His huge bulk (250 kg+) passed by our jeep turning our continence into shades of blue and black. The imposing bulk aided with dagger sharp canines and claws that could rip open the mightiest on Earth all equipment for efficient hunting. I could see all this as the animal literally glided noiselessly on the forest floor, past us on its digits and thickly padded paws. You can only hear the animal move whence its body brushes the twigs and leaves.
Of course he was aware of us but did not care to look and ambled past without shaking a whisker. I shuddered to think what would have happened if he had a streak of violence in him. We were no match for the big beast, neither in speed and agility nor in brute strength that the tiger was equipped with.
He passed us by non nonchalantly without a glance, and moved deep into the dense canopy sliding gently through the bushes without much ado. As we saw his contours slide through the dense foliage we heaved a sigh of relief.
We were searching for tigers since last two days without success. My guests from UK came with an impression that the big cats were every where waiting to greet them. Their enthusiasm was childlike what with hundred clicks waiting for them to create tons of memorable moments to cherish for life.
"Do you still feel the excitement upon coming across the charismatic beast," she had asked me during the dinner.
"After so many failed searches and hard work my excitement upon sighting the majestic beast is as palpable as yours. Tigers are hard to come by in the jungles though their presence can never be undermined." I informed them.
"Sighting tigers is a chance and also as result of our tracing abilities." The conversation ended as the time to pop onto the bed arrived.
That was Munna the loved one, a tiger who has carved his name in the history of Kanha National Park. As a dominant tiger he commands a huge area that encompasses three zones. He is most visible of the big cats but nevertheless he springs surprise by being unseen for weeks.
In spite of their bulk these animals can hide themselves easily into their sylvan surroundings. Through thousands of years of adaptation and evolving constantly they have mastered the art of camouflage. The changing hues of yellow orange fur, shapely body contours and limited height all contribute besides the ability to stay still for a long time.
Sharp eyes and ears besides incredible patience are recipe for success whence searching for tigers. Understanding the behavior codes lead to making you good at the job.
Our tiger reserves need to be experienced in the holistic manner by observing all the salient features. Nevertheless the desire to see the tiger is understood. The parks are rich in biodiversity, bird life and other life forms that accord great thrills while on wildlife safari.
Photo Credit: Dharmagiri Pench