Call of the Wild – Nagerhole National Park.

Having developed an interest in wildlife and in photographing the wild, I booked a weekend tour with Toehold in Nagerhole National Park, Karnataka, India. I had heard a lot about the jungles by the river Kabini and finally it was time to visit it.

I flew from New Delhi to Bangalore and after an approximately five hour drive, we reached Nagerhole National Park. We were put up in Jungle Lodges and Resorts, former hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore. It was a beautiful property spread across a huge area along the banks of river Kabini with large number of trees and birds perching on them.

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Nagerhole National Park is divided into two parts – Mysore and Coorg. The Mysore part is divided into zone A and B. We went for two safaris in each of the two zones.

Unlike the parks of Central India, Nagerhole National Park has put up a restriction of only 11 vehicles during a given Safari.

Note: They charge an amount of Rs. 600 for any lens above 200 mm for each safari.

Once inside the park, we were in search of the big cats and elephants, which the park is well known for. An hour into the first safari in the afternoon (4 pm to 6.30 pm during the summer), we had our first sighting of a tigress sitting behind a bush waiting to cross to the other side.

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But the tigress had something else in mind and decided to go back into the bushes. We moved ahead to see two sloth bears running across the road and to find one tigress with two cubs playing around in a bush.

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On our safari the next morning (6.30 am to 9 am during the summer), about ten minutes into the drive, we saw a trail of pug marks on the road. After following it for some time, we saw a few deer running across the road. Our jeep stopped and to our right there was a tigress marking its territory by urinating on the trees. We moved closer but soon the tigress went to the bushes.

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After waiting patiently for some time, surprisingly, it came out of the bushes and walked head-on towards our jeep before going into the bushes again.

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It was back again after a few minutes and relaxed on a wet patch on the road for about an hour. Finally, when it decided to head back into the bushes, we moved on in search of other wildlife.

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The backwaters of Kabini bring a lot of elephants, water birds and a whole lot of fauna to the shore. Other than the cats, I, for the first time, sighted a few peacocks dancing with their feathers wide open trying to attract a peahen into mating. Don’t know if they were successful!

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We also saw a few Malabar giant squirrels and stripe-necked mongoose which are generally found in the southern part of India.

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Malabar giant squirrel

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Stripe-necked mongoose

Apart from that, we saw a whole lot of birds, which includes the Indian Roller, Indian Grey Hornbill, variety of wood peckers, Indian Robin, Jungle Fowl, Green Bee Eater, Small Minivet, Greater Coucal, Storks, Kingfisher, Crested Serpent Eagle etc.

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Crested Serpent eagle

Towards the close of our final safari, while exiting the park, I saw a sambar deer munching on the leaves of a tree which was just within its reach.

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Being too optimistic that it would take a leap to reach the higher branches, I was waiting with my camera in position. Few minutes later, it did take a big leap and pulled the fresh leaves off the higher branches making it an amazing sight and giving me a good end to the trip.

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Stay tuned for further posts !!

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