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India November 2018

The calls of the Sall forest never seem far away so I was really excited to be back in India again on the tracks of the tiger. Every trip is different and like many photographers I am realistic about the opportunities that each trip should offer. The last trip I had led with Dan to India had been a really good one with some excellent tiger encounters. The omens for this trip were equally good.

We knew that tiger numbers were incredibly high in Bandhavgarh, in fact probably at an all time high, regardless of what some popular TV programmes would have us believe. Poaching is now negligible due to the rigorous way the Indian authorities have pursued it and the excellent compensation scheme for villagers that lose cattle or buffalo to tigers is working incredibly well.

The slightly concerning news, purely from a photographic perspective, was that the majority of the tigresses in the core park, where we work, had cubs of various ages. This can mean that they tend to be a little more careful and possibly may keep away from jeeps a little more.

We started on a high with a sighting across a small lake but from then on we had to work really hard for the rest of the trip. It would be disingenuous for us to suggest that tiger photography is easy and that we will see tigers every day. That may have been the case years ago but not today unfortunately. During the week everyone did manage a good selection of tiger images and in a couple of cases the group was able to build a good portfolio from a single encounter.

The outstanding encounter was of a female with three small cubs crossing a road. I unfortunately wasn’t in this jeep at the time and I was green as green can be with envy when I saw the shots on our return to the lodge. In one the female was carrying the head of a deer kill, not to everyone’s taste perhaps, but certainly dramatic and something I have never witnessed.

Langur monkey

Another good sighting involved a young, adult female as she walked down through the sun spangled forest, across a track and onto a wall as she left the core park and entered into the buffer zone. My last good sighting was from the back of an elephant as we gazed, spellbound down onto the face of an experienced tigress who had her three young cubs hidden away in a nearby cave.

Indian muntjac

The supporting cast of birds, monkeys and deer helped to keep the cameras clicking though I found I took less shots than in previous years as I was looking for new images to add to those I already have in the hard drive back in Sheffield.


India is never easy, especially in the winter, but then again I am not sure I want to sit in a jeep at 400c+ at a water hole in glaring light! The winter light is so much kinder, but then we have to work harder at finding tigers which is part of the challenge that keeps so many wildlife photographers going back again. And I am going back in 2019 and 2020, I can’t wait.

Chittal deer

Indian elephant

Indian Scops owl