Wildlife Tourism - An Evening with Krishna
Introduction - Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
Ranthambore National Park is one of the best national park of India for wildlife viewing especially the National Animal of India, The Tiger. It is one of the largest national parks of north India covering an are of 392 sq km. It is situated in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan with Sawai Madhopur town acting as the nearest railhead. Nearest airport is Jaipur which is 160 km in northwest direction to the Park.
The Park was notified as Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary in 1935 and was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973. The Park gets it’s name from the Ranthambore Fortress which is located in between the park boundaries and is a major tourist destination.
Ranthambore was declared a National Park in 1980 and the adjacent forests of Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary and Keladevi Sanctuary were included to extend the Tiger Reserves boundaries in 1991.
Since many years, Ranthambore has been played a pivotal role in Tiger conservation spearheading the Project Tiger’s mission of saving the tiger population and re-establishing the diminishing biodiversity. It has been a major tourist hub which attracted a lot of tourists not only from India but from world over owing to the regular tiger sightings during the forest department controlled wildlife tourism and safaris. Flagship tiger individuals such as Machali and T19 Sundari on which numerous wildlife films created, made sure that Ranthambore National Park remained a top tourist hub for many years.
It is said, if someone wishes to see a Tiger in wild, he/she must visit Ranthambore as it provides ample opportunities of tiger sighting.
First Tiger Sighting in wild - Bandhavgarh NP - 2005
First Tiger sighting in Wild
Though my first tiger sighting was way back in 2004, in Kanha National Park – well I was unable to sight the tiger in all 5 scheduled vehicle wildlife safari and was able to see a tiger only during Tiger show. Tiger Show is a form of providing tiger sighting to tourists while they are seated on top of an Elephant, while a tiger is seated/ resting and is surrounded by other elephants from all directions. The tiger respecting the presence of Elephants do not move from it’s location and tourist are ferried over another Elephant to have a glance of the majestic beast sitting quietly. Though Tiger Shows provide opportunites to see a Tiger in it’s natural habitat, but in no sense, it can be termed as a real tiger sighting in wild. I had to wait one more year to see a tiger in wild, and in 2005 I saw my first tiger in wild in Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh. It was most successful trip as I had the privilege of seeing tiger in all of the scheduled wildlife jeep safaris.
But then I had to wait for almost 10 years to see another tiger in wild, which happened in Ranthambore National Park in 2014. This was my first trip to Ranthambore and on my very first Safari in to the forest, I had a treat to see this tigress, T19 which was considered to be the Queen of Lakes – the most premium and happening tourism zone of the park.
Wildlife Safari at Ranthambore
Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is divided in to 10 tourism zones which comprises of most of the buffer zone and some part of the core zone of the reserve. Zone 1 to Zone 6 are considered to be premium zones as wildlife and tiger sightings are considerably better in these zones. These zones are the most sought after tourism zones and the safari bookings get filled up very fast for these zones. Most of the park is closed during monsoon except Zone 6 to Zone 10 for which safari bookings are taken on the spot during that period of monsoon.
Forest Department conducts wildlife safari twice a day - in morning and in afternoon. Safari timing changes with season, tentatively morning safari starts around 7 am and afternoon safari starts at 3 pm.
Two types of vehicles are available for booking for safari - 1. a 4WD SUV vehicle and 2. a larger capacity Canter (Open Mini Bus).
It must be noted that the 4WD SUV vehicles get booked very fast and are needed to be booked as early as possible when safari bookings opens, 3 months earlier. Hence if you wish to visit Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and want to enjoy the wildlife safari to fullest, you must start planning for your visit 3-4 months before the trip date and have all bookings confirmed.
An Evening with Krishna
Location: Zone 3 – Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
From Rajbagh Lake to Malik Talab.
It was the evening of 15th December 2014, the day when I reached Ranthambore in the morning and checked in to my resort. Our first safari was scheduled in the afternoon and at around 2.30pm I left my resort on my first drive in to the Ranthambore National Park. Our guide and forest guard told us that we will be going in to the Rajbag Lake zone – Zone 3 of the reserve forest which is one of the most sought after tourism zone. This zone was then the territory of Tigress T19 aka Krishna and she was raising 3 cubs of around 6-7 months old. During the morning Safari, the forest guard had spotted the tigress somewhere in the bushes at the edge of Rajbagh Lake. Hence our guide expected that Krishna will move out of the Lake area and return to her Cubs, which were hidden in ravines near Malik Talab. After waiting for some over 30 minutes, there was a Sambar calling out sensing danger. Our vehicle driver drove us towards the direction of the call and we could hear some movement in the tall bushes besides the Rajbagh lake. At first we could only see the tail which was standing vertically emerging out on top of the bushes. Our guide perfectly positioned our vehicle and as expected the tigress emerged out of the bushes just in front of our vehicle. Krishna started walking on a designated path which she knew would take her to her cubs. We followed Krishna for almost an hour and during this time she came very close to our vehicle four times giving many opportunities to have good head on photographs.
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© 2016 Abhijeet Sawant