Temptress Tara and the failed hunt – Tadoba 6
Tiger Trails and Tall Tales – Episode Six
The morning ride on day three was one of quiet anticipation. After the blanks fired on the previous day, we were hoping that today the big cats will make their presence. As the jeep left the metalled road and moved into the rough jungle trail, we passed through a mixture of dark woods, long grass and bamboo thickets intermittently. The morning breeze was wafting by and the chatter of the birds added to the atmosphere. The driver was guided to the favoured spots and areas of multiple previous sightings. Every rustle and sound was keenly observed. We expected to surprise the ladies and wish them good morning. But it was not to be. We drew a blank everywhere.
Manish (owner at Hornbill where we stayed during the Tadoba trip), said we will drive to the waterhole nearby as there was news that the “Little Star” was resting there. As we moved closer to the destination, we saw a good number of jeeps had already preceded us and there were a lot of heads craning for a view of the waterhole. Our driver swiftly moved the vehicle to a vantage position.
There was Choti Tara lying neck deep in the water, cooling herself with her head turned away from us. The treepies, the green doves and kingfishers were flying around making quite a racquet but the princess was unmoved. Meanwhile a couple of chital ran in from the opposite hillock. One of them ventured down to quench its thirst, unaware of the danger present a score and ten feet away. An action scene was unfolding.
The chital kept on coming, the predator kept its cool and we the spectators waited with bated breath. Cameras were trained to capture the action. There was a slight twist in the tail (pun intended). It all ended in an anticlimax. The slight movement alerted the chital which let out a warning call and scampered back. The sneak attack was snuffed before it happened. Choti Tara slipped back into the water as a few cameras were going click click, capturing the scenes.
Within some time she slowly got up on her hinds, balanced her front paws on the rock in front and with the tail swinging up pulled herself out of the water. With slow but steady and sure steps of a trained dancer, she started her catwalk and moved on to the shade of the bushes.
Our day was made. We had tall tales to narrate on our return home.