Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another Tiger Killed

A tiger was butchered here about two day back and its part cut off at jungles of Umaria near Bandhavgarh National Park. The tiger poachers were caught by the police while two poachers are still at large.One of the poachers is said to have taken the tigers limb for cooking. Earlier a tiger was electrocuted on this Sunday in the Ghunghuti Forests near Bandhavgarh

Blue Eyed Tiger by Tirath Singh

Bandhavgarh Landscape
This is the said state of tiger conservation in India. There is no proactive stand to prevent the extermination of this majestic cat and few hundred remain. While so much was furor was caused  by the tiger tourism issue no one bothers to bring forth the actual issues. The lacuna in our conservation efforts and absolute disregard for other life forms in India.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nauradehi - Wild India

My eyes begin to scour the jungle as soon as we enter the sanctuary. From the gate it is a short ride to the Rest House at Mohali Range. We unpack and settle down for a hot cup of chai. Me and Peter both relish the chai, me without milk and Peter makes his own concoction with milk. Peter Gould (UK) my guest is an avid wild-lifer and birding enthusiast with years of experience.   

Having made many stops for birding on the way to Nauradehi from Jabalpur we could not reach in the early morning hours. Anyway there was much in store as we reached the Khapra Kedha Lake. We were greeted by the Black Storks, Wooly Necked Storks and Lesser Adjutant Storks besides Great Cormorant and vast assortment of avian species. A lone raptor Crested Hawk Eagle sat silently on a dead tree trunk at the top.   

From here we moved on to Jamna Rashi water body and on the way we saw a Chinkara. At the reservoir we saw Little Cormorants, Common Chiff Chaff, Tailor Bird, Plain Prinia, Wryneck and Little Grebe. We then returned to the RH via the Mohali Village where we saw a Striated Grassbird ?  Peter did not agree...but we had little time to watch the avian.

At the Mohuli Rest House we saw Honey Buzzard, White Eyes, White Browed Fantail, Short Toed Snake Eagle in Flight.   

The evening at Cheola Lake was little interesting as few heads of Sambar, Axis Deer and Nilgai Rolled by. We saw Northern Pintail and Lesser Whistling Teals and some wagtails. We shook hands with a baby Chinkara in captivity before moving back to the RH. On the way back we saw a Black Naped Hare in the settling dusk. That was all for the day no wolf in store. 

At RH we meet with the young energetic DFO Mr. Devakaran. He is busy with work but does take out time to exchange views. He is dedicated to the chore and enthusiastic, he shows us a photograph of Indian Wolf he has taken and that of many birds. With young dedicated people at helm the Sanctuary has a brighter future. He has a tough task at hand...he does not seem to dither     

Next day we move out a bit late as our guide wishes us to see the Mugger. We visit some other places and Khapra Taloa before reaching the Chakai Pond on River Bamner. At Khapra Lake we saw a Bonelli's Eagle besides Grey Heron and Lesser Adjutant Storks.

At Chakai Backwater we saw about four mugger crocodiles and some birds. An Indian Eagle Owl was chased away by Large Billed Crow before we can photograph it. We saw White Browed Fantail, White Bellied Drongo, Sulphur Bellied Warbler, Gray Headed Canary Flycatcher and Crested Serpent Eagle.

We than move on to another water body and find six seven muggers basking in the Sun on the rock at the bank. On return we see  White Eyed Buzzard and Bay Backed Shrike fly past. NWLS is always buzzing with life.   

In the evening we went to the highest spot at Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary. On the top we spotted tiger scat I mean something that looked like it. We picked it for analysis at the Veterinary College in Jabalpur.  This would be a major find if it belongs to the tiger. We wait for some time and enjoy the antics of Plain Billed Flower Pecker on the teak tree. 

As we roll down we see some Indian Gazelle on the banks of a large water body. Much to our surprise the pug marks of leopard show a hurried pace as if it resulted in a chase. We see more Chinkara as we drive down to the RH.   

The safari has come to an end Peter has mixed feeling,"Too  much for too little. I do not feel so since I did have to shelve a penny from my pocket. He!He! The package cost is high keeping the accommodation, arrangements and gate fees etc into consideration. The forest department staff has been good to us both in terms of hospitality and jungle exploration. The team is active in conserving the forests and its denizens.  

Anyway Noradehi is a must visit sanctuary since you get a different ecosystem to see and many less seen animals are often seen here. The Crocodiles number more than 200 hundred in Vyarama and Bamner River. The Sloth Bear population also seems to be high and so does that of the I am informed. The Tiger and the Leopard are elusive by all means in this once robust tiger country. This is a good place for birding and much more discoveries await you.   

With greater conservation measures in place, the sanctuary has a promising future. 

Reaching Noradehi : Jabalpur to Patan - TenduKheda - Jhalon to Jhapan Gate. Mr. Avinash Pathak organizes wild safaris at Nauradehi through his company Indiana Safari based in Jabalpur, MP.

Accommodation : The visitors usually make a day trip from Jabalpur, Bhopal or Sagar in MP. For those who wish to stay overnight the Mohali Rest House has to be booked from DFO Office at Sagar. The RH is well maintained but one should take supplements like ration and warm coverings.  
The best season is the winters. But summer safari/birding could also yield exciting surprises.    

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Day of The Jackal

The animal turned and twisted like an acrobat throwing its whole body into spirals driven by fear of death. I pressed on my breaks, hard, and a life was saved. There were fast moving cars zipping past me at breakneck speed the jackal would had been killed instantly. But the animal was wise and chose to face a slower moving car in that moment of erred action which proves suicidal for so many wild species. 

Death of wild animals on Indian roads is a common phenomena, and hardly any body pays attention to this menace. Jackals, snakes, rabbits, foxes, deer, leopard, tigers, elephant, and more are regular victims of our transportation systems.   

Well it was a good day for me. Hey man do not go nuts it was only a jackal.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing - Tiger Tourism Ban

After so much of involvement of Legal System nothing has come out of the case. Those who were favoring the ban on tiger tourism have been proved wrong and their myopia exposed. The misguided approach has caused revenue loss to eco-tourism industry as whole since many bookings were cancelled.Colossal loss will not be recovered this year.  Inbound tourists arrive in India with advance arrangements due to travel regulations and prior bookings.  

New Safaris will be conducted in according to guidelines of NTCA as per the Supreme Court. Tourism in twenty percent of core zones or critical tiger habitat is assured. The whole tiger community is in an elated state. Lively hood of many dependents has been saved.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Save the tiger campaign - Bandhavgarh

Tirath Singh at Bandhavgarh has organized a wonderful save the tiger campaign. Far removed from the rowdy thundering motorbike fanatics who kill many on the road, the bike has been put to good use here.  About a team of twenty five young lads rode from one village to another in the periphery of Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh. 

The message was simple save the tiger, it is part of us. They rode 170 km covering twenty five villages spreading tiger awareness and creating sympathy for nature's most wonderful creation. Many more campaign are yet to come. Thank you sentinels of the wild.  

Some of the other participant were

Rajeev Singh Pinku

Mahesh Singh

Mukesh Berman

RamNaresh Berman

Kamlesh Barman

Sunjay Singh

R. B singh

Kapil Tejwani

Annu berman

Raghu Singh

Sunil Yadav

Uttam Singh

Naresh Singh

Hariom Tiwari

Raju Pawar



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tiger Tourism Beginning of the end

The bleak future unfolds as closure of tourism in tiger reserves appears imminent. There is hope that some space will be given but this is merely a conjecture. Tourism in buffer is just a joy ride in case of most of the reserves. The buffer zone suffers from intrusion and lot of other disturbance, secondly the ecosystem at most of the places is not intact. These factors do not contribute to stable wild populations. Certain endangered and niche dwellers are confined to the core zone.     

Hence tourist interested in wildlife watching will diminish and they will not arrive here. The park (Read Buffer) would be visited by holiday makers interested more in revelry than anything else.   

The major impact will be on forest guides and drivers apart from closure of most of the hotels. The wide scale unemployment will result in lots of frustration. These are the people with excellent knowledge of the whole forests, animal movements and behavior. They will be easy target for the vicious network of poachers. If tourism is practically closed then adverse means of income could be sought by many. The only answer  that seems plausible is a hefty compensation or large scale induction in the department in case of those who are in temporary status or not in the muster roll at all.         

The loss of income to the administration would mean less conservation and management efforts. Another loss would be that of awareness that was regularly created. Status maintenance would suffer or would be restricted to the department.The valuable contribution of amateur and professional wildlife photographers and observers would be practically negligible. I believe the access to core zone will remain open to the privileged dignitaries.            

With full respect to Hon. Supreme Courts Ruling time will tell the impact of the changing paradigm.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lion Conservation - War of Words

Asiatic Lion

Asian Lions where once found all over the Asia. but were hunted to extinction and driven away from their natural habitat. The big cat now survives only at Gir National Park in the State of Gujarat. In India the species was spread over at larger area perhaps in neighborhood of tiger habitats as well. Since the habitat preference of the two differs vastly a species conflict is at best a matter of conjecture.  


Despite excellent conservation measures and increase in numbers, the threat still looms large.Gir is subject to severe man animal conflict and intrusion by Maldharis. The ever increasing agriculture, pastoral practices and industrialization means end of the affected ecosystem. This malady is everywhere especially in India with dense population pockets. 

The greatest threat to the lion in India is from epidemics like FPL (Feline Pan Leukopenia). Isolated animal population suffers from many disadvantages, inbreeding is one looming danger. Targeted poaching is another. Disease prevalence is a serious issue caused by decreasing immunity thanks to stale gene syndrome.    

Relocation of  Lions in India  

Kuno Palpur was established as a possible lion reserve in India keeping the above factors in mind. The basis of the project is scientific and not political, albeit secondary tourism benefit may arise. But tourism benefit is inconsequential whence matter of lion conservation arises.   

Unfortunately the project lies unfulfilled due to political wrangling affected by myopic parochialism. In India nothing can work without the consent of the present rulers. The species needs a new homeland, it does not understand parochial loyalties and political gamesmanship. 

Kuno Palpur was its former range. The animal has been last recorded in Sagar District of Madhya Pradesh. Hence this project is more of rehabilitation program and not a transfer of an exotic species.The threat of poaching is omnipresent in whole of India. 

Keeping the interest of the endangered species in mind the project should be implemented as soon as possible.  The pride should turn into a pride of lions without hesitation.

Read Lion Conservation

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Who killed the tiger?

The cat and mouse game goes on while the tiger slithers away in India. Tourism certainly did not kill the tiger. By the time tiger tourism came into picture the magnificent animal was already in state of imminent extinction. That it still survives is because of robust equity created by tourism and its own charismatic appeal. (Conservation measures as well.)

Others see India as a soft state, but behind the garb of populist democracy some pernicious control mechanism and  authoritative systems still exists. This post colonial phenomena is the legacy of British Rule in India. What gives us credit is emergence of corrupt practices and phenomenal ability to mismanage and indecision.     

Nowhere it is apparent that tourism is the mother of decreasing population of tigers in India. Then will the spaces in our tiger reserves devoid of tourist offer poachers free fall all? Will the sentinels become complacent? Will the tigers breed more? Certainly there is lot of "will" here so time will tell.  

If fruitful tourism is banned, it will be very hard hitting. The first to suffer will be the locals who will loose employment and other means of income that tourism generates. The industry as whole will suffer and loose massive investment made. It would also be depressing for dedicated managers and staff who wish to see their labor appreciated.  

You have noticed that I have used the word fruitful tourism. Wildlife or Ecotourism is a highly competitive industry that competes globally. Large number of inbound tourist arrive in India for birding and wildlife watching. Fact remains that people wish to see the tiger apart from its brethren in the food chain. Unproductive visits would mean an impressive drop in the inbound visitors. The repercussion would be larger than perceived.     

Point of my writing this is that the tiger faces threats from other quarters. Should not we spend the time and resources fighting actual threats unitedly?  So much focus on tourism is bewildering since we have years of data that is suggestive of proper management but not ban. Maximum damage is caused by human settlements on forest and grassland ecosystems in India. Tourism inside the reserves can best be described as transitory without any appreciable resource utilization within.   

The management of tiger reserves do take proactive and protective measures whence question of breeding or other urgency arrives. Forest blocks have been closed for tourism in case of animal breeding and other urgency. This impromptu practice has been going on for years. This is not related to critical tiger habitat, a term that ensures the survival of species in a smaller area. Except for species that survive in an echo niche, tigers and leopards roam all the the reserve, buffer zone included.   

