Vivek R Sinha
Wildlife Photographer, Conservationist and Author
 

My wife and I had a very frightening experience on March 6, 1992, when it attacked me while I was trying to photograph the new tiger. I have written about it with pictures in my book, The Tiger Is A Gentleman. In fact this was our only bad experience with a tiger, though we have seen about 200 different tigers in the wild in various Tiger Reserves of India and have photographed about 130 of them! In due course Charger settled down and raised four litters with Sita. Sita was last seen in June 1998 then disappeared: she was already 16 years of age – rather too old for the wild. On 16 February 2000, Charger had a fight with two other tigers and was badly injured. Off and on the Wildlife Department tried to take care of him but he breathed his last on the 29 of September, 2000. But grown up cubs of Charger from Mohini, daughter of Sita, have now established their territories here. All the tigers, which grew up as cubs in the Chakradhara and adjoining areas, are accustomed to seeing tame elephants and vehicles since their early cub’hood and permit close approach. Before dawn, a number of elephants with very experienced mahouts are sent into the reserves to locate a tiger. Once located, “tiger show” starts and tourists are taken to and fro to see the tiger on the departmental elephants. In the afternoons one can take a drive on the jeep.

I have dwelt at some length on the reasons why Bandhavgarh, in my opinion, is the best area for tiger photography though the tiger population, at present estimated between 37-56, is declining. A word of caution though, after all these are all wild tigers and sometimes may not be seen for days on end! “Nick’ Nichols, the staff photographer of the National Geographic, spent nearly two years on a project of photographing tigers with special official permission. He has this to say: “My success ratio over the whole project was about one tiger in six days. – and that doesn’t mean that all photographs were usable”! Incidentally, he had shot 1800 rolls of films on this assignment.



 
 
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