Female tiger, Bhanuskhindi (T-17), Tadoba

The wind-chill that winter dawn was pronounced due to the speed of our open jungle safari vehicle hurtling, and at times bouncing perilously, down the dirt road. Our safari guide had specific information of tiger movement that morning and we had to reach the location – a good half an hour drive away – before the tiger decided it was done for the morning.

Eventually we turned off the road onto a narrower dusty trail barely 5 feet wide and soon came to halt at a dry, rocky, river bed about 40 feet wide cutting across our path, the trail seen continuing on the other side of the river bed and curving away from view. On the far side, dense bamboo thickets fronted by 3-feet tall grasses formed an impenetrable wall on either side of the trail. Immediately on our right – about 100 feet along the dry river bed – was a small dam, the water beyond reflecting the gentle glimmer of the early morning sun.

Another safari vehicle was already stationed at the dam, the guide of which informed us that a female tiger, Bhanuskhindi (T-17), had just finished drinking from the dam and ambled off into the forest towards the right, probably headed to where she had kept her kill of the previous evening. Her 4 cubs were left behind crouched in the tall grasses on the far side of the river bed and the tigress was therefore bound to return to lead them away to the safety of the lair which lay in the general direction to our left. Thus began a wait, ears perked up, listening for any deer or sambar alarm calls.

Twenty minutes of pin drop silence later there she was – walking back atop the dam, heading into the tall grasses on the far side of the dry river bed. We could see her stripes moving through the grasses, where the cubs were supposedly lying in wait, till she finally emerged onto the path bang opposite our vehicle, not 50 feet away. She paused momentarily, eyes on us, expression neutral. What was she thinking? And then she just walked away into the thickets towards our left. Where were the cubs? Were they in the grasses at all? Or was it only fervent, wishful thinking?

[Framed: Female tiger, Bhanuskhindi (T-17), Alizanza Gate, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve]

– Narendra Nayak © 2023


22 thoughts on “Female tiger, Bhanuskhindi (T-17), Tadoba

      1. Yes, Tanja; I discovered my love for nature way back in 1989, and being a lone ranger most of the way have been fortunate to have had some memorable experiences. This safari was planned specially for the initiation of my wife and son into that world, and I’m glad that they are a go! 🙂

        Oh yes, bunnies definitely count! You are so lucky. I myself have a long list of what to fill my yard with, given a chance…😄

        Liked by 1 person

      1. We had 28 day validity plan. Moreover in all hustle-bustle I didn’t manage to take a single image at Kavlem though we were fortunate enough to attend the arti.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s