You’re bound to become the happiest person on earth when you see a tiger in Sunderbans. Seeing this majestic animal over here is always a memorable moment for anyone. It requires a huge lot of effort to track a tiger in this terrain and you must also be well blessed by the gods for some good luck!
But in this process, what if you come across one of the rarest moments of all – a sighting of a Tigress and her cubs? It just means that you’ve won a prize that is a hundred times bigger than the largest Jackpot of Las Vegas! And I must say that I was super lucky to be one of those very few winners of this prize!
Here’s a short story about this wonderful experience that I’d like to share with you all.
It was 17th November 2015, and after 3 days of continuous tracking we finally got to see some fresh pugmarks near the river bank. It was low tide during that time of the day and chances of a tiger sighting becomes a bit high during low tides and ebb tides, and this fact did make us feel a bit optimistic.
We went close to the bank and tried to examine the pugmarks properly. And upon closer inspection, we noticed that there were pugmarks of three different individuals. Our guide and crew thought them to be of a female and two males who were in run for courtship. But to me, those pugmarks did not seem to be of three adults and I felt it were of a mother and her cubs. Sighting such a duo in Sunderbans is next to impossible, so I did not keep any expectation of such a sighting.
After following these pugmarks for around a hundred meters we saw that the tigers went down the bank and crossed the river to reach the opposite bank, where again the same fresh pugmarks could be seen. We quickly went towards the other bank and started to follow this new trail, and soon came across a big river channel ahead. As per the direction of the pugmarks, we were quite sure that the tigers had crossed the channel to reach the other bank as well.
After waiting there for around 10-15minutes we finally saw three little dots moving around near the banks far away….I quickly grabbed my Binocular and tried to focus far ahead to see what those dots were. And I was totally blown away after I saw what it was! It was one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever seen – My “Sunderban dream” of seeing a Tigress with her cubs was finally true!
The two cubs were busy playing with their mother near the river bank. We tried to go as close as possible, keeping in mind the safety of the cubs. But as our boat started, the cubs hurriedly ran towards their mother and all of them disappeared into the thickets.
We knew that they had to come out in order to cross the river, so we waited quietly for that moment and soon after a few minutes, the tigress and her cubs emerged out of the forest, came down to the river and started swimming. We witnessed this amazing moment where the three tigers swam across the river to reach the other bank. The mother kept on pushing her cubs to make them swim faster!
As soon as they were near the other bank, all of them quickly tried to get up on land and move towards the forest.
This was another spectacular moment that I witnessed, and it showed how strong the bond between a mother and child can be. The Tigress and one of her cubs had already left the water and were on land, but the second cub was still behind and a bit slow to come up. Seeing this, the mother quickly got back to the water and tried to push the cub out of the water.
This time they gave us a chance to come closer to the river bank and I was able to photograph them well!
Once they were all on land, we saw the gorgeous mother near the jungle, staring at the cubs who were still there near the water. She snarled and warned us not to come any closer to them!
After this sighting was over, I got extremely excited about my good fortune and decided to continue my safari for 12 more days. But this time the luck meter had fallen drastically 😛 Even after 11 days of continuous safaris, we did not came across a single tiger and things got worse on the last day when we missed a golden sighting by just half an hour! It was once again this mother and cubs trio who moved from the tourism zone to core zone. Their fresh pugmarks on the banks were the proof for that.
Nevertheless, this was undoubtedly a once in a million sighting for me and one of the most memorable experiences I have had in the wild. I will be sharing more such stories of my wild encounters from Sunderbans in this blog. Do follow my blog and stay tuned for more!