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  • Best Places to see the tiger in India?

    The largest share of the conversion is between Kanha and Bandhavgarh. But you can see the tiger at many other places some of them are Pench, Ranthabhore, Tadoba and Corbett. For tiger safari I recommend Kanha and Bandhavgarh since these are the reserves with good population of big cats. 

    At Kanha you can sight more mammals since the hard ground swamp deer and bison is found in greater abundance. Nevertheless the beauty of Bandhavgarh hillocks and glens is as enticing as that of grasslands of Kanha.     

    I have been to Pench and seen fabulous tigers but the destination has less cross roads hence you see comparatively less of the cross section of the habitat. Nevertheless "The Spy in The Jungle" says it all about the Mowgli Land. Pench is also known as the Kipling Country since the "Jungle Book" is based on the forest of Seoni. To reach you can fly down to Nagpur and taxi eighty kilometers to the park.  morningwalkjeeptigertourMalecubs  

     
    At Corbett the focus is on birds but it is a fantastic destination. It's Terai landscape is mind boggling and mesmerizes you. The tiger reserve has many more mammals and you can see the yellow throated martin, hog deer and goral mountain goat. The sight of crocodiles and gharial is awe inspiring.  

    Ranthambhore has a good record of tiger sighting. It is in the Golden Triangle Tourism and provides easy accessibility from New Delhi. It takes about six hours to reach Ranthambhore using train or taxi. Corbett takes about seven to eight hours by road and is overnight to Ramnagar by rail.         

    To reach Kanha you can fly to Jabalpur and drive three hours to the hotels. For Bandhavgarh you can fly to Jabalpur and drive four hours to Tala hotel complex. For both the destinations you can catch overnight rails to Jabalpur. For Bandhavgarh you can catch an overnight train from New Delhi to reach Umaria rail head which is 32 km from the park. A seven hours drive takes you to the park from Khajuraho Temples.  

    I have not been to Tadoba in Maharashtra but this place is abuzz with frequent tiger sightings. Though devoid of good accommodation there is a wild rush to get here and see the big cat. You can fly to Nagpur from New Delhi and then drive in a radius of hundred plus kilometers to reach the respective gate here. Book your accommodation in advance.

    I may be biased in favor of Kanha and Bandhavgarh but for those focused on holistic experience should arrive at the former. While those looking for the exotic and intrigue should experience the ancient structures besides the tiger at the latter. That also means booking your safari and hotel much before your tour begins. These places offer experience of wild expanse of Indian jungle besides some amazing settings. At the world famous Bandhavgarh National Park tigers abound.        

    Of tiger safaris I should say sometimes you are unable to see the big cat hence always seek a holistic tour. It is essential not to rush, if hard pressed at least stay for two nights, three nights being ideal. Stay in an accommodation that is suitable for wildlife holiday. They should have good naturalists, interpretation center and serene ambiance.  

    Big cats are elusive  but worth an effort to witness nature's amazing charisma. 

  • Budding New Photographers: Indian Wildlife

    Moni Dubey has surprised me with his skills as a lensmen capturing moments in the wild. He is focused on Pemch National Park but travels to many places in India to capture some scintillating images. Here is some of his work. 2malecubbisonwithcalvescatsnakecobrapairdesertfoxcollardtigress

    In order to promote emerging wildlife photographers I post their images on my blogs this also benefits me by getting interested readership.

  • Wildife Photography by Teerath Singh

    Based in Bandhavgarh Teerath Singh owns MP Tiger Safari a packkage tour company. He organizes visits to tiger reserves in India. He is an excellent photographer here are some of his works. brahminyduckbhitaribahbandhavgarhBnadhvgarhjungletrekSambarDeerTigerWalkingjunglecat  Bisons

  • There is more to Kanha than just a visit

    Lot of the people from all over the World come to Kanha seeking the tigers blessings. This is rightly so for he is the most charismatic animal on Earth. Nevertheless the big cat is elusive and except for tell tale sign of its existance nothing else materializes. At time the tiger safari is nothing but sailing through pristine forests fromone end of another. 

