In Search of the White Tiger

by pateluday

Tigers are most engimetic predators on Earth. Myths and threat perception has made the animal larger than life. Nothing can be greater than to see one in its natural home.

The white tiger is not a separate species, it is a result of a reccessive gene and only one ten thousand births can produce a white spectacle a rarity indeed! The one and only white tiger was discovered in the remote confines of Seedhi Distirict of MP what is now Sanjay Durbri National Park and tiger reserve. Though in the past white tigers have been reported throughtout history the one cub captured in the jungles of Seedhi by Maharajah of Rewa HH Martand Singhji has proliferated the zoos Worldwide. After Mohun...as the white cub was named by the Maharajah...no other such wonder has been ever found in the wilderness of India.

In March this year we set out to discover the Land of White Tiger and the odessey was a discovery of one of the most panoramic reserve in Central India.

Sloth Bear

Sloth Bear
Sloth Bear
Uday Patel

Tiger at Sanjay Dubri

Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve (SDTR)

Sanjay National Park

SDTR Meadow"It was discovered in a remote cave in these jungles and one among four cubs was white". The hunting party returned with cub and presented it to the erstwhile Maharajah of Rewa a district of Madhya Pradesh State in Central India. 

The forest glades stretch long and were once part of Highlands of Central India. Part of Vindhya Mountain Ranges stretching up to Eastern MP in the North this is one of the most forested regions of Central India. 

On our very first drive to the reserve its connectivity with Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in the vicinity was obvious. SDTR lies in absolute obscurity in spite of discovery of white tiger a global phenomenon, it lies unexplored under the shadow of major National Parks of the country popular for tiger safaris and wildlife resorts providing recreation in the remote wilderness.   

Although fragmented by intruding humanity the weak interconnections with other tracts somehow support wilderness in Central India. These corridors are vital for survival of country's wild species and the pressure of biotic stress and developments are having a telling effect on these last remaining ecosystems in tropics.

The lifeline of the park is the Banas River which intersects the park besides a number of its tributaries that enrich the biodiversity as crucial lifeline a support system created through thousands of years of evolution. This is a biodiversity hub of MP and on the way you can visit a fossil park with fossilized plant species dating back forty to one hundred fifty million years. 

Kath Bungalow

Hunting Lodge
Kath Bungalow
Kath Bungalow
Uday Patel

Forest Stream

SDTR
Forest Stream
Forest Stream
Uday Patel

Watch Tower

Watch Tower
Watch Tower
Uday Patel

The Hunting Reserve

Maharajah's Privilege

waterbodyIronically these majestic tracts of Sal tropical forests survived plunder being private hunting reserves of Maharajahs out of bound for trigger happy locals and wood loggers. Sanjay Dubri it seems was the most cherished private hunting reserve of Maharajah of Rewa a estate with largest land holding in India. 

A number of telltale signs of those hunting days survive in the reserve, I visited one old dilapidated shooting tower as the guide informed us. A structure comprises of mid sized stones loosening and falling apart was all I could make out from the distance. Overgrown with moss and covered by climbers and emerging shoots it stood forlorn now deserted in an era whence hunting is no more a privilege but a crime in democratic India. The last Maharajah HH Martand Singhji had given up hunting and had turned into a conservationist post legislation. I could barely make out the structure which had taken many unfortunate animals by surprise tigers included. 

It was his Fort at Govingarh which housed the rare white tiger from where his progeny spread throughout the World. The white tiger is found only in the zoos and none have been seen so far in the wild.    

A wooden bungalow aptly called Kath (wood) Bungalow has been taken over by the Government. It was the resting place for the Maharajah on hunt, made entirely of wood, it is situated majestically on the edge of panoramic Banas River. 

Banas River

Banas River
Banas River
Uday Patel

Banas River Beach

Banas River Beach
Banas River Beach
Uday Patel

Game Drive

Wild Safari

SkylineOur first open jeep safari into the park was in the morning after a cool night 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 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 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 sign 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 cozy in reed beds on a scantily inundated stream. The continues alarms of 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 this 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 a commendable work. 

Resort at Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve

Homestay
Homestay by Banas
Homestay by Banas
Uday Patel

How to Reach?

Location & More

highwayThere are only two accommodations available at Sanjay National Park. It is the one we stayed at Home at Banas! The second is the busy MPTDC Resort. 

SDTR is about an hours ride from Bandhavgarh NP in Umaria District. The park is well connected with Jabalpur Airport and the drive is roughly four and half hours. The park is also accessible from Varanasi Airport and Allahabad rail head. 

Safaris have to be booked online at MPOnline Portal. You can seek assistance for booking from the resorts owner Ajeet Mishra regarding hotel booking and safari. You should carry all essentials with you having purchased in Jabalpur or elsewhere. Seedhi District is remote and things may not be available.     

Ajeet  Mishra Lodge Owner FaceBook Page

 

Updated: 04/06/2021, pateluday
 
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pateluday 7 days ago

Every this is same between normal colored tiger and white tiger. Except the recessive gene which alternates to white coloration.

blackspanielgallery 7 days ago

Is survival to adulthood the same as or lower than for other tigers?

pateluday 7 days ago

Each tiger has a unique coat with stripe pattern being different. Yes that is red jungle fowl behind sloth bear. The tiger is normal colored and at present no sightings of white tiger has taken place after Mohun was discovered. The probability of white tiger cub being born in one in ten thousand births.

DerdriuMarriner 8 days ago

pateluday, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
Is that a red junglefowl in the background of your image of the sloth bear?
At the stream reed beds, was it a regular tiger looking white what with the combination of reflected light, sunlight and tiny patch of yellow coat scarcely visible or were you all blessed with a white tiger presence?
I wonder what tiger family and peers think of a white rarity since aren't coat patterns individual and one way of recognizing one another?

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