Bandhavgarh Tigers
Photographs from my visit to Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh, India) in March 2004.
Sometimes the tigers were visible from the road, but at other times the trackers had found them in the forest or grass meadows and we needed to use domesticated elephants to go 'off-road' and see them. Even though we were in the reserve for 6am each day, the tigers become relatively inactive soon after dawn and all of the animals we saw were either strolling around or resting.

Hanuman langur monkeys
These monkeys are very common in the Park, and are potential tiger food, but would only be a snack!  The monkeys have a special relationship with the spotted deer (see below), and the two species are often found together. The monkeys have better vision than the deer, whilst the deer have a better sense of smell, and they use each others' alarm calls to avoid being caught by tigers and other predators.

Spotted deer or chital
These deer were quite tolerant of us in our jeeps, and seemed relaxed during the day when the tigers were resting. As well as taking advantage of the langur monkeys' excellent vision, the deer graze below the trees where the monkeys feed and pick up the fresh leaves which they carelessly drop from above.

Sambar deer
These deer were much less tolerant of the jeeps and more difficult to photograph. Although they are a lot bigger than the spotted deer, they are still hunted by the tigers, and the loud alarm call 'bark' of a sambar is the surest sign that a tiger is nearby. Because the tigers are so well camouflaged, listening for alarm calls is the best way to find them.

Northern or five-striped palm squirrel
We saw these squirrels in the forest, but like a lot of squirrel species they have adapted to live in close proximity to humans. This one was on a tree outside my room at the resort.

Wild boar
We often saw wild boar near the water holes, where they drink and wallow. They are hunted by the tigers, but like all pigs they have a varied diet and will themselves kill small deer. One group we saw on the open plain had made such a kill, hence the presence of a large group of vultures in the background.
Asian elephants
Elephants are not found in the wild in Madhya Pradesh, but domesticated animals are used to track the tigers and then to take the tourists 'off-road'. We visited some of the elephants (including a 6 month old baby) at their bath time, and then fed them extra-large chapatis which they love! The elephants aren't just a way for the human tiger-trackers to get around the forest - they can use their sense of smell to seek out the tigers, and one of the elephants at Bandhavgarh is a particular expert at this.

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Last updated 3 September 2007