I visited the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve last year in May and October. Located about 150km from the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra, Tadoba is a tiger hotspot with almost a hundred of them roaming in the wild. Tadoba or Taru is a deity worshipped by the local Gond tribes here and Andhari is the river that meanders through the national park. Apart from tigers, the park is also known for its leopards, bears, wild dogs and a multitude of herbivores and avian life.
An optimist at heart, I was expecting great sightings, both quantitatively and qualitatively. I prayed for a glimpse of the elusive Kolsa black panther and the famous tigress Maya and wished for some breath-taking images. Tadoba didn’t fail to impress and showed me some of the best wildlife sightings of my life. In the photographs below, I’ve tried to portray Tadoba and its inhabitants and the many stories they shared with me.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is the oldest and largest national park in Maharashtra. Created in 1955, the reserve spans 1,727sq.km. This mammoth of a tiger, fondly called Matkasur, is the most dominant male in all of Tadoba. Here, he seems to be watching over his territory, ironically, stood near a human watchtower.
Matkasur strides boldly towards our jeep, the least bothered by the number of tourists that are staring directly back at him. He is known throughout Tadoba for his massive size and fearsome hunting skills.
Barely a few minutes into my first safari, I spotted one of the most popular tigresses of Tadoba, Maya along with her two cubs near a watering hole, basking in the morning sun and enjoying the pleasant weather. One of the cubs looked right into my lens as she strolled forward to join her mother and sibling.
Upon spotting a carcass of a Sambar deer on the banks of the Tadoba Lake, Maya proceeds to sniff it. The carcass had been abandoned by a leopard, and once Maya traces the scent, she will probably chase the leopard out of her territory.
I had already spent a couple of hours in the hot sun by the time they showed up. But it proved to be worth the wait as all four of the tiger cubs started frolicking in the water and gave me the opportunity to shoot this lovely family portrait.
Asiatic Wild Dogs, also called Dholes, relax after a hyperactive bout, eager to rejuvenate and get back to their antics. One stares right at me while the other is not the least bothered by my presence. Dholes usually live and hunt in packs of 10-12, giving them an edge over other predators like tigers and leopards.
A Sloth Bear walks towards a watering hole to cool off and make a brief escape from the summer heat. Sloth Bears are caniforms (dog-like carnivores) that love to eat fruits and termites. The bears of Tadoba tend to be very discreet and try their best to avoid confrontations with tigers.
A massive male gaur enjoys its meal while basking in the early morning sun. Gaurs are extremely heavy animals; the males can weigh up to a ton while the females are only slightly lighter.
I was fortunate enough to sight the rare and elusive Four-horned Antelope, also called Chousingha. These antelopes can be distinguished from other members of the Bovid family by their signature four horns. This individual, as you can tell from the lack of horns, is a female.
A Sambar deer watches closely from the opposite bank of the lake. I love how the sunlight breaks through the green foliage to shine down on the animal.
An Oriental Honey Buzzard lands near the water after a long flight on a hot summer day. This species is often referred to as the pigeon-headed raptor; the unique shape of their head allows them to easily break into beehives.
A Crested Serpent Eagle evaluates its kill. These skilled hunters are extremely adept at picking up reptiles and amphibians from the depths of these thick forests.
Find our detailed travel guide to the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, here.