Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tigers and Leopards - Dream Sightings at Bandipur II

A young couple walk by the reception desk. The manager looks at them and says in broken English:

Manager: "Why you not going to the safari this morning? I sent my boy to wake you - two times"
Lady: Oh! We wanted to get a head start and leave early for Bangalore. We didn't see much yesterday, so decided to skip it. Did we miss anything?
Manager: Yes! You missing LOT of sightings - 6 TIGERS, 2 LEOPARDS and 22 WILD DOGS!
Lady: YEAH RIGHT! Where did you see them, at the CIRCUS?
Manager: No-No. My other guests seeing them".
"Ask them" he says pointing to me, Saru and T&S.
We put on our best 'this-is-no-big-deal' smile and in the most fake-casual tone say "He is right! We saw all that!"
Couple : NO WAY!
We (in the same fake-casual tone): Yup. We first saw a pack of wild dogs chasing a leopard and its cub and just before we left the park, we saw a tigress and its 4 precious cubs. We saw the father of the cubs yesterday evening.

Couple: OMG...YOU ARE SOoooo LUCKY! We didn't see anything! Once we were in Corbett and an elephant charged at us. It was SO scary!
We: Oh yeah....we had 2 elephants mock-charge us. Today, we stopped to watch a herd and one got so mad, it trumpeted and almost charged at us. We tried to move, but our jeep stalled! It was damn scary!! Check out T's post.
Couple: Gosh! You guys had such a great weekend.

The couple was right about one thing and wrong about another. We definitely had a great evening, but it was not 'just' luck that resulted in these wildlife sightings! It was part-luck and part-strategy! Between the 4 of us, we have at least 30 years of corporate experience, so you could say we were smart people!

T: Saru, you are really lucky. NOBODY sees a tiger in their FIRST safari!!
Vam: I saw a tiger in my first safari at Corbett!
T: YEAH...like 10 kilometers away! - that does not count!!
Vam: Of course it counts! I saw it really close with a binoculars!
T(ignoring Vam): OK, we got really lucky today. Let's make sure we get lucky tomorrow too. All of you...even you Selva....wear the exact same clothes. No changes whatsoever! Not even your underwear.
Saru: Can we reverse it?
Shilpy: Oh God! This is gross!
T: Ssssh. We make sure we do everything the same way. Shilpy and I will sit here, Vamsee - you sit in the front seat like today and Saru were you foot-boarding on the left or the right side?.
Saru: Left
T: OK! Is everybody CLEAR?

Next morning, we woke up extra early and were in the jeep by 6:15AM. It was our last safari of the trip before we headed back to Bangalore. I love morning safaris. It is nice and cold, the fog is just lifting and the birds are just waking up.

Vam: Saru....Are you hoping to see another tiger?
Saru: The odds of that are really really low.
Vam: I know
Saru: I don't think we will see a tiger today, maybe a Leopard, but not a tiger.
Vam: Right....because the odds of seeing 1 of the 98 leopards in a 100sq km park is so much higher than seeing 1 of the 100 tigers!
Saru: I am telling you - we are going to see a Leopard!
Vam (muttering); Whatever!

About half an hour into the park Saru and Thomas screamed:
Saru: HEY....look, FOX!!
T: It is a wild dog!
A second later, we saw another dog cross the road and it was followed by another and yet another.
Selva counted 22 dogs! It was like "Who let the dogs out! woof! woof! woof
! woof!'

T: I think there is a kill, let's follow the dogs!

We followed the general direction and by then, two more jeeps had arrived. Our view was obstructed by bamboo trees and lantana bushes. We could not see what was going on, but could hear loud alarm calls by langur monkeys. They were jumping from branch to branch and screaming in fear. The wild dogs were growling and very animated. We switched off our jeep engine and waited.

A few minutes later:

'OMG! It is a leopard! It is so tiny! OMG It is a cub!!

Wild dogs were chasing the cub and the poor little terrified thing climbed up a tree as fast as it could. One of the dogs jumped at least 2 feet and almost reached the cub, but missed it by a thread! The dogs were upset.They were growling and circling around the tree. Langurs were still screaming like somebody was attacking them! A few minutes later, the dogs left. The little impatient cub should have realized that the safest place was up in the tree, but I think it was looking for its mommy, so it climbed down the tree as fast as it came up and disappeared into the bushes . The only shot Saru took had only its tail!!

