Amith Bhavikatti

Tales from the Jungle

Bettada Rani

In Bandipura a huge female known as the Bettada Katte female lives in the hilly regions of Moolapura. Since this region is located close to the forest camps,she has been noticed by several forest officials at the camps. Usually in safaris, the tracking of  animals is done with the help of pug marks and scenting smells and or with the help of kills.

We came across some pug marks of a male and female tiger near the concerned region. We heard that a few vehicles had had a glimpse of this Tigress early morning.

To be frank, luck plays a major role and patience does not pay it’s dividends so soon . So, we thought of trying our luck at the fag end of the safari. We reached the place and saw a vehicle waiting ,but they left the scene after a few minutes. We  heard alarm calls of barking deer, but it was too far to judge the presence. I asked the driver to go to the  back of the Moolapura lake region and then approach, as the tigress is very shy and will definitely come once we move from here.  And as we came near the lake , suddenly the driver shouted “Sir! tiger near lake.” When the driver shouts “Tiger”, the heart beats so hard and our eyes begin to search for the stripes in that rush of excitement. At last, our luck and patience has paid off, with a the glimpse of the elusive tigress. There she was, frozen in position looking at us, owing to her being shy.  I in turn had told the driver to switch off the jeep engine and be calm. There was a profound and silent communication that happened between us for few seconds, as she sat on the banks of the lake when we switched off our vehicle. By this time, we had positioned ourselves and captured a few beautiful images. She was very shy and looking straight into us. I had asked the driver not to move the jeep, until she feels comfortable with us. Going by her physique, she is very huge, built strong and looked as big as a male tiger. She may have been born and bought up in the core area,and she looks like she was in heat and hence came down in search of a mate.  This is such a awe inspiring moment to see a tigress, who is one day, going to rule the region of Bandipur by her sheer beauty and size. She,is the new mate for Tiger Prince hence I call her as Bettada Rani ( The Queen of the Hills).

As our vehicle was turned on as our safari time was  ending, she just got up and ran inside the bushes, she is too shy and may need months to be comfortable with the tourist vehicles. This is the first full fledged sighting on this female tigress by JLR vehicle or even the Forest Dept. tourism vehicles.These such moments in the wild can never be described in words. My thanks to the Team JLR for tracking this.

The gorgeous gaze  from the woods

Location: Kabini

Date: 04/12/16, 4:57:58 PM

If you happen to ask any wildlife photographer, their love for the last safari they do on every wildlife tour is immense. The last safari of every tour leaves a very vivid connection and long lasting memory for every photographer, because you are bound to expect the unexpected while going through the trail paths with eyes and ears wide open hearing some wild calls happening or not.

It was like this, that I experienced an awesome moment which is a dream for every wildlife photographer worth his salt  I boarded the safari vehicle, with the camera gear all set to fire away continuously. I was looking through the window (as it was my last safari of the tour) hoping to desperately sight  a leopard or Black leopard(which eludes me still), this desperation made me scan all the trees and the bushes out there with my ears wide open too. As we were going through the trail path, I came across a huge tail perching itself on the tree. We had many encounters to mistaken the identity as a Langur’s Tail, ever since this desperation and last safari came into my mind. I had to request the driver to come back to check and to my surprise my dividends had been paid off by the nature. It was a BOLD MALE LEOPARD perched beautifully on a tree which is a dream for every wildlife photographer. . True to its name, Kabini – The Land of Leopards lived up to its title once again.As usual, Shutter sounds all over from the vehicles nearby. The way he was sitting is a dream position to describe; he was indeed using his paws as its cushion. In wildlife, there are many circumstances where you might encounter three different types of situations. They are

Thanks to the driver (who we forget always to compliment us for staging us), who kept us in such a wonderful position for the photographers in the vehicle to get a glimpse of the BOLD MALE LEOPARD with an effective essence of beautiful evening light. I have managed few good shots for the viewers as well.

After a while,  sensing the disturbances with the shutter music, Mr. Bold eventually got down from the tree and vanished in the bushes. Thanks for an unforgettable evening Kabini. Thus, Kabini never ever disappoints.

