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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ranthambhore - Day 04

As the end of our time in India get closer and closer we begun to grow our expectations; we have completed all 5 routes of the Ranthambhore National Park and we had already our preferences by that time, but the route assignment was not in our hands. Summit showed up on the morning bringing the Route 4 permit, we should start repeating the routes, not necessarily in the same order.

Route 4 is quite interesting, the big waterhole formed by the dam in the middle of the route, the other waterholes spread all over the area and the highpoints that provided a different angle of the region, were a plus in that Route. We have followed the main track

In the end of the track there was a gathering of some vehicles and we could see already the people taking pictures frenetically – this could mean only one thing: Tiger! Summit approached the narrow track that crossed the site where a tiger was lying near the edge of a waterhole. The whole place was very dry and the water spot looked really like a magnet for the tigers in search of a refreshing bath or for the thirsty ones.

Beautiful Male Tiger

Tiger Reflection on Waterhole

Male moving around

The tiger sub-adult was quiet and did not show any intention of getting up to drink from the waterhole – we had to be patient. Peace was frequently broken by new jeeps arriving and jostling for a good position – it seemed that we were around the main attraction of that route as the audience also included a canter (big truck converted into a safari roof-less vehicle for 20 people). However, even with that agitation of the people, the tiger did not feel disturbed at all.

Female Tiger waking up

Unexpectedly, we noticed a movement in a bush near the tiger, it was another tiger. That was incredible, 2 tigers in the same scene. Summit confirms our suspicion that they were brother or sisters; actually they were 1 male cub and one female cub. The one in the bush as the female while, the other one lying, down was her brother. The story about them was that their mother had been killed by a male tiger that was not the father of the cubs, so to defend her siblings she fought against the male tiger and lost. Now the sub-adults were completely by themselves.

Female tiger moving

The female raised his head and after, the body, she started to walk to the right where her brother was still lying down and decided to go for a drink on the edge of the waterhole. That was a scene we were so anxious for: a tiger drinking at a waterhole. The reflex of her head in the water was not so crystal clear, but it was a superb sight indeed.

Female drinking at waterhole

It doesn’t take too long for her brother to join her in the edge of the waterhole and drink together. Then we had 2 tigers drinking in that waterhole, if we thought ourselves were blessed to witness one tiger drinking at a waterhole, that scene we could not even dream of seeing.

Brother and Sister drinking water together

Both tigers were very comfortable with our presence, and continued to drink peacefully until they got satisfied and decided to go away. Despite our attempt to follow their path they soon crossed the boundaries of the Route 4 then setting the end of that great sighting.

Male is gone, Sister will take off soon

We return to the central waterhole to try check on the other tigress domains, but we could count only on a flock of painted storks and other birds as usual. The time to return to the hotel approached and we speeded up to get to the gate, the Dev Vilas swimming pool was waiting for us.

Sometime before lunch we are invited by the resident mahout of the hotel to meet Pawan Khali, the resident`s old female elephant. She is 75 years old and belongs to Mr. Singh`s family since she was acquired by Mr. Singh`s grandpa when she was around 20 years old. Unfortunately this elephant saw many tigers get shot to death in the times when tiger hunting was still legal in India and hunters rode elephants to go into the jungle in search of wild tigers. Now she is retired, but Mr. Singh is still responsible by her welfare. The mahout who takes care of her in the hotel called us to give her a bath.

Presenting Pawan Khali

Elephant Bath

One of us scrubbed a piece of rock to remove dead skin while the other used a hose to give her a good shower. Interaction with elephants is always a grateful experience despite we felt sorry about Pawan Khali have to spend her last days in that confined space in the backyard of the hotel. At least they still take care of her as they consider her part of the family.

Be happy Pawan!

After lunch we return to the park with Summit again, but this time we were not so luck again. We have been assigned to Route 2, and we could just spend the game-drive time visiting the waterholes expecting to see tigers relieving of the day heat. There were only deers, birds and crocodiles in the waterholes, including a mating couple of Sambhar Deers.

Mating Sambhar deers

Rose-ringed Parakeets Flock

In the way out to in the checkpoint, the platform in the middle of the checkpoint square was full of rose-ringed parakeets, lots of them – probably someone have thrown grains on the platform for attracting them. The scene was interesting.

In the end the day we still felt happy for having witnessed the couple of tigers in the waterhole in the Route 4 in the morning. That was really a great moment. The next game-drive would be the last one in this trip in India, but as for compensating all our lucky we had across the whole trip so far, we would see nothing at all – absolutely nothing…As if to say goodbye to us, Nature has turned its back to us and only the warmth of the air and the constant deep sounds of the forest have been reserved for our last safari in India. We were happy.

End-of-game drives in Ranthambhore

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