Deer spotting and Tiger striping
Ranthambore town is not interesting in the least. It is essentially a dirt road made up of lots of luxury hotels and guest houses. Why does anyone visit? Well that's easy it is the chance to spot a tiger in their natural habitat; although the chance of seeing one is very small. There are an estimated 44 tigers living in the 1334 km² national park, although the unofficial figures suggest there is less. Initially we didn't have much hope of seeing at tiger until we saw a picture that Elle took when she visited and then we spoke to a guy staying at our guest house who had been on 7 safari's and had seen 4 tigers-there was some hope!
Our guest house was really nice, and the two owners were lovely with a positive attitude and good banter. They organised us on a canter trip on our first morning. A canter is like an open 4x4 bus that holds 20 people. The canter was half full and we drove five minutes past the entrance of the national park to pick up a family group of 10. Immediately we disliked one of the Dads. He was loud, constantly standing up and tried to be funny at every opportunity. The safari as a whole was pretty rubbish. Mainly due to the pressure of the irritating family we stopped for a good 10 minutes at any sign of wildlife. This wouldn't have been too bad if it was only the first set of animals, or if it was a large variety of animals, it wasn't. We spent half of our time getting extremely impatient as we stared at two types of deer, a crocodile you could barely see in the middle of a lake and a tiny cute owl. If we had seen a tiger on this trip we certainly wouldn't have booked another safari. However, our trip in the afternoon was much more enjoyable. The guide gave us information about the park and the animals throughout the safari and the driver made sure we covered lots of ground. We had a few exciting moments where they stopped the canter and heard the warning calls, made by monkeys and birds if they see a tiger. We found tiger tracks and followed them as much as we could on the path routes. It was exciting and interesting and that is why we booked a trip for the next morning. The last trip was also exciting, we heard the alarm calls twice and found a lot of tiger prints. We saw two rare birds, one was HUGE and the trip was made more enjoyable as the other people in the canter were really friendly and quiet!
One particular moment on the second safari is one that we will remember forever. We were coming to the end of the safari and we were again left feeling a little disappointed. Coming towards us in the other direction I could see….. a jeep. This wasn't what got me excited! The people in the jeep were frantically waving their arms at us, I nudged James took the camera from the case-it was go time! Our awesome driver hurtled down the track, took a sharp turn towards the lake and we passed a few more jeeps and canters with everyone looking very excited. We slowed down and everyone was told to be quiet, and there he was. It was difficult to pick him out at first, but as we drove closer we could see his gorgeous giant head with his black and white ears twitching as he relaxed by the water. He certainly couldn't care less about all these people staring at him and when we turned his head every now and again to look around he provided everyone with some excellent photo opportunities. The adrenalin rush I got from even the hope of seeing a tiger was amazing and then seeing one of the most wonderful creatures in the wild it really was a 'wow' moment!
The rate that tigers have been poached and killed in India was ridiculous, there was over 100,000 tigers living in the wild in Asia and now the total is less around 3000. Luckily the authorities in India have realised that saving tigers is a worthwhile endeavour. They have started Project Tiger and established more designated protected national parks that are gradually introducing more and more tigers. Let's hope the good work continues and the tiger population gradually increases.