Nagarahole, With Tigers

The first time I went to Nagarahole (“Nah-gurra-ho-lay”) was decades ago. Back then, they allowed private cars to drive through the wildlife sanctuary between sunrise and sundown. I recall seeing deer and monkeys – and magically, a leopard. But no tigers, no surprise because tigers were very rare.

In fact, I’ve been visiting wildlife sanctuaries in north and south India for decades. Sarishka. Ranthambhor. Bandipur. Mudumalai. Many a time, we came that close to seeing a tiger. Pugmarks. The vehicle ahead saw one. A tigress usually hangs out on this rock, but she’s not here today. I’ve seen them in zoos, of course, and in “safari parks.” But never in the wild.

Then – in January 2020, I returned to Nagarahole. We spent the night at a Jungle Lodge near the Kabini entrance, and took two “safaris” into the reserve in the government-provided bus. It was on the chilly early morning ride, after bumping around the dirt roads for maybe 30 minutes – it happened. “Tigers,” said the naturalist-guide who was leading the expedition.

And sure enough, through the morning mist – there was a tiger. And another, and another. It was a mother tiger with her three grown cubs. (Otherwise, tigers don’t usually hang out in groups.)

I just had my cellphone for picture-taking. But a couple of people on the bus had serious equipment. Like this.

I don’t actually mind too much. No photographs actually do the big cats justice in terms of their presence. And these pictures have a painterly, impressionist quality that I rather like.

4 thoughts on “Nagarahole, With Tigers”

  1. Very cool! I’m glad you finally got to see them there. I remember chasing a leopard through Serengeti Park, and always being one car too late. We did get to see a cheetah with two cubs, besides the plethora of lions. Thanks for bringing back those memories. 🙂 Cheers! Ramona

  2. Yes, Africa is brilliant! We went to Masai Mara some years ago, and it was unbelievable in terms of wildlife density – zebra hanging out like East Coast deer, giraffe drifting into the hotel grounds, wildebeest everywhere, and multiple lions and elephants. We also saw a cheetah with cubs. India is different – more like here in the US. The landscape looks empty of animals, but then you spot them. You see fewer animals, but they’re different ones.

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