Tiger Photography in Indian Reserves

by pateluday

Read about photographing tigers in India. The page discusses behavioral characteristics and conditions in the tiger reserve.

Tiger is a National Animal of India. No wonder people from all over the globe have a desire to see the tiger in the wild. Many people end up seeing the tiger in a zoo while lucky ones are able to visit a tiger reserve. For many photographies is a hobby or a profession and the tiger is the targeted animal. But it is a difficult animal to photograph since it is so elusive. The diverse habitats ecosystems and weather makes bring the big cat under the gaze of the lens is a Herculean task.

The author writes about how to go about photographing this magnificent predator ruling the Indian jungles.

Tiger Reserve

Indian Forests
Neeraj Vegad

Indian Tiger Reserves

Tiger Sanctuaries

Indian Wildlife is diverse amazingly diverse and spread around the vast subcontinent. Hence to photograph and see different mammals and birds you need to travel from one state to another. Depending upon which animal you wish to shoot with the camera you need proper travel arrangements.  

A tiger picture is yearned all over the globe the majestic and wonderful animal is sought after by one and all. Be they amateur tourists, professional wildlife photographers all wish to create albums of this magnificent creature. 

In order to film and photograph tigers to have to visit popular reserves. These are conservation units but facilitate tourism. Tourism in the Indian reserves is governed strictly by a set of rules and regulations.   

Tiger Photo

In The Wild
Bengal Tiger
Bengal Tiger

Understanding Rules & Regulations

Safari in Tiger Reserves in India

There are more than fifty tiger reserves or conservation units in India. They have protected areas having core or critical tiger habitats where no human habitation is allowed. They are managed by guidelines framed by National Tiger Conservation Authority or NTCA.  The Indian States where the protected areas are present govern the units. All this is under the aegis of the Project Tiger program a Government of India initiative.  

The rules and regulations are simple. In the core area, you are not allowed to be on foot. All safaris are conducted on open jeeps. A forest guide compulsorily accompanies the jeep along with a naturalist and guests. The naturalist is a privilege provided by the local hotels and resorts. 

You need an entry permit for excursions which is charged and has to be booked in advance. A permanent zone among many is assigned in your permit. You cannot transgress unless you hold a full-day safari permit which is costly. 

You cannot smoke, consume alcoholic beverages, litter, be noisy or disturb wildlife in any way. There are two safaris conducted in a day one in the early morning and another in the late evening.

The timings change as per sunrise and sunset and the hours are fixed. If you cross over the time limit the guide and the jeep driver are penalized. Hence listen to them both when inside the core zone on safari.          

You can carry eatables but have to consume them at a designated place usually called the center point. 

You cannot carry armaments or fire hazard elements inside the park.

The speed limit is usually 20 km per hour please respect. And it moves only on the designated route. You cannot ask the driver to cross over the road into the jungle. 

Keep a safe distance from animals. Do not alight at any point except at the center. 

Toilet facilities are at a limited juncture hence empty your bladder beforehand.  

Photo of Tiger

Tiger Picture
Bengal Tiger
Bengal Tiger

Sudhir Sivaram

Tips for Tiger Photography

The Tiger Reserves


For wildlife photographers understanding the habitats in an ecosystem, they are visiting is important. 

Most of the reserves are terrains with a mix of pure Sal or Teak forests. While few may be dominated by tall grass and swamps. Tigers do not live in open country they prefer habitats that give them plenty of covers. 


Because these predators hunt using ambush and short run. Hence good cover means you have a chance to see the prey without being spotted. In summers whence the water becomes scarce your naturalist guide will target waterholes and rivulets. 

Most of the reserves comprise flat-topped hills with medium elevation. That can be an area that receives plenty of sunlight. The canopies are thick with vegetation and tall trees... and animals here are usually seen at a short distance. 

In India, days are long but densely forested areas may offer less light at predawn and late evenings. Also, the weather may change a bit and sometimes, the reserves will receive torrential rains, hailstorms, or strong winds.     

