen my first tiger at BRT Wildlife Sanctuary- just the body and the tail. That too for a fraction of a second. And this visit to Bhadra along with Vijay and Yathin proved to be a lucky one. I had shot my first Leopard at Bhadra on 31 Oct 2004 (which is my website logo). And 2 years later, I was seeing and photographing my first Tiger at the same place. Here’s the sequence of events which followed then.


When we saw the tigers we immediately stopped the vehicle and switched it off. We saw two siblings sitting beside each other and patiently watching this herd of Gaur. We could feel the tension in the air. My hands were shivering and I was very tensed as that moment of my life had come when I could photograph a tiger in the wild. I immediately took a shot and previewed the image in the LCD display to make sure I have not made any mistakes in my exposure. I also checked all the settings of my camera and lens to make sure I get this once in a life time shot without any technical errors.

We saw the Gaur herd crossing the road and keeping an eye on these two tigers.

One of the cub waited for this last Gaur to cross the road and then started to slowly approach them.
:trip-reports:lakkavalli-tiger-25oct06:mg_5917-Tiger-Gaur.jpg :trip-reports:lakkavalli-tiger-25oct06:mg_5918-Tiger-Gaur.jpg

While the cub started the slow approach, something caught their attention towards their right. Probably their mother was there. They froze for a moment watching in that direction. Throughout the time we were with the tigers, the other cub never turned back and looked at us. This was the only time we could get a side pose. Probably the gaur herd was moving from towards their right and crossing the road ahead. We were around 50 meters from the tigers and could not hear any sound from around there.

And then more Gaurs crossed the road. The cub continued the slow approach. We were waiting and hoping to see some action. Other thing we observed was that the gaurs did not panic and run. They were slow in their walking, but keeping a close watch at these tigers.

Again something caught their attention from towards their right. And the cub stopped. This made the gaur to stop and keep an eye on the tigers.

The cub went in, probably to check out whatever caught their attention. We waited for quite sometime and we could not hear anything. The other cub just sat there looking in that direction. It was a tense moment for me.
:trip-reports:lakkavalli-tiger-25oct06:mg_5939-Tiger-Gaur.jpg :trip-reports:lakkavalli-tiger-25oct06:mg_5940-Tiger-Male.jpg

After sometime the cub returned and checked out the gaurs which were crossing the road. I was hoping that atleast the cub would give a glimpse of its face.

By that time all the gaurs had vanished in the jungle. And that’s when the cub turned towards us and saw us. It was gorgeous. This was the first time in my life I saw the face of a wild tiger. What a moment it was.

And then for the third time the cub’s attention caught towards their right. I really wondered what was happening there.

The cub continued the walk and the other cub got up and followed it. But then it stopped and started to watch intensely towards the right. We tried scanning that area for any other movements. But alas, we could not see or hear anything.

The second cub stopped, looked at its sibling and went off towards its right.

This cub then turned back and saw that the other cub was no longer following it. As it turned back and started to look in the direction where its went. The cub looked in that direction and went too.
:trip-reports:lakkavalli-tiger-25oct06:mg_5970-Tiger.jpg :trip-reports:lakkavalli-tiger-25oct06:mg_5976-Tiger.jpg :trip-reports:lakkavalli-tiger-25oct06:mg_5979-Tiger.jpg :trip-reports:lakkavalli-tiger-25oct06:mg_5980-Tiger.jpg

We waited for quite sometime hoping they would come back to the road. But nothing happened. We then started the vehicle and went near in search of them. But there was absolutely no sign of them. It was as if nothing had happened in the last 10 mins. But those 10 mins were such intense moments of my life which I can never forget. These kind of incidents probably happen everyday in the jungles. But I was quite happy that I could capture the entire scene on my camera.

While we were returning from the safari, an hour later, we saw the tiger scat at around the same location. There were three droppings. Probably of these siblings and its mother.

They were seen continuously during the next three days at almost the same location. I missed it by 10 mins the next day. But I was quite satisfied with what I had seen and captured. Hope to see more of these rare moments in the jungles.

All images photographed during this trip can be viewed here.