By now, there were at least 10 jeeps in the area. We didn't know if we were in the best spot, but we had no way of moving, so stayed put and watched in the general direction. Nothing happened for a few minutes and then all of a sudden, the mom Leopard came into view!! It also, quickly climbed a tree and sat on a branch. Lighting was very poor and the animal was at least 40-60 ft away from us, so all the pictures are record shots and of poor quality!

It looked like the leopard was searching for its cub, so barely 3 minutes after it went up, it climbed down the tree and vanished into the bushes. We waited for a good 15 minutes, then drove to the other side of the road and waited there for a little bit, but saw nothing! By then the place was crawling with jeeps, so we moved forward.

Saru: What did I TELL you Vam!!
Vam: You are one lucky dog!!
Saru was basking in the glory of his good luck and was going on and on "I told you we were going to see a leopard and you didn't believe me ....I told you......"

They say that the best place to see a tiger is to go back to the last place you saw it. We went back to the previous evening's spot hoping and praying that it would still be there. Lighting was perfect and we wanted to get much better pictures than yesterday. We drove very slowly and focused all our energy trying to spot the tiger through the bushes. It was no where to be seen!
"That was too much to ask anyway" we said to ourselves and moved a little, when Saru, looking in the opposite direction whispered excitedly - "I SEE IT!

There it was, perfectly camouflaged in the bushes. We could barely see the tiger. If we were not looking for it here, we would never have found it! I was looking through my binoculars when I saw another tiger's face! I whispered in delight:
"I see another tiger!"
"Really....OMG Let me see!"
"Wait a minute...I see one....two....three!!
"It is a tigress with 2 CUBS!! OMG!! OMG!!
"Nope...Not 2, there are THREE CUBS!!
'Can you believe it!! We are seeing another tiger and 3 cubs!!
Shilpy was ecstatic. This was her dream sighting - a lifer for her. She was so thrilled, she almost cried.
The cubs were climbing on the mom and playing. They were SO CUTE! At one point the mom licked the face of a little cub. It was SO COOL! We just sat there and watched whatever we could with the bushes obstructing us. The little cubs were restless and wanted to come out the bushes. Five minutes later, the mom stood up and I practically froze amidst whispers of "It is going to come out, be ready with your cameras".
The beast slowly walked out, its head and part of the body came in sight. It looked at our jeep to see if we posed any danger.

It walked further, stopped to scratch its head against a tree and then crossed the road. Once in a while, it would steal a glance at us to make sure we maintained our distance. It was when the tiger came out in plain sight and the cubs started parading out that we realized that there were 4 CUBS and not 3!!

From the moment it stepped out, the tiger took less than 30 secs to cross the road. From the minute Saru spotted the tigress in the bushes, the whole viewing lasted 9 minutes! Saru was so busy focusing on the tigress that he neglected to take pictures of the cubs. This is the only picture I have of the tiger and all the 4 cubs. I am posting this inspite of Saru's disapproval . Except the previous 2 images, he didn't want me to post any other images. (He was like - You can't post this - These are bad images - I have a reputation to maintain...blah blah blah)

This was by far, the best ever wild life experience we ever had!!

Leave me a comment. It helps motivate me to keep writing and bug Saru to travel more.

To read Part 1 of this trip, visit my previous post.

This post is part of the Show your World meme. For more stories from the rest of the world, click the image.


  1. OMG!!!! I think you guys are just plain lucky..I don't think corporate experience had anything to do with it ;) The tiger pics are really majestic. I wish Saru had taken a pic of the cubs too. They must have been super cute. BTW, Maya is learning to identify animals from your blog. And best way to get Saru to travel with you is to make him jealous...that always works, no?

