International Tiger Day is my excuse to remember this post from three years ago, as a continued reminder of the importance of doing whatever we can to save these amazing creatures in the wild. Meeting wildlife photographer Sudhir Shivaram, and some talented participants of his master bird photography workshop, (many of whom now contribute to this site), has consistently given all of us a window into wildlife viewing that few of us have the privilege to enjoy.
I actually write this from Chan Chich Lodge in Belize, a location that offers the amazing opportunity to be in the habitat of “new world” cats such as jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay and jaguarundi. We’ll write about what we’ve seen so far and what the fantastic staff has shared with us in separate posts – as here we want to honor the tiger.
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.
Click here for the full story and photo documentation.