Tadoba - Part 5

Read earlier posts here - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

"Let's start at 5:30 AM tomorrow", Ashish said. Ashish was our tour operator/safari guide. After reaching to MTDC, he set the stage by stating the schedule. There would be two safaris each day. One starts at 6 in the morning until 10:30 and the other starts at 2:30 in the afternoon until 6:30 evening. So it was going to be almost 8 hours a day of safari. Looked pretty interesting and easy. On top of it, we were lured by possible sight of the tiger(s) and leopard(s). 
Long before our trip started, we had started charging up Mrunmay to see the tiger, so that he is excited enough and keeps his patience through the safari. Compared to our last safari in Bandipur, we were hoping for more calm behavior from Mrunmay. He was just about 2.5 yrs when we had visited Bandipur. I'll never forget that incidence.

After couple of fruitless safaris at Bandipur, we got a sight of a leopard. The animal was quite far off for Mrunmay to see and enjoy. He tried to see it for some time and then give up. Since there was nothing for him to do in the Gypsy, he started doing the obvious thing - started singing his poems!! We had few other folks also in the gypsy, all looked professional photographers, and it would be have unfair to them if the animal would have disappeared in the jungle due to the noise that Mrunmay was making. But I had no choice but only to convince Mrunmay to speak at lower levels. Finally, I had to close the windows of the gypsy (yes, it was a closed vehicle and I felt so relieved to have a closed vehicle at that time!!). 

This time, we had fully pepped up Mrunmay to keep quite in the jungles and also had taught him "whispering" (which he loved by the way).

Being first safari of the trip, all three of us were completely enthusiastic and woke up at the first alarm :) Even Mrunmay woke up pretty quickly. After refreshing, we were out on time and reached the gate of the reservoir, which opens at 6 AM. However, there was rush (expected!!) and took sometime to get the tickets. Ashish gave us the news that many more roads and areas in the jungle have been opened by the Forest departments for tourists. It looks like the department closes some roads/areas based on the condition of those roads. And many roads were closed till that day. This elevated our hopes to have "Darshan" of the tiger. The logic was - if many of the areas were to be traversed today after a lot of days, it is possible that Tigers and leopards and the whole brethren of Tadoba might have got comfortable to the absence of the tourist vehicles and we might be able to see them... After completing all the formality, we were in by 6:15 or so...

All excited... Looking at the beauty of the jungle. The vegetation.. the landscape.. while observing this I was quietly looking within the bushes and trees if I get a glimpse of THE animal - tiger. The first sight was that of a Gaur - rather it was just a "heads up" - One Gaur standing in the tall grass where we could only see the head and nothing more. But this early sight of the wild animal made us expect more and we were wandering in the jungle looking for various animals. No luck so far. Got some sightings of Sambar and Monkeys and that's about it. We had our breakfast by sitting in the Gypsy next to a beautiful lake. It was so quiet, felt like staying there for days together.

First safari was pretty uneventful and we returned back to the hotel. Although we couldn't see any of the real animals (we had stopped getting excited by dears and monkeys) i.e. the carnivores, we were pretty sure another couple of safaris and we'd get the sight. Most of the times it is luck, but it also depends a lot on the information that your guide can collect from the natives and the forest officers and other guides. Did anyone see any trail? Any pug-marks? Any calling? Any shit traces? (Yes... you read it correct.. this also helps in spotting the animal) However, given that it was a first day after opening lot of new areas, not much information was available and almost every vehicle was spending time in just exploring the areas. 

By doing some "logical thinking", we were hoping that it would be another 2 safari's before we could see tiger or leopard or wild dogs etc. We started preping up Mrunmay as it is very difficult to convince a kid of his age that we may not be able to see the tiger or it would take couple more safaris to actually see it.

After returning to the base, we relaxed for some time, had meals and then got ready for another ride - 2:30 PM. We had no idea how exciting that visit was going to be ... 



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