Wildlife Holiday News

India - Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve by Loraine Hepburn

Loraine Hepburn travelled on our 'India - Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve' holiday and submitted this entry to our writing competition.

Bengal Tiger by Sue Shemilt

Tiger watching in India

The hairs on the back of my neck have lain dormant all my life. Indeed, I wasn’t really aware of their presence. Did they serve a purpose? Until recently, I hadn’t given them any thought.

We were sitting in an open jeep in a peaceful forest overlooking a muddy water hole. A herd of spotted deer grazed nearby, camouflaged amongst the trees. A troop of langur monkeys were, well, languorously sitting around, feeding their babies and occasionally breaking off to drink from the water-hole. As they lifted their heads, rivulets of water ran from their chins. Some sat on their haunches in quiet companionship, like old men in a pub ruminating on the events of the day. Occasionally, there was a short burst of energy from the younger males, chasing each other up trees, trailing their unfeasibly long tails behind them. The air was full of bird song and the scent of jasmine. The intense heat of the day was giving way to a cooler, more comfortable early evening temperature.

We had been observing the tranquil scene for over an hour, occasionally remarking on a sighting of a previously unseen bird, and would soon need to leave the national park before it closed. My thoughts were on what was for dinner that evening. The langurs moved leisurely on their way, the Spotted Deer had melted away into the forest. All was calm and still. Then came a sound which stirred my neck hairs into life. A peculiar feeling – dread maybe? – drenched my whole body as my adrenal glands went into overdrive. Fight or flight ... both would have been out of the question. The sound resonated around us, growing louder and stronger and, as I discovered later, carrying for three miles.

Then, to our left, emerging from the trees into the clearing, came the top predator of the forest, all the time roaring to establish that this was his territory. I wouldn’t argue with that.  He seemed to look straight into my eyes with a look of utter disdain. He ambled along at a dignified pace, pausing to defecate discreetly behind a bush, then proceeded along the dry river course, constantly roaring until he was out of sight.

We were all in a state of awe and wonder at this close encounter with such a magnificent beast, unable to articulate our feelings. I was amazed at the intensely primal effect the sound and the sight of a fully grown alpha male Tiger had on me and I still feel shivers at the memory of this incredible encounter.

Read more about our 'India - Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve' holiday.