At the onset let me warn you that whatever kind of Tiger sighting that you may have, you can never have it enough. I personally think that every Tiger sighting is good, and it will always leave a permanent mark on your memory. Let me elucidate the types of sightings which will leave a varying degree of adrenaline rush in you. This is totally my opinion and is arrived after seeing Tigers for more than 30 years in Indian Jungles.
Another word of caution that no one can guarantee any of the below types of sightings, but depending on the experience we can only give you indications and most likely chances of the same.
The idea behind the below order is the frequency of these sightings. So No 5 is more frequent and No 1 is least frequently seen.
- A general Tiger sighting:
This is a sighting in which you may sight a Tiger in a bush, or in some clearance, maybe in a waterhole, or even on the path ahead of you walking towards you head on, or walking away from you. In these listed sightings it is the Tiger head on (a Tiger coming towards you) is generally considered as an excellent sighting by most of the photographers. A Tiger head on sighting can happen in any park but there are some parks where they happen more than others. For e.g. in Kanha you can get more Tiger head on shots compared to Bandhavgarh, Panna, or Jim Corbett. There are reasons for the same, so one must know what one wants and choose the national park accordingly.
- Tigress with cubs
This is one of the most satiating Tiger sightings, as you tend to see more than one Tiger together. The cuteness and innocence of Tiger cubs leaves one completely spellbound. The smaller the cubs the higher the adrenaline rush. There are many photographers and guests who come to see the Tigress with cubs, so it is important again to choose the right time of the year to visit and to know which park to visit. For small cubs Ranthambhore is a good park, and so is Bandhavgarh. For cubs over 6 months parks like Kanha, Pench, and Tadoba are good. One must note that a Tigress normally does not get her cubs out before they are at least 3 months old. She has to save them from other predators, so she continues to move them from one safe place to another, so it is normally at this time that one gets to see Tiger cubs. Good time to see cubs is normally the summer months. Once the cubs become confident that is more than 7-8 months then they tend to spend more time playing with each other either in water, in bush or even on tracks where the tourist vehicles ply. Tigress cub sightings also depend on the nature of the mother. If she is a bold Tigress like the legendary ‘Collarwali’ in Pench, then be rest assured that you are in for some good sightings.
For that matter, even Dhawajhandi or Naina Tigress in Kanha are bold mothers. Spotty, Dotty, and Solo of Bandhavgarh are perhaps leaders in this. But it is Maya of Tadoba which stands on a high pedestal along with Collarwali of Pench when it comes to bold Tigresses with cubs.
- Tigers mating
This is not commonly seen as this happens either in the winter months (December/January) or in the month of May usually. There are some parks where one has more chances of seeing Tigers mating. It is Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh where one has best possible chances, but Tigers mate in all parks. When I say Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh it is due to the thin undergrowth that you have instant vision of Tigers.
- Tiger chase and kill
This is happening in every park, as Tigers need to kill to survive. We know for a fact that a Tiger needs close to 50 medium size deers to survive through the year. Also we know that a Tigers success rate is less than 10% when it comes to kill. So for one Tiger to survive through the year he has to do more than 500 chases per year. And this figure is only for one Tiger. For a park like Kanha which has over 100 Tigers, you can calculate that there are close to 50000 chases every year in the park. But chances of seeing them really less. For drivers, and guides going in daily twice would consider themselves lucky if they see even one in the year. There are several regular visitors to these parks over the years who are yet to see a Tiger chase and kill. The parks where one has more chances of seeing this are Ranthambhore, Tadoba and Bandhavgarh also for the reason that these parks are less dense.
Another reason that can determine this sighting is the number of Tigresses with cubs. For e.g. if a given park has more foals with cubs, then she needs to hunt often, practically daily, so more chances of seeing such chase and kill.
- Tiger territorial fight
This is by far the most thrilling sighting that one can ever dream of seeing. This happens when a Tiger in order to defend his/her own territory ward off the other Tiger. This fight just like Tiger mating can continue for hours. The Tigers will walk alongside, then occassionally stand on hind legs to slap or punch each other. These are lethal and at times fatal blows which can deeply injure the other Tiger or even kill the Tiger. Normally the killing is rare as the lesser Tiger normally leaves the area when he realises that he is no match for the dominating Tiger. But two similar aged Tigers fight can be fatal. It has happened in the past in some parks. But one park which has shot into prominence for the Tiger fights in Kanha, and that too Mukki zone. Other zones in Kanha have seen these fights, but moreso in Mukki zone. About 6 big fights in last 5 years. Some tourists, and naturalists have been fortunate to see these deadly duels, perhaps neater blog is required to describe the same.
We are confident that you will experience one of the above types of sightings during your tiger safaris in India with us.
Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered.
Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park.
Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here’s a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger.