My fourth trip to Corbett TR happened almost after 5 years, my last visit to this place was in 2010. It was after the first day in the grasslands of Dhikala, I realised that things had changed after the cloudburst in Uttarakhand in 2013. The grasslands looked different, the ‘Tapu‘ which used to be there in Dhikala was now submerged under water.
It was a 4-day trip in April 2015, we had permits for 2 nights at the Sultan FRH and 1 night at the Gairal FRH. Sultan FRH is one of the last preferred rest houses by most people owing to its distance from Dhikala grasslands, lack of electricity and the absence of a canteen here. However, after having spent two nights here, I can vouch for this beautifully located FRH. The location is perfect with no fencing around (like all the other FRH), about one to two hours of solar power is available for battery charging etc., our driver doubled up as a cook in the evenings and ensured we got a perfect customised meal; what more can one ask for in a forest!
During this trip we managed to see about 110 birds, about 15 butterflies, 11 mammals, 4 reptiles. We were also lucky to have experienced tigers twice during this trip. Both these sightings gave us an adrenaline rush! Here is my FB link to some of the images from this trip (please click the link below to open the images)-
The first sighting we had was while driving back to Sultan FRH one evening. We encountered a male tiger walking towards us near Crocodile point. It was late in the evening and the sun had started to set down, this male tiger saw us on the road and quickly got into the nearby lantana thicket. He growled at us for a few minutes before he crossed the road and sat amongst the undergrowth. I could not manage a single image of this fellow, as the light conditions were very low.
The second sighting was a tigress attempting to make a kill at Dhikala grasslands.
Witnessing a tiger hunting sequence has been a dream for me. I witnessed something close to it this time…..an unsuccessful attempt to make a kill. A young tigress was resting amongst the grass under some dry trees in the Dhikala grassland. There was a herd of chitals that were grazing very close to her; they of course hadn’t realised the presence of a tiger amongst the grass blades. The tigress suddenly sprang up in an attempt to make a kill, however, the chitals fled in a jiffy and the tigress sat down in the midst of chitals planning for her next action. She waited there for another chance and made a second attempt when she found an isolated stag moving in front of her, but again this attempt was in vain.
The interesting part is post this second attempt, when the tigress headed back to her original place to rest, the chitals decided to follow her while their alarm calls were still on. I believe this following behaviour was to get an assurance of her location. Once she sat down to rest, the chitals resumed their grazing activity, though a bit far from the tigress this time.
Here is the video of this second attempt.