Tigeress at Ranthambore, India

Swati Sharma
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An evening on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park, brought me face to face with a Royal Bengal tigeress...

On our way back from Ranthambhore Fort at Sawai Madhopur on the edge of Ranthambore National Park, we heard the call of monkeys.

Our forest guide immediately asked the driver to stop the vehicle beside the road. We waited till the other vehicles from our group moved on and left us alone under the darkening sky.

In the heavy silence, she made her appearance on the road

We heard the monkeys' call again. Our guide told us that over the past few days people had spotted a tigress in that area. He wanted to spend some time in that place and try our luck. Our vehicle moved forward but at a slow pace. We kept looking around, especially, under trees in the deep foliage and near water holes in hope of a royal glimpse.

Excitement at Sunset

The saffron, setting sun sent dark shadows of the trees upon us. Birds flew to their abodes in flocks, way above us against the clear sky. They chirped joyfully as if winding up the day's interesting gossip. Fragrant shrubbery intoxicated the senses.

We kept moving at the same pace but took breaks to peer through the darkening shadows of the jungle. As luck would have it, minutes after we halted near a waterhole, a tigress appeared from behind the tall, tiger-grass, and drank from the pool. All the while her eyes were on us; perfect for a photograph.

Some of us did click, but flashes were not allowed. None of us wanted to miss the regal beauty and its next move; hearts racing with excitement. The forest princess was barely five metres from us!

She Walks in Beauty

She moved forward, glancing at us every now and then. Being quite used to visitors, she knew well enough that we were there to see her. She wanted to cross the road, it seemed. She came quite close to our vehicle, suddenly changed her mind and leapt back into the bushes.

She repeated the act a couple of times before our driver switched off the vehicle's engine. In the heavy silence, she made her appearance on the road and started walking right in the middle; at times moving slightly in a zigzag way as if to announce that the road belonged to her.

She looked back occasionally to check if we were following her. Her eyes sparkling a fluorescent yellow-green, reflecting the jeep's headlights. This majestic tigress was surely a show off! She knew that we would not move ahead till she kept to the road.

After keeping us spellbound like this for twenty minutes she gave us the move ahead signal; leaping into her calm world on the other side of the road, Ranthambhore National Park.




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