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404A1428.JPG.6268fbf8401d271d4a36bea7fd36d4a0.JPG PANNA N.P. MADHYA PRADESH. A truly beautiful park. During the wet season this exposed rock face is a torrent of water, whilst we were in the park early March 2023, it played host to literally hundreds of Vultures, which was very encouraging to see.


This image at the same site is predominantly of Indian Vultures although we did also record, Red-headed, Himalayan, White-rumpted and Griffon (Eurasian) Vultures during our time in the park. I will return to Panna at some stage.



We first visited India for 4 weeks in late January 2020, visiting Gir N.P., Velavador N.P., Bera (Leopard Country), Kaziranga N.P., Tadoba N.P., Kahna N.P. and Satpura N.P. The trip was very successful and we enjoyed some wonderful wildlife highlights, but came away with one or two unexpected omissions. So it was inevitable we would return again to wonderful India. We love the countryside, the food, the people, the chaos and the diversity of cultures. We have always said we would travel to a different country each year for our main trip, so 2022 was mainly taken up by our Sri Lanka visit. ( Reported on this site). For 2023 we decided to revisit India hence avoiding some of the Scottish winter weather and stay for 5 weeks. 5 weeks sounds rather grand but it turned out cheaper than 3 quotes we got for a 3 location 18 night visit to Kenya in moderate accommodation. Our 5 weeks in India included an internal flight, private transport throughout, mainly full board, the services of a top guide for our time in the Western Ghats and accommodation at some great hotels/lodges. We only had the misfortune of one poor lodge, although the guiding there was exceptional. So the point I am making is that India offers in our opinion excellent value for money. This was not a particularly expensive trip when one looks at what was included and that several cultural sites were also visited with private guides.

This year (February- March 2023) we visited Jim Corbett N.P., Ranthambore N.P., Panna N.P., Pench N.P., Tadoba N.P., (2nd visit also 2020) Nagarhole N.P. and finally several locations of wildlife interest in the Western Ghats.

I am very aware that this forum has already hosted two outstanding trip reports in recent weeks that visited some of our Indian locations (some at the same time as we were there!) so I will concentrate this report on one or two of our many highlights. (#wilddog, #Atravelynn, #janzin, you have inspired us to return again, loved the reports and thank you).

When we returned from India in 2020 we had one or two regrets, firstly whilst we had observed several tigers our images could and should have been better, we had not observed an Indian Wild Dog (Dhole) despite our best efforts , 2 antelope had been missed and our primate sightings had been limited. So these were our main targets in 2023, numbers and images are unimportant to us what counts are the memories and experiences. We keep very accurate sightings records but are not obsessed with lists, trips usually develop around species. For example at the moment I really would like to see a Crab Plover, so Oman could be on the cards.

On this trip our luck was certainly in with Indian Wild Dogs and they will form the first part of the report.


INDIAN WILD DOG (Dhole).Pench N.P.Madhya Pradesh. 

We arrived at Pench with high hopes, (Pench Tree Lodge, outstanding, guiding excellent), unfortunately dogs had not been seen for several day. However we got off to a good start with an adult female tiger at night in the buffer zone on our first drive. All our drives in the park with the exception of the night drive were via the Karmajhiri Gate, we had free access in the park.  


Observing a tiger in the pitch black is a very different experience to that on a track with lots of vehicles during the day. We were the only vehicle present, we rounded a bend and 20 yards in front of us walking away from us was the tiger. It was very interested in us and turned towards us, so we reversed well back and it vanished into the jungle. This was tiger #12 of the trip. Our temporary guide (the lodge manager) said a sighting at night is quite rare and if possible they are avoided. The image was taken just before she turned towards us, then images were not the main priority. She is 4-5 years old, the forest is of teak and it had been raining. The sighting was at 20.45 and was saw some other interesting mammals during quite an extended night drive. Some people are not in favour of night drives we personally prefer to stay at lodges that do offer them in the buffer zones where possible. We observed 4 different tigers in Pench, lots of leopards, numerous jungle cats and very likely but not counted a rusty-spotted cat.


On our second full day in the park we hit the jackpot. Around 08.00 we were in a very quiet part of the park approaching a dense area of sal forest when our guide spotted from distance an Indian Wild Dog through two trees, what unfolded then was magical as we spent 40 minutes on our own observing a small pack of 7 Dhole. Initially from distance but eventually we approached them slowly and they appeared to tolerate our presence, it was a super sighting.


Initial contact, one Dhole through two trees.



This image shows the full pack of seven dogs as we approached. For those who have not visited India it is a very good example of a typical Sal Forest which is common in many of the National Parks / Tiger Reserves in India.


This image is a close up of the previous image.


One dog was significantly smaller than the others. Red circle. If you look at some of the earlier images the dog is on its own to the left of the images. Our guide knew the pack well although he hadn't seen them for weeks, but this dog he had not seen before. It reacted nervously to the slightest movement of our vehicle. He thought it had possibly not seen a vehicle before. Was it a youngster on one of its first sorties?


A very impressive canid, just as skilled a hunter as its African cousins, as we were about to find out. Long legs, fox like, the 3 year wait had certainly been well worth it.


Female possibly alpha.


Male, possibly the alpha. This was the one we wanted to take home, but we weren't too sure how it would bond with the cat!


Same dog as above.


Dogs with their ears back always worry me!


Normal behaviour, information gathering. Is she in heat?


From talking to all our guides in the parks/reserves where these fantastic dogs are found it was more than apparent that they are becoming significantly reduced in numbers, and quite rare. Mainly due to persecution outside the protected areas. Poisoning was also mentioned.


One of the highlights of out trip was the time we spent alone with these dogs. Certainly one target more than realised.


INDIAN WILD DOG (Dhole). Tadoba N.P. Madhya Pradesh.



I will elaborate more on Tadoba later but on our last morning drive around 10.30 as we approached Tadoba Lake a commotion was observed to our left about 25 yards into the forest, as we stopped it was apparent that 3 Indian Wild Dogs were attacking an adult male Spotted Deer (Chital) both rear flanks already had large pieces of flesh missing. We were witnessing a Dhole Kill. We had a decision to make did we sit it out or leave, we decided to stay but it was as you can imagine a difficult 30 minutes.

The Dholes took turns in biting the Spotted Deer's hind quarters often ripping off chunks of flesh. The deer was huge and the dogs were such smaller than those we had observer in Pench. The deer put up a fight but was clearly tiring, the dogs attacked singly not together but repeatedly. Eventually after 10 minutes the deer was grounded, Throughout the horrific ordeal it never called out it was silent, presumably it was in shock. Amazingly in one of India's busiest parks we were again the only vehicle present.


The Spotted Deer stag is down (left), 2 dogs are just visible through the trees.


The deer was eaten alive, in a similar manner to that employed by African Wild Dogs but these Indian Wild Dogs seemed to attack one at a time, obviously slowing down the period the deer took to die.

404A5397.JPG.4bed4b590b656de34f9588ff4c611e41.JPGOne of the 3 Dhole that attacked and killed the deer. The prey item was huge a fully grown stag in its prime. Relatively small dogs.


The deer did rally for a short period before the attacks continued,


Another Dole rests before resuming the attacks.


I think we have images now of all 3 Dhole. From memory they were all male.


Between attacks they just seemed to wander around aimlessly, then became focussed and took their turn in the resentless attacks.

404A5501.JPG.442a6fd70d2a3da9fe493992133d5e0e.JPGThe length of time from the deer going down to dying was around 20 minutes.404A5541.JPG.1616f0e5c72283100135694b66ec64de.JPG

I'd fancy 3 of these against a tiger! Highly effective hunters.


Nearly the end for the deer now, thank goodness.


The deer slumped to the ground a few seconds after this and died. 


Two of the dogs decided to have a rest on the track for around 5 minutes before returning to the kill.


Kill complete. 

404A5611.JPG.c75d32418bdb40c7a82a4b12067e7fa2.JPGAgain the Dhole started to feed but independently. They were patient and appeared to know their place. Would they be joined by other pack members, we had unfortunately run out of time so would never find out? 3 don't make a pack, so there may have been females with youngsters about.

Our guide had not seen a Dhole kill before so I think again we were pretty lucky or unlucky depending on your point of view. It was however a completely natural act.


INDIAN WILD DOG (Dhole) Nagarhole N.P.Karnataka.

We had a very brief sighting of a Dhole pack early one morning when a pack of 5 adult dogs briefly appeared at distance in relatively thick jungle. The sighting only lasted for a couple of minutes, so I will jut post the images.


Three of the pack this Dhole was quite inquisitive.


I think we are up to 5 dogs now.


Shooting here in very poor light.


So our 2023 trip had certainly delivered some exciting moments with Indian Wild Dogs (Dhole), they are truly magnificent animals and we are so lucky to have seen them and so many, so well.


NEXT: Tadoba Explodes. (not literally just the tigers!).


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Great dog activity!  I'm relieved there are no explosions.  I had heard that there was lots happening in Tadoba!  We will find out soon.

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Excellent start,John. Did not know the differences between a Dhole attack and Wild Dog one in terms of the whole pack at the site attacking as in the case of the African dogs vs, as you describe, the Indian Dholes going one at a time. Poor stag. Horrible way to go- slowly eaten alive. 
Look forward to the rest. Thanks for sharing your report. 

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@johnweirplease don't hold back, there is always room for another Indian TR!


Great start with the dhole activity and the night time tiger sighting.

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I'd not heard of the dhole until watching a BBC programme last night on the wild dog families of the world. Now, the very next day on ST!!  

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Fantastic Dog sightings John, congrats! 

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Great report and already some fantastic highlights. And like you write, I also think India is pretty good value.

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A great start and excellent illustrations. Looking forward to more.

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Wonderful dhole sightings @johnweirand the tiger at night is really quite special. 

