October is one of the most important month’s in the Sher Bagh calendar. Like every other year, for the last 13 years, Sher Bagh’s 14th Season has opened with us welcoming new guests, creating new experiences and enhancing existing features; transforming the Camp into a buzzing hive of activity.
The game experience inside Ranthambhore National Park has been nothing short of spectacular. A prolonged monsoon has produced running streams and waterfalls, restocking pools across the Park and leaving the verdure sparkling and rich. Ranthambhore’s Big Three; the Tiger, Leopard and the Sloth Bear continue to make regular appearances with a notable increase in leopard sightings, particularly across the Kundal (Zone 6) and Balas (Zone 8) areas. Of our tigers’, the following have been seen by our guests, across their ranges in the first 3 weeks of the Park reopening:
1. Ladli/Balas Female (T8)
2. Macchli (T16)
3. Brat (T19)
4. Gayatri/Guda Female (T22)
5. Ustad (T24)
6. Zalim (T25)
7. Star Male (T28)
8. Noor (T39)
9. Junglee/Laila (T41)
10. Mustanda (one of T19’s sub-adult cubs)
11. Sultan (T39’s sub-adult cub)
12. Unidentified Female (possibly T19’s female sub-adult cub)
13. Unidentified Male (possibly T19’s second sub-adult cub)
The abundance of water has also afforded superb sightings of birds, particularly Kingfishers, with 3 of Ranthambhore’s 4 species being regularly sighted by guests. Raptors are in great form this year. The Crested Serpent Eagle in it’s full plumage, Kites, Buzzards, Hawks and Harriers besides have been scouring the skies, more visibly than in the same period last year and are especially visible on the plateaus atop Acacia catechu trees. Spotted deer, or cheetal with new-borns, the males in their fresh velvet laced antlers continue to graze and browse their way as they have always done. Handsome Sambar deer, awaiting their thicker winter coats and the Nilgai antelope, the latter more visible inside the Park, than in recent years all jostle and jibe to partake of the bounty of the post-monsoon foliage on offer, ahead of the rutting season. The Indian mugger crocodiles, now slowly readying for a languid and soporific winter are still active, particularly around the Lake Territories while large sounders of Wild Boar (one group of 18 sighted in Lakarda) trot along churning up the moist earth for roots and other food.
Back at Camp, the scents and sounds of live cooking still greet guests returning from the first drive of the day, to a hearty breakfast. Lunches under the shade of cooling Neem trees and the embrace of the tents form a refreshing interlude between game drives. The arboreal lanterns still hang from the Keekars and cooler evenings have meant the campfire provides a snug locale for guests, after long hours in the bush. Wild grasses are thicker and greener at Camp as well and new pathways have been cut, others replanted to create lusher, more private rambles around. Our resident Tree-pie’s, Warblers, Parakeet and Babblers are in great evidence and though the winter ‘census’ of birdlife at Sher Bagh is still a few weeks away, an expectation for over 100 species would not be an exaggerated hope.
Written by Yusuf Ansari
Photographs from the Sher Bagh Collection