Tag Archives: Ranthambore

In memory of a Star on International Day of Forests

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Star breathed its last yesterday and it is certainly the most disheartening news to hear on the International Day of Forests. Star, also called as Sitara was actually one of the stars of the forests of Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. As per news reports Star or Sitara, which was named T-28 in forest records died after being tranquillised. Perhaps a tranquilliser overdose took its life. He was tranquillised in attempts to rescue him from a village in Khandar area on the park’s periphery. It is said that this 13 year old male tiger had strayed close to a village where people had surrounded it. Forest officials reached there and in attempts to rescue, tried to tranquillise it.

Ironically, the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests is : Forests and Sustainable Cities and we probably lost Star because of this ever-increasing pressure on forests from the surrounding human settlements. The news of his death reminded me of the day, I had seen him on the safari. Just a short encounter of 11 minutes was enough to get etched in the memory for ever. That’s the reason that news of his death saddened me. Star was named so because it had a 5 point star mark over its left eye and also has bird shaped mark over the right. Rajbagh area of the park was his favourite place to give audience to curious, thrilled, overjoyed travellers from around the world.

It was cold winter day on January in the year 2011. Our morning safari  yielded no tiger sightings. Then came the afternoon safari. Normally in all tiger reserves across India, safari vehicles will have a specified route. There might be three-four or more different zones in the park and a safari vehicle is limited to a particular zone. That means, if you are in zone 2 for the morning safari, your route is limited to zone 2 only. Vehicles are not allowed to overlap the zones. This is done to manage the tourist traffic inside the park and ensure that a particular area or the wildlife in a particular area is not abused quite often because of any particular attraction and tourists are evenly distributed.

Also read: Some wild moments in Sariska!

But on that particular trip, we were guests of the district officials and hence we had a special number safari vehicle which has access to all zones. Although I am not at all fond of sighting sprints of safari vehicles inside the reserve, but that day our driver thought that he had the duty to give us a tiger sighting. Hence around 5.20 pm in the evening he received a call on his walkie-talkie about a tiger sighting and then for next ten minutes we had a bone-churning dash towards Rajbagh, which was quite a distance from that place. That’s where the T-28 or the Star male aka Sitara was on his evening stroll.

There were already hordes of safari vehicles there, might be more than 60 to 70 people around at that particular time. He was already spotted inside the jungle and everybody was waiting for him to come out in open, which he eventually did with full gusto fit for his stature.

Also read: Shh…Tiger is here!He than proceeded to make the marking. One of the favourite acts of tigers to mark their territory.

Have a look: Two cubs on play at Panna- A photo essay

It then cam to the road. Looked in a very playful mood. It was  very interesting to see how these big cats maintained their composure as well as indifference despite of being surrounded by so many humans. They were least afraid but equally attentive. I don’t think they would be unaware of any lurking danger. But they were quite sure of their territory and their command over it, where they were kings. Sitara has history of getting too close to safari vehicles.And, then relaxed itself giving full view to all safari vehicles.After few minutes, it again made the move. Kept playing in the mud.Looking for tiger? Read : Spot the tiger in this wild image!

And then Sitara decided that it was the time to end the day’s audience and it walked away. It crossed our way, moved to jungle on to the right. Even than it didn’t disappear immediately. It kept everybody interested, but didn’t return. After a couple of minutes, it went deep inside. In the fading light, it was soon impossible to keep track of its stripes.Love wild? Read: Dudhwa sans tigers!

It all ended in just 11 minutes- the royal show, but gave everybody around a plenty to cheer about for rest of their lives.

Changing colours? Read: White Tiger – When mutation becomes exhibit!

Star aka Sitara aka T-28 was a young tiger, full of life and glory as well. Having born to tigress T-27, it was first spotted in 2008 but it established itself very quickly among the ranks. Got the name and fame as well when it got the courage to challenge the great tigress Machali. It is being said that in 2009 Sitara and Machali had many territorial fights. Sitara controlled a large territory and despite fights with Machali, also mated her two daughters including Sundari.

