Kim, old friend and a famous wildlife photographer from Oklahoma, arrived on 4th March and from 5th we started our work in the jungle of Bandhavgarh. It is an old story of permission troubles. After reaching at the gate we found that our permission papers have not reached to the park gate yet. Since the 28th Feb case staff working for Tourism in the park were unable to found so I knock on the doors of Park Supdtt. at 0600 hrs in the morning. He gave me his copy that I could show at the gate to enter. Later on I learnt that I am not the new for this many other people dont get their permission papers in time but information is sent through wireless but this did not happened in our case.
Kim comes here for Tiger photography. She has enough pictures to publish a decent book on Tigers. She is coming here since 1998 and every stay is never less than three weeks.
We had some quite good sightings but they were not good for photography. Either the light was not good or some other obstruction. I was aiming her to get minimum few quality photos during this time.We spent most of our time looking for Chorbehra or Andhiyaari jhhiriya cubs. Infact apart from them there was no other tiger on which Mahavat could rely to find them regularly. Even these were not easy to find. Chorbehra cubs were rarely playful. We saw them growing in three weeks. In 23 days time we saw changes in their wooly coat. Their size changed. Although I doubt they get as much food as the other cubs on the other end of the park get.
We had few leopard sightings but none were better. Infact few sightings were better from jeep than elephant. It may be a great surprise for some people that leopard population in the park is as good as Tiger. There are minimum four different leopards between Tala gate and Chakradhara. One leopard we saw on road was very close to the park gate. Monkeys gave us the clue about his hiding spot and once his cover was blown away he decided to come in open. It was a good sighting but nothing for photo.
All in all 23 days were fun in the jungle. We had to face lots of red tape from the forest dept. lower staff. It will be interesting to know how the other people deals in these situations.
At last I would like to make some comments about the jungle.
Habitat degrading, Water holes drying, Low Prey base for carnivores, High density of Big Cats, Fence trapped the young cats to move out to look for their own home ground hence affecting the prey base. But all these things makes sighting easier and tourist happy.
Only thing we regret in these 23 days that we never saw Chakradhara female and her cubs and neither their pugmarks.