We began this wildlife season (Oct 08) in Ranthambore. It was an exciting and chaotic start to the season as the forest dept. changed the safari rules (yet again) resulting in a complete mess for the first several days. Of course, the tigers didn't disappoint and we had a few great sightings. It was also a season where Ranthambore had experienced one of the best monsoons ever and the park was at its greenest.
In June 09, we thought it was fitting to end the season (parks close end-June) with a trip to Ranthambore. Though it was blistering, the trip was productive and we saw all the active tigers in the park multiple times including the legendary Machli. Bird activity, despite the heat, was frenetic and for the first time in Ranthambore I made some decent bird images!
I also had the fortune of meeting and spending time with Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch who has been doing stellar anti-poaching work in Ranthambore working closely with the Moghiya community. They have been able to slowly but successfully reform this highly impoverished poaching community. Here is an interesting piece of Dharm's work in National Geographic. Dharm and Tiger Watch's work clearly demonstrates how brutal focus and very localized efforts can lead to solid measurable results. This is a rare and valuable case study in Indian conservation and these learnings should be leveraged across tiger reserves in the country.
I hope to be back in October again. With a poor monsoon so far, I have no idea how the wildlife is going to cope and I am eager to be at the gates in October to find out.