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Category: Wildlife Safaris


Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 6 months ago


Maya Tigress of Tadoba

Maya Enchants, Maya is the crowd puller, Maya generates economy for this place, Maya made Tadoba popular to the extent that whenever we talk about Tadoba Maya’s name definitely comes up.

If she goes missing for a few days we start feeling helpless, because she has garnered a larger than life fame! Her contribution is beyond what we can see. Her contribution towards her own stripes is TOO enormous. She is amazing because since she became an adult, almost all the male tigers of Tadoba started venturing into her territory. This trend is still continued if we look into the different males who have visited her in the three years of her life, it adds up to 6 to 7 different males. There were days when she was sighted with 2 to 3 different males in a single day. But she managed well, then she had a first litter of cubs, she in fact lost her first litter, she slowly matured as tigress, as a mother, she kept allowing the male tigers to visit her, then she had her next litter.

BIG ? Who is the father of her cubs? Amidst utter confusion and too much speculation, she kept her cubs well secured, then she declared the identity of their father. Surprise again! she went for the “Handicap principle” in that none of the supposedly cool dudes got the chance to father her cubs. Then on she kept on amazing us by the way she reared her cubs and kept meeting all the “visitors” be it tourist or the different striped males. But the story doesn’t end there, because of her the other females neighboring her territory got the chance to rear their cubs without being bothered too much by the other males. In a crisis period of gender imbalance in the tiger community that is a huge contribution and for me just because of that fact she is one of those most amazing tigresses I have seen.

p.s. Now a days, the visitors seem to be already entrapped in Maya’s aura way before seeing her, it is frequent request to us naturalists at svasara to especially see “Maya” even if they have had the good luck of sighting other tigers.

To follow new updates about her and see her beautiful pictures, please see and like her photo album Maya (P2/T12), the reigning Queen of Pandharpauni on our facebook page.

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Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 6 months ago


The Little Star

I am indeed lucky with her…She is very different than her neighbor Maya. She looks more composed more cautious… My golden sighting of her happened on 6th November 2014 635 AM when she came to jamni village school to get her cubs perhaps admitted in the school! I have had indeed fortunate luck to see her cubs in the wild.

Her male cub from the first litter unfortunately died but the female cub is surviving well. It had been a while since seeing her with cubs. And then exactly two years later, on 6th November 2016, I found her sitting with her cubs on the side of the road. I watched them for a while then I photographed a few memories and returned happily to the lodge.

Unlike Maya, Choti Tara is not so secretive about the father of the cubs, last time she introduced “Gabbar” as the father and this time it was “Matkasur.” She definitely likes the heroes to get acquainted with the cubs. This is such a happy memory which made me feel special at the same time…thinking about it a lot raised a question in my mind, why two cubs on both occasions?

Generally the other females in and around the tourism zone has a higher number per litter three to four then why her only two? Both the occasions, the father of her cubs is different so this outcome does not seem to be from the father side…Few more questions…Her pattern way of movement, coming out with her cubs, the basic routine of her nurturing the young ones shows that she is more confident now and maybe she understood that more than the number, the quality of the young is important. The competition, the pressure everything is increasing on them and she as a mother has experienced both happiness and sadness. Now it’s time to see how she manages her new litter. She was known as CHOTI TARA as she is the daughter of TARA now she has grown enough and most probably she is a granny by now! So in my mind she is no more a Little Star, in fact she is one of the important, brightest Stars in the map of Tadoba!

To follow the story of Choti Tara and see more pictures of her and the cubs, like her photo album The Bold & Beautiful Choti Tara on our facebook page.

 

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Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 8 months ago


The Dholes

Returning to the park after monsoons is very refreshing and this time particularly as we had very good rainfall in the region, the otherwise very arid park was looking absolutely brilliant with lush green landscapes! Throughout the monsoon Tadoba maintained its dramatic sightings. Maya topped the list with the many dominant male tigers invading into her territory and her many attempts of safeguarding her cubs showcased unique aspects of tiger behaviour. Will write about that separately……

Today’s blog is about wild dogs….On 1st October 2016, the evening safari was over cast with rainy clouds, we hence, had a short safari but were still lucky to spend some time with a pair of Indian Wild Dogs (Dholes), one of the Big 5 animals to spot when in Tadoba.

Fifteen minutes into the reserve, at the location called the Jamni Chowk, as soon as we took the turn to go towards the waterhole Pandharpauni we saw a pair of wild dogs walking on the road in our direction. This seemed as a pair who have left their group and now were looking for settling down on their own. They were looking here and there and carried on making merry, hugging each other frequently. Observing them for some time, we moved ahead on the track to find butterflies on a fresh scat of the tiger (source of nutrition for them). As it started getting even darker as the cloud cover increased, we decided to slowly move back in the direction of the lodge. We heard a few alarm calls (warning calls that herbivores use to warn each other of presence of a predator nearby). When we reached back near the Jamni village, we saw the same dhole pair again, they had by this time grabbed a sambar baby and the mother sambar was trying to save the fawn from them. Eventually she had to give up and the two dholes started feasting on it.

