By Amith Bhavikatti
Sighting a tiger in Kabini National Park of India is no less than any celebration. So many of you will vouch for Leopard sightings from Kabini, however, the tigers here do not bless us, the photographers so often.
It was some six years back, may be seven, photographers visiting Kabini came across a 'friendly tigress'. She is seen mostly around a particular water body and her gait is for die for. It is almost as if, she is out there to give us photo opportunities.
We named her TT (the Tiger Tank Tigress). She has turned the area in and around that water body, into her territory. Madame TT draws crowds to Kabini -- hitherto, famous for leopards.
This day was a clear hot summer afternoon. We were on a safari and headed straight towards the waterhole to check for tigers. It is not as if we do not enjoy the rest of the jungle, but sighting tigers in Kabini excites us.
A Secret: We will let you into a small joke doing rounds among the Indian wildlife photographers. "...if someone has recently come back from Kabini, a photo-exhibition on leopards is certainly on the cards! Do you know any such photographer?"
As we were approaching the road to the waterhole, we saw some movement near us. We stopped our vehicle, switched off the engine and before we could realise,a tiger head popped out a couple of times.
God Lord! It was actually resting in the water. We approached it slowly so that it becomes comfortable with our presence. Once she was comfortable and relaxed, she started enjoying the waters in the hot summer afternoon.
It was when TT decided to get up and walk away is when I captured it. The droplets of water dripping down from her was a sight in itself.
Oh yes, to answer the question, tiger simply love taking baths and keeping themselves cool during the warm days. They keep themselves soaked in the waters of lakes, streams and other water bodies. In fact, at times, they stay in the water for upto an hour.
However, they like to water neck-deep only! Just like some of us, tigers do not like water getting into their eyes. Actually, let us put it this way -- tigers hate water touching their eyes so much that they enter the water body backwards!
Once they are out of the water, they love the air/wind breezing through their body. The moment the water starts to wear off their body, they take a dip yet again!
TT has mothered three cubs and they are a reflection of her might and beauty. We have seen TT with her cubs as well. We have seen them together as one small happy family. Sadly, tigers grow up to claim territories and fight with their own siblings as well as parents. On the brighter note, may be, Kabini will be abuzz with tiger stories.