Ranthambhore the land of the tiger

  • A white breasted kingfisher perches on a branch in perfect light looking down at the pond for fish; as he flies he flashes brilliant irridescent blues on his wings
White-breasted Kingfisher
  • A red wattled lapwing tends to its young
Red-wattled Lapwing
  • Langur monkeys (hundreds of them) frolic in the trees; jumping, skipping, eating, playing, showing us their vicious canines, tending to their babies, making chattering noises
  • Chital deer hang out under the trees with langurs and casually graze in the canopy; occasionally standing on their hind legs to reach a particularly succulent leaf
  • Wild boars non-nonchalantly stroll here and there
  • Sambhar deer wade in the pools infested with crocodiles
Sambhar at Raj Bagh
  • Crocs swim in the warm waters dipping in and out showing their snouts
  • Dozens of peacocks in full plumage roost on trees while some dance in the evening light
  • A mongoose crosses the street in front of us
  • Three pied-billed kingfishers roost on a pearch overlooking the water as a night heron looks on
  • A monitor lizard climbs up on the rocks and slithers into its burrow
  • Giant fruit bats come out from their hiding spots in the evening for their journey into the night
  • Dozens of frogs jump in the water as lapwings approach
  • There are literally hundreds of birds including painted storks, ibises, black-winged stilts, jacanas, coots, egrets, crested serpent eagles, darters, brahmini ducks, white necked storks, grey herons and the list goes on and on
Those are only some of the sights from our first day at Ranthambhore. The funny thing is; none of us are talking about any of the above. Instead, the talk is all about tigers. We saw five of them. Three in the morning and two in the evening.
Ironically, this is the off season at Ranthambhore! We are a total of 11 of us here. While the jungles of India are new to Will and Kristi, everyone else (my family) is quite familiar with the routine. We go out early in the morning and return around 10ish; eat a light breakfast and take a shower. Lunch is at around 1PM followed by fun and games and/or talk of the jungles. At around 4PM, we head out for the evening round returning back at sunset. After another quick shower, we eat dinner and then retire for bed.
Rishabh all smiles with all the sightings
Maithili and Sanjana are also all smiles!
Welcome to Ranthambhore, the land of the tiger!

During the morning ride (6AM to 10AM), we saw three tigers; a father (Ustad), a mother (Noor) and their cub (Sultan). Ustad and Noor have established their territory while Sultan is only a yearling. It will take another year-and-a-half before Sultan will attempt to establish a territory. The family had recently eaten; their bellies were full and they were laying in the cool, moist shade at the edge of a small pond. Sultan was a bit restless while the other two were content.

Noor (female) at Ranthambhore
Ustad (male) at Ranthambhore

At one point, Sultan walked over to Ustad and slapped him on the face as if to say, “let’s play.” Ustad, looked over and growled this low-pitched guttural roar that said, “leave me the fuck alone!” Sulatn retreated.

Sultan wants to play with Ustad
Ustad wants none of Sultan

During the evening ride, we saw a large male and female tiger mating in the ruins of Raj Bagh. Star (the male) was obviously limping; apparently he had fought with a rival male last week and won the rights to mate with the female but was injured. Tigers mate every 15 minutes or so for 6 days. The actual mating lasts only a few seconds as the animals roar and the jungle animals cheer.

Mating tigers at Raj Bagh in Ranthambhore

 With a day like today, I can’t wait until tomorrow. Will we see a leopard? A bear? Maybe even a caracal? Stay tuned…

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