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wow, tiger at night--amazing. We will be in Pench next year and staying (I think) at Pench Tree Lodge--didn't realize you could do night drives from there, I will definitely check that out (although I won't expect to see a tiger!)  Incredible Dhole sighting as well, although I think I might have had to leave that kill one if seeing it up close and personal. :o


Very interested to follow along with this, especially your time in the Western Ghats!

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@janzinPench Tree is a great lodge I would recommend and stay there again. They have large cottages which we had and also tree houses which were very cool, we would opt for one of those if we went again. Pre-book night drive, buffer zone only. They have a decent bird hide also which you need to pre-book. Good for leopard, tiger can be hit and miss. We saw 4, a busy reserve/ park you would be lucky to get a quiet sighting but it is always possible as we got with the Wild Dogs. Small cats also about, we saw 5 Jungle Cats one morning before we got in the park, most looked pure bred as well. Food high quality and guiding very good.They put a documentary on each evening before dinner. I am not sure why but we always seemed to eat late. They are a member of the Pugdundee Safaris group, we stayed at 3 of their properties on this trip. One was poor this one and the one at Tadoba were both excellent. 


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2 hours ago, johnweir said:

@janzinPench Tree is a great lodge I would recommend and stay there again. They have large cottages which we had and also tree houses which were very cool, we would opt for one of those if we went again. Pre-book night drive, buffer zone only. They have a decent bird hide also which you need to pre-book. Good for leopard, tiger can be hit and miss. We saw 4, a busy reserve/ park you would be lucky to get a quiet sighting but it is always possible as we got with the Wild Dogs. Small cats also about, we saw 5 Jungle Cats one morning before we got in the park, most looked pure bred as well. Food high quality and guiding very good.They put a documentary on each evening before dinner. I am not sure why but we always seemed to eat late. They are a member of the Pugdundee Safaris group, we stayed at 3 of their properties on this trip. One was poor this one and the one at Tadoba were both excellent. 


Thanks John I will definitely look into pre-booking a night drive. We were supposed to stay at the place @Atravelynnstayed at, Jamtara, but they were full so we are waitlisted there and confirmed at the Tree Lodge. We did opt for the cottage though because my spouse's knees aren't so great, so climbing up and down to the treehouse (with heavy camera gear) didn't seem like a good idea :)  Anyway I may just tell our agent to leave it at Tree Lodge no matter what.

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Fabulous photographs of the wild dogs.

Dogs taking turns one by one to attack the deer is not the usual behaviour. Normally the pack would go all in just like African wild dogs do. 

I was fortunate enough to witness a pack of dholes finishing of a Sambar (a large deer) about an hours drive from my home. We were on a hike in the buffer area of so called Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (very few or no tigers there). As we were walking along a narrow ravine with a stream, we came across a pack of 10-12 dholes. They had chased a Sambar and it had probably jumped off the high banks of the ravine ( on close inspection, we found its antler broken off). I didn't have my camera but my son took a video on my iPhone (which is zoomed and not very clear). It was fabulous to see the pack looking healthy and well fed. 

We did 2 more hikes in the same area later (first hike was in February 2023) but had no luck with any wildlife.


We were sitting upstream just above the waterfall seen in the background as dogs fed on the sambar.

This was taken later when we hiked down (from a different spot, it a was a steep drop of about 20ft from top of the waterfall, even though it looks very small in this photograph)

Sorry for the gory photo.



Broken antler





Tiger at night. Buffer zone drive, Satpura NP, March 2023. Again I had left my camera home. Photo taken by my son with iPhone. It was my first experience of watching a tiger at night. It was a big male. He crossed the water body, swimming across, coming closer to our side. Afterwards it was thrilling just to sit there and wonder where he could be as there were sounds of him waking on dry leaves but no visual.


Edited by vikramghanekar
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That’s an extraordinary interlude on Dhole behavior. And your son’s iPhone pictures add nicely to the narrative. Thank you. 

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Cracking sightings of the dhole, although I don't think I could bear watching the kill so kudos to you for seeing it through. 

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@vikramghanekarThank you very much for your most interesting contribution to this thread. I have witnessed an African Wild Dog kill in Botswana several years ago, it was a highly cooperative effort involving several dogs at the same time and was over in a relatively short period of time. Obviously I am not an expert on Dhole behaviour, but was expecting a similar killing technique. I have found several scholarly papers which refer to Dhole hunting techniques and they all reference cooperative hunting strategies, particularly when hunting large prey items. The Chital we saw being killed was as big as they get, and at no time during the kill did the dogs work together. What happened repeatedly was that one dog would attack the rear of the Chital do some damage and then retreat well away, then another dog would take over. Often between attacks they would lie down briefly. I think what we witnessed was not typical Dhole hunting behaviour, I will get in touch with the IUCN Canid Specialist Group and see what they think about our observations.

The tiger at night image is also very interesting, we visited the Satpura Buffer zone at night in 2020, no tigers but a great sighting of a Rusty Spotted and a Jungle Cat. Satpura is a wonderful park / reserve, absolutely beautiful.

