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Vijay Rajan Jun 6th, 2012 14:36

A guide to spotting Tigers on a safari
 
Disclaimer : This is a reproduced version of the original thread http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Band...iew-ulspmsrnpm with additional inputs added by yours truly.

Many a time, visitors to a national Park are disappointed on not spotting any wild animals especially big game like the tiger and leopard. More often than not, these disappointed visitors end up speculating if Tigers really do exist at these parks or not. Here are a few tips (meant primarily for folks hell bent on sighting a Tiger in the wild!) which might increase the chances of these visitors going back home with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

1) Contrary to the belief that all you needed to do for sighting Tigers is to book your tickets and park your bottom on the not-so-plush seats of a safari Jeep, the key to success my friends, lies with US to a certain extent.

1) At the outset, be polite to your guide / driver and let them know that you are eager to spot a wild cat. Show enthusiasm in everything they tell you about the reserve. Rest assured, the guide will make a sincere effort to take you to places in the reserve where wildcats are usually found. Keep asking questions on the topography, habitats, Tiger behavior and half your mission is accomplished already.

2) The safari guides usually look out for tracks or pugmarks which provide important clues. Not only do they tell us of the presence of wild animals but they can also indicate the size, sex, and sometimes even the age of an animal. The marks of animal feet on the roads of the Park reveal their presence and the freshness of the tiger's pugmark reveals its whereabouts.

3) The safari guides also keep an eye on trees where tigers usually leave territorial signals that demarcate their home range. These trees are also marked by their scent (pee).

4) Alarm calls or distress calls of animals like Sambar, chital, Bluebull, Chinkara, Langur (Monkey) or even Peacocks, provide clues to the exact location of the tiger. Understanding and interpreting visual signs and sounds is an art in itself and one of the most enjoyable to learn while you drive through a wildlife reserve.

When you hear alarm calls of the Sambar (the most dependable) or Chital or even the Langurs, just ask the driver to take you closer to the origin of the alarm call. Do not raise your hopes too high but do keep your fingers crossed! Ensure that the diver cuts off the engine and parks a little far away from where the calls originate so as not to frighten the animal. Maintain SILENCE, wait for at least 5-10 minutes and scan the area. It is likely that you will spot the elusive wild cat. If the alarm call is from a Langur near a waterhole then you have a 99% chance of sighting a Tiger.

5) Remember, alarm calls are let out by prey animals ONLY when the predator is on the move (not when they are taking a nap). In case you neither find pugmarks nor hear any alarm calls, do not get disheartened. Your safari Guide would take you around to either the Waterholes or in the vicinity of another group of prey animals or dens (cooling off / siesta time for the Big Cats). The guide would more often than not focus on these locations & thus increase your chances of sighting these elusive animals.

6) Tell your Guide / driver that you are not in a hurry and are willing to wait at any particular location. Always pause, listen and assess the clues that the forest provides about the tigers presence. Remember that the edges of the roads will have scat (droppings) of tigers and their scrape marks, which are also indicators of the freshness of their presence. In order to engage the Guide in an intelligent conversation, ask them about scat habits or territorial behavior of apex predators.

7) Presence of Crows or other scavenging birds might also lead you to tigers, leopards of jackals. Keep an eye out for them.

8) Tigers usually need 2 or 3 days to finish off a meal !

9) Do not wear any bright colored clothes, choose shades of Olive / green / earthy browns to blend in with the environment. Donning a hat is a must irrespective of the time of the year you'd be on a safari. Do not wear any perfume / cologne and enjoy the scents of nature at it's best.

10) Carry plenty of Bottled water but dispose the empty bottles responsibly after you exit the park. Dump that box of Cigarettes prior to entering the Park.

11) After you have are through with the safari (having spotted the wild cat), do give the Guide & the Driver a good "pat on the back" and perhaps a small tip at the end of the safari as a token of appreciation. It encourages them to be enthusiastic with all visitors and also goes a long way in ensuring that you get the best seat in the house on your next safari !

12) Do not speak to the guide or amongst yourselves loudly, tone down your voice and respect the unwritten rules of the Jungle.

13) Do not be obsessed with sighting Tigers ! Employ the methods outlined above, enjoy nature at it's best, enjoy the sights & sounds of the jungles. The last thing you'd need to do is announce your arrival to the Tiger !

14) When THE MOMENT arrives and you do spot a Tiger, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT yell or shout in excitement ! These cats bless you with memorable sightings when viewed in silence from a safe distance to both, the Tiger as well as the intruder, YOU. Silence is indeed golden.

I have been fortunate enough to spot almost all the Big cat residents of Ranthambhore NP including a few leopards by employing these guidelines which should work at almost all Tiger Reserves of India. I am sure you would too !

Cheers !

shahronakm Jun 6th, 2012 14:44

Great tips for wildlife watching. Thanks for sharing.

Ronak.

