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  • 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.     

  • Will Tiger Tourism Come to an End in India?

    The recent developments are suggestive of total ban on tourism in core zones of the tiger reserves in India. This practically means there will be no tiger safaris since the buffer where the tourism might be shifted has little to offer. In most of the reserves in India the effect would be catastrophic.

    Catastrophic in terms of  both tigers and the tiger land. The biggest effect will be on those who work as guides and jeep drivers. The guides will loose substantial income since they would be dependent upon work generated at tiger reserves. This by no means equals the return accrued from conducting tiger safaris and the incentives received. The drivers will be totally unemployed. The frustration may lead to nefarious activities since these are experts of the forests and can be utilized by the poachers.

    What lies in store for the tigers, time will tell as in many parks without substantial tourism the populations have suffered.

    The tourism industry will be badly hit. Like in Madhya Pradesh most of the tourist come for tiger safari. Except Khajuraho there is no other tourist attraction that equals the reserves. The amount of money added in creating infrastructure for tourism is phenomenal. The luxury hotels in Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha and Pench will  go through very hard times. Another lot that will suffers will be the naturalist guides who accompany group tours in India.

    Time will tell what lies ahead for the beautiful wildlife resorts all over the country.

  • Tiger Photos by Teerath Singh

    maletigercubmaletigerphotobushtiger

  • Wildlife of MP

    Tree Shrew Dobhi Reserve Forest Barha JBPdeer&peacocktawnyeagle

    Central India abounds in wild animal and birds. A large part of the state is covered by dense forests especially at Satpura and Vindhya Range. The state is also rich in grassland and wetland habitats.

    In order to protect wildlife a number of conservation units have been created with the status of wildlife sanctuary, tiger reserve and National Park. These protected areas recieve varied degree of protection dependingupon their ecological importance. Madhya Pradesh has also created few biosphere reserves which encompass protected area lying in vicinity. 

    Central India is home to many rare species like the hard ground Barasingha and mouse deer. Endangered species like the tiger, leopard and gaur make the state their home. Bird life is extremely rich with more than 250 species thriving in the tiger reserves and wildlife snactuaries like Pachmarhi, Nuaradehi and Amarkantak.

    The protected areas also constitute as wildlife tourism destination. In places like Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Satupura and Nuaradeshi WLS tourism is well organized. Many tour operators offer MP tour packages for enjoying wildlife safaris and bird watching. Most of these packages are affordable and are well designed.

    Madhya Pradesh is well connected with New Delhi by Rail and Air. The state lies in the center of India and hence connects with all major metros and cities. English is well spoken in the state besides Hindi which is the major language.

     

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