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I saw Dhole attack on chital in May in Kabini by the backwaters ....... It was exactly like the African WD where they'd all rip them apart! 

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In 2020 during our first trip to India we visited Tadoba Tiger Reserve, it was included particularly because it has an excellent reputation for reasonably reliable good Tiger sightings. On that trip Tiger sightings were our number one priority. As things turned out we left really quite disappointed with our Tadoba experience. Whilst we did observe 3 Tigers the sightings were not particularly good. We stayed at SvasaraJungle Lodge which was very good but the quality of guiding was poor, our guide was disillusioned with his job, so we tended to miss major sightings or at the best arrive late, we never seemed to be ahead of the game. Guests at the lodge were arriving daily with great images of 'Maya' possibly the most photographed Tiger in India and her 3 cubs, who had at the time moved into one of the buffer zones. As we only had permits for the core zone and there was no flexibility we missed some great opportunities, even a full day permit in the park proved disappointing in terms of results, in fact a complete waste of money. Svasara Jungle Lodge is really well situated only 300 yards from the Kolara Gate which gives almost immediate access to the Tadoba core zone, perhaps we were just unlucky. 

When I started planning for 2023 there were still great Tiger sightings reports coming out of Tadoba, so we decided to give the park a second chance. By the time we got there the pressure was off anyway as we had enjoyed good Tiger sightings in Jim Corbett, Ranthambore, Panna and Pench. 

In 2023 we stayed at Wagahoba Eco Lodge which is a relatively modern lodge, but it was exceptional in all aspects. The Lodge is particularly well managed. On arrival we went out straight away on a night drive in one of the buffer zones and enjoyed a good Leopard sighting. The only concern I had initially was that the lodge was a long drive (30 minutes) from the Khutwanda Gate, to the south west of the park. However this was not an issue as we often saw small mammals en-route and the gate was much quieter than Kolara, often we were the only vehicle at the gate. However generally Tadoba is a very popular and busy park. Luck must have been on our side this year as we had great sightings and most were on the quiet side. I recommend the lodge we stayed at this year most highly and would certainly use it again. The guide and driver they provided were excellent as well.



We entered the park at around 06.30, at 08.00 we approached the Hill Top area, one other vehicle was parked up. This area is grassland surrounded by trees, in the distance 2 Tigers could be observed lying in the long grass.


The Tiger on the left is 'Balram' ( I don't like giving wild animals names but in this case it may help with the narrative), he is 8 years old and the dominant male in this central area. To the right, barely visible is 'Maya' the tiger we missed fin 2020. She is now 12 years old. She is the 'Queen of Tadoba', Tiger enthusiasts flock from all over the globe to see her. She regularly produces cubs, the 3 she had in 2020 were killed by a rival male later that year. At the time of our visit this year she had one cub (7-8 months old), we did not see it, in fact it had not been seen for at least 2 days before we arrived. Several guides were saying it is debatable whether 'Maya' has ever raised any cubs to maturity. She had been seen mating with 'Rudra' (soon to be introduced) again a few days before we arrived. Probably not a good idea.


After 30 minute of no action 'Balram' stood up briefly and 'Maya' enjoyed a yawn. Both then lay down and went to sleep. 'Maya' apparently has developed over the years a strategy of mating with multiple males probably in an attempt to keep her cubs safe, unfortunately it doesn't seem to have been successful. At this stage we decided to leave, it was getting very busy now.

After 30 minutes as we passed Tadoba Lake near the area where we had witnessed the Dhole kill, an adult Tiger was seen in the forest walking parallel to the track which leads to Pandharpouni Lake. (09.00).


An adult male Tiger was spotted in the forest moving with purpose, he eventually crossed the track and we followed him as discreetly as possible for about a mile during which time he spent most of the time in fringe forest which was good as I am not a fan of Tiger on the track images.  Obviously some times you have no option.


This is 'Rudra' he is 7-8 years old. We had seen him before in 2020. (Facial pattern recognition). He is in prime condition.


This is Rudra in 2020, 3-4 years old. He was my first Tiger sighting and this was my first ever Tiger image. He appears a bit heavier built now.

No apologies the next 4 images are of 'Rudra'. 


He has a puncture wound to his upper right front leg, which he acquired in a fight 3 days before we arrived, it wasn't causing him any concern.


Throughout our time with 'Rudra' he was constantly roaring, scent marking and appeared quite agitated.




After taking this image we decided to give him some space, he was heading towards a waterhole, we drove there hoping to see him in the water but he never turned up. We would however see him the next day.

No sooner had we left the waterhole than another male tiger was seen heading down an adjacent track straight towards us. (09.45)


This is 'Mowgli', he is very heavily built', a very big Tiger, 9-10 years old. This was one down the track image I could not avoid. He had a nasty wound to the lower side of his jaw. None of the guides had any information about when this happened, but it looked relatively fresh. This was a very busy sighting, we didn't stay long. Eventually he moved into some shrubs. He apparently is not normally seen in this area.


As he came out I got a more natural shot.

404A4055.JPG.c5bbdf3800a94ed34c669c2f328b5eab.JPGHe eventually moved down the track and this image was taken as he scent marked near the parapet of a small bridge. This highly cropped image has about 20 vehicles cut out to the right of the tIger. As time was running out we made for the park gate. (10.15)

Just before the gate our guide spotted a Leopard in some trees well off the track, it had just killed and half eaten a Langur. Due to time constraints we couldn't stay long, so we had to settle for some long range images. Female 2-3 years old.


 As we left the park late, we had a very brief glimpse of a Sloth Bear, which vanished into the forest very quickly. Not a bad morning for Tigers. (1F, 3M). 

For inexperienced travellers to India, I would suggest that you research well the different zones and permits for the parks / reserves you intend to visit as arrangements seem to change on a regular basis. Tadoba for example was offering full day permits, they are very expensive and I am not sure the advantages are worth the significant increase in cost. Certainly on this trip they would have been a waste of money. Tadoba has 3 zones, one which is regarded as the best for sightings (Tadoba North), one which is OK (Moharli zone) and one which is possibly not too good (Kolsa South), I am fairly sure we spent most of our time in Tadoba North but also ventured into Moharli briefly. Tadoba has 5 or 6 different buffer zones. Try a night drive they are usually worth doing.

At the time of our visit to Ranthambore they were offering no full day permits and your zone was offered on a random basis direct to your guide. So some visitors got a very raw deal i.e. same zone for several drives, and saw no Tigers. We saw Tigers in Zones 1 and 5. I wanted to visit a zone away from the main areas where Caracal are occasionally seen, no chance. 

Back to the action.



We returned to the same general area and it seemed relatively quiet, around 15.30 we observed a male Tiger moving at speed out of the area, he bypassed two waterholes. It turned out to be "Mowgli', he was heading back towards the area where he is normally seen, the edge of the core zone and one of the buffer zones.


It would be interesting to know what he had been up to during the 4 hours whilst we had been at lunch.

Once we got back on the main track our only snake of the trip slithered by in front of our 'Gypsy'.

404A4121.JPG.02ef2af339b7068ec2fc25994917bcc3.JPGIt was a Green Keelback (non-venomous).

Further down the track heading towards Pandharpaunl Lake 1 yet another Tiger was observed sitting in the lake.

404A4234.JPG.ca16869a6a87162ba09b9f992a894aaf.JPGIt was another male, 'Baljrang' / T45. He is generally seen in the Moharli Zone but is known to visit Tadoba North. He was nursing a nasty puncture wound on his lower back. When he briefly moved he had other smaller wounds. He is about 12 years old and is the TIger that fought with 'Rudra' 2 days before. It was time to leave so for the day the Tiger count was 5 (1F, 4M).

404A4135.JPG.2a6cafa31d2a69f30d203aa959010528.JPGThis sign at Tadoba Lake never fails to amuse us.

404A4136.JPG.1929296dd45aa39dd926557843690c33.JPGThe lake is home to some of the largest Mugger Crocodiles we have seen in India. In 2020 we saw one pull a Spotted Deer that had stopped for a drink into the lake. 



We decided just to have a quiet drive in the core zone and see what turned  up. Around 09.30 we approached the Hill Top area, from a distance very loud and aggressive roaring could be heard another vehicle was in situ, they had seen a large tiger being chased into the woodland by another. The roars were so loud it was like sitting in front of a bass amplifier at a rock concert. Loud thuds could also be heard even from a considerable distance, large saplings were swaying, forget Lion roar this was unbelievable loud and powerful. It went on for about 10 minutes then it went silent. After a couple of minutes one of the Tigers came rushing out of the woodland, it was 'Balram'


He flew into the open grassland and immediately started roaring, he sprayed every tree and shrub he could find. He was running about the area almost out of control, he was totally' pumped up'. He appeared to have damage to his right front leg and to a lesser extent his mouth. his movement was impaired and he was limping.

404A4488.JPG.c22f19cdb7cfc3835b3702443480aa0f.JPG 'Balram" inspecting his territory.


His facial injury did not look as bad as we originally thought.

404A4526.JPG.8ddc95012af9a7907ad9300d36f30d34.JPGDespite his injuries he was demonstrating clearly who was in charge. Then we spotted lying down by the trees another Tiger.

404A4575.JPG.9b018463c1db3c92527523b7553d881d.JPGInitially it looked OK, but when it got to it's feet to turn and walk away in the opposite direction to 'Balram' it was obvious it was badly injured.404A4587.JPG.9cbbd1df26d62adfd693d3c654ec9d09.JPGAs yet we had not identified the Tiger, it was limping very badly, had wounds to both front and rear right legs and extensive facial lacerations.We went back to the lodge where the Tiger was identified as being 'Rudra'.



At around 16.00 a badly injured Tiger had been located in long grass  near one of the central waterholes. It was 'Rudra'.


He crawled out of the greass and stumbled towards some open ground. It was a very hard watch.






404A3925.JPG.4393d9b74848726017987c28725764b4.JPG24 hours earlier. 'Rudra'.


This was the last shot I took of 'Rudra' and the last time we saw him. Everyone drove away in silence.

After a short drive several vehicles were seen parked up, another Tiger had been spotted and it was heading our way.404A4899.JPG.6614574574be19c720f1b33b95097c6a.JPG 

Out of the long grass she came it was 'Maya', very distressed, constantly calling, everyone thought she was calling for her cub.


Not bad for a 12 year old, although she appears to have broken her lower left canine. What I haven't mentioned about her is that she has over the years killed 3 people 2 certainly in the park or buffer zone.Where such incidents are tolerated the Tigers are often moved. It was funny because as she approached our vehicle our driver was clearly not happy, none of the other Tigers had bothered him this one certainly did.




We came across 'Maya' again just before we left the park, she was still looking for her cub. This was the last time we saw her.



This was our last drive before we flew down to Bangaluru.

We sat with a crowd for an hour to see a relatively young female TIger with her 2 cubs. She is new to the area. (07.30) very poor light.


'Bijli' she is 4-5 years old and her 2 (3-4 month old) very nervous cubs. They were only visible for seconds . Will Bijli' eventually take 'Maya's' crown, nothing lasts for ever.

All our deliberations at the lodge with various people about what we had witnessed centred around, lack of female Tigers, two many male Tigers of a similar age and is the park/reserve too small for it's significant Tiger population. Males fighting over territory / females is natural behaviour but there just seemed to be too many males in a relatively small area.


Tadoba certainly delivered this time. In our 2 visits to Tadoba we have recorded 18 mammal species.


When we got home the fate of 'Rudra' plus other uncertainties started to prey on our minds, so I contacted our guide and lodge manager both of whom replied in detail.


1. Did 'Rudra' die, he was badly injured and vulnerable to further attacks?

Unbelievably he made a full recovery, 'Maya' was observed licking his wounds, although she is still seen with 'Balram'.  'Rudra' recovered within two weeks and made a Sambar kill. He has a few new facial scars.

2. Did 'Maya' find her cub?

Unfortunately no, presumed killed by one of the males.

3. Has 'Bijli" managed to stay out of the chaos and does she still have her cubs?

'Bilji' is doing well, keeping out of the way and making regular kills. The cubs are both growing fast, fingers crossed.


 Thanks to MJ our guide and the superb lodge manager at Wagahoba Ghanshyam Singh for replying to my queries. 


At Nagpur Airport I got a copy of 'The Indian Times' and was amazed to see the following article.








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  • 1 month later...

Apologies for the late resumption of this report but I have been away in Southern Brazil. (Southern Pantanal), which was fascinating and produced some interesting sightings. I will do a report on that trip when I finish this report. In order to complete relatively quickly I will do two further postings. Firstly an overview of the six Tiger Reserves we visited in early 2023 and finally some thoughts on our time in the Western Ghats which was very much species driven.



I will limit each reserve to five images with the exception of Nagarhole/Kabini. We have now visited ten of the more popular tiger reserves during two extended visits to India, the question of which is best for tiger sightings will only be touched on lightly as I seem to remember last time this topic was discussed on this forum civil war broke out! My thoughts are based purely on my own experiences, as we are all aware everyone has a unique experience when they visit a wildlife destination. During this trip we visited two reserves at the same time as @wilddogand @Atravelynnand enjoyed completely different experiences. We spent 3-4 nights in each location. To my knowledge no tiger reserves / national parks permit night drives in the core areas although several allow night drives in buffer zones which we usually try to take advantage of. All day permits are available in some reserves, I used to think they were a good idea and have bought them in the past but have now come to the conclusion that for us the benefits are not worth the significant extra cost.




TARAI GREY LANGUR. This species of langur is found in north west India, it is a Himalayan langur, it is not the common species of langur found throughout the northern half of India from coast to coast. This langur was very much a target species.


KALIJ PHEASANT, Corbett is very good for birding, many species found here are Himalayan residents. A very good location for Great Hornbills.


INDIAN ELEPHANTS. Significant numbers reside in and around the park, conflict with humans is common. This image was taken late afternoon as the sun was setting, there is a baby between the two adults. This dried up riverbed proved attractive to wildlife, we saw a tiger here the following day.


CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE, in flight. Possibly the most commonly seen raptor in most parks.


BENGAL TIGER. (08.15). Female 7-8 years old. At the time this image was taken she had 3 cubs which were not seen. Tiger #4 for the trip.


We stayed at JIM'S JUNGLE RETREAT which was an outstanding lodge in every respect, the guiding was also of the highest quality. The food was very good and each evening before dinner they showed a wildlife documentary usually about tigers outside on a large screen, several lodges on this trip were doing the same.

We saw 4 different tigers in 4 drives and would possibly have seen more but for the fact that one day was given over to trying to locate a Yellow-throated Marten, which unfortunately proved unsuccessful. All our sightings were good with us being the only vehicle at two of them. Generally we found the park quiet and a wonderful wildlife location to visit. The park has 6 zones and 2 buffer zones, all our drives were in the 2 most popular tourist zones, which was OK, and a night drive was not made available. If we returned we would want to visit at least one of the more remote hilly zones and a buffer zone. Basic accommodation is available in the park which brings with it entry/exit time benefits. We would recommend a visit to Corbett most highly, it is only a 5 hour drive north of Delhi and made a great start to our expedition. I would point out that we met 2 couples who had spent the same amount of time as us in the park and seen no tigers. Although India is about far more than tigers they are what most people want to see when they visit a reserve. Corbett currently has around 300 tigers in and around the reserve, including cubs. This is the highest density of tigers in India, however sometimes they are not that easy to observe as they are well spread out, it is a very big park.


SAFARITALK HEALTH WARNING: Tiger watching can be addictive and seriously damage your bank balance.


10 mammal species were recorded at this location. (not including rodents and bats, squirrels are included). I will include this data for each reserve.




Ranthabore consists of several types of habitat, this grassland area proved ideal habitat for another target the Indian Gazelle. The escarpment apparently consists of some of the oldest rocks on the planet. I was not expecting such a variety of habitats.


INDIAN GAZELLE. Pregnant doe. This was another target species. They are not particularly uncommon in central India but on our last trip 2020 none were seen. This doe was part of a small harem.


INDIAN SLOTH BEAR. This juvenile was one of two, no adults were present at the sighting.


SAMBAR. Impressive male. Relatively common in Ranthambore.


BENGAL TIGER. Female, 5 years old, no cubs as yet. Siddhi, tiger # 8 for the trip. We were the only vehicle present at this prolonged sighting which was great as she stayed away from the track before vanishing into the jungle.


We stayed at RANTHAMBORE KOTCHI, which was OK but was more like a hotel than a lodge experience. Guiding was good but occasionally felt like we were just going through the motions, performance management seemed to work wonders! We were not that excited about visiting Ranthambore due to numerous reports of large volumes of traffic inside the park. However on this visit we found the park relatively quiet and we enjoyed our time there. At the time of our visit no all day permits were being issued, there are 10 zones and no buffer zones, so no night drives. We visited 3 zones, 1, 5 and 6. We saw tigers in zones 1 and 5, 4 in all. Zone allocation is done by park staff, you have no input into which zones you visit. I wanted to visit zone 9 which has reported caracal sightings in recent years but my request was refused. We met once again a couple who had done 4 drives in one of the least popular zones and seen no tigers. Park admission procedures in India appear to chop and change on a regular basis, do your homework before planning an itinerary. We were pleased with our visit and were glad we had included Ranthambore in our itinerary.


12 mammal species were recorded here.




HANUMAN GREY LANGUR (NORTHERN PLAINS), 2 proud mums with youngsters. This is the more commonly seen species of langur found in the northern central area of India coast to coast.


NILGAI, adult buck. Quite a weird antelope, in fact the largest antelope species?

INDIAN SLOTH BEARS. Initially when sighted there were 4, presumably a breeding pair with two large cubs?, taken from distance.


BENGAL TIGER, 13 months old. Tiger # 11. This tiger was seen with a sibling and their mother, but unfortunately not together. Juveniles male and female. Mother T141.


INDIAN LEOPARD. Female 4-5 years old. This was a very good sighting. The next day just outside the park we had another very good sighting of an old male leopard as he crossed the road in front of our vehicle and then decided to lay down within camera distance.


We stayed at KEN RIVER LODGE, which was poor. The lodge was run down and badly managed. It was unfortunate because our in house guide here was excellent he deserved to be linked with a much better lodge. The lodge is part of the Pugdundee group which I find amazing as we have stayed at two of their other lodges which were both fantastic. Panna is a very interesting park and well worth a visit and better accommodation is available in the area. The park has open access to all areas and has an upper and lower gate, it is a good idea to drive in one and out the other this gives one a good overview of the park. It takes 30 minutes on a tarmac road to travel between the two gates. When our guide asked us what we really wanted to see he nearly fell over when I said antelopes, particularly the Four-horned Antelope. From our experience they are significantly more difficult to observe even when you are in the right area than tigers. However on our last drive in the Hinauta upper plateau region we did find a pair but were not able to get any images. They are very nervous and quite small in size about the size of an African Dik-dik.

By 2009 tigers in Panna had been extirpated mainly by extensive poaching, however several tigers were moved into the park and it now has a healthy breeding population of around 60 individuals including cubs, we saw 3 tigers here.

Our night drive in the buffer zone was very productive, 4 sloth bears being the highlight. 


16 mammal species were observed in Panna T.R.




WHITE-EYED BUZZARD, a mating pair.


JUNGLE CAT. They were very common around the lodge and during our short ride into the park. We saw 12 during our stay and also from distance possibly a Rusty-spotted Cat. This individual was hunting rodents next to the road and appeared to be pure bred, several others appeared dubious.


INDIAN LEOPARD. Leopards are possibly easier to find in Pench than tigers we saw 4 well. This is a male around 6 years old.


BENGAL TIGER,  the same individual reported on in Tiger Trifecta, young female # 15.


INDIAN LEOPARD. sub-adult male thought to be about 2.5 years old, he tried to stay well hidden.


We stayed at PENCH TREE LODGE, it was excellent and I would recommend it most highly. Everything was perfect particularly the quality of guiding. It was here we had our tiger at night sighting and wild dog experience, 4 tigers seen here. We took a rest day here due to the park being closed for the Holi festival and got involved with the local village celebrations. It was a fun experience!, the clothes were provided by the lodge.


Image taken on iPhone for obvious reasons. One guest took his camera, not a good idea.

In the afternoon I spent some time with our guide in their excellent purpose built bird hide, although it was generally quiet.



All our drives were via the Karmajhiri Gate and we had access to most of the reserve. We enjoyed Pench very much and would certainly return at some stage and to this lodge. We had our first rain of the trip here a heavy downpour one afternoon. The night drive in a buffer zone was again productive.


17 mammals recorded here.



For images see previous postings on this thread on wild dogs and 'Tiger Wars'.


We had visited Tadoba in 2020 and had a fairly dull experience, yes we saw tigers but not very well. Tadoba has a very good reputation for tiger sightings, I put our experience down to poor guiding and not having access to the correct zones. So I decided to give it another go which proved to be the right decision. This is the only reserve we have visited twice. Photographers beware, Tadoba is very dusty. Tadoba is a busy park but somehow we managed to avoid big crowds.


We stayed at WAGHOBA ECO LODGE, which again was outstanding and we recommend most highly. The quality of guiding was also excellent here and our driver was the type that always seemed to get us ahead of the queue. The lodge itself is relatively new and of a modern design, the bungalows are very well appointed. The food was great with the chef always prepared to do specials. The lodge is very well managed, the manager himself was often seen in the park guiding and taking images. The night drive was well worth doing. The lodge is a 20 minute drive from the Khutwanda Gate which was very quiet unlike our 2020 entries via the very busy Kolara Gate. The drive to the gate actually produced some interesting sightings so it was never an issue. 8 individual tigers seen here. We had access to the best two core areas Kolara and Moharli, most of our sightings were in Kolara. All day permits were available for this reserve.


13 mammal species recorded here, 18 if you include our 2020 visit.




PALE-BELLIED BONNET MACAQUE, very common throughout the park complex.


INDIAN LEOPARD. This male is possibly the reason that 'Blackie' the world famous melanistic leopard has not been seen so much in recent months. 'Blackie' had been missing for a while then turned up 2 days before we arrived. Our guide was very much of the opinion that he had been pushed back further into the park where visitors are not permitted to visit by this male. We searched desperately for 'Blackie' to no avail our private guide kept telling us not to worry, we were none too sure why, our chance was over.


STRIPE-NECKED MONGOOSE. A large species quite impressive. Common in the park.




BLACK-FOOTED (GREY) LANGUR. Some of the langurs in Nagarhole show signs of being hybrids. Possibly Black-footed / Tufted crosses. 


BENGAL TIGER. this is the 'Temple Tigress' we found her resting in a pool as we watched her 4 large cubs/ subadults appeared along a high ridge at the back of the pool. Unfortunately I couldn't get them all in one image. Two were very nervous and straight away disappeared, two decided to join their mother.


These two were quite happy to join mum, one more so than the other.


The two subadults were nearly as big as mum.


We were told that the subadults were 12 months old they looked a bit older than that? and virtually ready to leave their mother.


Time to get out.


What a magnificent animal, our last tiger image of 2023. Tiger #29.

We stayed at KABINI RIVER LODGE, which was OK, rather basic but the food was good. We stayed here because I was led to believe it was the only way to avoid the dreaded cantor. That possibly is not the case, see Tiger Trifecta. The lodge has a very nice bar area where we met some very interesting people and made some good contacts for the future. No night drives here, the reserve has 2 tourist zones both of which are possible during a short stay, zone A is the one you really need to be in on a regular basis.


16 mammal species recorded here.


Next: A Few Days in the Western Ghats.

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Miss Biscuit

Thank you for the great summary of each park! I think I'd love to see leopards almost as much as tigers! 

Ugh, going all the way there and not seeing any tigers, this is what keeps me hesistant. 

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Excellent summary of each of the parks and your lodges/ guides which should be very useful to others. You certainly benefited from a combination of good planning and good luck!


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2 hours ago, johnweir said:

SAFARITALK HEALTH WARNING: Tiger watching can be addictive and seriously damage your bank balance.


Truer words were never spoken! :):D


Loving your report and great summary of the reserves.  I am really looking forward to the Western Ghats entry as we were just there as well, and there aren't many reports from there (aside from Kabini.)

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Great photos and very practical advice @johnweir.   I had missed this trip report back when you started it, so I am so glad to be reading it.   





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Excellent useful information and great photos.

The Dhole sequence is amazing, if very difficult to watch

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Great trip report and very useful summary of the Parks, thank you for taking the time to do it!

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