Tigers
Gaur
Northern palm squirrels

Langur monkeys
Golden jackals
Sambar
Chinkara
Dhole
Spotted owlets
Collared scops owls
Common kingfisher
Eurasian hoopoe
Plum-headed parakeet
Rose-ringed parakeet
White-eyed buzzard
Serpent eagle
Marsh mugger crocodile
In January 2011, I returned to India for a tour of four tigers reserves in Madhya Pradesh - Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna. In the first three of these, tiger densities are supposed to be relatively high so we were looking forward to a 'tiger overdose'. However the big cats were more elusive than we expected, maybe because the park authorities have made the permit and route systems in the reserves even more bureaucratic and restrictive in an attempt to 'protect' the tigers from the huge numbers of tourists that want to see them. I'm not personally convinced that they need more protection from the tourists - permit numbers have been reduced and the jeeps cannot go off-road, so the tigers can avoid the tourists if they want to. But they do need protecting from the poachers, and these criminals find it harder to operate when there are many guides, drivers and mahouts working in the parks.
Even when the tigers didn't show, there was lots of other wildlife, big and small, and many of the birds were cute, fluffy, colourful or had big talons - just the sort that non-birders like:-)
We ended the tour with a visit to the temples at
Khajuraho, where the guide had to compete for our attention with some habituated and photogenic spotted owlets and palm squirrels.
Tigers
I didn't have any tiger sightings in Pench, and only a distant view of one individual for a few seconds in Kanha, but Bandhavgarh came up with the goods - a tigress right next to the road one day, and then the same animal with her full-grown cubs further away the next day. Photography was difficult with the usual happy chaos of jeeps jostling for position and some rather 'inconvenient' vegetation between us and the tigers, but we still got to watch them for a good length of time.
Tiger pugmark (footprint) Tiger
Tigress Tigers
Tigers

Gaur
These huge bovids are Vulnerable to extinction but doing well in Kanha Tiger Reserve, so the park authorities decided to relocate around 20 animals to Bandhavgarh where the species went extinct in 1998. The relocation took place whilst we were in Kanha, which unfortunately meant part of the park was closed to tourists. It was a major operation, and used expertise and experience gained in relocating wild mammals in South Africa. The gaur in these photos was blissfully unaware of what was happening to some of its fellows elsewhere in Kanha, and it posed nicely for us in its smart white socks.
Gaur
Gaur Gaur

Northern palm squirrels
From one of the biggest to some of the smallest. Palm squirrels were a fairly common sight in and around all the parks, but it wasn't until we got to the
temples at Khajuraho that we managed to get close enough for some good pictures.
Northern palm squirrel Northern palm squirrel
Northern palm squirrel Northern palm squirrel

Hanuman langur monkeys
I tried to resist taking more photos of langur monkeys - I have so many from earlier trips to India - but they are so photogenic. They are also the most visible and numerous mammals in the forest, together with the chital or spotted deer.
Hanuman langur monkeys Hanuman langur monkey
Hanuman langur mother & baby Hanuman langur baby
Hanuman langur monkey Hanuman langur monkey

Golden jackals
These were the most visible predators in the parks, and a welcome sight when there were no big cats or wild dogs around. They are stockier than their African cousins and look more like coyotes or small wolves.
Golden jackal Golden jackal

Sambar
Sambar deer are larger and usually less numerous than the ubiquitous chital or spotted deer, but Panna 'Tiger Reserve' is a classic example of what happens when the top predator is removed from an ecosystem. The Indian government finally admitted in 2009 that every last tiger had been poached from Panna, and now the park is overrun with sambar deer - the tiger's favourite prey.
A small number of tigers have now been relocated to Panna from other parks in 
Madhya Pradesh and they have started to breed, but they obviously need better protection than was given to the tigers killed by poachers - Dr Raghu Chundawat, a much-respected scientist who was undertaking tiger research in Panna, alerted the authorities to the poaching problem but nothing was done and his research permit was withdrawn.
For the time being, Panna is probably the best place in India to see sambar!


Sambar stag
Sambar Sambar mother & calf

Chinkara/Indian gazelles
Chinkara or Indian gazelle
Dhole
Kanha Tiger Reserve is a good place to see the dhole or Asiatic wild dog. We had only just entered the park on our first morning there when we saw these animals. The light was too poor for decent photographs, but it was great to see these Endangered dogs.
Dhole or Asiatic wild dog Dhole or Asiatic wild dog

Spotted owlets
This must be one of the most photographed species of bird in the world, with its habit of perching openly on branches and in tree hole entrances in broad daylight. It is also very cute. At the 
Khajuraho temples, there seemed to be almost as many spotted owlets as there were palm squirrels, and the owlets were also very relaxed around humans.
Spotted owlet Spotted owlet
Spotted owlets Spotted owlets
Spotted owlet Spotted owlet

Collared scops owls
These owls are brilliantly camouflaged against tree bark - don't miss the second bird in the first of the photos!
Collared scops owls (two birds) Collared scops owl

Common kingfisher

Common kingfisher
Eurasian hoopoe

Eurasian hoopoe

Plum-headed parakeet
Plum-headed parakeet Plum-headed parakeet

Rose-ringed parakeet
Rose-ringed parakeet Rose-ringed parakeet

White-eyed buzzard

White-eyed buzzard
Serpent eagle

Marsh mugger crocodile

Marsh mugger crocodile

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Last updated 28 January 2012