None who are in love with wildlife can or could have ever forgotten the first time they have seen a wild tiger roaming free in the forest. It is a blessing for us that such majestic beast resides in our country and we are lucky to witness them so easily compared to people from other parts of the world. Most of us have seen it in zoo or captivity , but belive me untill you have seen it in its own territory and kingdom , my friend you don't know what you are missing on life. And those of who have seen it , we understand the bliss.
It was spring in the year of 2013 and I had made my journey to kanha national park , in the heart of india of Madhya pradesh. I still remember it as if , it was only yesterday , for such experiences only happens in life once.
It was a saturday morning with the sun burning bright over the head. I was taking my 3rd gypsy safari inside the forest in the Kisli zone. My previous two attempts gifted me with wonderful experiences of the jungle , but the tiger was still elusive. I had seen the pugs marks , the claw marks and every other signs that proved that the tiger was always watching me , even if I could not. The gypsy safari started early in dawn and in dark , for animal movement is high during the dusk and dawn. But now it was 8.30 in the morning and our chances of sighting the tiger was as fragile as me passing my maths paper in my coming semester.
Hopes were coming low , as our tiger expert driver and guides had told us , the majestic beast hates sun and hence as soon as the lights are out , they generally like to sleep under a boulder or deep in some den in the forest. However we decided to keep our search on for another hour. Even if it was spring the scorching sun was producing heat enough for us to give away and surrender the search for the majestic animal. But we fought on for another hour , when most of the other game drives were on their way out , without success , obviously we decided to make a last try towards a water hole.
As we were driving in a leisurely pace , the famous alarm call of the spotted deers were triggered. An alarm call is the warning sound made by the deers and monkeys when they feel a predator in its proximity. That is the signaling system of the forest that a predator is in vicinity. Our driver jumped to his feet, more excited than me and my fellow travellers. He pushed the accelerator , and headed for the source of the sound. We reached a open space from where the vast grasslands of kanha was visible. In the far meadows at about 400 metres from our gypsy , a herd of spotted deers stood still , as if on a guard. They were giving out the alarm call. And near to us in a 200 metre was a water hole. Now my driver shut down the engine , and asked us to be silent and be patient.
It was my drivers who's instinct was strong he affirmed and he said , IT IS NEAR!!
We were shifting our gaze and head from side to side to see where might the elusive cat be. After some ten minutes , in a hurriedness the herd of deers just ran off and vanished in the distant with in few seconds. As if they were chased by a monster or might have sighted death. On observing this all of us stood up or rather jumped on our feets to see. We could not detect anything at first , then ..........
Around 200 metres in the grass , finally we spotted a moving miracle. The most majestic thing I have ever witnessed truly. In a strips of black and orange a figure moved towards the lake. All of us were in shock. A kind of shock inexplicable. It felt like witnessing God walking into the garden of eden. The majestic walk , movements so sublime , a perfect personification of pride and power. It looked dangerous yet beautiful. Neither any of us moved , nor they blinked I suppose for all of us it was sheer excitement mixed with upheaval of emotions. It was free and wild and Sita signified that the most. THE TIGER and its grace , unforgettable.
It was called Sita , as our guides told us. It walked towards the waterhole. The strength and raw power were eminent in its muscles and paw. I zoomed in. All of us did. None of us uttered anything just observed and some clicked. Amazed by the wonder we behold , we were kids again. Nobody realised the time passed so fast , and Sita again took back the same route to disappear in the jungle. We could hardly shifted our any attention from that creature for that time being , for it had captured heart , mind , senses and my soul for sure.
Later I have been lucky to see a lot of tigers even participate in a tiger census and work as a forest interpreter, but the first time sighting is a memory as clear as my reflection in a mirror. For those of you who are yet to see their first wild tiger , rush for it now , everything in life cannot wait !!! For to behold a tiger in the wild for first time is to witness GOD !!
Join the tiger sighting tours this summer at Kanha in April , May , June. contact Deep.
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"