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Friday, August 12, 2011

Dudhwa - Terai Habitat - The Seize

I have been many times to Lakhimpur Kheri District in Uttar Pradesh perhaps India's largest. It is a terai belt called Himalayan Foothills. My trips took me to Bhira, Gola Gokernath, Mohammadi, Singhai, Tikunia, Palia and Chandan Chowki besides other townships. There are major sugar mills and khandsari located in this UP district. Singhai was once famous for swamp deers and hunters nothing remains now except man and his farms.

As keen wildlife man I had read accounts of man eating incidence at this tiger heaven.      

Unfortunately I have been able to come near the reserve or go across many times - but no safari. As these where all business trips. I have also moved along the Kishangunj WLS a good habitat. Farming is the biggest scourge in the swamps fed by Sharda River. Every year the river floods and inundates many human settlements. But due to excellent alluvial soil all the region neighboring the badly shrunken National Park is under sugar cane farming reducing the tiger habitat. The proximity of such large concentration of humans to forests is striking. 

This is the reason why distant places like Gola and Mohammadi have suffered from man eating incidence. The animals strike human blood in sugar cane fields near the tiger reserve. They can easily move using the night cover through scattered pieces of khair forests and swamp land to reach the townships. 

Anyway I missed a safari here in spite of being so close. I still remember the Samosas of Gola and its bustling township. The Hindu temple of Gola Gokarnath is famous all over the country. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The sights and smells of this region are bewildering, from the smell of shit and muck to that of roadside mouth watering gastronomic delights. The tiger reserve survives amidst the sea of humanity. On one side of it is the porous Nepal border which makes the park susceptible to poaching and smuggling. 

I hope the administration is pro active in protecting this heritage wealth for posterity. The successful translocation of One Horned Rhino is heart warming. The preserve is also an excellent birding destination.

Lakhimpur Kheri can be accessed by road and rail from Lucknow the former is better. The train (Mailani Express) - if my memory serves me right - that connects the two is a horrible travel experience.  Please drive in day time, the accommodations are at Palia about 40/50 km from Lakhimpur Town. Interim night stay can be made in hotels of Lakhimpur.  Evening/Night travel is not advised at all.          
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