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!