    The journey to tiger land is never a dive into the void. The park is a storehouse of thrills, surprises and magical encounters with the mystical beast. The enjoyment is holistic, just being there in the ancient land of the tribals enshrouded by dense forests. It is an abode of amazing animals that thrive in this ampitheatre of extreme delights that transcends into your memory bank for everlasting recalls. 

    That's Kanha, the magical land of birds, bees and animals big and small. The forests offer element of surprise for those who believe in this wilderness. This is no place for partying or spending frivolous holidays. The seasoned wildlife lovers come here on quest to discover the unknown realm of animals and birds. The sight of tigers in their natural habitat is a cherised moment... but then there is more to Kanha and other tiger reserves in India.   

    The frenzy and panic of tiger's presence, the heart throbbing tiger walks and prey hunts imemorable. But then other animals enthrall as well. Kanha is excellnt for watching the avian species. There are more than two hundred fifty plus birds found io the tiger reserve. elephantsafariPenchMaleTigervultures

  • Munna Tiger an Epitome

    He is one of the largest male tigers I have seen in the Kanha Park. Munna as he is affably called is about six or seven years and is in prime. He patrols Sal Ghat, DigDola and Saunf Meadow areas of Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh in India. The big cat is so powerful that it wades through areas of other big cats in the park. It has been seen as far as Mukki Range which is about 35 km from Kisli Zone. As a defense mechanism the territory of tigers keep changing,

    This was my third encounter with Munna the first one was few years back. The tiger has sired many cubs and heads the breeding profile of the tiger reserve. Male tigers have a tough time holding their territory which is always challenged by other dominant males.       Male Tiger Kanha

  • Prospect of tiger watching in Kanha

    Well known for its tigers Kanha National Park is World renowned. It is home to hundred Bengal tigers and many leopards amongst the tertiary carnivores. The prospects of tiger watching is a question that arises amonst the tourists visiting Kanha. Well this is the first question that people ask me. 

    Which is the best place to see tigers in India?

    Well my answer is fair and square. "Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench and Ranthambhore."

    Why Kanha?

    Kanha is the best introduction to wildlife and ecosystems in India. It has many species of mammals which are easily sighted. Most of all it is the best managed conservation unit in the World.  The extansive grasslands and dense forest offer  sightings of the best of the big cats.  

    Since many years people have been visiting Kanha in MP. I am visiting the park since 1976 and have seen many tigers and the magnifcent wilderness in evolution. The protected area status has been a savior for this wildlife heaven. The tourism peaked in the nineties and augured change in the rules and regulations.  

    Unlike earlier times the tourism at Kanha is more regulated with lots of impediments. Free roaming in the park is a thing of past. The fixed route, shorter evening time and limited vehicle entry has hampered tiger sightings. This is the case with all tiger reserves in MP. Tiger Show which made it possible to see the big cat if you missed him on the road is banned.

     
    The park management  has created four tourism zones in the core area. These are as follows:

    Kanha Zone     
    Kisli Zone

    Mukki Zone
    Sarhi Zone
     
    On jeep safari one has to drive on a prescribed route that falls within the zone. Though this is suffocating the resultant benefit is few vehicles in a particular area. 

    Tiger sightings in Kanha depend upon many factors besides the rules and regulations. The most important factor is the local conditions. These are elements that provide tiger with rest and ease. The animalelephantsafarimoves when stressed, they move much less whence at ease. You cannot see  the carnivore till it approaches the road. The animal is easily camouflaged in its natural surroundings. It prefers to hide in dense thickets and rarley comes out in the open.   

    Hence during and after the rains water availability is in plenty, the prey base too spreads out making tigers keep to the dense forest canopies far away from the road. Hence immediately after the monsoon the big cat is hard to come by. Thus  sightings in the reserves in early winters is less compared to that in the summers. Nevertheless major reserves have large population of tigers hence the sightings are never disappointing.

