Spotting Elusive Tigers01/10/2014
Every wildlife enthusiast nurtures the dream of sighting a tiger in its natural habitat. But, to have a glimpse of this exotic wild animal face to face or to click a few close up shots, one might need to burn both calories and a hole in your pocket. To ensure your chances of sighting a tiger, head to India, where almost half of the world’s remaining wild tiger population is to be found.
Around 40 national parks in India are inhabited by a total number of 1,706 tigers and boost your opportunity of witnessing tigers in their natural habitat. Among these 40 national parks are Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, Periyar National Park in Kerala and Ranthamobore National Park in Rajasthan. While Bandhavgarh National Park is bestowed with the highest density of tiger population, Ranthambore National Park is known for housing the highest number of tigers.
However, simply reaching the park site will not serve its purpose, unless one knows the tidbits of tiger sighting. To know how to see tigers in India, follow the tips below, keeping in mind the needs of first-timers.
- Consider the time of the day
Which animal can be seen at what times is a must-know. Dawn and dusk are believed to be the best part of the day for sighting tigers. Normally tigers prefer night time for hunting. In summer, during the day time, they take rest under the shade of any tree. Thus it is better to head out early morning when the heat is not scorching, yet sunlight has reached all the nooks and corners.
- Look for a source of water
Try to find a large source of water inside the jungle. Animals at a particular time of the day will assemble here, especially during the summer season, when availability of water sources start shrinking. Hanging out silently by these watering holes will increase your chances of glimpsing the big cats. Several herbivores like antelope and different species of deer drink in small doses throughout the day. So, one can sometimes witness the sight of a predator-versus-prey confrontation.
- Know their habitats
Tigers mostly prefer denser vegetation. They love to stay near bushes and clumps of tall grass, and always look for proximity to water. Once you identify the sites matching the above, your chances of spotting tigers increases.
- Take a guided tour
What you witness inside the park depends, to a huge extent, upon your guide. Chat with them in a friendly manner and try observing the signs and markings they are looking for. After a few hours on the tour with you will start to understand a few tiger markings and the way the males mark their area. This will help to enhance your tiger sightings.
- Watch the weather forecast
If it’s a sunny day or very windy, tigers will be looking for a cover. If it’s a cold night and one is looking down on the wildlife from a watch tower, there are high possibilities of tiger sightings as they mostly go hunting at night.
- Keep a watchful eye on markings
As discussed above, male tigers mark their areas with urine and different markings, so try looking for them. No matter whether it’s a sandy road or muddy, bigger animals will leave tracks. Tigers also mark the roads while hunting.
- Must-have tools
Whenever you are planning for a wildlife safari, do not forget to carry the two most essential items – A) a good pair of binoculars to help you to spot the animals that are even roaming further away and give you close up views of those nearer to you. B) A guide book with detailed information about that particular reserve area along with maps and other information.
- Mode of safari
If you are on a short trip with little time to spare, go for Jeep safari where possible. There are mainly three types of safaris found in Indian National Parks viz., Jeep, Canter and Elephant Safari. A Jeep safari offers the best possible attractions within a very short time span. However, the best part of elephant safari is its height which lets the riders spot distant animals.
Visitors are also advised to have a brief idea about the nature of tigers. Lessening the preconceived fear of tigers, this study will help you get acquainted with this fierce wild animal. Tigers are mostly less social and do not attack humans unless they are disturbed. But, it is always advised that visitors not try to tempt them in any way. Any carelessness can evoke danger – be safe, follow the rules and make your tiger safari trip more engaging and full of fun.