A Wake Up Call In the Wild

Location: Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

Date: 08/05/2016, 6:52:33 AM

Camera Info: Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 F5.6

Metadata: Focal length- 500mm, Aperture- F/11,

Shutter Speed – 1/250sec, ISO – 500, Exposure (-0.33)

Every wildlife photographer or enthusiast would always love to see the spots of a leopard  or stripes of the tigers in each of the safaris he goes on. But, people always forget the beauty of our National bird and the very common spotted deer. Beauty lies within each with of these creatures in a unique way. It’s on a very early summer morning in the very famous Bandipur Tiger Reserve that I realized this.

As usual, we were tracking a male tiger which was spotted by few locals in the area called Moolapura, But we were very unlucky to have not spotted the striped spectre in that area. After some failed attempts, we were desperately looking for some decent shots with the other creatures that were in the wild. With dappled sun light in the early morning playing its role ever beautifully in the fog, this was further enhanced by the presence of our National Bird.

Credits to the driver for stopping the vehicle in such a convenient position for me to capture this beautiful sight  alongwith the mystical golden light filtering through the fog.  As I loved and made some sufficient attempts to be little different from the other photographers to showcase it.

Since, I wanted the fog also I played with my technical differentiations to show the depth of the shot. That paid of well in enhacing the overall effect of this shot!

Thanks to the unsung hero behind the scenes for placing us in the correct position. Further, the light & the sheer effect on a beautiful foggy morning made my day. Truly

Peacocks are such beautiful birds to photograph!

Close encounter with the Prince

Location: Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

Date: 10/09/16, 8:21:42 AM

Camera Info: Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 F5.6

Metadata: Focal length- 200mm, Aperture- F/5.6,

Shutter Speed – 1/1000sec, ISO – 1000, Exposure (-0.33)

Ever since, my journey as a wildlife photographer started, I have come across a lot of tigers and leopards in my path. But, the day with the Boldest of them all was an eye opener to me. According to me, this tiger is one of the  “BOLDEST” male tigers in the whole of South India.  He covers a very large territory in Bandipur tourism zone and  doesn’t even bother the presence of the tourists. He also has a history of killing many tigers in their territorial fights .

This trip was the most amazing trip that I went on with the BWP (Bangalore Wildlife Photographers), a group which was led by Mr. Praveen Siddannavar, a gem of a  person with abundant knowledge; we all were riding on his luck to sight this huge tiger “Prince”,

The Bold creature walked along with the jeeps for more than an hour. He was very desperate to hunt and stalked a couple of deer and also made an unsuccessful attempt to kill a Gaur. He was just 2-7 feet away from us; we could have touched him if we had extended our hand (he was that close). He was looking very pale and was hungry too, but these things weren’t  a bother to him as he still

carried himself with his trademark charisma and attitude. Many a time he stared right into the camera. One could call it as our sheer luck or the effect of Mr.Praveen’s luck rubbing off on us; and then all of a sudden, the Prince turned and started walking towards us, looking straight into the camera for few seconds.

Making eye contact staring eye to eye with the majestic royalty of the forest through my viewfinder, has always been my dream date with the Boldest. He is really bold and handsome even though he is aged now. This tiger has lived his  life royally and still continues to do so. Hence, he is called “Prince”.

The Princely nap

Location: Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

Date: 11/09/16, 6:11:29 PM

Camera Info: Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 F5.6

Metadata: Focal length- 500mm, Aperture- F/5.6,

Shutter Speed – 1/500sec, ISO – 4000, Exposure (-0.33)

Many photographers dream of shooting a very good

series in their life as a photographer. One such moment which I enjoyed personally, is from the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, where the Tiger named “Prince” had made a kill, ate his fill, and had come water to waterhole for taking some rest. As we say,

“Information is vital”, we got information from one of the vehicle drivers that “Prince” was spotted sitting in water and he moved out after seeing the vehicle. We went in search of him; we searched near the lake area and heard few calls from Langur and there was a pungent scent in the air too. We thought he might be resting deep inside the bushes and lingered in the area for a while, suddenly there was a sound of rustling leaves coming from the bushes, we thought the Tiger is pulling the kill near to the waterhole so that it would be easy for his next meal. We instantly turned  our vehicle and parked near the water hole. We waited for almost 45minutes in the vehicle and then somebody whispered… “Tiger…Tiger..”, we were fully alert in an instant. There he was, very far, rolling down on the ground trying to get rid of the pesky  flies on his back. He got up and then started walking straight towards the water hole, head-on, staring straight in to the cameras. He then turned and then put his hind legs & tummy in to the water first, comfortably settling  in to a position to relax and drink the water. We had seen on TV that tigers, known for their hunting skills, need lot of water content as their body heat increases drastically after making a kill and ingesting the raw flesh. The tigers prefer resting in the shade in a pool of water in order to  lower their body temperature and aid in digestion of their meal . It was one insane experience witnessing it with our own eyes.