But all will be tales now. Goodbye Star!!

Have you been fortunate to have sighting of this particular tiger? How was the experience? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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Photogallery: A monkey ‘business’ in Ranthambore

They might be most less talked about animal, when it comes to Ranthambore- we talk about tigers, crocs, monitor lizards and much more, but certainly not about monkeys. Although monkeys are integral part of the tiger reserves and ones to give the indication of spotting a tiger, but still here we are talking about monkeys of Ranthambore fort, which is located inside the tiger reserve and is claimed to have only temple in world of Trinetra (three-eyed) Ganesha. Devotees throng this temple, many of them on their foot for kilometres and some do encounter an odd tiger on the way.  Well here is a peek into monkey ‘business’!

Best places to go in 2014 – Ranthambore National Park among the list

Star-eyed TigerRanthambore Tiger Reserve and National Park in Rajasthan, India is among the best places to go in 2014 as per the no other than National Geographic. It has compiled a list of 20 places in the world, which ought not to be missed next year. The Best of the World list reflects what is authentic, culturally rich, sustainable and superlative in the world of travel. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan in India is one of the most celebrated tiger parks in world alongwith Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Ranthambore has been home to one of the most revered tigress ‘Machli’, a lead in one of the most well known wildlife fights between a tiger and a crocodile. Sighting a Royal Bengal Tiger in its territory is altogether a different experience. (Read: Tale of two tiger sightings)

A monitor lizard at Ranthambore
A monitor lizard at Ranthambore

Well known Tiger conservationist Valmik Thapar reccently said in an interview about Ranthambore- Tigers of Ranthambore rewrote their natural history for world to read, see and record. The first records of kin links among tigers were established here as were the first records of the male tiger in the role of father and looking after cubs.  This has also been established by  Kim Sullivan’s recording of the baby sitter in Bandhavgarh and, more recently, Balendu Singh’s record of the male tiger bringing up cubs after the tigress died. Earlier most believed that the male killed the cubs. Ranthambore also gave us the first pictures of tigers killing in water, fighting crocodiles, eating pythons & porcupines, of a bear attacking a tiger, of a secret life of mother and cubs in the first six months of the cubs’ existence… so on.  

On its selection what National Geographic says about Ranthambore-

Eyeing the Tigers in Rajasthan

On the bumpy road to Ranthambore National Park, warden Balendu Singh says, “It takes some luck to see a tiger.”

Sun sets at Rajbagh, a place famous for its tiger sightings.
Sun sets at Rajbagh, a place famous for its tiger sightings.

Not long after, he stops on the verge of a dusty trail inside the 151-square-mile reserve. Ensconced in tall grass, a male tiger, T-25, lollygags on his back in the sun, as playful as a house cat. When two chubby cubs emerge, wrestling, rolling, the bigger cat bats them away. Singh lifts his camera, recording it all. As the first male tiger known to raise cubs orphaned by their mother, T-25 is making history.

Indeed, things have changed since this temple-laden, lake-mottled, brushy expanse of land in central India served as the royal hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur. Back in the day, even Prince Philip shot a tiger here for sport. But since 1973, this wildlife-rich terrain has been a protected area and tiger reserve. Abundant with monkeys, leopards, wild boars, foxes, macaques, crocodiles, and birds, Ranthambore’s exotic landscape—punctuated by a crumbling, ancient fort—evokes scenes from a Rudyard Kipling tale. Here roam 24 glorious adult tigers, and the population continues to grow. “We’ve welcomed 26 cubs in the last two years,” says Singh, who blames deforestation and poaching for the decimation of India’s once plentiful tiger population. With conservation in mind, the park limits the number of visitors. Yes, one has to be lucky to glimpse a tiger, but Ranthambore makes its own luck. —Becca Hensley

Travel Tips

When to Go: Ranthambore National Park is open to visitors October 1-June 30. Daily opening and closing times vary seasonally. Morning visits are best since animals typically are more active and visible.

