Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kanha Tigress with her Cub!

This shy Tigress in Kanha, known as the Saath number female (named after road no.7, which are basically forest sections), is rarely seen with her young Cub. The Cub is about 4 months old and you can see how tentative and shy it is in this picture..rubbing against it's mother and constantly seeking her security. This Tigress originally had two Cubs but lost one due to some unknown cause.
I have great admiration for Tigresses, who have to bring up their Cubs single-handedly, against all odds including marauding males...which is the biggest threat to their young Cubs.

Two Shy Sloth Bears!

We were exploring the Kanha meadow area one morning and for avoiding the crowd we went the opposite way and i thought i spotted some Wild Boar..with a cookie in my mouth i shouted Sloth Bear, when i discovered my folly! The Bear turned out to be two! It was a Mother and a Sub-adult! Fortunately, there were only 2 other vehicles on the sighting and we allowed them enough space to cross the road just ahead of us! In these series of photos, just notice how shy the Bears are and how the mother checked the road before she led her Cub cautiously away from human presence!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Orchids in Bloom!

The Chequered Vanda

Every summer the Vanda Orchid makes it's appearance in Kanha. This beautiful Orchid prefers the Sal trees to cling on to and we have seen the first Vandas in bloom, last week.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kanha Male and the Gaur kill.

As i was travelling, i had asked Payal, my team-mate to keep a tab on the Gaur kill and the male's presence. It was observed that the Tiger kept feeding steadily on the kill and hung around for six days, close to it and defended it even from Crows! Only on Day 7, he abandoned the kill and was seen 3 kms away from it. On Day 10 he decided to pay another visit and by this time the kill was fed upon by scavengers and only the head was still at the spot.
These are two pictures i took of the same Tiger a few weeks back. I just cannot stop admiring his sheer symmetry and raw beauty!
TIGER, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? (William Blake)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

High Drama in the Kanha meadow!

The Dominant male on his Gaur kill!
The Dominant male Tiger of the Kanha meadows made an amazing kill of a big bull Gaur, in the open grassland near Schaller-hide, on the morning of 5th May 2009. This Tiger is an impressive male and not yet in his prime as he is only about 3.5 years old! The drama of the kill is an incredible story, which i could re-construct after speaking to the the elephant mahouts and a senior Park Guide, who was a witness to the event. The Tiger noticed the solitary bull Gaur grazing in some tall grasses next to a nullah and stalked it for less than 2 minutes before leaping on to it's back! He started to bite the Gaur on it's back (the bite marks are clearly visible in the picture above), while simultaneously using his hind-claws to hamstring the hind legs! The Gaur collapsed in no time, throwing the Tiger to the ground. The Tiger immediately attacked it from the rear and started to feed on the hind-quarters, even as the Gaur was alive! The Gaur bellowed it's death-cry but did not die completely for about 2 hours, as the Tiger kept feeding!
When i got to the scene the next morning, by elephant-back, the Tiger had eaten a large portion of the thighs and the rump (the Gaur would have weighed about 600-700 kgs!) and was lying in the grasses nearby. He was not even allowing a Crow on the kill, expending much energy by charging at the Crows each time they were trying to sneak in! What an amazing sight, this supreme predator presented! Just imagine the strength and the skill required to bring down such a big prey like this Gaur bull! Some of my S.African Ranger friends argue with me about the comparative strength and skill of the Tiger and the Lion..this should settle that argument guys! There is no doubt that the Tiger is indeed the most supreme predator on this planet!

This Tiger would now gain so much confidence that he would go after the numerous Gaur bulls one can see feeding in the Kanha meadows. Their solitary nature would be big advantage for him! Just look at those canines! He is indeed one of the most impressive and handsome Tigers i have seen in a long time!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lapwings in action !

Lapwings are such good indicators of presence of predators, since they are ground-nesting birds and also because they are bold and noisy in the defence of their eggs or chicks. In this incident, we came across a couple of Red-wattled Lapwings making a lot of noise at Nakti Ghati, which is a waterhole and a hotspot for wildlife in the summer heat. On closer observation, i saw a Crested Serpent Eagle behind a rock and feeding on something..which looked like a chick. The Lapwings were launching repeated attacks on the Eagle ( was it their chick?) and sometimes actually making contact! Finally, the Eagle gave up (am not sure if it finished with the chick) and flew away! I always admired the attitude of Lapwings and learnt to never ignore their distress calls.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

'Gaur' Egrets!

Cattle Egrets move into Kanha in summer season in big numbers. They are in their breeding plumage and look so beautiful! They take advantage of the wild animals like Gaur, Chital and Sambar, which are now browsing in the forest and as they walk in the rich leaf litter (mostly Sal leaves), they disturb thousands of insects, which the Egrets gobble up eagerly! Rest of the season, these Egrets are happy to be in the fields and countryside ,where the domestic cattle and other animals do this job for them. Amazing, how these birds are smart enough to make such seasonal movements to take advantage of the availability of food.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Bold Peacock !

My luck with Cats continued after my Snow Leopard encounter! Back in Kanha, i saw this amazing sight of a bold Peacock walking right upto 20 feet of a big male Leopard drinking water! This happened at Umar Jhola waterhole, one hot afternoon. We first heard alarm calls of Langurs and Rhesus Macaque..after 2 minutes a big male Leopard walked out into the open and started to drink water. Then a Sambar called from a distance..the Leopard looked up very nervously and suddenly scrambled on to the nearby bund to hide in the tall grass! We expected a Tiger to walk up any moment! The Leopard waited for 15 long minutes before approaching the water again..this time he drank for a long time. Then this Peacock walked up..and came quite close to the Leopard, which went on drinking water and ignoring the intruder! This is an interesting behaviour as Peacocks are potential prey to Leopards..this one surely had some attitude!