India – Wow! What a trip!

WOW! What a trip!! I’ve just returned from a 17 day safari in India, guiding for a wonderful couple whom I’ve known for some time, and visiting two major reserves as well as a host of cultural sites.

I’ll be writing a full report of the journey soon, illustrated with many of the photographs I took during the adventure, but I just have to tell you what I managed to record on my Bushnell HD trailcam!

I took the Bushnell HD along not really expecting to get much opportunity to use it. I knew I would have to seek special permission to site it within one of the National Reserves, and had no idea what to expect in the grounds of the camps and lodges we would be staying in, all of which are situated beyond the boundary of the reserves.

After visiting some of the most spectacular cultural sites anywhere in the world, including the Taj Mahal, we made our way to Madhya Pradesh and the first of the reserves we were to visit, Kanha. Here we stayed at a lovely camp surrounded by regenerating grassland and trees, called Shergarh (Home of the tiger). Whilst there was a wealth of birdlife in the area, including kingfishers on the lake and jungle owlets in the trees, I had little luck with the trailcam here, more I’m guessing due to me not finding the right place to site it than there being no life on the ground. Kanha reserve offered a wealth of great wildlife sightings, but these will be covered in my next blog.

From Kanha we travelled to another reserve, Bandhavgarh, and here, once again, we stayed outside the reserve, in a terrific lodge called Mahua Kothi. Despite being encircled by villages and community, the grounds surrounding the lodge were a rich mixture of grassland, light forest, bamboo and areas of standing fresh water. It was alongside the larger of these pools I decided to site the trailcam, looking along a narrow ridge bordered by bamboo on one side and scrubby undergrowth the other.

After the first 24 hours, I checked the results on the little colour monitor built in to the camera and immediately saw there had been some triggers. Scrolling through I found first some Jungle Fowl (the wild cousins of our domestic chickens).

The next trigger was made by a peacock, which are of course wild birds rather than an exotic ornamental here in India.

The third trigger was made by a much bigger visitor. The vast bulk of a male wild boar, the same species as we find all over Europe, but with a distinctive natty hairdo, lumbered into view then proceeded to shuffle right up to the camera! Great!!

Curiously, all the triggers occurred during daylight hours, with surprisingly for me, none occurring during the night.

I decided to try a different spot in the grounds the following day, but got no triggers whatsoever, so reverted to my original camera by the pool location on the third day.

A full day, night and following day gave the camera plenty of time to record any traffic, and on retrieval I was excited to see a good number of triggers. Among the first of these was a terrific view of a group of Indian Jackals, clearly heading out as a team to hunt and forage in the grassland and village edges around the lodge.

More jungle fowl, including a lovely cockerel, showed up a little later.
I was excited to see that there had been some nocturnal activity this time, with the camera switching automatically to its night setting and recording the action using its built in infra red light.
First off, another jackal showed up briefly.

Then a low slung creature which it was hard to identify on the small built in screen, but once I transferred the clip to my computer, I could clearly see it was a Palm Civet, sniffing for prey and scent marking! Very cool!!
One clip looked like a man walking through the shot wearing camouflage trousers when I reviewed it on the small screen (OK, I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses) but once I returned to the lodge and had a closer look, and transferred the clip to the computer, I was flabbergasted! For there, plain as you like, was the back end of a TIGER walking past the camera!!!!

UNBELIEVEABLE! I knew tigers had, from time to time during the monsoon, been recorded in the grounds, but visits were few and the last report had been several months prior to our being there.

Aaaaaand….. the night of the tiger, we were all having a BBQ not 50 metres away from where the camera was positioned! Soooo exciting.

We did have many more great encounters during the trip in the reserves, but this rather cryptic encounter with the king of the jungle, was a truly special highlight. Look out for the full blog coming soon.

Peace and Light

Simon

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