Vijay Rajan Jun 6th, 2012 15:00

Quote:

Originally Posted by shahronakm (Post 1417445)
Great tips for wildlife watching. Thanks for sharing.

Ronak.

Thanks Ronak,

I'm glad you liked it.

I've done Ranthambhore (my favorite) plenty of times, Kabini, Nagarahole, Bandipur & Periyar.

I'm planning to visit Ranthambhore in End-Oct, TATR in Nov, Bandhavgarh & Kanha in March 2013, Ranthambhore in April 2013 & TATR + Nagzira + Pench in May 2013.

Do let me know if you are planning a trip to any of these so that I could join you as well with my girlfriend (Nikon D3100).

paramiyer Jun 6th, 2012 15:34

agree with the entire list of the tips, except for the one on 'tips' - which should be a measure of their effort & commitment, and not dependent on the sole success of the mission - spotting a tiger. many times tigers may not show up despite their best efforts, or may just walk by without any effort from their end - your tip would give a wrong signal in either case! just a thought.

Prakaant Jun 6th, 2012 16:46

Nice tips!

A similar list of tips I have kept bookmarked from another forum with a title Tips to spot wild cats - rules to follow in jung(le)".

It would be appreciated if the credit is given to the original writer in case it has anything to do with the mentioned article. :)

shahronakm Jun 6th, 2012 17:19

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vijay Rajan (Post 1417457)
Thanks Ronak,

I'm glad you liked it.

I've done Ranthambhore (my favorite) plenty of times, Kabini, Nagarahole, Bandipur & Periyar.

I'm planning to visit Ranthambhore in End-Oct, TATR in Nov, Bandhavgarh & Kanha in March 2013, Ranthambhore in April 2013 & TATR + Nagzira + Pench in May 2013.

Do let me know if you are planning a trip to any of these so that I could join you as well with my girlfriend (Nikon D3100).

Lots of wildlife trip in the pipeline for you. Good.

Generally once every year (In summer months) I & wife take a trip to Tiger reserve. In April this year we went to Tadoba for 11 safaris. Last year we went to Corbett & on earlier occasions we have been to Kabini, Bandhavgarh & Kaziranga. Next year we might land up in Ranthambore or Pench or Tadoaba or Gir, not sure too early to say right now. Also once a year (since last two years only) we go to non tiger reserve sanctuaries. Last year we went to Velavadar & on earlier occasion we have been to Namdapha. This year Velavadar (again) & LRK are on our minds.

Thanks for all your Ranthambore tips & tips in this thread. Great piece of information for all Imers.

Ronak.

Vijay Rajan Jun 6th, 2012 17:22

Hi Prakaant,

Thanks for your comments. While the post on the link provided by you is indeed quite similar to the one posted by me, the excerpts had been complied by me from another forum. Apparently, it seems that neither is the original author traceable nor the article copyright protected ! I guess it'd make sense to run a disclaimer that I am not the original author ! Appreciate your input since the goal is to share information which might be useful to first timers !

Photofreak Jun 6th, 2012 17:37

I would like to add one to the list compiled by Vijay Rajan. In fact he himself has mentioned it in the tip no. 5...."Wait for at least 5-10 minutes and scan the spot in silence"

Quite often, I have observed in the national parks that some of the tourists try their best to covert the safari vehicle in to a fish market.

Jungle folks are quite sensitive to voices and the chances of spotting one increase significantly if silence is maintained.

Once, I even saw an idiot getting down from the gypsy (despite repeated warnings from the guide) to get a "feel" of the jungle. I guess, we need to respect the laws of the Jungle.

Vijay Rajan Jun 6th, 2012 18:03

Well said Photofreak !

I've had similar experiences as well and trust me, it is terribly annoying to watch people behave in such a manner. While there are some who visit NPs with a Zoo mentality one could also find real morons who have scant respect towards nature !

I reckon IM is a great place for newbie wildlife lovers who make an effort to learn from various posts & experiences prior to embarking on a journey. Appreciate your inputs, thank you !:)


Quote:

Originally Posted by Photofreak (Post 1417545)
I would like to add one to the list compiled by Vijay Rajan. In fact he himself has mentioned it in the tip no. 5...."Wait for at least 5-10 minutes and scan the spot in silence"

Quite often, I have observed in the national parks that some of the tourists try their best to covert the safari vehicle in to a fish market.

Jungle folks are quite sensitive to voices and the chances of spotting one increase significantly if silence is maintained.

Once, I even saw an idiot getting down from the gypsy (despite repeated warnings from the guide) to get a "feel" of the jungle. I guess, we need to respect the laws of the Jungle.


saugata41 Jun 6th, 2012 21:58

Good compilation of tips - I agree with all of them, but luck/fortune and timing (being at the right place at the right time) plays a very important role in spotting any wildlife, and especially a big cat. Nevertheless, the beauty of the jungle is always there to enjoy.


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