Ahead of International Tiger Day (July 29), wildlife photographers recall their best memories capturing the big cat

Stories of wild paws
Photo | Masood Hussain
Photo | Masood Hussain

A close look at the magnificent tiger, an endangered animal, reminds us why its royalty was rightly named our national animal. Ahead of International Tiger Day (July 29), we speak to wildlife photographers in the city who share real and raw moments of capturing the beast in all its glory. 

Getting the right visual

Pariksheet Devulapalli has had several adventurous moments including going on a night safari in the forests. His most recent captures were during a trip to the Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh in May and another in Tadoba in June 2022. He tells CE, “The latter was a memorable one where we captured three cubs playing in the water for at least a couple of hours, while their mother was not around. But late Collarwali’s last sighting for one hour with her cubs was one of the memorable shots.”

Hide & seek
Anjani Singamaneni, another wildlife photographer, says that he never tires of capturing a tiger despite doing that for almost a decade now. “Those 4-5 minutes get me excited always with that adrenal rush. I have been watching the tigers for 16 years now and capturing them for about 8 years, I would have clicked over 50-70 tigers with my lens,” he says adding that the jungle speaks when a tiger is around. Anjani is known for his camera trapping where he has to rightly anticipate the place and lighting. His recent capture was at Nagarjun Sagar Srisilam Tiger Reserve, the largest in the country and will put up his pictures at a Tiger Day exhibition in Kurnool.

The curious cat
Well-known wildlife photographer Masood Hussain says that the entire process of getting a good shot of a tiger in itself is a big deal. “It’s not just about the shot — it’s the planning of the trip, the journey and even tracking the tiger — which is the most fun. We have to analyse the scene and expect where the tiger would come from, check the lighting conditions, the path it takes, etc., leaving no scope for error, because it’s not going to pose for you. You have to make the most of what is available and be prepared for anything. The most important challenge is to make it feel comfortable because we are intruding into its space, it’s the tiger’s home where we are guests.

We have to do it without bothering them, while following the rules of the jungle. We are to stick to our vehicle and not step foot on the ground, so even our movement is very restricted,” he explains.  Masood recalls being at close quarters with a tiger at the Tadoba-Andhari National Park, Maharashtra, when the big cat walked towards the vehicle and they had to back off because the rules say you can’t come too close. He continues, “The vehicle would not start and I had to ask the driver to stop because the whirring engine could disturb the tiger. She circled our vehicle a couple of times, sat down curiously and left. This picture of her that I took from a 5-metre distance will always remain close to my heart.” 

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