  2. OMG!!!! Breathtaking shots!
    Extremely funny strategy but I trust it works - I know it coz I used it when attended campus interviews! :-)

  3. Wow !! This is so awesome...

  4. Thats one lucky experience. going on a safari is one thing...getting to sight wildlife is another thing....getting to see so much of wildlife that too tiger with cubs is altogetherly different thing. You must be counted among the luckiest souls around. The shots are too good. Capturing what you get to see is an art in itself. Many people forget to take photographs in the excitement. But you managed to capture great shots. Thanks for this and the previous posts. Really enjoyed them.

  5. That was totally awesome Vamsee! I have probably never heard of so many sightings at once!:O
    I bet your strategy worked like a charm! :)

  6. KoOL, Lucky huh! Not to miss the best of the wild life. The pictures are stunning. Especially the one with the tiger looking right at your jeep! Awsome. Once again, thanks for sharing. It's not everyday that you get to see the tigers n leopards....

  7. Good one...Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow!!! you guys are so lucky!!! wait till I show these pics to my son... he is going to tell me - amma, next time, lets go to a safari wth them!!!

  9. OMG OMG OMG..... and I am really really envying you !!! wow !!! i mean WOW really !!!!

    lucky lucky you guys !!!! god bless !!!!

    4 cubs !!!

    how i wish i get to see them... !!

    the pics are lovely !! not at all bad... and the reputation is just growing so dont let him worry !!!

  10. wow, guess you should rush out and buy some lottery tickets as well. never seen anyone as lucky as you. might as well cash in. great shots, the colors are stunning and feel so close....we can feel their breath..



  11. OMG .... u guys have wonderful corporate experience between u all ... and to top it u guys are damn lucky too!!!! :))

    Luved the story and the blog ... the way u write it with all those small conversations is truly interesting

  12. Vam, you guys are so so so lucky...am envious and plain jealous. Have to have to have to join in your next wherever or whenever it might be....ur luck will then be mine too :-)

    Great write up as always and amazing pix. saru, I could feel the tiger coming out of the frame and looking at me....my hair was on end. ( Hi! This is Jayanti of the wish-to-travel- every-month-in-this-year of our Lord, 2009, fame).

    Keep up the good work.....we enjoy it a lot. Cheers.

  13. Vamsee,bet everybody is wishing they were all there with you guys:)Amazing shots specially the one looking at you all!!!Let us say the same thing:you guys were so lucky:)

  14. Hi Vamsee,

    Great narration once again! 30 years of corporate experience and sighting tiger strategy? oh please! :) :)

    If Saru has a reputation to maintain then I think it has only risen. The pictures are fab, even the tigeress and her 4 cubs. Its unfair to blame the photographer when capturing wildlife... in 9 minutes... lol thats hard work!

    Congratulations once again! I don't think it was luck at all, you calculated where the tiger might be and and it had to come there some time or the other. So its just random moment, but an aewsome one!


  15. Beautiful post Vamsee. This is a fanbulous post.

    As I was reading the post, the originality of the narration made me relive our exciting experience once again. Thanks for that as well.

    You guys rock...

    Saru : The picture quality is absolutely stunning for a D70/ 70-300 lens combination. You need to upgrade your lens man. Do it now, don't listen to Vamsee on this one.

  16. Kala,
    It is so cool that Maya is learning to identify animals from my blog. Tell her bird names too and Saru mama will be very proud.

    Yucky!!I cannot believe that YOU did that.


    Thanks a lot for your comment. This time we were really prepared to take pictures of the tiger. We were watching it inside the bushes for at least 5 minutes, so were ready with the camera when it came out.

  17. Great Vamsee !! Amazing Pictures..Infact You Are Really Lucky To Get Such Wonderful Pictures..Great..

  18. wandering soul,
    Thanks. Yes, even we were surprised at what we saw...that too in Bandipur. It is much easier to see tigers in North Indian Jungles than South Indian ones.

    Thanks. Yes, it is definitely not an everyday occurrence! It was my very first time seeing a tiger and a leopard upclose


    Thanks. Take your son on a safari. Kids love watching animals and will be totally thrilled.

  19. Hitchwriter,
    I loved reading your comment. I could totally picture you going green with jealousy.

    I never ever won a lottery or a lucky draw in my life....not even the low value ones!! Maybe my luck is focused on vacations too and makes sure i have fun. Thanks for your comment about the images. Saru loved reading it.

