We left the lodge at 3.00 p.m and headed for the river travelling through the villages. hoping for more sightings of Sloth Bear in the park. It was harvest time and although some of the crops were being harvested by machines. Many of the fields were being worked by hand. Long lines of mostly women harvested wheat with short curved knives. The machinery was loaned out and the wheat was bought by the area government, which allowed the locals to keep some for themselves.
After crossing the river we headed off into the park looking in the areas where we had sighted the Sloth Bear and her cub in the morning. Unfortunately she and her cub had moved gone into hiding. However, we did have sightings of Nilgai (Blue Bull), which are the largest antelope in India. This is a strange looking animal with the male and female looking very different. The male is a grey blue with a dark ruff on the back of its neck and conical horns. Females are smaller and fawn in colour with no horns. The hind legs of the Nilgai are much lower than the front ones and their head is small in comparison to the body size.
Suddenly our guide spotted tiger tracks so we followed them. In the thick vegetation there were brief glimpses of a head or tail. There appeared to be two different tigers. The sighting was at a distance and not good enough to photograph. We continued down the track, other jeeps sped past us to follow the tigers as they seemed to be moving down hill.
Sid, our lodge naturalist guide, suggested that we stay in the same area and wait to see what was happening. We parked the jeep to the side of the slope, below a fire break and waited patiently. Keeping alert we listened to the sights and sounds of the forest. We were the only jeep there. Sid stood up and pointed. He’d heard the rustle of dried leaves as something moved behind us to the left of the vehicle.
Unbelievably, behind us, a male Tiger strolled out of the undergrowth on to the track. Sid made an animal noise and the Tiger turned and stared. He stood and looked at us having deciding we were no threat him. This gave us ample opportunity to take close up photographs of this amazing animal. The Tiger then continued to saunter across the track. We watched until he disappeared into the forest. Awestruck at such a privileged encounter with this magnificent animal we were speechless.
Apparently this was a young sub-adult male about three years old. He was one of a litter of three cubs, two males and one female and all of them were doing well. Probably the glimpses earlier were of some of the others. We left the Tiger and continued down the track where there were lots of Gaur with young. One of them was light coloured. This could explain the presence of the tigers in this area.
Sloth Bear and Cub
Travelling back along the track we encountered another female Sloth bear with a very young cub. Sid told us the cub was about 3 months old. It was amazing watching him clinging to his mother ‘s fur as she walked along through the forest.
As we drove back along the track to the gates we saw a Cinereous Tit (Great Tit) perched on a branch. However, the colours seemed much paler than those of the UK Great Tit.
Tree swifts flew across the track. They seemed to have large wings. Near the river cormorants rested on branches stretching their wings. As it was getting late it was time to leave the park and head back to Reni Pani. Savanna Nightjars flew in front of the jeep and Stone Curlews sat almost invisible beside the track. Tonight’s meal was early at 7.00 p.m, which would give us time to relax before bed. It was to be another early start tomorrow morning.