The majestic cats
Their undeniable beauty, grace, grandeur and striped golden coat often catch the fancy of shutterbugs around the world. Today, on International Tiger Day, we speak to wildlife photographers, and nature enthusiasts who share their best shots of these mighty cats and reminisce their experience
THE PERFECT SHOT
For me, capturing a tiger hunting a sambar (deer) in May 2016 at Ranthambore is one of the most cherished moments as a traveller and photographer. We were on the final few minutes of our safari and the light was fading out quickly. Added to that was the excitement among my fellow passengers of witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They were jumping and rocking the jeep, making it even more difficult to click sharp images. As a photographer, one has to keep his calm to be able to click the shot with clinical precision. Since I had photographed hunting sequences before, in India and Kenya, I was only worried about taking pictures at minimum possible ISO (brightness) and at a low angle. So I settled down on the floor of the jeep with my beanbag and carried on with my ‘work’ amidst all the chaos.
— Alankar Chandra,
CEO, Wild Voyager (a travel-start-up)
THE QUEEN IN EXILE — MACHALI!
Seeing Machali, the once glamorous and most photographed tiger, in Ranthambore National Park after a year, made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy to have spotted her, but her condition made my heart weak. Strong and proud in her prime, she was said to be on the periphery of the Park barely living, weak, blind in her left eye, trying to find a comfortable spot to rest. I had seen her make a kill in her prime, her determination had amused me then. I decided to wait at the place where she was spotted as most vehicles passed by having lost interest in the old, forgotten ‘star’ tiger. She walked towards our vehicle after a while and stood staring, having no clue where to head. Finally, she made her way up a hill to rest.
— Sushil Chikane,
A MESMERISING WALK
Tiger sighting in the wild is mesmerising , the tigress is truly a majestic creature. She is the alpha animal in the forest and for a good reason. She moves with a grace which no animal can match. My visit to Tadoba last year is deeply etched in my memory as I got to witness a graceful and elegant walk of a tigress named Maya. It charmed me totally. Beauty personified! I also got the opportunity to see Maya, the most photographed tigress of Tadoba, with her cubs.
— Dr Nitin Oswal,
Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and Wildlife Photographer
THE CAT TIGER AT KANHA
It was an early summer morning in 2009. We had three rounds of safari drives without any tiger sighting at Kanha Tiger Reserve after which news came around 7 am that the famous tiger of Kanha — Munna — was seen at a particular spot. This is the world famous tiger with a natural mark that reads like ‘CAT’ on his forehead. We rushed to the spot and took an elephant ride as the tiger was deep inside the jungle, relaxing at a waterhole. Everyone was so ecstatic to see this young male, aged around eight years. Everything was perfect — the position of the tiger and the light condition. It was a satisfying moment as a wildlife enthusiast and photographer! It does not matter how many tigers you see in your life, the hunger of sighting a tiger is infinite!
— Amey Jambhekar,
THE MOTHER AND CHILD
At the Bor Wildlife Sanctuary in June last year, we were lucky enough to get the glimpse of a tigress called Katrina along with her cubs. In the evening, we witnessed the tigress killing a Nilgai (antelope) but that was too far for the lens to capture. On our safari next morning, the driver/ local who knew the habitat of the tigress, guided us to the place where we got a good sighting of the tigress with her 2-3 month-old cubs. Tiger cubs are usually not left alone until they are 1.5 years. But Katrina’s mate Bajirao forced her to leave them alone much sooner which is why Katrina trained the cubs and acquainted them with the surroundings and the jungle early on. The training helped as the cubs learnt to live independently at the age of 11 months. The mother and the cubs made for an interesting shot.
— Saurabh Chitale,
‘WELCOME TO MY WORLD’
I was in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve’s buffer zone during peak summer when the tigers usually wander around the water. While we were moving around, the tracker/a local guy told us that he could ‘smell’ something. Soon a beautiful tigress came and stood right in front of our car in all her majesty. She looked right into our eyes; we looked at her in awe and then she walked away into the woods. I luckily managed to get some good shots of her. The message she gave to us is when you are in her territory you must show respect and never interfere with nature. She seemed to tell us, ‘You come to the wildlife to enjoy and as long as you do not affect the ecosystem you are always welcome to my jungle’.
— Manish Pandey,
Nature and Wildlife Enthusiasts