Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve
Birdwatching - National Parks - Sanctuaries - Tiger Reserve - Wildlife

Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve: The Cradle of Mohan, the White Tiger

If all the white tigers in the world today choose to visit their ancestoral house, all of them would have to pack their bags and head to Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve. It is said that Mohan, the white tiger who was found and rescued by the then Maharaja of Rewa in this forests in the 1950s, is the ancestor of all white tigers found in the world today. Not a small credit for this 1,600 sq km tiger reserve in central India, spread between Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

We had not heard of Sanjay Tiger Reserve (STR, also known as Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve) before seeing Nature India’s announcement of the trip to the two tiger havens, the other one being Bandhavgarh. An unheard-of place made the trip more tempting!

A relatively unknown destination also meant fewer people crisscrossing the forest in search of tigers. All our three safaris in STR started at the Dubri gate, and there were only 2–3 safari vehicles each time. 

Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve

As soon as we entered STR for the first safari, we sighted this cute female jackal. A good luck charm for all safaris to come. She waited patiently, even lied down, till the vehicles went on their way, before crossing the road and walking to her destination, wherever it was.

Blue-Bearded Green Bee Eater
Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve
Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve

At the Mandola Nala area, during the second safari, is where we had the fortune of spotting five tigers—brother, sister, and sister’s three cubs (so our guide and driver said; it took a while for us to get the relationship sorted out). This male tiger remaining with the sister and being protective of sister’s cubs is not a common occurrence. STR also has a tigress, lovingly called Mausi-ma, as she took her sister’s cubs also into her fold when the sister was killed in a rail accident.

Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve

Even with no tiger-spotting in two of the three safaris, driving through dense forest of evergreen sal trees and bamboo and grasslands itself was a remarkable experience as we listened to the various bird calls and other sounds of nature. We were lucky to spot, with the help of Mandar, Gypsy drivers, and forest guides, wild boar, white-eyed buzzard, crested serpent eagle, lesser adjutant stork, Indian bush lark, Indian roller, white-throated kingfisher, rufous treepie, Indian robin, oriental magpie robin, jungle fowl (male and female), small minivet (male and female), crested tree swift, red-headed vulture, grey-backed shrike, yellow-headed babbler, and plum-headed parakeet, to name a few.

Indian Bush Lark
Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve

White tiger is not a sub-species of Bengal tiger, but some tigers miss a pigment called pheomelanin in their fur due to gene mutation (leucism), resulting in a white and black coat. They also have other disabilities such as sight issues. These, compounded by lack of camouflage, make white tigers less likely to survive in the wild. All white tigers now in the world are said to be descendants of Mohan and are bred in captivity. Careless inbreeding also causes further health issues.

Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve is in Sidhi District in Madhyapradesh. It can be reached from Bandhavgarh by road in 2 hours, or from Prayagraj by road in 5.5 hrs, or from Jabalpur by road in 6 hrs.

[Most of our wildlife/birding trips are with Nature India, run by Adesh & Mandar, two passionate and professional birders. National parks and sanctuaries are best enjoyed with them, simply because national parks are not just about tigers. With their deep knowledge of flora and fauna, they open a vast world of nature to you, which we enjoy with awe and wonder. Keep track of Nature India’s trips here]

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