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    Link 7


    A young male tiger calmly stares at the camera in Kanha National Park, India.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF600mm f/4L IS II USM +2.0x at 1200 mm, 1/100 sec at f/10, ISO 400

    We found this tiger on the far side of a large water hole on our second day in Kanha National Park. Our naturalist and jeep driver, Vinod Ayam, immediately recognized the cat as Link 7, a young male who had recently been spending time in the vicinity while trying to avoid several mature (and dominant) male tigers. Link 7 was named after a road in the park that was at the epicenter of his mother’s territory when he was born.

    After a few minutes Link 7 walked slowly to the water’s edge, waded into the water, plopped down to cool himself, and began drinking while continuing his soak. After he’d drunk his fill, he got up and briefly patrolled the earthen bank between the water hole and road before lying down on the bank right in front of us. Everything he did was in slow motion. No wonder — even though it was still morning, the temperature was climbing rapidly towards the day’s high of 110°F (43°C), making it one of Kanha’s hottest days of the year.

    He was completely at ease in our presence, despite the fact that half-a-dozen jeeps were being repositioned just yards away from him in order to give their occupants a better viewing angle. Our jeep was positioned perfectly, and I relished the opportunity to capture a frame-filling portrait of this tiger’s striking face. We spent nearly an hour with Link 7 before his siesta was rudely interrupted by the approach of one of the aforementioned dominant males. When Link 7 became aware that Rajaram, was nearing the water hole, he ran off in the opposite direction in a hurry, leaving all notions of slow-motion movement (literally) in the dust!

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    A tigress on her way to water stops and stares in central India's Bandhavgarh National Park.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF600mm f/4L IS II USM at 600 mm, 1/500 sec at f/4, ISO 800

    Alison and I returned home last week from a trip to two of India’s best National Parks for tiger sightings. Before leaving, we weren’t even sure that we’d be lucky enough to see a single tiger, given the fact that tigers spend a large fraction of their time in dense jungle and tend to be more active at night than during the day. But the prospect of seeing this magnificent animal in its natural habitat had us willing to roll the dice. As it turns out, we were quite fortunate. We saw fifteen different tigers including a mother with four older cubs still under her care.

    We increased our chances for tiger sightings by planning our trip for late May and early June. These are historically the hottest days of the year in central India, but also the timeframe when tiger sightings are most common. We endured some searingly hot days in an open jeep, were constantly covered in a layer of fine dust, and were even soaked by several pre-monsoonal thunderstorms. However, any of those discomforts were quickly forgotten when a tiger came into view.

    We both thought this might be our one and only trip to India, but it was so rewarding that future trips to see more tigers, not to mention the other Indian wildlife, have become a real possibility.

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