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Friday, November 11, 2011

Fantastic Wildlife of Nauradehi

The chinkara leaped over the a ditch and vanished into the forest canopy adjoining the road. Taken completely by surprise that animal gave one look at us and vanished. This was a rare sight for me as most of the chinkara antelopes or Indian Gazelle have become extinct from Jabalpur and its surroundings.  

Nauradehi is a unique wildlife having up till now lost in the annals of history neglected since the end of the hunting era. It was my friend Shri Avinash Bhai landlord and business man who stirred an interest in me to visit this wonderful tiger haven. Being an avid naturalist he had frequented this wildlife sanctuary on few occasions.    

This was our third trip together after the news of a tigress found dead due to natural causes couple of months before. We were not on a tiger safari but on a quick status survey. We met few officials of the sanctuary who have been working hard to conserve the invaluable diversity of the preserve.     

November, December and January the crocodile sightings are assured. About two hundred crocodiles are found in the Bamner River and numerous water bodies that have been meticulous preserved by the forest department SDO Mr. Narendra Singh and RO Mr.Manohar Lal and his team. Their helplessness is evident as the number of villages inside is alarming. The relocation order has come in and many villages are willing to move out. But funds allocated are being channeled elsewhere at the moment. In other preserves as the officials say. 

This is a unique biotope since the fauna seen here is much less seen in popular tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh. It is a dry deciduous mix forest with preponderance of teak most of which has been logged out and the plunder continues. Bamboo is scarce because of gregarious farming, Tendu, Saaj, Salai, Dhok, Banyan, Peepal, Lyndia, Jamun, Amaltas, Char, Bahera, Harra and many fruiting trees.  

There is no lack of will and efforts by the team at Noradehi but the problem is very large. Indiscriminate collection of fire wood and minor forest produce is also a problem. But in limited numbers the team is doing all it can to safeguard this valuable reserve. In spite of action whenever possible the problems persist.   There about 60 plus villages in the sanctuary and human intrusion is damaging.    

We are thankful to the officials for their interpretation of the ecosystem and wildlife of Nauradehi. As per the departmental census there are about 4/5 tigers, 4/5 leopards in an area of 1100 plus sq.km. Besides the fauna comprises of Indian Wolf,  Sloth Bear, Wild Dog, Nilgai, Chinkara, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Fox, wild Boar, Otters, Jackal and more.There are extensive grasslands with the preserve which support healthy population of black buck and chinkara besides deer species. This is why the WLS is been chosen for Cheetah relocation in Centra India  

The bird life is amazing with many species that are not easily seen in other parks. At Cheola Lake I could sight verditor flycatcher, common wood shrike, paradise flycatcher, white browed flycatcher, black redstart, lesser whistling teal, black ibis, common chiff, blue throat female, Blyth's reed warbler, black drongo, bay backed shrike, pied wagtail, grey wagtail, marsh sand piper, green sandpiper, egrets, king vulture, white bellied sea eagle (?), common tailor bird, jungle babbler, plain prinia, ashy prinia, lesser white throat, Hume's warbler, rose ringed parakeet, grey hornbill, plum headed parakeet, pied starling, common myna, open billed stork, white headed ibis and pied cuckoo.

The sanctuary has diverse habitat including large grasslands and many wetlands. Thus forest birds, grassland birds and wetland species can be seen in a few day visit. A day visit can also yield  good sighting but 2/3 days is recommended.

Nauradehi is about 86 km from Jabalpur and little less from Sagar District of Madhya Pradesh. The best approach is from Jabalpur which is directly connected by flight from New Delhi and Mumbai. The city is extensively connected by rail with metros and many other cities. 

A day  trip can be organized from Jabalpur. Some popular MP tourism companies also arrange safari package and bird watching in the preserve. Naurdehi has little accommodation accept forest accommodation with two rooms. This is available only with prior permission of DFO at Sagar.

One can make a to and fro trip from Jabalpur with ease. The tour operators provide packed  food for the day and arrange jeeps from taxi services in Jabalpur City and Sagar Township . Jeeps are preferred mode of transport in the park. The gate fee is less than Kanha, Pench and Bandhavgarh National Park. The safari guides are not available hence naturalist from Jabalpur or forest guard are required if you wish for an extensive wildlife safari in the preserve.      
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