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The TAR Experience

During my first visit to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in the Chandrapur District of Maharashtra, I was impressed by its beauty. TATR is 142 km from Nagpur, which is about a 4-hour drive. It's also approximately 445 km from Hyderabad and only around 45 km from Chandrapur, the district headquarters, and nearest railway station. TATR was declared a National Park in 1955 and became a tiger reserve in 1995. 

 

Tadoba became famous for the battle that took place there about a year ago. A brave Sambhar deer fought with two tigers and a crocodile for 48 hours before finally falling to the king. Until last year, Tadoba was a prominent place for tiger sightings, and waterholes, also known as saucers, were built all along the TAR road, which was less than 50 meters away. This increased the possibility of sightings. Unfortunately, due to ever-increasing vehicle pressure and incidents of vehicles preventing animals from approaching waterholes, the forest department had to destroy these saucers and relocate them. 

 

The park has two prominent water bodies, Teliya Lake in Moharli Range and Tadoba Lake in Tadoba Range, which is filled with water almost throughout the year. Tadoba is the only Tiger Reserve that is open for visitors during the monsoon season, giving wildlife enthusiasts an opportunity to see the jungle at its best during the rains. 

 

However, this year, park officials decided to close all areas of the park post-15th July except for the 15 km TAR road that runs from Mohrali gate to the Tadoba barrier, right through the heart of the jungle. Vehicles are allowed to enter the park from Mohrali gate only, enter the Tadoba range through Khatoda gate, and return back the same way without any off-roading. While the logic given was that the roads were not motorable due to rain, it looked otherwise. However, we followed orders and named it the TAR experience. 

Although no one would like to photograph wild animals on TAR road, we were greedy and helpless and wished the entire fauna to camp on TAR road so that we could see them. We were still impressed by the jungle and super excited to venture into it even during the monsoon season. We were not disappointed during our first safari inside the park. Bright green leaves on trees were equally complemented by a green carpet on the ground. Bamboo thickets present along the roadside in abundance reduced visibility even further, but we still had hopes of sighting big cats, having heard about and seen pictures of Tadoba inhabitants frequenting the TAR road. 

We were lucky enough to see a pack of 7-8 wild dogs on the main road just outside the park, though the light was not good enough to manage a good image of these cruel hunters. The park is a good habitat for leopards, sloth bears, jungle cats, and more. The beauty of this jungle is being able to maintain its rawness intact despite ever-increasing pressure from a strong mining lobby active just outside the park boundary towards Chandrapur town. 

I was accompanied by stalwarts in their respective fields like Shivang Mehta, Sumantha Ghosh, and Rahis Bhai. The trip was full of excitement, learning, and laughter riots. If you wish to know more about TATR, write to me at anurag@tigerwalah.com.

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