During my posting at Raipur from 2002 to 2008 and my visit to Nagpur on official duty my colleague Ms Sangeeta Sharma informed about a documentary being made on tigers at Pench Tiger Reserve, hardly 100 km from Nagpur. On further enquiry I planned and visited the park initially alone in Feb 2007 and a month later with family during Holi festival.

During the span of a year I made several visit to shoot the family as regular updates were coming from a close friend and naturalist Sh Prabhir Patil ,at the Tiger Jungle Camp ,the property where BBC team used to stay for filming the documentary.

This park derives its name from river Pench which flows from North to South and almost divides the park equally.

Most of us did not know about this Tiger Reserve in the State of Madhya Pradesh. But this rose from the dust to fame as soon as the best documentary till date :”Tiger-Spy in the Jungle “made on Tigers by BBC and narrated by Sir David Attenborough , got on air in 2008. In the words of Sir David Attenborough this documentary presented the most intimate portrait of tiger behavior as it used concealed cameras placed by elephants in order to capture the most intimate and unrecorded behaviours of natural history.

In the documentary the real story starts when 4 cubs were of hardly 2 weeks young. Later on a female cub from this litter made the Park famous as it gave birth to 26 cubs in all 7 litters till date. She is known as Collarwali as in 2008 a Radio Collar(an electronic device which helps in knowing the movements of the animal ) was fitted to record its movements and the insides of the secret life . The mother and tigress who reared 4 cubs was known as Barimada (Senior Female).

Collarwali was born in the year when the entire population of tiger from the Famous tiger reserve Sariska near Alwar in the State of Rajasthan ,closest to Delhi , was wiped out by the poachers and forest authorities to protect their skin kept on saying that the tigers have gone out of the park for a holiday.

My first visit to this park was in the year 2007 and made a number of visits to cover the family time to time. This helped me in getting good shots of the family. One of the images taken in 2007 came on the WWF India calendar in 2016.

Although I have not been to the Park for the last more than 9 years but keeping abreast of activities though my nature friends and forest authorities . Recently Pench has become the first park in the country to have Geo tagging of vehicles to ensure that the vehicles entering the park follow the prescribed route only and ply with the stipulated speed lmit and do not gather in numbers at a point where tiger sighting is taking place. The devices are handed over to the guides in each vehicle when they enter the park and they are again reset when the vehicle enters for the evening safari game drive. This application is soon to be tried at other National parks.

About Vinod Goel

He joined Customs & Central Excise service in 1982. As a civil servant, his job takes him to various parts of India, which gave him an opportunity to capture our wild heritage, through his camera. His passion for wildlife photography started in 2004 when he was posted at Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and this passion continues till today.