The forests in Central India are the dry or moist deciduous type with Sal or teak trees dominating. Mixed forest in these regions comprises a large variety of floral elements along with bamboo. The grasslands are short with medium-sized grass associated with scrub.   

In  Eastern and Southern India, true tropical forests are present. They are very dense and the tigers here are elusive not a good place for an expedition. But because of the habitat, you may get a spectacular shot.    

The Indian parks are much smaller than compared with those in Africa. They are divided into core and outer buffer. Tourism takes place in twenty percent of the core. In buffer zones, tourism is organized as well but is less fruitful.      

Forest Photo

Habitat Photo
Forest & Meadows
Forest & Meadows

Photography Tips

Photography On Jeep Safari

Keeping the nature of habitats in the mind you can prepare yourself for a photoshoot in the reserves. 

In dense forests, you need cameras with short focal lengths and large apertures. The best is 300 mm with a 2.8 aperture. Due to slight variations and instability, you need critical lenses but good quality zoom lenses will do. For support, you need a monopod or a sandbag nothing else. Keep your equipment ready always albeit it will face a lot of dust in dry weather. But there is rarely time to laboriously ready the camera. You will lose a good composition for sure.   

The big cats create fascinating movements, can be at the right habitat juncture in good light, and their expression can be highly amusing. This is no job for a slow worm.  

Tigers emerge all of a sudden and you have to be quick enough to compose and click. If you are not fast then photograph the deer. Speed is applicable with birds as well. 

Whence a tiger is emerging your naturalist will give you a hint. Be ready and be fast whence the predator comes in your view. These animals are very shy and elusive and easily disturbed by noise and jerky movements. Hence keep in the right position and avoid jerky movements. Aim & Shoot!    

The whole team will be tracking tigers hence keep your ears open. The naturalist guide will be speaking in English for your comfort.  Your sensory apparatus will be at its best for it will assist in sighting the big cat as it emerges. 

Silence is the key discussion with the team only when you are in an area where likely hood of tiger movement is less. Your naturalist will be relaxed at that point and willing to listen to you. Anyway, do not discuss or talk shop with the naturalist and guide reserve that for the post-safari session.  

Small grassland may accord a picture in the open, but African savanna-like habitats are missing. 

Jeep Safari

Park Excursions
Open Jeep Safari
Open Jeep Safari

Booking Photography Expeditions

Tiger Tours

Extended stay is the best in these reserves for lensmen and filmmakers. Avoid budget accommodation since the whole tour may be strenuous. Stay in luxury and comfort.

Read a lot about tigers and the ecosystem they live in. Study their behavioral characteristics. There are some fantastic publications online.  Read about the wildlife destination you are visiting. Be prepared in advance about the region and also about the reserves. Usually, the luxury accommodations have a well-stocked library for perusal.   

The best way for a tiger photographic expedition is to book a package. These are packages offered by experienced tour operators. They are specially meant for tiger photography tourism in wild India. This way you avoid the hassles of booking a wildlife resort or go through other travels requirements which may be time-consuming.   

The hotel or resort you are staying in should assist with local requirements like the naturalist service and trained jeep driver etc. They will take care of jeep hire as well. Keep plenty of warm clothes for winters and some protection covers for your photography gear.  

Bandahavgarh National Park

Tiger Reserve Image

Wildlife Photography

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Updated: 07/13/2021, pateluday
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pateluday on 05/16/2021

Tourist accommodation and eateries are well segregated in the park. However in the resorts which are outside the dump could attract nocturnal animals. But they are organizing waste management now.

DerdriuMarriner on 05/15/2021

pateluday, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
Does it not attract the core sentient animals that tourists eat and use facilities? Or is there near-immediate or on-the-spot clean-up and removal? It seems to me that the food would have to be an attractant whereas perhaps bathroom-stop sights and smells would be perceived as territory-marking.

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