As the second day since I last wrote an entry into my blog closes I finished the day reflexing on the story of a much loved Tigeress Machali and her struggle to stay alive. Its been a mixed bag of sucess over the last two days, one of the main zones for sightings and where the cubs are living has been shut by the forest department. There has been no clear answer but one of the four cubs from T19 hasn’t been seen for several days which isn’t good.
The mornings in Ranthambhore are truly beautiful, the light, the smells, the forest noises and the wildlife make it one of the most spectacular places to be on earth at that time of day. The two images above I hope convey my passion for the mornings here, showing those small dirt tracks we have to stay on when trying to find the Tiger.
We have also had a few storms which fills the forest pools so the Tigers dont move around the forests so much to find water. Our routine always stays the same and once more new and old clients from the first week and my second week have had some wonderful images of Tigers. We all set off once more on that morning and entered the national park of Ranthambhore. My two jeeps spilt up going their various routes in search of the Bengal Tiger.
The jeep I was in with my new client on that first morning was not so lucky at first so we stopped off for a brew with one of my friends there.Gaffer, one of the forest guards. 27 years he’s worked at Ranthambhore looking after the Tigers, watching out for poachers and anyone that wants to kill the Tiger. In 3 years he retires and his daughter gets married next month he told me. These Chowki’s as they are called are the frontline against poachers. He made me some amazing Chai tea and it was good to see him it really was.
We then set off and we came across Machali soon after, my client had never seen her so he took some nice images before we moved on, she looked a little better and I decided not to photograph her that day because of my strong views I have as I had found out they had started to leave prey out for her once more after saying they weren’t going to do this.
We carried on looking for Tigers that morning but weren’t lucky again. After a wonderful breakfast and a few hours kip we were back out at 3pm. The thing in the afternoon that hits you is the temperature and boy was it hot. We set off, both jeeps once more going to their own zones. For the last few days sightings had dropped, various reasons for this, weather, rain and just Tigers not hunting due to having killed in the night and not being hungry.
On the way out of the national park I stopped my jeep at a place where the Black-langur Monkeys gather. The sun was setting in the background and I could see the opportunity for some great images for my client. Underexposing, strong shapes create a wonderful effect and there were many of them playing and having fun. Some in the trees hiding and the following images here capture that late light and their antics.
As we headed home that evening, the wind in our faces from the drive the sun was just almost set to our fronts and it was special to see. Today came upon us really quickly and once again I was up, exercises done, showered, dressed and ready for 4am. I go out on the road and always have a routine of coffee and banana, morning sir greets me as I come down the stairs from the night watchman I always have a laugh with before heading to my favourite spot on the road.. Time to reflex, time to think, peace and quite so many things i get from those moments alone.
We then headed to the national park and the guard house for our permits and once again both jeeps headed to their different zones. It wasn’t long before my jeep came across Machali once more. This time she was on a kill and looked so different from the pervious time we meet properly last week.
She looks alot better than my encounter with her last week where she looked frail. The forest department are putting dead Antilope out for her ( unofficially of course) to help her as she finds it hard to hunt. I personaly dont agree with this and it should never have happened in the first place. But as someone who loves aninmals way, way, way before photography I would never want to see an animal suffer and last week she was suffering and I wished she had passed away.
Today her spirt, her strength and some of the old skills she has displayed over the years where there to see and I have to admit putting the food out has helped and once again will prolong here life. Its a topic that will run and run, I have heard and spoke to so many so-called experts about her over the last several days. Its funny how people that have never been to Ranthambhore all of a suddenly become an expert on the place and its Tigers and in this case Machali.
My viewpoint is from the welfair not as an expert. Aditya Singh who we stay with at The Ranthambhore Bagh is one guy I listen too more than any so called expert when it comes to the Tiger. People are divided on what is right and what is not but I have to say seeing her pull, wrestle and slowly eat this Antelope today was a clear side that sometimes that helping hand from man can help. I’m just very against playing god with nature, changing nature for your own gain and this is my own feeling.The light was tough here but the image shows her strength, her rear claws standing out and a look you wouldn’t want to see while walking alone in the forests of India
She was the star of today really and one jeep saw another Tiger in the afternoon and my jeep didn’t but theres so much to see and witness in the national park you’re never left without a great view or something to see or photography. My love of a good brew is well known and we finished today off at one of my favourite places, right by the lake. What I’d give to camp out with this as a view, complete with my little india mug.
We have three full days of safaris left before my two week Tigers of India photo tour is over, fingers crossed all clients carry on seeing this amazing animal. Hope you’re still enjoying my blog posts, after the busy days we are having they are keeping me up late to finish them and show you what we are encountering. All the best from Ranthabhore, India until my next blog.