Tiger Safari
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Tiger Safari
Your Safari Kit
Your most invaluable companion while on a wildlife safari is a good pair of medium-size compact binoculars. For general purposes, 7x or 8x magnification is adequate, but for bird-watching 10x magnification is better as it brings out details of plumage clearly - so vital for positive identification. Many rare sightings have been missed because binoculars were not easily at hand. So carry your binoculars round your neck, and use them constantly to scan the area around you. You will be surprised how much more you will see if you do.

Wildlife safari To record your observations, you will need a small notebook in which you may also want to sketch things of interest. Do not forget to mention the name of the place, time and date. In time, in this notebook you will have put together an amazing variety of information.

When to look for Animals
A national park or reserve is a living museum of nature's creations - landscapes, rock formations, waters, plants and animals. But unlike in an art or historical museum where objects are on display, here you have to seek out your animals. You have to know where they live, when they move about, how to attract and approach them.

Not unlike men, animals are creatures of habit and have distinct daily and seasonal patterns of activity. An understanding of these patterns increases our chance of seeing them. The frequency of wildlife sightings in national parks and reserves varies, depending on the time of year.

Generally, the best times are from February to May. During these months the trees are often bare and the undergrowth dead or regenerating, so visibility is considerably improved. Since there is also a general scarcity of water, the animals concentrate near sources of water. However, the time of year you choose to visit a park will also depend on what you are looking for. By "best months" is usually meant those in which one is most likely to see large mammals which are the main attraction of most national parks and reserves. The marshes of Bharatpur present a magnificent spectacle of breeding birds during August, September and October.

There are rewards for the nature lover at every hour of the day and night, but for watching mammals you have to follow their daily cycle of activity. They are mostly nocturnal and remain active for two-three hours after sunrise. Around 10 a.m., animals retreat for rest and lie in hiding, giving the impression during midday and in the early afternoon that the jungle is devoid of life. But they resume their activities around 4 p.m., filling the jungle with life and activity.

Your safaris are therefore best organized during the early mornings and late afternoons. In the winter, afternoon safaris are better as there is often a thick mist in the morning.

Where to Look for Animals
Wildlife Tour Animals are most conspicuous when they are feeding or at play and the most likely spots to observe such activities are grassy meadows, the edge of forests, at salt licks or near water holes. Herbivores have to feed daily for several hours, and the heavyweights, such as rhino and elephant, have prodigious appetites and may spend 15-18 hours a day feeding, thus making themselves very conspicuous.

Open grass meadows and river banks are the favorite grounds of hoofed animals, where the short grasses provide them nourishment. For them the tall grasses are often inedible and therefore of little value, except as shelter. In a forest thick with trees and scant grass, hoofed animals will usually be thinly spread but leaf-eaters, such as langurs, are usually common. Recently, burned patches of grassland and forest attract deer, antelope, wild boar, gaur, buffalo, rhino and other herbivores who come for the new succulent grasses.

Most animals have to drink at least once, if not twice, a day. In areas where water is plentiful, such as the floodplains of Chitwan, Manas and Kaziranga, animals are evenly spread out. Predators often lie up, in cover, near a what hole and take their chances on the prey species that wander within range. Which also explains why herbivores are so nervous when approaching these spots.

Large animals also use water for cooling their bodies. In the steaming months of May and June, tigers lie in secluded pools in the jungle, and elephant, rhino, buffalo and wild boar also have favorite spots to wallow in the water or mud.

Mammals also visit salt licks regularly to replenish their body stocks of vital minerals. Over the years, salt licks become well known to the animals living in the area, and elephant, rhino, gaur, deer, monkeys and others come to them from time to time. A salt lick may be part of a hillside, a patch of earth or clay, or buried in the bed of a spring, lake, river or stream.

How to Conduct your Safari
Dress comfortably, in clothes that permit easy movement, and avoid wearing bright colors that make you conspicuous.Jungle-green, khaki, beige camouflage is preferred for tropical and subtropical environments, but in the Himalaya, where snow is present, light neutral colors may be most suitable. The idea is to blend with the surroundings so that you do not unnecessarily announce your presence from a distance. Animals are very wary of the human voice. So, in order to get close to them, absolute silence is essential. Walk lightly and, unless in the mountains, avoid heavy boots; sneakers, or running shoes are best.

Animals living in closed environments have an exceptional sense of smell and will detect and avoid human scent. While stalking animals, it is therefore important to stay downwind of them are you will give your presence away sooner than you think, especially if there is a gentle breeze. For the same reason avoid wearing perfumes and, if using insect repellant, choose the kind that smells the least. Also, no smoking, please. Move slowly, as this gives you more time to look around and you are less conspicuous to the animals, thereby permitting you to approach closer to them.

Tiger Safari at Kanha Walking slowly is also safer. A hasty step might bring you face to face with a rhino, gaur, elephant, or tiger - encounters of a kind that is best avoided. In South India, which has a good population of poisonous snakes. It pays to look where you step. Even while in a vehicle, a slow drive gives you the time to scan the area around you. Most times the animals will spot you first and disappear without your knowing it. There are far more human sightings by animals than animal sightings by humans. Occasionally you will know that you have been spotted when you hear or see animals bounding away.

They may even give an alarm call which will convey a warning to other creatures. But if you spot them first you should move cautiously, using every bit of cover to your advantage, freezing every time they look in your direction. A deer or antelope will soon get your wind and will try and pinpoint you with its nose, eyes and ears. Some animals are inquisitive and may even come towards you. But under no circumstances should you stalk or go close to large carnivores and other potentially dangerous animals. Most animals will retreat at the sight of man but the large animals may have good reason not to.

A leopard or bear may be guarding her cubs, for example. Under these circumstances they are likely to warn you with a noisy snarl before you come too close. If you do not heed that, it is at your own risk. Some drivers and guides, in the heat of excitement, will take you dangerously close to potentially harmful animals. Or perhaps because you want a close-up photograph. This kind of drama should be discouraged as casualties are likely to occur if you violate the personal space of wild animals and make them feel vulnerable. In a national park or reserve their welfare comes first and disturbing, harassing or unnecessarily provoking them is taboo.

On a nature walk, keep your senses on the alert. Most animals blend extremely well with their environment. The spotted fur of the leopard breaks its contours and is invisible in the light and shadow of the jungle.

Even the giant elephant merges with the gray tree trunks and the undergrowth. But don't get obsessed with seeing animals: the imagination can play tricks and you may start "seeing animals" that are not there. A rock on the mountainside may become a black bear! And a black bear a rock!

Two ways to maximize your chances of seeing animals are:
  • to watch them from a hide or blind, locally known as a machan, where you wait for them to come near you while you are hidden from their view; and
  • to actually go out in search of them by vehicle, elephant, boat, or on foot.
This may sound simple, but to get the best results requires deep knowledge of the wilds and its denizens.