48 Hours in Kabini Forest

Kabini is named about River Kabini which originates in Kerala, flows eastwards to join the much larger River Cauvery, eventually discharging into Bay of Bengal at end of its journey, after transgressing most of Tamil Nadu and Southern Karnataka.  River Kabini when it enters Karnataka bisects Bandipur Tiger Reserve (which I had visited few years ago), and the Nagarhole National Park, both treasure trove of wildlife habitat in Karanataka.

I decided to go to Kabini after raving reviews (on FB and Instagram) of sighting of Black Panther, Leopards, and Tigers from photography enthusiasts who became my friends after earlier photography tours to Gir, Leh, Agumbe, etc.,

Following pics from ToeHold Page (shot by Phillip, Jayant, Sachin, etc.,) definitely inspired me to go for it, though it’s a long journey for me to take this type of pics.

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Shot by our skipper, Phillip Ross

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After an year of busy schedule at home and work, I finally decided to go for Kabini this weekend. I have decided to go with Toe-Hold team (after my previous experience of Photography Tour to Leh, Nubra, Pangong, and Tso Moriri with them few years ago).   As I said earlier, going to wild life sanctuaries or any Photography tours with Toe-Hold type of companies which are run by Ace Photographers, has many advantages.  They get us preferential access to the parks, safari routes, ensure stay at well curated places, provides us constant refresher on Photography basics and tips for users with all levels of photography skills, review our photos clicked during the tour, and most importantly they almost ensure that you will get a great sighting and great photos

I spent last 48 hours in Kabini Jungle Lodge in a twin-shared Tent which is reasonably well equipped for comfortable stay.  Skipper this time was Ace photographer from Toe Hold, Philip Ross, who ensured awesome experience for all of us, a team of 8 folks who came from diverse backgrounds and photography experience levels.  We had 4 safaris this trip, one on Friday evening, two on Saturday, and the final one Sunday morning.  Our driver was “Chotu” (not sure why he was called Chotu, as he wasn’t so short), who seems to know every corner to Kabini Forest really well.  Here is what happened on 4-safaris during last 48 hours.

Safari zone is divided into two virtual Zones A (Core Zone) & B (Back Water Zone), to better manage the safari vehicle load. You are allowed to visit one zone per safari.  Apparently, there are about 60 tigers/leopards (and a black panther), with an average 1 cat per 1 SQKM, almost ensuring a sight on every trip. Phillip who visited the park with folks like us, zillion times, and coupled with Chotu, are able to predict movement of cats really well, using their prior experience, listening to calls from Langoors, Sambars, and Deers. They were also getting intel from via SMS/Phone calls  from other safari vehicle drivers or other known personnel in the park

On the day one evening, we took Safari ride to Zone B.  We did not get the sighting of any cats, but we were able to witness large herd of Elephants, at backwaters of Kabini.  Awesome weather, picturesque location, dark skies, lush green meadows, large herd of Asiatic elephants of all sizes, made the sight breathtaking and memorable.  See the pics and a short video clip.

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Crew from National Geographic studying on impact of draught on Elephants

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On the day 2, we covered both ZONE A (Morning) and ZONE B (Evening) but could not get a single sighting of the cat, but spotted birds, and other endemic wild life.  Backwater zone was almost empty with no Elephants, so we were so glad that we got a great sighting on the previous day.  After the feedback from Phillip, post Day 1 review of the pics, that I should not be using AUTO MODE (which I inadvertently got addicted to) on my Canon 6D and got a good refresher from Phillip on making best use of Canon by using APERTURE and use his CASE Strategy to capture great snaps.

CASE is Phillip’s acronym standing for Composition, Auto Focus, Shutter Speed, and Exposure Composition.  I was able to click better pics, on Day 2 (as can be seen by Changeable Hawk Eagle and Serpentine Eagle Pics)

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Changeable Hawk
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White Bellied Woodpecker – Indian’s Largest Wood Pecker
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Crest Chested Changeable Hawk
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Changeable Hawk
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Serpentine Eagle
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Indian Roller – Karnataka’s State Bird
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Langoors – They are of great help in guessing whereabout of Cats..
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Sambar
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Green Imperial Pigeon
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Green Imperial Pigeon – Apparently rare sight
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Langoors Everywhere
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Enter a caption

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On the Day 3 (Morning), We got the sighting of much awaited female Tiger with her 3-cubs which are just few months old, on the final day of the safari. We just about had 20 seconds or less to click them, before the Mother rested behind mud-pit, to feed the cubs.  Too bad that I forgot to check my ISO in the camera, which resulted in not so great pics.

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This is how Kabini looks at 6AM

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There are literally 1000s and 1000s of deer in Kabini. I have never seen so many Deer, outside a Disney Movie

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More pics and story to be continued….

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Aerial View of Jungle Lodge Resorts
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Aerial View of Jungle Lodge Resorts
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Aerial Self at the JLR Entrance
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Aerial Self at the JLR Entrance
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Crew from National Geographic
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Our Tent on Twin Share Basis, few yards away from the lake

These pics from Jungle Lodge Resorts Website did impress me to go for this trip

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Tented Stay
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Maharaja Bungalow
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ADVT from JLR Website – Elephant Sighting via Boat Safari
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ADVT from JLR Website – Elephant Sighting via Boat Safari

 

 

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