The Indian Tiger and where to spot it in the parks of India

The Tiger in India represents sacredness. Spotting it in Indian parks is not that difficult.

The Indian Tiger is in our unconscious told by fantastic stories we have heard as children; you fear but love, it inspires terror but fascinates us. From Emilio Salgari to Ang Lee, with his Vita di Pi, they made it known to us, showing it to her aggressive side but also to the sweetest one, making us discover her seductive beauty. His majesty the tiger does not need many presentations: it is the largest ever among the felines, with a weight that can touch the 300 kilos and is the most ferocious, given its position of predator that is placed at the top of the food chain . Nothing in nature represents a danger or threat to her. Apart from the man. Contrary to popular belief, the tiger does not live in the African savannah between lions and leopards, but its natural habitat is the Asian forests, the jungle in particular, from Indonesia to Nepal, from Malaysia to Bangladesh, from Buthan to Thailand, from Siberia to India.
She is a formidable hunter but it is rather elusive, difficult to spot, but certainly not impossible. To know it more closely, especially to be able to photograph it in its indisputable beauty made by that striped mantle and a look that takes your breath away, the country par excellence is certainly India, in two of its most popular parks among the 53 reserves of tiger. Ranthambore, in Rajasthan, 180 kilometers from Jaipur, is the temple of the tiger par excellence, a wonderful place already for its history, which owes its fame. The area of ​​Ranthambore has an area of ​​1,350 square kilometers in which live among leopards, deer, badgers, mongooses and wild boars, as many as 65 tigers of which about 20 are still puppies, in addition to the last 4 newly arrived, sighted at the end of June, and born a little less than two months ago. Once distant, several centuries ago, the area of ​​Ranthambore was inhabited by lions but the slow transformation of this habitat, no longer suitable for their survival, meant that the lions moved to Gir leaving room for the Bengal tiger, which has thus migrated to the north. The park of Ranthambore is divided into five zones, difficult to know which offers the best sightings (which are always in April when temperatures reach 45 degrees) also because the tigers, despite being quite territorial, move anyway.
With or without tiger, the area of ​​indisputable beauty remains the 3rd, the most scenic, both for a more lush and less jungle like the 4, but especially for the ancient palaces of the Maharaja, crumbling but well preserved in their sad abandonment, where unfortunately here came to hunt tigers already in 1700. Now that there are no more "big kings" to undermine the survival of the tigers, poaching has arrived and, although there are very strict controls in the parks even on the access of tourists who are super-contingents, in 2016 an alarm was raised from India with at least 74 tigers killed throughout the country in the first 6 months of 2016, far more than in all of 2015, due to a phenomenon in sharp growth and fueled by the crazy beliefs of Asian medicine, especially the Chinese one, which puts one of the most beautiful animals in the world at risk of extinction. Suffice it to say that a century ago the tigers were over 100,000 while in 2010 we reached 3,200 specimens. However, positive news in all this is there, and thanks to a policy aimed at the conservation of the species and the fight against poaching, despite all the tiger specimens have climbed to today at 3,900, of which more than 2,200 only in India. But they still live more in captivity in the United States than free all over the planet.

If Ranthambore represents the history and the charm of the tiger but it is not so obvious to see it despite the repeated stalking, there is another sanctuary where the sighting, although never guaranteed, is certainly easier. It is the national park of Bandhavgarh, former hunting reserve of the royal family of Rewa converted since 1968 into a protected natural area of ​​400 square kilometers and rich in biodiversity where, among jackals, foxes, hyenas, leopards and elephants, they reign about sixty tigers. Of the three areas visited in this case is the number 2 to make the difference, full of water pools, a dozen in total (even if only half accessible by jeep), where tigers love to spend their time both to drink and to wash but also to let their puppies play, always keeping them under their severe gaze. Instinct, tactics and intelligence make this feline a formidable but not infallible hunter, given that a tiger on average needs 25 attacks to capture a prey which requires, on average, a week of time. The tiger, which can run at most 65 km. hours and for about 80/100 meters, to hunt deer and not waste its energies in vain, use a special tactic. It rolls in the urine of deer to disguise its smell with theirs. Then begins the stalking phase and the deer, always intent to sniff, perceive the smell in the vicinity of another deer. It is a matter of moments and in a few seconds the tiger launches its attack on the prey with a speed of 150 km per hour and an impact force of 180 kilos. It allows the canines to enter the jugular of the prey and with the whiskers it perceives through the vibrations of the body if it is still alive or not. Then, thanks to its very rough tongue, it removes the deer's fur, which can not digest, and only consumes the meat. Finally, to avoid being sniffed by other deer, possible future prey, the tiger ends his meal with a bath in water, cleaning up the blood and the smells of the newly eaten prey, in the next two hours. After prolonged fasting, an adult tiger can ingest up to 30 kg. of meat, otherwise it does not consume more than 10-12 kilos at a time. Slow in movement to save energy, the tiger retains its power and great dynamism during hunting or when necessary, just think that a tiger with a wild boar killed and held tight in the jaws can jump up to 1.80 meters to jump a fence, otherwise it reaches even the 3 meters high! And watching this video you will realize it.
The inhabitants of the village of Rancha, close to the Bandhavgarh reserve, also know something about it. On more than one occasion they have come face to face with the tigers who enter the village to raid cattle. The tiger attacks and kills man only when it is a threat, but not for food, given the many prey available in the jungle and just outside. Even at Ranthambore the situation is not so different, from 2009 to 2015 there were 12 attacks by men by tigers, partly due to negligence, negligence or that crazy sense of challenge of the inhabitants themselves. This is explained by Mazhar, one of the best guides, who was born here, grew up; love and respect deeply this extraordinary animal. The true ruler of the jungle.

Discover our tours in India dedicated to visiting the parks where you can spot the famous TIGER INDIANA

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