This blog was originally posted on onlytravelonmymind
After many wildlife safaris in the forests of southern India the disappointment of not sighting a single big cat in the wild drove me to try my luck in the tiger reserves of the North.
Obvious choices were Tadoba, Pench, Kanha and few other popular hence crowded ones. I however chose to explore the lesser known forests which led me to Tipeshwar, a sanctuary about 170 kms from Nagpur. Tipeshwar was hardly known to tourists and wildlife photographers until very recently which gave me the privilege of being the only person (along with forest guide of course) in the only gypsy for the entire day.I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy the attention????
We entered the forest of Tipeshwar from the remote Sunna village around sunrise. As we entered the village lane we turned our headlights off to let the villagers lined up on the sides of the road peacefully carry on their morning ablutions. I inquired if they had no toilets built in the village, it turns out there are toilets but shortage of water is what forces them to use the open space.
Something about this forest was very likable, its hilly terrain, prevailing calmness around the water bodies, myriad of birds or was it the absence of rushing jeeps, constantly clicking cameras, thronging tourists ? I suppose both.
As luck would have it, there was not a single tiger in sight despite frequent alarm calls in the wilderness throughout the day. In the end, the disappointment was masked by a fulfilling experience of spending a day in a peaceful jungle.
Woke up next morning with renewed optimism and ten minutes into the jungle, when you least expect it, a gorgeous sub adult female on an early morning prowl walked from behind tall grass right next to the jeep trail. I could barely contain my excitement as the tigress, conscious of our presence, crossed the trail back and forth. I watched with bated breath, my first encounter with a big cat in the wild ! Defiant look on her face left me with goosebumps.It must have taken me forever to mount the lens and adjust the camera before I could capture this moment. Phew ! I could see a sense of relief on my guide’s face as though he had made me a promise to find a tiger.
As the striped body disappeared into the woods we heard a cry and long grunts coming from what sounded like a wild boar. Must have been the tigress, although a sub-adult she must have started hunting her own food but it took a while before the cries dwindled. I was told some sub-adults are capable of preying on their own and they target smaller animals. Circle of life.
In the recent past few tigers and cubs have been frequently sighted in Tipeshwar and continue to be seen around this area putting this less known forest on the wildlife map. It has caught the attention of wildlife enthusiasts and there have been requests to mark this sanctuary a tiger reserve in order to protect and conserve the inhabiting tigers. With that comes tourism which means more tourists and wildlife photographers pouring in bringing more revenue to the forest department.On the flip side we may be unknowingly but eventually posing a threat to the wildlife and its natural habitat unless ethical practices are followed.
Let us all be responsible tourists, photographers and do our bit to conserve wildlife, their natural habitat and the ecosystem.
Travel tips :
Nearest airport to Tipeshwar is Nagpur airport which is around 170 kms. Private vehicles / cabs are the best option to get to Tipeshwar from Nagpur.
As of now Tipeshwar wildlife sanctuary does not provide gypsy for safaris. Tourists need to get their own or hired vehicles.
Nearest hotel/lodge is around 14 kms from the park in the town of Pandharkawada. Hotel Rahul is your best bet.