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The Wonders of Middle India

Truly wild animals are creatures from picture books and scary stories by our grandparents and parents; the real thing was not for most kids from my generation. Occasionally, maybe one or twice during childhood there would be a visit to a zoo, where some of these wonderful creatures could be gawped at through bars and mesh, but somehow something was not quite right.
Even though it is no longer just for the privileged few, to get to places like India is still out of reach for some. But, it has to be worth some sacrifice to see big cats, like the majestic Bengal tiger, just once in your life. Now, even with a number of trips to the National Parks of Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Tadoba under our belts, it still takes our breathe away to see a real life tiger break cover and walk past you slowly and gracefully. Sometimes they will glance at you, the lesser being, with a nonchalant almost dismissive air. They are not dangerous; they are just inquisitive like all cats.
Simple resorts like the Tiger’s Den, Chitvan Lodge and Svasara are run by delightful people who will ensure you get the best guides, proper Indian food and comfortable accommodation. The whole experience of safari type holidays in India is to make your picture books from childhood come alive and to believe Rudyard Kipling was telling the truth.
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As a famous fictional character once said...' I'll be back'... and we will be this March 2018.
Thanks...yes, she is gorgeous isn't she. I took this photograph of her in 2014 when she was a young girl, Now she will be approx. 6.5 years old, with at least 3 cubs raised successfully.
This next photo was taken in 2016 when this tiger was 18 months old. He was named Samrat which in Hindi means Emperor or King.... we are hoping he grows up to be one.
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Good questions..... I will have to give you the politicians' response as it is so variable. There are in excess of 52 National Parks in India that hold tigers with a total population of maybe 2500 now. Life span depends on many things, but unhindered they can expect 12-15 years. The females normally have 2-4 cubs and start breeding when they are sexually mature at 3-4 years old. Like many cats, except for the lion, they only stay together during the mating period and then go their separate ways. The youngsters will stay with mum until there are 18 -24 months old. They all go off to find new territory but the girls will often stay fairy close to home. Mortality rate is high with probably only half reaching maturity. Tigers are said to be top of the food chain, but sadly many of us humans challenge that...... tigers don't carry guns.

Here is an image I took of a beautiful girl called Kantaki in the famous National Park, Bandhavgarh, in the state of Madya Pradesh.... Middle India. She will be 6-7 years old now............

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Interesting point... camouflage is really important to the tiger when hunting. Unless you have seen a really wild tiger (the ones incarcerated in zoos are smaller), it is difficult to describe how big they are. Suffice to say that a fully mature tiger would be considerably larger than an African Lion. There is a lot of cat to disguise. Here is the same tigress, Kantaki, just keeping cool in the bamboo undergrowth. We were only 30 yds away and didn't see her until she moved.......
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Of course the national parks of Middle India are not all about tigers. There is a myriad of the furry and feathered. Here is an example of the latter..... a Changeable Hawk Eagle. See how well he blends in as well...
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Let's hope others are as well?..... here is another favourite friend , the increasingly rare Asiatic Lion. He comes from a small area in Middle/Western India..... it is the only place in the world other than Africa where you will find Lion. He is a little smaller than his African cousins but just as handsome......
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...and back to Middle, Middle India, this is a small Sloth Bear, rarely seen out in the open and thus difficult to photograph. They are normally in the forest grubbing out termite mounds. They are smaller than tigers, but they can be quite ferocious; they have a healthy respect for one another.

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Yes, that's the problem with photographing them; their heads are always down.
They can be seen all over India and Sri Lanka. They are similar to Moon bears in other parts of Asia, but happily not persecuted and tortured like their cousins.
....whilst being an all-round wildlifer, I confess that things of the wriggly variety with no legs do not have a place in my heart, thus this beautiful bird, the Crested Serpent Eagle, is probably one of my favourites. He can be seen in all the national parks in India.

..... whilst this shot was taken in the same area, Langur Monkeys can be seen all over India and Asia. they are very common. When one looks at you like this, it makes you think that they aren't too different from us
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If anybody just dropping in on this thread has a burning ambition to see a real life tiger before they die, just let me know and hopefully will point you in the right direction.......

In the meantime, this is a Silver Backed Jackal photographed Kanha, one of the most beautiful national parks in Middle India . They normally stay together and hunt as couples. They may not look very formidable, but they can bring down a large deer.. He may look as if he was posing. I just got lucky.
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India has many raptors, and this one caught unawares in the famous Bandhavgarh national park, in the Middle state of Madhya Pradesh, is one of the most handsome.... hopefully you will agree?..... he is a Crested Hawk Eagle
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