Sonum’s Male Cub head on

Location: Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserver, Maharastra

Date: 20/11/16, 9:28:42 AM

Camera Info: Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 F5.6

Metadata: Focal length- 500mm, Aperture- F/5.6,  Shutter Speed – 1/4000sec, ISO – 800, Exposure (-0.33)

In my personal opinion, Tadoba is a dream destination for an avid tiger enthusiast. If Kabini is called the land of leopards, then Tadoba can be called the land of tigers. Isn’t it a good competition between the stripes and the spots?

It was in the month of November, 2016. What we had expected to be a normal safari, turned out to be a dream safari for all of us. We were hoping to sight one of the cubs from the tigress called “Sonam” also  known as the “Queen of Teliya” from the land of Tigers, “Tadoba”. We were waiting in its territory to catch a glimpse of the cubs with the tad bit of information that it was spotted by some safari jeeps in the early morning. We waited for nearly 30 minutes in the area… with only the cacophony of jungle noises permeating the atmosphere…

And as the saying goes “Patience always pays-off”, we were dazzled by the mesmerising sight of one of the famed cubs. There he was, sitting beside one of the bushes by the roadside. We then drove our jeep all around to come to the perfect spot, where one the cubs of the Teliya Queen was giving us an opportunity to get that dream shot of every wildlife photographer i.e., Head-on as we call it.  After a while, getting bored of the crowd of avid wildlife enthusiasts and photographers,he turned and walked towards the bushes, to join his mother and her other cubs that were said to be resting inside the bushes. At this point of time, I reiterated the fact to myself that “Patience always does pay off”.

Tiger cub burning bright

Location: Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan

Date: 19/04/2015, 7:44:00 AM

Camera Info: Nikon D610, Nikkor 300MM F4 with 1.4x TC

Metadata: Focal length- 420mm, Aperture- F/5.6,
Shutter Speed – 1/1600 sec, ISO – 1000, Exposure (-0.33)

A very famous quote by Matshona Dhliwayo, “The tigers cannot afford to care about what sheep think”. flashes in my mind very vividly whenever someone mentions Ranthambore  It was in the month of April, 2015, I had backpacked to one of the astonishing tiger reserves in the land of India, “The Ranthambore”. That butterflies in the stomach feeling you get, due to the excitement, the thrill that you are on a safari that most people just dream of… If you ask any serious wildlife photographer, his dream would be to photograph or witness a tiger making a kill…  so is mine, as I am no different than the others. Finally, the safari began and we were given an information that the cubs of the famous Tigress, Krishna’s (T-19 ) cubs were on the hunt…

So, we proceeded towards the area they were spotted in, but too late, they had made their first kill in the Sacred jungles of Ranthambore and we had missed their first kill by a margin of just 10 scant minutes …

The cubs had made a kill and had eaten a small fawn in the early morning hours and were very active, walking all over the area near the kill.

By then, one of the other cubs had been stalking  a wild boar which happened to be on the other side of the tall grass. And as it was not confident enough, it restrained itself and just sat under the small tree and was waiting patiently for its siblings to join in the hunt. At this moment, I had noticed the unique pose of the adolescent tiger sitting and waiting for its siblings, communicating with them through its eyes and I had to get that shot.

After re-grouping, the cubs slowly began stalking the boar from the cover of the tall grass, but sensing the presence of the tigers, the boar turned tail and ran in the other direction. Then, the cubs came towards a nearby pond and began their playful frolicking in the shade. Such an amazing experience this happened to be and it did enthrall our nerves in such a playful hunting mood. This was one such moment to cherish for everyone, from the land of  Ranthambore.

Tiger sibling love

Location: Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan

Date: 19/04/15,7:59:54 AM

Camera Info: Nikon D610, Nikkor 300MM F4 with 1.4x TC

Metadata: Focal length- 420mm, Aperture- F/5.6,  Shutter Speed – 1/1000 sec, ISO – 1000, Exposure (-0.33)

“Our paths may change as life goes on, but the bond between us remains forever strong”.  Whether it’s in the wild or here, the love towards  siblings remains constant as always.

