Tiger

Posted on February 24, 2014

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Sawai Madhopur is best know for one thing – Ranthambhore National Park. It’s home to some very special biodiversity including the tiger.

Safaris take place twice a day, so as not to put too much pressure on the animals because the noise from the jeeps is loud. Early morning drives start at 0630 until 1000 and afternoon drives run from 1430 until 1830.

When Ashok and I arrived at the forest department in town there was a huddle of men at least six deep all trying to peer through a tiny opening in a window holding yellow slips and yelling in Hindi. This is want happens when you do everything yourself. Hotels and tour operators can take the hassle out of doing this if you book through them. But where would the fun be right?

Not wanting a repeat of Delhi train station Ashok took my photocopied forms and pushed his way through. After a short while he returned and told me the canter (12-seater) would be along in an hour and to sit tight. I waved goodbye bagging the best seat, next to the driver in the front, and prayed luck would be on my side.

There are an estimated 3,500 tigers left in the world. Their numbers have declined like most endangered animals due habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict issues such as being poisoned or poached for their skins. Here in Ranthambhore the guides boast that the park hosts more than 1,500 – but I seriously have my doubts. Some sceptics say the number is closer to 800. In each zone there are roughly about 12 tigers due to their home range (territory) being so large. The park is very large – nearly 13,500 square kilometres of scrubland and rocky cliff faces. Around the forte there are ancient temples and mosques where the animals sometimes lurk.

There are eight different zones. When you book you have to pot for which one you want. I managed to do zone 6 – which has many lakes, fantastic Banyan Trees and beautiful woodlands and yesterday zone 8 which is rocky. On average park fees and the drive costs around £10. A bargain for an eco-tourism project.

I went on two different drives over two days and didn’t see a whisker. The closest I got was a footprint yesterday morning. The scenery is spectacular as you can see below. I even did a nature walk around my hotel’s perimetre yesteday afternoon where I saw both footprints for a leopard and most likely a jackal, although the guide used the word hyena. The air here is wonderful and it’s a magical place to unwind. If you come to Rajasthan you’d be mad to miss it out!

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Posted in: India