We came back to Bandhavgarh in the afternoon, now appropriately escorted by Mr. Raj and Dino, a very skillful driver. We had been very happy in the morning joining the Tiger Show and the expectations were growing, since we have been so successful in all game drives so far.
Despite being to the park everyday and running his business there, Mr. Raj has an endless eagerness to spot tigers, as they are his passion, and he was avid to track tiger that afternoon. He saved a prayer for Siddh Baba whenever we passed the shrine past the entrance of the park, to ask for protection and for good sightings.
As we started the game drive, we met John Aitchinson of BBC with Digpal Singh waiting near Siddh Baba, they would bet on the New Male again for the afternoon
We set our course to Nilgai, the area where Jhurjuhra female and her cubs had been seen in the morning feeding from a kill, as she would probably be taking a rest somewhere still around there. As we drove through the park we saw, the brown fish owl flicking its big eyes near its nest on the top of a tree. A jeep was always there, on stand-by, with wildlife photographers who were chasing this owl, but this was the first time we could see it so clearly.
As we stand-by around the site, Raj told us that the rangers saw the New Male being chased out of range by B2. New Male had been taken by surprise by B2 patrolling the Chakradhara Meadows. New Male was looking for Chorbhera tigress when we saw him in the morning, but B2 is still very active and keeps his territory and the harem of females within very close attention and have put New Male to run. Maybe B2 and New Male could be hiding in a cave around the Siddh Baba area – good luck for John and Digpal.
Raj prefers to focus on Jhurjuhra female and the cubs, so we held still following some intuition of Raj and track signs. A mongoose steals our attention making a cracking noise behind us, just to make our imagination fly high – maybe it could be a tiger – well, not that time…
After some time spent there in total silence, we start to hear alarm calls coming from just in front of us. Chital deers calling is a strong sign of predators approaching; the peacocks joined the chorus raising our attention. I started to record the sounds (the ones I have posted before). Dino tries to change the position of the vehicle to have a better view of the hill just in front of us, but the vegetation is thick. Some more minutes of apprehension made us starting to look everywhere, at that time it seemed the alarm calls were coming from all sides – perhaps we were the predators being alarmed…but not. The silence suddenly swallows the jungle sounds and we could clearly hear a roar – it was low, coming from somewhere on the hill, but seemed still not being from so close.
We finally realize that the roars are getting louder indicating that the tiger was coming down toward us. Dino, moved the jeep once again and we finally saw it, unfortunately, it the tiger had stopped moving and decides to stay put. Well, we could barely see the tiger amongst the dry bamboo, but despite photography was not excellent, we had another of those exciting encounter.
Raj says it can be Jhurjuhra tigress or one of the cubs, but from there neither Dino nor he could tell for sure.
We can’t stay longer there as we are far from the gate – the Bandhavgarh Fort glows with the sunset lights - another fortunate game drive gets to the end.
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