    Thanks. I am not a big writer, so the easiest way for me to write these is to repeat some fun conversations and try to write it as i saw it. I guess keeping it simple helps sometimes.

  20. Awesome Post and pictures :-) Leopards and tiger cubs .... very jealous ! Loved the pics in the last post too.. esp of the Gaur in motion. The most wildlife I have seen out in the open are blackbucks, spotted deer, birds and now two rattlesnakes :(

    I so want to do a wildlife safari now, but I don't see my coming putting a India trip anytime soon. :-( So So So jealous !!!!


  21. Amazing, must say you have got that luck on your side, but you are right, strategies do work. Wild wild adventure, huff!! Inspires me to travel to this place. It's quite close to Bangalore and I wonder why haven't I visited there till now. But must tell you that your posts would be responsible to burn holes in many's pockets for frequent travels, your posts are so contagious ;)

  22. Looks like an eventful safari

  23. you want comments? how 'bout this one : I hate you :) -nikhil

  24. Fantastic snap of tigers and leopard. The way you narrate the experience you make it very interesting.

  25. Wow!! You are so lucky!!!! Great Photos.

  26. Great pictures Vamsee. Your description brought out the excitement. Tigress and 4 cubs, Leopard and cub, wild dogs!! You guys were super-lucky. The last 2 times I visited Bandipur, all I saw were a platoon on monkeys out to get my camera. The place looks so different with animals!

  27. Jayanti,
    I am equally eager to go on a trip with you this year. Hopefully VOF will work out. Saru loved your comment. Thanks

    Even we could not believe our own luck!!

    I was just trying to act smart!! Saru is a pain in the ass when it comes to rating images. He rates 1 in 200 as good when I think 150 are good -see why we disagree....
    You are correct about us taking an educated guess and getting lucky.

  28. T&S,
    I love reading your comments. They always make me feel good! BTW....WHAT do you mean by 'don't listen to Vamsee' Saru will never buy the camera on his own..unless he gets encouragement from me!!

    Unseen Rajasthan,

    I would give anything to see black bucks!! They are such handsome animals!! Do let me know when you come to Mumbai, I would love to meet you.

    Quite a few people told me that they get inspired to travel more when they read my blog. I think that is the best compliment of all! Traveling is a lot of fun and if I can gets others to go out and have fun, then nothing like it.

  29. Ajeya Rao,

    That was hilarious. I burst out laughing when I saw the comment and people around we giving me puzzled looks!!


    Saru was thrilled to see your comment. I do think they are managing our wildlife parks better these days plus we were really lucky.

  30. Ohhhh my god...the tiger picture are A....mazing!! U guys r soo lucky! The full frontal pic of the tiger is just gorgeous!

  31. Vamsee... not only do you get tigers and leopards raining down on you, but you also back it up with photographic evidence and deny us lesser mortals the pleasure of claiming that you're exaggerating the sightings! This is so not done... (aka "sour grapes")

    Well, we're off to Bhadra and I'll be happy to get 1/10th of your luck!! :-)

  32. Hi Vamsee! Wow! Tigers and leopards all in one day!! I manage to see two leopards some years ago in Kenya and everybody told us we were sooo... lucky!!

    Thanks for your comments at Blogtrotter, now showing Kaunas. Never heard about it? ;) Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  33. Dunno if it was luck, coroporate strategy or clothes and underwear (!), but we certainly didn't have these many sightings during our trip. These photos are fantastic!

  34. Hey Vamsee, fantastic post!! You have a rare talent for hilarity!! What an awesome experience! You lucky lucky girl! The pics are superb - I'm assuming Saru took them, so congratulate him from me. I really liked your corporate strategy - did you follow through to the letter? ;))

  35. These photos are nothing short of incredible. Excellent myworld post.

    Have a great week
    Regina In Pictures

  36. OMG! What fantastic shots! I have to agree with Guy, they are nothing short of incredible! Marvelous, breathtaking! Thank you so much for sharing such and marvelous piece of your world!
    Thank you for the beauty!

