Hamish’s Tiger Safari in Tadoba National Park
It was with both curiosity and excitement that I flew from Mumbai to Nagpur and drove just three hours to Tadoba National Park. Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is a park that is lesser known and as such offers visitors a rare view of India’s central jungle. Two lakes and open waterholes have created a healthy population of tigers (70 individuals at last count). I was incredibly heartened by the support initiatives that are in place there.
A new policy has been implemented to promote community nature conservancy (CNC) on private lands outside wildlife sanctuaries. This policy was launched in Tadoba in attendance by Sudhir Mungantiwar, the Forest Minister and Dr Debabrata Swain, the inspector General of Forests and National Tiger Conservancy. I have been lucky enough to witness CNC being implemented in Africa from the Masaimara to the Serengeti. In summary, the tiger foundation provides compensation to farmers, thus reducing human-animal conflict, whilst encouraging locals to protect their own environment through wildlife conservancy.
The experience of an Indian safari is very different than an African one. Perhaps because of the habitat and the superb camouflage of these cats, I was surprised how incredibly close my tiger sightings were. In part down to my brilliant guide Chinmay Joshi. His knowledge and cat-like instinct seemed to pre-empt their very moves and it wasn’t long until we sighted the first of many encounters.
Nothing quite prepares you for that first encounter. The whole character and essence of an animal can be seen in the wild. This is the very reason I only sculpt from sketches and maquettes I make on location. The confines of captivity no longer apply. I was aware of the very immediate power and force of this majestic animal. I watched transfixed as a large male dragged a freshly killed sambar deer back into the camouflage of the jungle habitat. An incredibly inspiring thing to witness.
If you, like me, believe in protecting the natural habitats where wildlife flourish then I urge you to travel and view wildlife responsibly. Tigers need your support. Travelling with Steppes means just that. Their team and their connections in India made my trip the success it was.