Ranthambhore in the Rains

Unlike some of the other places that I’ve lived in, where people see rain as an intrusion and a temporary inconvenience in their lives, Indians tend to celebrate rain, perhaps like no other nationality. The ominous darkening of the monsoon skies, the lashing winds and the heady smell of the earth as it gets pounded by meaty raindrops stirs most of us into a state of exhilaration & romance, a kind of temporary madness. To get soaking wet, to dance and play in this weather comes naturally to most of us.

Ranthambhore rainscape

The lush green Lahpur valley of Ranthambhore

For me this June was the very first time I got to experience the monsoon season in Ranthambhore. That Ranthambhore is a magical place any time of the year is a given. But dial into it the monsoon season, and it becomes one of nature’s greatest roller-coaster rides.

Tigers dancing, playing, stalking & hunting in the downpour, hiding and cowering from claps of thunder & lighting, the spectacular vistas covered in emerald green, cloaked by black thunderheads above, this was a first of its kind experience for me, even though from a photography-standpoint it wasn’t perfect. Leaky tarps, fogged lenses, poor light were constant challenges, but was it one of my best ever trips to Ranthambhore? You bet!

wet tiger stand up ©

A young tiger is looking for a way to escape from thunder & lighting

wet cub in the rain long shot ©

drenched

Wet cub copy ©

A huge clap of thunder makes her just cower under a tree, shaking with nervousness.

tigers rain dances 3 ©

playing tag in a downpur

tiger on wet ledge ©

now that I’m wet, there’s no point trying not to be..

tiger leap in the rain ©

propulsion

rain tiger thru the tree

A tiger at full speed is a sight to behold

reflection pool

mirror, mirror, on the ground..

tiger in the rain ©

my best shot of the trip

rain dance ©

here I come..

Tiger Crimes

t24 on bridge alt flp ©

Sitting in Washington, but thinking of Ranthambhore and all the time I’ve spent with T24, easily one of the most magnificent life forms ever designed by Nature.
Today he sits squarely in the middle of a raging controversy with many baying for his blood and an equal number championing his innocence.
4 people are dead because of him in the past few years. Unregulated forest areas, ill equipped forest guards, over zealous tourism, insensitive locals, India’s over population and indeed T24’s man eating tendencies are all under blame & vicious attack on this heated issue.
While better-qualified agencies decide on a verdict, which most likely is to be his removal to a largish enclosure near Udaipur, larger questions about the survival and management of our tiny little ‘dots’ of wilderness remain unanswered.

Dominant tigers are supposed to defend their territory. Against anything that is construed to be a potential threat. He has supposedly stalked his victims. Not defending but predatory behavior. A man-killer in today’s world evokes angry retaliation by locals. Poisonings, which end up killing many more tigers (often the wrong ones, often entire families), threats to the Forest Departments and other serious law & order situations.

T24, guilty or not guilty? Either way, it is human beings that will decide his fate. Somehow it doesn’t seem entirely fair that only the representatives of the victims will pass a verdict, but that is how she rolls. Maybe T24 has to go in order to keep the many others in clover.

“Many that live deserves death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” ~ Tolkien

A very sad day, any way you look at it, and with no easy answers. RIP, forest guard, Rampal Saini