How to Go: Ranthambore national park is well connected with all the major cities and station in India. The easiest way to reach Ranthambore is to take a train to Sawai Madhopur. This town is well connected with trains to/from Jaipur, Bombay and Delhi.

Nearby Airports – Jaipur and Kota

Distance by rail:
Delhi – 362 km, Agra – 227 km, Bombay 1027 km, Kota – 108 km, Jaipur – 132 km

Distance by road:
Delhi – 480 km (via Dausa), Jaipur – 180 km (via Tonk)

Mist over forest at dawn, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda. Photo: Thomas Marent, Minden Pictures/Corbis/National Geographic
Mist over forest at dawn, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda.
Photo: Thomas Marent, Minden Pictures/Corbis/National Geographic

Meanwhile, the top 20 destinations for 2014 (in alphabetical order) selected by National Geographic are:

  • Alentejo, Portugal
  • Arbil, Iraq
  • Bolaven Plateau, Laos
  • Cacao Trail, Ecuador
  • Cape Verde
  • Cathar country, France
  • Cordoba, Argentina
  • Derawan Islands, Indonesia (readers’ choice)
  • Guyana
  • John Muir Trail, Scotland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Nahanni National Park, Canada
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Northern Territory, Australia
  • Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
  • Puglia, Italy
  • Ranthambore National Park, India
  • Riga, Latvia
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Sochi, Russia

Don’t miss any of them.

Tale of two Tiger sightings in Ranthambore

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan in India is one of the most celebrated tiger parks in world alongwith Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Ranthambore has been home to one of the most revered tigress ‘Machli’, a lead in one of the most well known wildlife fights between a tiger and a crocodile. Sighting a Royal Bengal Tiger in its territory is altogether a different experience. I had the chance of doing it twice in two days. On a cold winter day, after a blank morning safari, we had a lucky afternoon to watch tiger T-20 (as the tigers are normally named) in its full glory but not before we had a sprint (ofcourse in our zeep) in the wild upon hearing a call about presence of tiger in the Rajbagh area of park. So here it was, in front of us enjoying his evening stroll in a quite playfull mood, sniffing, relieving and quite oblivious of tens of pairs of eyes glued to him. He was star-eyed… he had star mark on his face above both his eyes. He came, he conquered and he disappeared in the woods…

But it was next day which had more drama in store for us, a real adventure of Tiger in the wild. A thrill in the adventure is when what you love happens at the time when neither it was expected nor anticipated. After a day long visit to the Ranthambore Fort (it is equally majestic), we were returning to forest guest house. There is a long stretch of four kilometres from Sherpur Gate of the Tiger park to the Fort gate. Just opposite to the fort entrance is the main entrance to the core area of Tiger reserve, from where effectively the safari starts. The road from Sherpur gate to Fort is largely frequented by local, villagers, tourists (going for safari as well as fort) as well as believers going to famous Ganesh temple in the fort. Not surprisingly this road stretch is even covered on foot by many daily.
So on this stretch while returning from fort to the Sherpur gate, we were in our vehicle with a guide. We two were on the backside of the zeep. It was near Bhairon Ghati, where I saw a small stream and wondered with my guide whether that too had some crocs in it. But even before, I could finish I couldn’t believe a majestic Tiger behind our vehicle just coming out of woods and going on the road, in the opposite direction (towards the fort).I quickly asked the driver to stop and move it reverse towards the big cat. There was nobody in the sight besides our vehicle and the Tiger itself. Cameras kept clicking for next 20 odd minutes, when the Tiger finally left the road and disappeared again in the woods. By the time few more passers by had joined as spectators. But it was a breathtaking experience. It was only later in the evening when we reached back to the forest rest house, that we came to know that the particular tiger was T-5 who had actually killed a few people in that area. Our adventure grew manifold upon hearing that!