The BIG 5 of Tadoba
The term ‘big 5’ was coined by game hunters in Africa, addressing to the five most difficult animals to hunt in Africa on foot. Subsequently, the term was adopted by tour operators to market the wildlife of Africa. The term has also been applied in Indian forests, but since Indian forests and its fauna is so diverse, every forest tends to have a different big 5. Here we present the big 5 of Tadoba.
Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris):
The Tiger is the king of the Indian forests in every sense possible. Majestic and elegant, the Tiger sits right on top of the food chain. The Bengal Tiger, the most abundant subspecies, is distributed across India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Although this subspecies is most abundant and most widely distributed, it can still be an elusive animal to track. Tadoba is one of the few places where Tigers are regularly sighted and, thus, photographed and studied.
Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca):
If the Tiger is the king, the Leopard is the prince of the Indian forests. Shy and cunning, tracking Leopards is much more difficult than their bigger feline cousins. Adorned with a beautiful pattern of spots and rosettes all over the body, the Leopard is chiefly a creature of night. But still Tadoba ranks as one of the best places to see this graceful cat in the wild.
Dhole/Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus):
Dholes are pack hunters and display amazing team work and bonding, especially while hunting, when compared to some other social members of the dog family. In fact, it is this behaviour that has helped the Dholes survive in forests that they share with larger predators, such as Tigers and Leopards. Unfortunately, this magnificent animal has been long persecuted and neglected, and their numbers are steadily on the decline. Tadoba remains one of the few last strongholds for the Dholes.
Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus):
The Sloth Bear is probably the rarest of the big 5 of Tadoba. The shaggy and sluggish-looking bear can actually surprise you with is speed and aggression. Sharp, 4-inch long claws are good weapons to have in your arsenal when you share the forests with so many dangerous predators. Although the Sloth Bear is found across several forests in peninsular India, it is seen frequently seen in very few forests as it is seen in Tadoba.
Gaur (Bos gaurus):
The Gaur is probably the easiest to find among the big 5 of Tadoba, mostly because like most cattle species, the Gaur roams around in herds. What makes this bovid special though, is the fact that the Gaur is the largest wild cattle species in the world. The Gaurs of Tadoba are not as big or impressive as the Gaurs found in denser forests of Northeast India or the Western Ghats, but being the biggest herbivore of Tadoba forest, they do have a big impact on the ecology of forest.
Which animal amongst the BIG 5 of Tadoba is your favourite? Do leave a comment.