The Bengal Tiger is among the most gorgeous animals on earth. These were the T-19 (Krishna) cubs. The cubs, just bonding and playing with each other with soft nuzzles and mock battles. after their first successful hunt .A testament to sibling bonding in the wild, expressing their childish playful nature, An unforgettable experience being able to witness such a moment only a privileged few get to witness in the wild! The cubs were very adorable, giving us all sorts of expressions and really not bothered about  who was watching them.

Fight to mate

Location: Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

Date: 23/02/15, 4:46:04 PM

Camera Info: Nikon D610, Nikkor 300MM

Metadata: Focal length- 300mm, Aperture- F/4,  Shutter Speed – 1/2000 sec, ISO – 2000, Exposure (-0.67)

The peacock is among the most attractive creatures on the planet. In various cultures, peacock feathers symbolize various things. They are easy to collect because they shed them naturally every year during the moulting season.Employing just a little creativity you can definitely make it even more appealing to the eye and the tongue. It’s thought to bring excellent health and protection.

It was on the evening safari in the very famous Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka. We were about to pass by a dry area, where we saw that two peacocks  were circling each other. Thus, we stopped for a while to check if it’s a mating fight and indeed it was!

It happened right in front of our eyes, one on other every time, this resurgent action happened only for 2secs. But, still I wasn’t able to get a good shot.

During the fight, I happened to get one shot of a peacock looking at me and wavering, correcting its direction in mid- air. It was a true delight to my eyes. Loved that second in creation, being able to witness this moment and also loved the feathers in the golden light which happened to be look more vivid and in the golden evening light.

Green bee-eater pair

Location: Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

Date: 10/09/16, 7:32:33 AM

Camera Info: Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 F5.6

Metadata: Focal length- 500mm, Aperture- F/5.6,  Shutter Speed – 1/200sec, ISO – 640, Exposure (-0.33)

To observe a wide range of birds you need to climb! No captive birds are released into the wild, and no releases are proposed or will probably occur in the not too distant future. The Passenger Pigeon isn’t without friends. Passenger pigeons are among the most startling instances of modern-day extinction. There are 26 unique species of bee-eaters. You ought to know that various species of ants eat various types of foods. Bee-eaters reside in flocks and are rather sociable. It is just focused on bee-eaters and thus there’s enough room to ramble on several topics of interest, including taxonomic choices. Bee-eaters are quite catholic in their habitat.

We usually and most commonly neglect birds in forests as our concentration always lies on the big cats, as we were passing by a junction and  happened to come across some fresh Leopard pug marks on the road. To our right, there were two bee-eaters which were beautifully perched with a lovely green background. I desperately wanted to take some good shots before this pair of  bee eaters flew away.

I lined up my camera and clicked some pictures to my heart’s content!

The Dhole

Location: Monsoon, Nagarahole National Park (Rajiv Gandhi National Park), Kabini, Karnataka

Season: 04/06/2015, 8:19:08 AM

Camera Info: Nikon D610, Nikkor 300MM F4 with 1.4x TC

Metadata: Focal length- 420mm, Aperture- F/5.6,  Shutter Speed – 1/640 sec, ISO – 900, Exposure (-0.33)

The dhole (Cuon alpinus) a canid native to Central, South and Southeast Asia. Other English names for the species include Asiatic wild dog,Indian wild dog,whistling dog, red wolf(not to be confused with Canis rufus), red dog,and mountain wolf. The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans without rigid dominance hierarchies. and containing multiple breeding females. Such clans usually consist of 12 individuals, but groups of over 40 are known.It is a diurnal pack hunter which preferentially targets medium and large sized ungulates.In tropical forests, the dhole competes with tigers and leopards, targeting somewhat different prey species, but still with substantial dietary overlap.

This was shot in early monsoons in Kabini – The Land which is vividly known for Leopards. There was a slight drizzle in the early morning and we were near the pristine area of the forest called “Sunkadakatte”. Suddenly we saw this pack of wild dogs/Dhole also called as the Whistling Hunters were on the prowl in search of  prey .

It was a beautiful weather. the rains had just stopped, and there was water all over the road with the scent of fresh rain on earth permeating the atmosphere. Suddenly, one of the Dhole or Hunters from the pack turned and looked for something and I certainly used this opportunity to get this shot of the Dhole ,along with the habitat, weather, in the wild.

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