Journey to seek out the elusive wild tiger

After traveling over 5000 miles to reach the Indian subcontinent, we finally land in Mumbai. Another short flight takes us closer to the world famous Bandhavgarh National Park.

 Two of the best places to seek out the tiger include the world famous Bandhavgarh National Park and an emerging park known as Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve.

Two of the best places to seek out the tiger include the world famous Bandhavgarh National Park and an emerging park known as Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve.

 Moving through the cities, we see many stray dogs struggling for existence. This one was fortunately, asleep.

Moving through the cities, we see many stray dogs struggling for existence. This one was fortunately, asleep.

 For me, this image shows the problem with modern day India. Money is being invested in new skyscrapers, but people below struggle to exist in small shacks and sheds. I remember thinking, what hope is there for wildlife, if we can't even take care of our own kind?

For me, this image shows the problem with modern day India. Money is being invested in new skyscrapers, but people below struggle to exist in small shacks and sheds. I remember thinking, what hope is there for wildlife, if we can't even take care of our own kind?

 Moving out of the city and into the countryside, we reach the buffer forests. Here is the first real sign of the tigers domain. Within the buffer zones, many people live, and villages have settled.

Moving out of the city and into the countryside, we reach the buffer forests. Here is the first real sign of the tigers domain. Within the buffer zones, many people live, and villages have settled.

 However, the contrast as soon as you enter the national parks is almost spectacular. Bandhavgarh, and Tadoba are ancient forests that hold some of the last wild tigers.

However, the contrast as soon as you enter the national parks is almost spectacular. Bandhavgarh, and Tadoba are ancient forests that hold some of the last wild tigers.

 Tadoba is famous for its beautiful lakes...

Tadoba is famous for its beautiful lakes...

 ...and lush bamboo woven forests. IT is against these beautiful backdrops that I hoped to photograph the tiger.

...and lush bamboo woven forests. IT is against these beautiful backdrops that I hoped to photograph the tiger.

 Rising up at 5am to comb through the forest was an enriching, and exciting experience. Even though our cars suspension took a battering through the uneven roads.

Rising up at 5am to comb through the forest was an enriching, and exciting experience. Even though our cars suspension took a battering through the uneven roads.

 This is the beautiful Rajbhera meadow in Bandhavgarh. The area is home to the beautiful Rajbhera tigress who I hoped to glimpse in this beautiful landscape.

This is the beautiful Rajbhera meadow in Bandhavgarh. The area is home to the beautiful Rajbhera tigress who I hoped to glimpse in this beautiful landscape.

 At the foot of the Bandhavgarh plateau lies an ancient statue of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of life. It is fitting that the water flows through him and onto the rest of the park. IT is this water that not only fills the waterholes for the animals, but is also absorbed into the land and fills the wells of the poorest of the poor.

At the foot of the Bandhavgarh plateau lies an ancient statue of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of life. It is fitting that the water flows through him and onto the rest of the park. IT is this water that not only fills the waterholes for the animals, but is also absorbed into the land and fills the wells of the poorest of the poor.

 We made a point to capture the beauty of all the flora and fauna of the parks, as the story bring told is not only of the tiger. Here is a beautiful Golden Orb spider, that weaves webs almost 2m wide.

We made a point to capture the beauty of all the flora and fauna of the parks, as the story bring told is not only of the tiger. Here is a beautiful Golden Orb spider, that weaves webs almost 2m wide.

 A beautiful Beeater keeps us company in the heat of the day.

A beautiful Beeater keeps us company in the heat of the day.

 KIngfisher's also bring colour, beauty and song to the forest.

KIngfisher's also bring colour, beauty and song to the forest.

 A Chital deer basks in a spotlight whilst listening out for tell tell signs of danger.

A Chital deer basks in a spotlight whilst listening out for tell tell signs of danger.

 We were fortunate to find a rare family of Dhole in Tadoba and spend a significant time period with the.

We were fortunate to find a rare family of Dhole in Tadoba and spend a significant time period with the.

 A special moment, my first glimpse of a wild leopard after many years of searching.

A special moment, my first glimpse of a wild leopard after many years of searching.

 Up to this point the journey had been pure bliss, apart from one thing. Where were the tigers? WE came across many a sign like the above in both national parks.

Up to this point the journey had been pure bliss, apart from one thing. Where were the tigers? WE came across many a sign like the above in both national parks.

 We could hear them calling in the early hours, but they chose to remain hidden from view.

We could hear them calling in the early hours, but they chose to remain hidden from view.

 We would find scratch marks on trees.

We would find scratch marks on trees.

 Footprints over our tyre marks. It was as is the cats were taunting us.

Footprints over our tyre marks. It was as is the cats were taunting us.

 But finally our efforts paid off on a cold foggy morning, we found our first wild tiger. TRuly breathtaking.

But finally our efforts paid off on a cold foggy morning, we found our first wild tiger. TRuly breathtaking.

 She emerged briefly further up the reserve leaving me with a vivid memory of her presence.

She emerged briefly further up the reserve leaving me with a vivid memory of her presence.

 In Tadoba, we came across one of the dominant males by the main lake.

In Tadoba, we came across one of the dominant males by the main lake.

 However, this became the greatest sighting of the trip. A beautiful female tigress in the jungle of Bandhavgarh. For me this image shows the value of tigers to people and also the value of people to the tiger.

However, this became the greatest sighting of the trip. A beautiful female tigress in the jungle of Bandhavgarh. For me this image shows the value of tigers to people and also the value of people to the tiger.

 She was immune to our presence and marked her territory, checking the strength of her previous marks.

She was immune to our presence and marked her territory, checking the strength of her previous marks.

 Eventually, she sat down for a rest.

Eventually, she sat down for a rest.

 In Tadoba, we caught a glimpse of the tigress named Sonam as she drank before a night of hunting.

In Tadoba, we caught a glimpse of the tigress named Sonam as she drank before a night of hunting.

 However, I was fortunate to witness a beautiful moment, as the setting sun broke through the bamboo and lit the face of a wild tigress as we watched in awe.

However, I was fortunate to witness a beautiful moment, as the setting sun broke through the bamboo and lit the face of a wild tigress as we watched in awe.

 Eventually the time in India came to an end.

Eventually the time in India came to an end.

 What I learned is that the tiger does have a future in India, even though times have been difficult to say the least.

What I learned is that the tiger does have a future in India, even though times have been difficult to say the least.

 The appeal of a beautiful city at night...

The appeal of a beautiful city at night...

 Did not compete with a star lit jungle, where the last wild tigers still roam and call home.

Did not compete with a star lit jungle, where the last wild tigers still roam and call home.

 to be continued...

to be continued...

If we protect the tiger, we protect its habitat, its prey species and all other fauna and flora which in turn benefits us. The last forests not only give us the air we breathe, but the water we drink. The reserves act as giant sponges, absorbing rainwater which feeds the poorest of the poor further down the chain. The tiger is therefore not only an iconic species, but also an umbrella species. To save all... save just one...