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!
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: