A Tiger’s Tale

Photo credit: Sudhir Shivaram

A few months ago I wrote about the RAXA Collective and Pixetra Photography master bird photography class held at Cardamom County. It was an amazing experience in and of itself, but it also gave us the opportunity to meet the instructor, wildlife photographer Sudhir Shivaram, and some talented participants, one of whom is now a contributor to our site. (I’m always keeping my hopes up that others will join her!)

During the 3 day workshop, between treks in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary and a private 200 acre cardamom plantation, I spoke with Sudhir about his experiences as a photographer and an ambassador for Indian wildlife conservation.

He’s been photographing wildlife in India for well over a decade, so I asked him to describe his most memorable “capture”. He shared this experience from 2006 in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve:

10 years of wildlife photography and I had never seen a tiger in the wild, let alone photographing one. Many of my friends adviced me to go to Bandhavgad if I wanted to see a Tiger. But I always had the wish to see my first Tiger in the wild in the south Indian forests. On March 17th 2006, I had seen my first tiger at BRT Wildlife Sanctuary- just the body and the tail. That too for a fraction of a second. And this visit to Bhadra along with Vijay and Yathin proved to be a lucky one. I had shot my first Leopard at Bhadra on 31 Oct 2004 (which is my website logo). And 2 years later, I was seeing and photographing my first Tiger at the same place. Here’s the sequence of events which followed then.

When we saw the tigers we immediately stopped the vehicle and switched it off. We saw two siblings sitting beside each other and patiently watching this herd of Gaur. We could feel the tension in the air. My hands were shivering and I was very tensed as that moment of my life had come…

One of the cubs waited for this last Gaur to cross the road and then started to slowly approach them…

While the cub started the slow approach, something caught their attention towards their right. Probably their mother was there. They froze for a moment watching in that direction…

By that time all the gaurs had vanished in the jungle. And that’s when the cub turned towards us and saw us. It was gorgeous. This was the first time in my life I saw the face of a wild tiger. What a moment it was.

Photo credit: Sudhir Shivaram

Photo credit: Sudhir Shivaram

Global Tiger Day was our excuse today, but we’ve invited Sudhir to contribute to this site on a regular basis when his time permits. Stay tuned for more “Stories from the Field”.

Click here for the full story and photo documentation.

9 thoughts on “A Tiger’s Tale

    • Hi Tina, of course we agree! Fewer and fewer people will have this type of amazing opportunity without increased conservation. Our personal experiences in the Periyar Tiger Reserve are strengthened by experiencing a thriving habitat that supports a healthy tiger population. Seeing a tiger would be incredible, but knowing that they’re there is perhaps even better!

  1. What a thrill! (And such gorgeous photographs to illustrate his story.) Many years ago I stayed the night at one of the old hunting lodges on an island in the lake at Periyar, and though I didn’t see one either, it was incredible to hear them coughing in the undergrowth near the beach – just knowing they were there, still roaming the forests is heartening, I’ll agree, but to actually see one … 🙂

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