A wild safari in Bandipur

Bandipur, one of India’s finest tiger reserves, offers much to the discerning wildlife enthusiast. If you keep your senses on high alert and your camera at the ready, many are the precious opportunities that will come your way. Bandipur is about 80 km from Mysore (about 230 km from Bangalore). Accommodation is available at the forest guest houses inside the park as well as at the government-run Jungle Lodges and Resorts hotel just outside the park gates.

Rajani Chand is a Bangalore-based nature lover and wildlife photographer. He started with a Canon Fixed Focus Film Compact in his school days, slowly moved to Sony DSC-P100 when Digital Photography started making an impact, and then upgraded to Sony DSC-H1. His first DSLR was Nikon D-40x. He now uses a Nikon D-300S, one of the most robust Nikon cameras used in wildlife photography. Discover his work on Flickr and Facebook

<b>Grey Francolin</b><br><br>This was our first sighting of wildlife as we reached our camping site at JLR, Bandipur. A couple of these birds were feeding on grain on the roadside. Francolins are shy by nature and this was the only decent shot I could make. They became alert as I stopped the car slowly and, before I could make a second shot, they hid in the bushes.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Grey Francolin

This was our first sighting of wildlife as we reached our camping site at JLR, Bandipur. A couple of these birds were feeding on grain on the roadside. Francolins are shy by nature and this was the only decent shot I could make. They became alert as I stopped the car slowly and, before I could make a second shot, they hid in the bushes.
<b>Male Chital or Spotted Deer </b><br><br>Spotted Deer are a common sighting in Bandipur. Not many know that the name Chital came from the Bengali word “chitral”, which means spotted.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Male Chital or Spotted Deer

Spotted Deer are a common sighting in Bandipur. Not many know that the name Chital came from the Bengali word “chitral”, which means spotted.
<b>Green Bee Eater </b><br><br>The first day, deep within the forest. No sighting of wild animals for a long time. We waited for about 45 minutes to an hour at spots where there was a high probability of seeing big cats but no luck. It was then this beautiful bird came near our jeep and sat on a log. It is a common resident in the outskirts of Bangalore city. But I felt it was posing for me and didn’t want to disappoint.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Green Bee Eater

The first day, deep within the forest. No sighting of wild animals for a long time. We waited for about 45 minutes to an hour at spots where there was a high probability of seeing big cats but no luck. It was then this beautiful bird came near our jeep and sat on a log. It is a common resident in the outskirts of Bangalore city. But I felt it was posing for me and didn’t want to disappoint.
<b>Sambar Deer </b><br><br>According to our guide, Sambar deer is the favorite prey of the tiger.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Sambar Deer

According to our guide, Sambar deer is the favorite prey of the tiger.
<b>Indian Gaur</b><br><br>People mistakenly refer to this large bovid as Indian Bison, when it is in reality the Indian Gaur, the largest wild member of the ox family in India.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Indian Gaur

People mistakenly refer to this large bovid as Indian Bison, when it is in reality the Indian Gaur, the largest wild member of the ox family in India.
<b>Hiding behind Mom </b><br><br>The title says it all!
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Hiding behind Mom

The title says it all!
<b>Tiger finding its way to the lake </b><br><br>Such a majestic animal! The moment it was spotted everyone in the jeep whispered “Tiger!” and there was a deep silence the next moment. No one could tear his or her eyes away from him.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Tiger finding its way to the lake

Such a majestic animal! The moment it was spotted everyone in the jeep whispered “Tiger!” and there was a deep silence the next moment. No one could tear his or her eyes away from him.
<b>Chital with decorated antlers </b><br><br>Male chitals decorate antlers with grass and leaves to attract females during the mating season.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Chital with decorated antlers

Male chitals decorate antlers with grass and leaves to attract females during the mating season.
<b>Chitals testing power </b><br><br>This is a mock fight between young, male chitals to test power.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Chitals testing power

This is a mock fight between young, male chitals to test power.
<b>Male leopard </b><br><br>Leopards are shy animals. This one gave us just a few seconds to shoot. It was crossing the mud road and paused there for a few seconds looking at us. Alas, I wasn't able to make a decent shot of it. The next moment it dashed into the bushes and climbed to the next level of inclination and sat on this safe lookout, still looking deep into our eyes, very much alert. A few more seconds and he just vanished into the forest. The lighting wasn't helpful and it was a pain to focus through the bushes.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Male leopard

Leopards are shy animals. This one gave us just a few seconds to shoot. It was crossing the mud road and paused there for a few seconds looking at us. Alas, I wasn't able to make a decent shot of it. The next moment it dashed into the bushes and climbed to the next level of inclination and sat on this safe lookout, still looking deep into our eyes, very much alert. A few more seconds and he just vanished into the forest. The lighting wasn't helpful and it was a pain to focus through the bushes.
<b>I’m coming! </b><br><br>I loved the expression and every single movement of his body when he entered the scene, ending a long wait.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
I’m coming!

I loved the expression and every single movement of his body when he entered the scene, ending a long wait.
<b>Nature mirror </b><br><br>I feel sorry for having the grass spoil the beauty of the reflection in the water. Unfortunately, I didn't have much space to move around to try different angles from a jeep.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Nature mirror

I feel sorry for having the grass spoil the beauty of the reflection in the water. Unfortunately, I didn't have much space to move around to try different angles from a jeep.
<b>Tiger on diet? </b><br><br>This is not manipulated by post processing. Spot-billed Ducks were fearless and swimming very close to the carnivore. A tiger kills only for food and hunts about 53 times a year on average, which is about once a week. Every kill is a result of 10 to 20 trials. Once it kills it will feed on the prey for a week.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Tiger on diet?

This is not manipulated by post processing. Spot-billed Ducks were fearless and swimming very close to the carnivore. A tiger kills only for food and hunts about 53 times a year on average, which is about once a week. Every kill is a result of 10 to 20 trials. Once it kills it will feed on the prey for a week.
<b>Male tiger </b><br><br>We spotted him as he was enjoying the natural jacuzzi in the forest. He hardly minded a few humans admiring his beauty just a few meters from him.
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Male tiger

We spotted him as he was enjoying the natural jacuzzi in the forest. He hardly minded a few humans admiring his beauty just a few meters from him.
<b>Changeable Hawk Eagle with kill</b><br><br>After the last safari of the sequence we were coming out of the jungle and crossed the place where the leopard was spotted the previous day. Suddenly, I saw this big bird on a tree next to the mud road. Its crest was visible and I whispered to the driver to stop. As I started focusing on the bird I realized there was a bonus – the bird was with a kill!
Travel Wildlife Bandipur
Changeable Hawk Eagle with kill

After the last safari of the sequence we were coming out of the jungle and crossed the place where the leopard was spotted the previous day. Suddenly, I saw this big bird on a tree next to the mud road. Its crest was visible and I whispered to the driver to stop. As I started focusing on the bird I realized there was a bonus – the bird was with a kill!

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