     
    Other factors that hamper tiger movement are the disturbance caused by too many vehicles, labourers, roadside fires, construction work, excessive heat, strong sunlight and lack of prey. These factors can push the tiger deep into the confines of dense forests. 

    Sometimes the tigers are shy and avoid humans including their vehicles. This is more so the case with tigresses especially those with cubs. They not used to jeeps also stay away from the jungle roads.  

    The best opportunity to spot these animals is during territory marking, searching for mates, on hunt and during its search for water. Tigers prefer to tread on soft jungle road hence you can trace them from their pug marks.    

    Tracking skills also play a role in increasing your tiger sightings. Many luxury hotel accommodations in Kanha National Park employ trained naturalists. These naturalists are good at tracking tigers in the park. Hence you should hire one or ask for one since many hotels offer free services.

    Lot of tiger sightings depend upon chance and luck. These big cats are capable of giving a surprise visit to the tourists. The probability of sightings are hence generalized. So plan your itinerary and count your luck. A holistic expereince of wild places pays rich dividend rather than a singular minded chase for Bengal Tiger.

  • Pench Wildlife Photographs

    These are the images taken of tigers and birds by Dr. Abhisek at Pench National Park. The park is situated in Madhya Pradesh in India. A part of the park lies in the State of Maharashtra.vulturesPenchMaleTigerpench male1

  • Birding at Kanha

    Though well known for its tigers, Kanha is an exciting birding place. Yet it is little known for its birds such is the charisma of its tigers. Most of the visitors are involved in a tiger chase and miss out on the fantastic ecosystem and small life. But  many birding enthusiast like to see the avian wonders of this magnificent tiger reserve in the State of Madhya Pradesh in India. 

    The topography though varied is more suitable for forest birds and to some extant grass birds. The wetland species are scarce and can be seen at the water bodies on the outskirts. Some water bodies inside the tiger reserve barred button quailEurasian thickneebrown fish owljungle owletlong billed vulturewhite eyed buzzardcontain wetland species. One can watch Large Egret, Greater Cormorant, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Lesser Whistling Teal, Osprey, Palas Fish Eagle, Gray Headed Fish Eagle, Cotton Pigmy Goose, Wooly Necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork and the common shore birds.  But the birds of the forests make up for the lesser number of water birds.

    The best areas for bird watching at Kanha are: Nakti Ghati, Bija Dadar, Bahmni Dadar, Link No 7 and 8. The mixed forest, bamboo clumps and meadows offer sightings of many birds. Swampy grass hold interesting species like the munias, pipits and larks. The commonly seen raptors are the serpent eagle, crested hawk eagle and the honey buzzard. These raptors are found everywhere. The top notch songster, the shama can be encountered often in the bamboo clumps, besides Tickell's blue flycatcher, tawny babbler, Asian paradise flycatcher and black naped monarch.

    Most attractive and noisy birds are the Alexandrine parakeet, plum headed parakeet and the rose ringed parakeet. The Indian scimitar babbler, Malabar pied hornbill, painted francolin, Indian pitta and Veridtor flycatchers are much sought after birds in this park. The warblers and pipits are the winter visitors and most secretive. One should also look for common iora, gray breasted prinia, ashy and plain prinia, common tailor bird, brown cheeked fulvetta, red rumped swallow, red avadavat, scaly munia, tricolor munia among the grassy patches and near the banks of ponds and small lakes.                

    On the buffer zones one should visit the lake at Boda Chappri for birding. Other interesting places for birding outside the Kanha National Park are the Banjar, River, Ganghar Nala Bank and the village fields for grass birds.  Each eco niche in Kanha has a variation of avian species to discover. Birding outside the park would be less costly as well. The forests all around the protected area are rich in bird life hence a walk will add to your checklist. About two hundred fifty specie shave been check listed in Kanha Tiger Reserve. Hence a three day bird watching trip leads to sighting of more than hundred species. A birding guide is a must for inbound tourists not familiar with Indian avi-fauna.     

