Half of the world's endangered tiger population lives in India and one of the national parks where the odds of seeing a tiger are much higher is Ranthambhore in eastern Rajasthan. Once a game reserve of the royal families of Jaipur and Karauli it was (mis)managed by their shikar khaana (hunting department). The 20th century saw India's tiger population decrease from an estimated 40,000 to 1,800 and areas like Ranthambore were the scene of exotic tiger hunts where the entire court showed up on as many as 40 elephants to slay prodigious amounts of big game. Today, Ranthambore with its royal ruins and mixed vegetation—sand, scrub, grassland, hills—forms a dramatic background for tiger viewing and photography.
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