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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:13 pm 
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Location: Bangkok, Thailand
A month long safari to the Indian sub-continent

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Collarwali, the ‘Queen of Pench’ passing in front of my jeep; she has had 22 cubs and 6 litters and is one of my favorite tigers in India…!

India is a spectacular wildlife paradise showcasing the magnificent Bengal tiger. There is about two thousand thriving on the sub-continent and it’s the largest population remaining on the planet. These big cats still thrive very well in many protected areas and even outside some parks and sanctuaries, and at times are quite easy to see. However, they can also be very elusive and it really depends on one’s luck.

I arrived in New Delhi on March 20th at noon from Bangkok, Thailand, which takes about three and half hours flying time. Air India is a great airline and allows 40 kilograms of check-in baggage on business class which I needed as I had two DSLR camera traps, two sensors and four flashes, plus other assorted photographic equipment like my tripod, boots and clothes, etc. My two bags were very close to that limit and I hate paying overweight…!

I stayed in Delhi for one night and then caught the train the next afternoon going north to Ramganga city arriving in the evening and staying at the Tiger Camp Lodge on the way to Corbett Tiger Reserve and National Park. I slept well after the four-hour train-ride that is hectic going through Old Delhi train station fighting thousands of people to get on board. It is a madhouse…!

VANGHAT WILDLIFE RESERVE

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The Vanghat female tiger camera trapped with a Nikon D3000 trail cam…!

The next morning, my first stop was Vanghat Wildlife Reserve and Lodge (private land) situated on the Ramganga River which was reported to have tiger, leopard, crocodile and other creatures common to the Corbett Landscape in the lower-Himalayan Mountains. The owner, Mr Sumantha Ghosh is an avid nature lover and was eager to see what was roaming his forest and hills. Little did he or I know that a female tiger was around and she tripped my Nikon D3000 camera trap on the night of March 28th up on a ridgeline. She turned out to be a prime female living in her patch.

CORBETT TIGER RESERVE

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‘Parwali’ female tiger in Corbet Tiger Reserve with a spotted deer (chital) fawn…!

The next morning, I went into Corbett National Park to visit the grasslands at Dhikala Lodge run by the government where many tigers roam looking for prey. On the second morning, we bumped into a female that was hunting across the Ramganga River. Timing was perfect and she stepped on to the road with a spotted deer fawn in her mouth. It certainly was a once-in-a-lifetime shot for me and I was pleased to say the least. Over the next few days, I saw her a few more times here and there. At that moment, Parwali (her name) is the most photographed tiger in Corbett and I feel lucky to have captured her with prey; behavior is tough with tigers..!

PANNA TIGER RESERVE

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Panna’s larger female cub of T-1 on my first afternoon safari at the waterhole…!

From Corbett, it was back to Delhi on the train followed by anther train ride going further south but this time it was an overnighter. At my age, sleeping on a train is almost impossible and it was a long night. The next morning, we arrived at Khajuraho station and a driver was there to pick me up and drive to the Ken River Lodge owned by Mr. Shyamendra Singh on the Ken River not far from the main gate into Panna Tiger Reserve.

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Panna’s smaller cub of T-1 on my last afternoon at a secluded waterhole by the road…!

That afternoon, Mr. Shukra, a very experienced guide and I entered the park at 3pm and in the late afternoon, saw a female cub from T-1 at a waterhole taking a drink. (Panna lost all their tigers in 2008 and she was the first reintroduced tiger). On my last safari, I bumped into T-1’s other smaller cub. Now that was some seriously good luck.

PENCH TIGER RESERVE

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Collerwali yawning after a late morning slumber not far from the Pench River…!

Then after a long 8-hour taxi ride, I ended up in Pench Tiger Reserve southwest of Panna, and met up with my good friend Omeer (Omi) Choudhary, a guide, driver and naturalist for the Tuli Tiger Corridor Lodge. Over the next couple of days, he put me in front of Collerwali, the ‘Queen of Pench’ and the most famous tigress with 22-recorded cubs and 6 litters. I also saw two of her latest cubs, a male and female. And then Omi put me in the right place near closing time to catch 'Mr Big' known as ‘Raiyakassa’ as he walked up from a mud bath. It was hot and he was cooling off.

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Collarwali’s male cub watching the jeeps with the queen resting behind him…!

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Collarwali’s female cub resting on a rock during a late morning safari…!

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Raiyakassa, the male tiger and Collarwali’s mate just up from a mud-hole…!

That was it — eight tigers in two weeks. I guess I was lucky but I did pray to ‘Jim Corbett’s spirit plus the spirit of the Banyon Tree; Sitti Mama. She knew what I wanted and provided me with some amazing tiger shots… Overall, a successful trip and one that will be etched in memory for as long as I live…!!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:41 am 
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Some excellent tiger pictures. Pretty lucky to get so many good ones in so many places in a short period. I would definitely say it was successful.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:00 am 
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What wonderful accounts of your adventure and incredibly beautiful images Mr. Tiger hunter. This time, you certainly did justice to your names sake. Well done Bruce, very well done.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:29 pm 
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Great photos and a great read! Ya done good!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:52 pm 
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Thanks guys...it was exciting seeing that many...I felt lucky, specially in Panna...they lost all their tiger back in 2008 and these were the cubs of their mother T-1, the first tiger reintroduced there...just plain old good luck...!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:13 pm 
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Great pictures, Bruce. The predation shot is a rare photo-catch -- was the chital still alive?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:45 pm 
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cameratrapcodger wrote:
Great pictures, Bruce. The predation shot is a rare photo-catch -- was the chital still alive?


Nope, it was quite dead with the tiger's mouth clamped on to its head...there is a trickle of blood right above the eye...predation at its best...! Just lucky I guess....but I also believe in Jim Corbett's spirit...I always hold on to his bust at the front gate for a few seconds asking for good luck..!

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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2016 6:53 pm 
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All great shots, but the one with the fawn is simply awesome!

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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2016 11:12 pm 
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Willy wrote:
All great shots, but the one with the fawn is simply awesome!


Thanks Sean...it was a great trip but tough on the old body...got what they call 'Delhi belly' with bad stomach cramps which impaired me for a week...it was the water at one of the lodges...I'm sure..!

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