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India wildlife holiday – the rise and rise of Ranthambhore national park

Posted in: India, Posted in: India Tiger Safari

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India wildlife holiday – the rise and rise of Ranthambhore national park

A simple Facebook entry at the end of December 2017 brought instant joy to thousands of people around the globe; including myself. Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary had cubs in every one of the 10 zones. To put that into perspective; just a few years ago zones 6-10 only had a few adult tigers present and generally people were not optimistic about their chances of their survival in areas where only a few tourists used to visit. Infact, if we go back 10 years these were zones you visited for the views and to enjoy a sundowner and maybe if you were very lucky, to spot a tiger prowling around as the sun disappeared on another Ranthambhore day.

Why so many tigers in Ranthambhore national park?

We have been organising tiger safaris in India since 1997 and can honestly say that we have seen more bad times than good times at Ranthambhore national park. So, when the good times are here we can both celebrate, but also most importantly evaluate what ‘ground conditions’ have come together to allow the tiger population to grow. Especially, when we realise that Ranthambhore is actually one of the smallest tiger reserves in India and has fairly limited ‘forest corridors’ to allow tigers to disperse naturally. Male tigers often have to move out of a tiger reserve to avoid territorial fights; which they are unlikely to win. When you consider a dominant male tiger can have a territory of 100sqkm and the core area of Ranthambhore is only 450sqkm; you can see that an increasing tiger population has to have ways to disperse.

The science got better to give us a clearer picture of tiger populations

So, in the ‘old days’ when park guards and Ranthambhore’s army of observers and photographers noticed a tiger missing, it was generally considered to be a poaching incident and another black park against the park management. However, the truth was much more complex and could not be discovered with the old discredited system of simply looking at pugmarks. Modern day camera traps and radio collars on tigers (not everyone is a fan!) has completed transformed our understanding of tiger movements and for Ranthambhore given us some exciting news about where these ‘missing’ tigers have ended up. Ranthambhore tigers were making it over to Madhya Pradesh and the famous tiger parks in central India such as Bandhavgarh; proving that the forest corridor for tigers between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh existed and allows a certain ‘flow’ of tigers and most importantly, genetic mixing to maintain a healthy breeding population.

Best time to visit India for tigers at Ranthambhore national park?

If you want to see the true beauty of this park, including the full range of migratory bird species then you should head out between November and February. However, be aware that the peak winter period in India (end of December to mid-January) can produce very foggy conditions, which can disrupt both train and flight schedules.

For the big cat lovers out there, who want to increase their chances of seeing tigers and leopards then you need to wait for the Indian summer; as the best time to see tigers in India is from April to June. However, temperatures can hit the mid 40’s Celsius at this time, so you need to find the balance between your own comfort and the increased regularity of tiger sightings, due to reduced water availability and the need for those tigers to stay close to the water. We would also encourage you to avoid key festival dates such as Holi in March, when most tiger sanctuaries in India see a substantial increase in tourist traffic.

How to book your jeep in Ranthambhore national park?

It is astonishing to us that with all this information on the internet about the need to book early to have a chance to secure a jeep in Ranthambhore (this is not the large canters that many companies use!) that so many people book their hotel and travel arrangements first and then try to book the jeep safaris – this is completely the wrong way round to organise your tiger safari in Ranthambhore. If you want to be in the smaller jeeps which are particularly good for photography and don’t produce the noise of the diesel canters, which can have as many as 30 people in them; you need to book at least 4 to 5 months in advance with a reputable wildlife safari company. You will soon see by how they respond to your email if they are genuine and transparent about the safari process and you can relax knowing the most important aspect of your India wildlife holiday is reserved.

What you will hopefully see on your tiger safari at Ranthambhore national park?

Of course, depending on the time of year you travel and how long you spend on safari at Ranthambhore – we always recommend 8 game drives – will affect what type of wildlife you see. As we write this today on the 15th February 2018, we have just had clients return from 4 full days in Ranthambhore who have seen tigers, leopard and sloth bear. With all 10 zones currently having tigers with cubs – of various ages – you can expect to see a tiger family in Ranthambhore if you travel in the next year or so. Yes, it is a golden age for tigers at Ranthambhore and all who are lucky enough to visit this very special park, should be thankful at what they are witnessing.

Want to join one of our award winning tiger safaris in India, or create a bespoke India wildlife holiday with our expert team with 20 years of experience? Then check out our huge variety of India wildlife tours here.

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