While watching this vicious moment several thoughts occurred in my mind, foremost being, nature has its own survival rules and ethos, it is a chance opportunity to get to observe such incidents but best to keep the observation free from human emotions!

Coming back to the dholes, they are considered to be the one of most skilled hunters of the Indian Jungle. There was a time when even the tiger used to be scared of them owing to their large pack sizes in the range 30 to 50 per pack. There are in fact, old records that mention that a pack of dhole killed tigers. Over the years however, their number are diminishing. Mainly due to habitat loss and because of the human proximity they often get the canis distemper virus. Now they are hence, usually found only in smaller packs. Most of the pack has numbers like four to eight dholes. Only during the time the pack has got new pups the pack size goes upto 15-16.

As tigers instinctively kill dholes, the increase in tiger population in Tadoba perhaps has also been an additional reason contributing to the decline of Dhole population here. It is important to note here that tigers kill dholes not out of any “personal grudges” but because of their instincts (to protect their territory, cubs, kill (food) etc.).

 

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 9 months ago


Nature is Magical

Excited to share excerpts from my first jungle safari post my monsoon holiday! The guests I accompanied were from Mauritius.

 

Day 1, PM safari, Navegaon Entry Gate:

Our entry inside the gate started with a sighting of a speedy wriggler – A rat snake (non-venomous but often confused with the venomous cobras) appeared suddenly on the road to cross over. This was the first time for me in Tadoba to start the jungle safari with a snake encounter! As a keen herpetologist, this was a great start for my new season at Tadoba. Proceeding further we saw a black shouldered kite sitting on a tree. Tadoba is a great birding destination too and many birds of prey can be sighted here especially around the perennial Tadoba lake and other water bodies. We also spotted four glowing eyes, soon to be identified as a pair of spotted owlets!! Very cute birds and we are lucky to have a resident family at the property too.  After observing these nocturnal birds in broad day light we made our way towards Tadoba Lake. On the way we heard a question seemingly in full chorus- did u do it ? Did you do it !!!! Asked by a pair of red wattled lapwings. We also saw a large herd of grazing deer. Good to see that the last three months of heavy monsoons has created lots of puddles and ample food is available for all our jungle friends. After watching the deer for sometime we moved towards Vasant Bhandara. Over there we found the largest cattle in the wild the very muscular Gaur feeding on fresh bamboo leaves. After “sighting” us the lone gaur walked silently inside the bush.

 

Day 2, PM safari, Kolara Entry Gate:  This was the last safari for my guests and they were very keen to spot India’s national animal – the Bengal tiger! Good luck was on our side…barely five to six kilometres inside the reserve, we spotted something moving in the middle of the road, our guide was quick to tell us it is a tiger walking…we had sighted “Choti Tara”. She walked in her distinctive majestic sway in front of our jeep. My first tiger sighting of the new season…could not have been better!! After sighting the tigress, we made our way to the spot “Ainbodi”, where we saw over a 100 common rose butterflies sitting on the ground. Our next destination was panchadhara, a spot where we expected to see the Brown fish owl….and so we did! Even got a chance to photograph her. Through the hilltop road we started our return to the lodge. After crossing the jamni  nala we saw a sloth bear who was busy eating termites. While we waited there watching the sloth bear, for some time, another jeep informed us that wild dogs were in the area, we turned to head to the location and there we saw two indian wild dogs or dhole coming towards us.

 

What an amazing afternoon indeed! A safari of four hours and we sighted Tadoba’s three of the big five mammals!

 

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Ranjit Mandal

Wildlife Safaris - 1 year ago


The Morning Chase

Around 620 AM we reached Ainbodi (a waterhole enroute Pandharpani) and found two to three jeeps waiting as they had found fresh pugmarks in the direction of Ainbodi from C97. While we waited too, suddenly Gabbar (one of Tadoba’s famous male tigers) appeared from the left side of the road, he crossed the road and walked inside towards Ainbodi. Gabbar was sniffing incessantly; it seemed to us that he was sniffing the presence of another tiger in the area.

After about two minutes, our speculation turned to reality as suddenly he returned from inside the foliage…running and behind him we saw another male tiger “Matkasur”….the dominant Matkasur Male was chasing him off.

As the chase happened so quickly, we were unable to get both the tigers in the same frame.

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Ranjit Mandal

Wildlife Safaris - 1 year ago


A dream come true morning!

