Most of the people go to a National Park for a Tiger sighting. Whether they might succeed in photographing a Tiger or not, but the Tiger sighting remains embedded in the memories forever. You will not forget a Tiger sighting till you are alive. Believe me not? Ask someone who has seen a Tiger in the wild. They will vividly recall the sighting like it happened yesterday.
Types of Tiger sightings in order of excitement with the l0th as highest in term of adrenalin rush.
- Tiger in the bush. This is a common Tiger sighting.
- Sleeping Tiger, either on the track, or on side of the road.
- A Tiger crossing the track, maybe he will give you a cursory glance, and if you are fast enough you will take a shot or two. Considered a decent Tiger sighting.
- Tiger sitting on the track looking towards you in a majestic pose is a delightful Tiger sighting.
- Tiger walking in front of your Jeep, away from you. He might walk a mile or more. When he walks this much he would stop by, and do some marking on the trees, maybe scratch etc. Lot of opportunities to take photographs during such a Tiger sighting.
- A Tiger walking towards you on the track, and your driver reversing the vehicle for miles at times. This gives a big high to photographers who can trade off a part of their body to get the head on shots of a Tiger (me included in this category). This required great skills from the driver.
- A Tigress with her cubs, either sitting on the road, or playing in water. Again something lot of people would want to see, and it is a very satiating feeling once you see Tigress with cubs. The playfulness, the innocence, the care of the mother, all an be witnessed together in such a Tiger sighting.
- A Tiger stalking prey. The whole episode can last from few minutes to much longer. Caution is that you must remain silent during such a Tiger sighting. Disturbing a Tiger while stalking or doing anything else is never advisable. Would you want to see an upset Tiger?
- A Tiger successfully managing to bring down his prey, and do a kill in front of your eyes. What a joy for photographers, and all tourists. It is one adrenalin pumping Tiger sighting.
- Two adult Tigers fighting. This does not happen often in the open for tourists to see, but there have been occasions when people have seen this. When the fight is happening, it can be very scary, as Tigers roar loudly which reverberates in the Jungle. It can turn bloody, and if the fight is over the territory then it can last long too. Tigers tend to move a lot as well while fighting. It is best advised to stay clear and away from them. An epitome of a Tiger sighting.
You may see any one of the above Tiger sightings, so be prepared, and be equipped with your cameras.
When you sight Tigers in the National Parks of India, it is imperative you take some precautions. I have listed four most important for your benefit.
4 important precautions during a Tiger sighting
- Silence is the biggest caution that you can undertake during a Tiger sighting. It is advised to keep the enthusiasm under complete control, as it can go against you, cause if the Tiger gets disturbed by your energy levels he can just decide to go away. Who is the loser? So stay quiet. Camera click is the only acceptable noise.
- Distance from the Tiger is very important, maintain a safe distance for yourself. Remember you are in the territory of the Tiger, so give him distance and respect too. Stay far, stay safe.
- Listen to the guides and the drivers who go through this routine regularly so trust them. Do not impose your decisions on them, let them decide what is best for you. Please do not lure them by tipping, and wanting to get close. Remember Tiger is a super predator.
- NEVER, EVER, get off the vehicle in a national park during a Tiger safari. It is not permitted, and it is illegal. There are only some spots / camps where the driver and the guide will tell you to get off the Jeep for a small break. Tiger sighting is not a selfie moment, always remember you are in presence of an apex predator. Your safety is in your hands, and no one else is responsible for the same. Neither can you sue anyone at a later stage if you do not like what a Tiger does.
Tiger Safari is a vacation for some, and vocation for some, but not a picnic for anyone. Respect the Jungle and the laws of the Jungle in your own interest.