The Tadoba trip was initially going to be for the animal census which happened every year on the night of Buddha Pournima and for some reason got canceled this year! Sadly enough the forest department also hiked up the safari online booking rates. The trip date had to be on a weekend as all of my friends have jobs. The weekend rates for safari are twice that of weekdays at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve.
Things worked out! Thanks to a very special friend of mine and we are off to Tadoba! Upon reaching Moharli gate (where we stayed) we found out that we have the buffer zone safaris of Devada and Junona gates. Both zones are adjacent to each other so tourists can go from Devada to Junona and vice versa.
Even before entering the zone our guide and driver knew where the tigress had been spotted because there are very few watering holes in a zone and tigers mark their territory plus tigers enjoy the water a lot and also the hot temperature of Chandrapur makes life difficult without water. Solar panels and pumps automatically pump the water in the cement pond in the morning and evening every day.
We went directly at the watering hole where at least 12 to 15 gypsies already lined up to witness the road crossing of Lara the tigress from Junona zone and her 3 cubs. We made it just in time to see first the mother crossing the road, going all the way across and then signaling the cubs to follow her one by one. The cubs were a couple of months old I think and knew the ritual so they exactly followed their mother's orders.
After this event, all the gypsies rushed to Devada zone to see if Madhuri had shown up at her pond. Madhuri is the tigress of Devada zone and also has 4 cubs quite similar in age to Lara's. We waited there for almost half hour but no signs of Madhuri! We came back to check if Lara was back at the pond and she was sleeping in the shade next to it.
After some time she woke up and came into the water, sat there posing for all the paparazzi gathered just for her! As it was getting dark she stood up and started walking towards her den, again, all the gypsies lined up on the road to see her crossing. A few minutes after that we all realized what an amazing sighting we had!
The day ended with good food and sweet Gulab Jamuns. All of us waiting for the next morning for our safari. The day started at 5:30 am with tea and coffee, checking our cameras and clothes and waiting for our gypsy. The gypsy arrives and we are at the same location again. The guide told us that Lara had killed a sambar deer and after her morning meal we should be expecting her going towards the pond.
We were waiting for her and suddenly we hear a loud roar! Our excitement increases, but its quiet again. A few people from a gypsy at a distance start pointing and looking curiously towards the forest. Our guide says keep very still she's going to pass right by us, there she is walking right towards us. Gave a nice stare at me and kept walking to find a crossing some feet away from the gypsies. She crosses and the cubs follow and she goes and sits in the pond and her cubs in the forest playing. The pond was crowded so we decided to check Madhuri's pond again. Soon after most of the gypsies from Lara's pond came there but, again no signs of Madhuri or her cubs. Not a lot of time left in our safari now, while returning we took a peek again at Lara and she was sleeping next to the pond with her cubs.
Got some shots here of her waking up and grooming herself and the safari was done. All happy with the amazing trip and looking forward to many more!