By Hitee Singh
I am talking about the lush green forest of Ranthambore National Park in the month of October. The Park has 5 different routes and the route is allotted by the forest officials. We had booked a canter which seats 20 people and set out at 7 am in the morning.
Canter is an open bus.
We were given strict instructions not to get down from the canter. Along with the driver, a forest official accompanied us with a gun in his hand to make us feel safer (just to be clear I wasn’t one of them).
As we moved forward, it grew colder and the forest grew denser. The trees provided shade to us as they slowly hung above us wherever we went. The first animal we saw was a wild boar rushing past our vehicle. We saw a herd of chitals or a herd of spotted deer grazing in the forest.
As we stood there clicking pictures, we heard the rustling sounds of leaves, and lo behold! A 2-year tiger cub was chasing a fawn and having missed it, the cub turned it’s head towards us and I saw the most ferocious pair of green eyes I had ever seen. Before anyone of us could even utter a single syllable the tiger went back and out of our sight.
Content as well as disappointed that we had just seen a glimpse of the tiger, our canter went deeper into the forest. The forest official spotted a pug mark left by a tiger on the mud tracks. We picked up it’s trail and followed it. Soon we spotted it, sleeping in the sun in, what it seemed like, a dry puddle. We waited for around half-an-hour for it to wake up. We were approximately 100 metres away from it. It’s skin was shiny and it looked as if the sunlight reflected from it. It woke up and glanced at us and started to walk away from us and into the bushes.
We slowly followed it from a safe distance as it moved gradually and gracefully in front of us. We saw it moving towards a pond where it joined probably its mother by the size of that tiger. It spent a little while in the water and returned to sprawl in the sun.
Our three and a half hours were coming to an end and we were now supposed to return. Leaving the tiger licking and tending to itself we returned back to the human’s world.
We were quite lucky to be able to spot a tiger on our first visit and watch it for hours. Nothing can beat the experience of watching an animal whether a chital or a tiger in its habitat cause it is when we are in our own skin we can truly enjoy ourselves.