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Friday, August 12, 2011

Wilds of Seoni Hills

Part of Central Indian Highlands so vividly and elegantly described by Capt.James Forsyth during the Raj...these hills are part of the Satpura Range. The Central Indian Forests where once contiguous and  were teeming with wild life and floral biodiversity. If you have not read the book do read it.

The Seoni Hills are where the story of Mowgli the Wolf Child is based. This is also known as Kipling Country since he wrote a fine account of these forests and Wainganga River in his book "Jungle Book". Rudyard Kipling has knit the wild denizens into a complex web of imagination that allures many to visit these highlands from all over the World. All the characters of this classic book live in the jungle even now, though the wolf has become rare.

With increasing urbanization lot of habitat types that support rare animals are being lost. Outside the reserve plains, grasslands and scrub have been completely overtaken by civilization. Increasing population, agriculture and industrialization further threaten these pristine jungles of India.     

The Seoni Township is a small city now with bustling commercial activity. Fifty km from it towards Nagpur lies the Pench National Park which encompasses Seoni Hills. The forests where once connected with Kanha Tiger Reserve, but I do not think they are anymore. The town itself is bare, but the jungle is met with at some distance. Most of the drive to Pench is pleasant as scenic splendor of dense canopy, undulating terrain  and green hills unfolds.   

Due to the ravages of time the forest have been greatly denuded but timely intervention saved the remaining. Most of the rock formations are pristine with black cotton soil and clay here and there.  Adjoining to Pench is Rukhad Wildlife Sanctuary now part of the tiger reserve. The WLS offers good sightings of animals including tigers and leopards. You can still come across Bison and deer crossing like it was everywhere in olden days. The area is well inundated by rivers and nullahs which are the life line of the ecosystems here. Water Holes or pools are referred as Dohs, perennial springs also support life in this region.    

Wildlife seen is tiger, leopard, bison, sambar, spotted deer, wild dog, sloth bear, barking deer, langur and Nilgai, The Indian wolf at Pench frequents outer areas around villages but are not often seen.     

Extensive jungle is connected with Seoni, Balagahat and Dist. of Nagpur.  The forests stretch from the State of Madhya Pradesh and ingress into Maharashtra. Most of the tourism takes place from Turiya Gate in MP. The MP border at Khawasa is the access point to Turyia Gate. In order to enjoy wildlife safaris one can stay in numerous Pench resorts that offer accommodation. The jeep safaris in the preserve need to be booked in advance during the rush season. The safari offer chance of sighting the spectacular animals of the Hills. 

The Central Indian Highlands also encompass Pachmarhi Hill Retreat and parts of Kanha.The distance from Jabalpur to Pench is about 200 plus km. From Nagpur it is 80 km. Both are connected by air with Mumbai & New Delhi. From Kanha the reserve is about 200 km.    

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