Our first open jeep safari into the park was in the morning after a cool night's stay at Homestay by Banas on the banks of the river. Ajeet Mishra the owner of the homestay and Subash Singh the energetic naturalist full of enthusiasm accompanied us. The drive from the homestay to Dubri Gate is picturesque and goes through the tall stand of Sal. Safaris are not very popular here it seems with most of the visitors to MPTDC Lodge interested in recreation rather than a wild safari.
We were expecting a staid lifeless safari but much to our surprise the forests were live with action. The soft jungle roads were littered with pug marks and the jungle sound included raucous alarm cries, all signs of a robust tiger presence. The network of picturesque streams, small water holes and thick forests, and vegetation all around adds to the thrill of the drive serenity included. The tiger reserve accorded an esoteric experience.
It did not take us long to find the big cat ensconced cozily in tall reed beds on a scantily inundated stream. The continuous alarms of the macaque had alerted us and the monkey was looking down at the stream full of reed and grass. We preened through the grass and reeds till we were locked down on that precious speck of white reflecting the sunlight. That was the tiger!
"At least a cousin of the white tiger", I said. "We are not going to go back empty-handed," I said gleefully!
The ride was pleasant with plenty of deer and antelope coming across our way. A sounder came really close to our jeep surprised perhaps. The Hanuman langurs, spotted deer, and peacock are a common sight. Leopard sighting is less frequent but sloth bears are seen frequently in the park.
A proper bird survey has not taken place but Subhash has done commendable work.