    Kanha Birds Trip Report

  • Birding at Pench National Park

    Situated in prime forests of Seoni and Chhindwara, Pench National Park is a tiger land. The forests were the settings for Lord Kipling's Jungle Book. The forests are mixed deciduous type with very robust food factor. Pench River is the lifeline of the ecosystem and traverses through Eastern End of the park. The river is dammed in order to create a massive reservoir which is a habitat for wintering and resident wetland birds.     

    There are a large number of lakes as well that support the life forms in this reserve. Pench Tiger Reserve is home to many wild animals including the Bengal Tiger. The destination is also rich in bird life. Both wetland and forest birds are found here. The best time for birding is during the winters when migrants augement the stock. The river system supports many ducks like the Northern Pintail, Brahminy Duck. Lesser Whistling Teal, Comb Duck, Red Crested Pochard and Wigeon. Among the shore birds one can see Painted Stork, Wooly Necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Common Snipe, Egrets, Cormorants, Snake Bird, Sandpipers, Stints, Black Stilts and so on.         

    Birding at Pench should be conducted in the core area of the tiger reserve, periphery and large tanks in the surroundings. The villages and the fields are also good for watching birds around the National Parks. Targeted water birds can be seen along the Pench River Banks and the Totlah Doh Dam. The forest birds are to be seen best in the mixed forest zones, grasslands and shrubs along the river bed. In the forest binoculars with eight times magnification is helpful while for water birds one will need a good spotting scope.  

    Pench is the place to discover interesting avian species as not enough birding has taken place. Some of the interesting species found here are the Malabar Pied Horn bill, Indian Pitta, Osprey, Palas Fish Eagle, Gray Headed Fish Eagle (migrants), Laggar Falcon, Pergrine Flacon, Eurasian Hobby, Serpent Eagle and Crested Hawk Eagle. Other birds to look out for are the Orange Headed Thrush, Red Spurfowl, Red Jungle Fowl, Painted Spur Fowl, Painted Francolin, Indian Scimitar Babbler and many more. There aer many pipits and warblers found in winters along with sandpipers, wagtails, stints and shanks. The flycatchers like Verditor, Black Naped Monarch, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Tickell's Blue Flycatchers can be seen here frequently. Among the interesting passerine birds are the prinias, tailorbird, Iora, Baya, munias, sparrows and many more.               

     
    For foreigners and birding enthusiasts from other regions a birding guide is required. Most of the luxury hotels in Pench employ in house naturalists. Most of the naturalists are good birders.  A good birding guide is a must. It is good to read about birds found here before arrival. There is a limit to entry of vehicles in the park hence the gate entry should be booked in advance. You can request your hotel to book the number of gate entries you wish visit during your stay. 

    Checklist of Birds Of Pench

  • Tiger Tourism - Canter Wise

    The effort to ban the tiger tourism due to some myopic reasoning has not bourne fruit. The court ruled in the favor of the toursim albeit with suggestions. Since then the number of vehicles allowed to enter the park has been reduced. Most of the tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh have been divided into zones in order to disperse the safari jeeps. All these have been wise moves.

    Never the less tourism has come down. This is certainly not good for the locals who depend upon the hotel industry for the lovely hood. Less tourists means the hotel industry at the tiger reserves suffers. The cost of the safari has also gone up due to less utilization of jeeps available for hire.  

    I do not advocate increasing the number of vehicles in the park. But a simple solution exists in allowing the canters to be used for tiger safari. This is already being implemented at Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in the State of Rajesthan. A canter can carry around eighteen heads comfortably hence it replaces three safari jeeps. Allowing one canter in each zone can offer entry to say 96 extra visitors per day without causing disturbance. This will also bring down the safari cost for the low budget tourists.

    Though not as good as safari jeeps canter will provide access to lot more people without tilting the balance. And this would also mean better business to the wildlife resorts in the parks.     

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