  37. Wow! Wow! Wow! Lucky you!

  38. Vamsee: Neat story and a great trip seeing so much wildlife.

  39. Vam what a wonderul post! Great wildlife scenes! Thank you so much for sharing!
    And thank you also for visiting Vienna! Maybe you come again someday for another day :)
    Have a nice week!

  40. Very interesting post. At first, I thought it is a kind of joke. The whole post make me want to read more. Amazing pictures.

  41. Those are just wonderful photos!

  42. A wonderful post well told and with the most incredible photos. Well done.

  43. Absolutely wonderful! You were so lucky! Thank you for taking us on your safari! I feel very humble with my bicycle ride when we saw cows, lambs and duckies! Thanks so much!

  44. Hi Vamshee - thank you for having visited my Blog! Congratulations also on some exquisite photography - I am looking forward to your future posts.
    Regards from Cape Town,

  45. Awesome pictures! What a great experience.

  46. Wow! What an excursion! Are there any wolves in your area, in addition to the wild dogs?

  47. You are so lucky Vamsee to be able see the real thing and not in the Zoo like me even if I am able to get access to them. Nice story also.

  48. Wow. What an amazing, spectacular, exciting place. Thanks.

  49. I got right pulled into the excitement What a great report. The photo's are stunning You guys are lucky

  50. Great photos...
    I couldn't see tiger & leopards in my last visit..
    Really you people are so lucky...

  51. What a most wonderful, wonderful experience.I cannot imagine anything more thrilling than watching a whole family of tigers in the wild!!!
    More, more you hear me cry!

  52. What an amazing experience and to see it all in one day! you are blessed and i am so green with envy:) i wish i can be as lucky as you are:)I would probably forget to take lots of pics too and would just gawk wide eyed at those majestic and beautiful animals in the wild.

  53. ive been to these parts and no cats at all..must travel with u guys

  54. What a trip! And such amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  55. Those hilarious conversations between you and Saru are exactly the reason why I missed visiting your blog so much...it was an absolute treat to come back and have this post waiting for me. And Saru can stop being so modest now...he's a really good photographer. I like the photos even if he thinks they're not all that...nothing quite like seeing tigers in the wild. :)

  56. PS. Like the new layout too. :)

  57. Vamsee,
    Another fabulous post and pictures, and do keep posting pictures, however they are.

    This reminded me of my tiger sighting in the Bandavgarh National Park.

    And it's extremely sad that some of these wonderful creatures are hunted! There was another death of a tiger in the Corbett NP recently but that was because of a run in with porcupines. With only about 1,500 or so beauties remaining, every death is a blow. Did you know that there is a new protocol of doing a post mortem on those who die in the wild? Hopefully that will save some more of this precious wildlife.

  58. Wow fantastic Images,love your Tiger shots.

  59. Hi Vamsee! Paris and Provence after the tigers and leopards? That's incredible... ;)

    Meanwhile Blogtrotter (not me, I’m stuck here ;)) is profiting from the holidays in Lisbon this week and has a tour of Lake Galve, one of the beautiful lakes near Trakai, to show you! Hope you enjoy and have a great week!

  60. I owe you an email...will do that shortly.

  61. Wow, Wow, WOW and wow some more... I couldn’t have held that camera straight, let alone make awesome pics like that!

  62. This whole experience sounds like a dream. Sigh. Wish we were there too. :)

  63. grt n vry lucky to tak such a snaps.... i lov thm...its awesome buddy.......

  64. Hey Dude! You are so lucky. Awesome pics and wonderful experience. Its scary but a big adventure.

    Keep it up!

  65. really awesome pictures, how did you captured that close of tigers. Nagarahole and Bandipur are the main National park in Karnataka. that's have great tiger habitats, we should save tiger this message from my side. thanks for your posting.

  66. really awesome pictures, how did you captured that close of tigers. Nagarahole and Bandipur are the main National park in Karnataka. that's have great tiger habitats, we should save tiger this message from my side. thanks for your posting.

  67. WOW!! this post very beautiful with wildlife,... It caught my eyes in a while as i seen it.... Very good post... I like it too much every thing, all the wildlife beauty is too close with my and camera eyes...
    I love tiger sighting very much...