I had put the alarm and so got up at 5 AM, but as I was not feeling very good, I didn’t get up and slept again. Then I received a call from Prasun (one of our naturalists) at 545 AM to ask whether I will be going for the safari or not? I decided to go… I asked the Guest I was going to accompany to leave for the entry Gate and that I will join him there shortly….. I ran to reach the gate exactly at entry time of 6 AM!

Like all the other jeeps, we reached Pandharpauni meadow and waited there for almost an hour while in between circling Pandharpauni waterholes 1 & 2 and the Navegaon Fire Line. There were a lot of alarm calls at Pandharpauni 2 and all the Jeeps were waiting patiently anticipating that Maya & Cubs may come out anytime but finally the alarm calls stopped. So around 745 AM we decided to drive up to the Tadoba Lake & Panchdhaara creek, we also went to Chital Road to find a female sloth bear crossing the road. An amazing sighting as only 2 or 3 Jeeps were around. We then proceeded to drive down the Kosaikanar route with the plan to check the Pandharpauni area one last time before exiting the reserve.

We were the only Jeep on the Kosaikanar Road and out of a sudden at Rampur Nala we were again lucky to have a sighting of a male sloth bear and this time it was even better as we were the only Jeep around, Superb really!

sloth_bear_ranjit_svasara_blog

We then went to C-97 waterhole where there were around 5 to 6 Jeeps already waiting because of strong alarm calls from a sambar, everyone was actually expecting a leopard there. We however decided to go to Pandharpauni as per our earlier plan and so did not wait long at C-97.

The moment we reached at Pandharpauni 1, we saw Maya and one of the Cubs swimming in the water then suddenly Maya came out of the water as she saw a Gaur (Indian Bison) on the other side of the waterhole. She eye-locked the target and started walking towards the Gaur … what a moment as one could really see the change in her body language while preparing for the hunt!

She initially attacked from the back and tore the hamstring so that the Gaur could not move. Then she attacked on the Gaur’s shoulder and neck, one could notice that she actually wanted to train her cubs and hence, she did not kill the Gaur but instead allowed her cubs to attack & hunt.

This entire incident was so thrilling that it still plays almost like a movie in my mind! I have had a hunting sighting a while back (2011) but that sighting cannot compare to this as the male tiger Yeda Anna was inside some foliage while he hunted a huge sambar, in the Vasant Bhandara area.

I always dreamt of this kind of sighting and WOW this was truly my dream becoming reality….I understood one thing for sure that “If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up”- J.M Power.

Some additional pictures from this sighting:

 

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Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 1 year ago


Pugmarks

For anyone on a safari, the finding of a “pugmark” is start of the adrenaline rush, as it indicates the possibility of the presence of the most anticipated animal in the Indian Jungle, the tiger! is it somewhere near?

Pugmarks are essentially impressions created on the soil by footsteps. Every animal, from lizard to human beings, can create these footsteps. In the jungle it is common to find pugmarks of tigers, leopards, sloth bears and wild dogs.

From ancient times, footsteps have always mattered! The difference is that in the earlier days, our ancestors as hunters used the footsteps aka pugmarks to track the animal movement. And today, researchers and tourists depend on the pugmarks to track movements using the same age-old principles.

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Chirag Roy

Wildlife Safaris - 1 year ago


Leopard’s Dinner..!

A young Leopardess who calls the abandoned Jamni village her home was seen sitting on the road as we entered the park. What we did not see was that a carcass of a large chital deer was lying next to her on the side of the road under a banyan tree. When the leopard had enough posing for our cameras, she sluggishly got up and walked towards the kill. With no time to waste she buried her head in the carcass pulling its guts out in the open. By this time another five cars had come to the spot. “ Wild dogs, Wild Dogs”!!! I heard a murmur in the car next to me. “Where?” I asked to the driver of the other car, to which he pointed in the direction behind our jeep… I stood up on the seat and there they were. Two scruffy looking wild dogs that seemed a little malnourished had picked up the scent of the dead deer and was heading our way. “Wow how cool would that be, Dholes taking on the mighty leopard”, said my guest with excitement. Expecting an epic encounter between the two I took my camera out of the bag. But what happened next was something we did not expect at all. The dogs stopped at about 30 meters from the carcass , looking a little nervous. Their fanatic whistles could be heard from our car. The leopard who was so far been busy eating her prized meal is also looking straight at them. Her face covered in blood of the dead. A deadly snarl followed by a low growl was enough to make the dogs uneasy. Within a blink of an eye , the leopardess gets up, makes a mock charge , scattering the hungry pair somewhere in the forest. The big cat returns to her kill, reclaiming it by sniffing the carcass and then licking her paw. A job well done. She devoured a few more bits and then slowly crossed the road, went up a Mahua tree and slept.

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