This is not a reaction to Hon. Supreme Court interim judgment nor is it a commentary on any institution. This is authors own perception of life in India.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Searching for tiger in Pench

"When they do not want to be seen you don't see them." I explained to my friend who had just been to Tadoba. "Yeah that's what happened at Tadoba," my friend replied back. We were very hopeful that he and his family would see the tiger there since it was so much in picture. There had been frequent tiger sightings at Tadoba in Maharashtra, surpassing the Central Indian Tiger Reserves.     

Well I had warned them about the rains that could disrupt tiger safaris at the end of the season. That's what happened. It rained at both places and the safari was ruined. My friend was more hopeful at Pench with me along. He knows that I conduct tiger safaris and birding trips. But tigers are tigers unpredictable yet fathomable.

In National Parks these big cats are seen whence stressed for water and food. Heat and the need to chalk out their territory time and again brings them near the jungle roads. Yes a search for a mate also fetches them into the open. But on rainy day they prefer to relax under the canopy, and have water all around. There is no need for thermo-regulation which keeps indolent. The prey base is scattered all around. But tigress with cubs are more likely to move. If the cubs are grown up they stray away, but keep  in the vicinity of the mother. In such circumstances you should keep to the area of the family.       

Without tiger sightings, the long rides in the forest are not as disappointing as people think. It is the singular chase for tiger that dampens the whole excursion.

There is so much to experience, in these lovely forests, deers, monkeys, a sudden surprise - four Jackals on a kill. The birds are simply fantastic they are must watch even for those who are not bird watchers. The resplendent colors, the acrobatic flight and remarkable camouflage that surprises you no end. 

The massive bisons and the stately sambar peacefully foraging on long grasses is a wonderful sight to watch. Other life forms are an intrigue that thrills. A sloth bear ambling along and a leopard on prowl can be as exciting as a pack of wildlife chasing a deer and consuming it while still alive. Well that is how the nature works.         

The tiger some of us did see on the trip. We decided to move to the part of the river banks which was frequented by a tigress with grown up cubs. Another jeep spotted a tiger few minutes before we reached the banks of Pench River. They left as soon as the animal vanished leaving us to look for the big cat. We could hear lots of alarm cries but the bushes were very thick. 

We waited ahead in the direction of tiger walk but the animal had decided to change its course, I presumed. Hence I turned my binoculars towards the river and its bank. It was one roar that told me where the animal was. We headed back for some distance and then looked at the river bed through the clearing. All us were standing on the jeep seats to get a better view. (You are not allowed to get down from the jeep and you shouldn't.) 

"There it is! I whispered and pointed in the direction. Only one or two could see the tiger moving fast towards the other bank. The roar continued as it vanished into the tall grasses and that was that. I could still picture the scene but the roar was more exciting. My friends also appreciated this event. 'The roar was frightening," they said. Well it was!                

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saving The Tiger - Amitabh Bachaan

It is heartening to know that one of our star celebrities with massive following has joined hands to save the tiger. His involvement is an encouraging factor and with his persuasive power many an uninterested people will join in the foray. I was listening to the debate on TV and realized that his voice was more rationalistic than that of some of the erudite conservationists and conservationist speakers not necessarily present on the show.

In many years of my association with wilderness, I have realized that NGO's and activists too resort to populist measures. This may raise eyebrows, but I am perplexed myself as to why tourism is in focus all the time. Let me explain, I am visiting Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks since just whence tourism started.

In spite of rapid development of tourism in the boundaries and the tiger safaris in the park, the conservation methods have been immensely effective. The tiger population has grown and prey base has increased. The crown cover and the niche habitats have recovered as well. The massive awareness of our heritage wealth has been brought about by tourists visiting these reserves. Filmmakers and photographers have brought about International awareness about the wildlife and conservation hurdles in  India.

As far as controlling tourism goes, the authorities in tiger reserves of Central India have taken an appreciable measures. Tourism at Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench is being regulated effectively by the park authorities and the staff. Further study will certainly introduce more measure to reduce harmful effects if any. Employment to locals should be in priority basis. 

So how far does tourism pinch the conservation efforts?

There are issues as were being discussed on TV. One I heard very clearly was the large number of wildlife resorts on the periphery which are not viable. They have certainly blocked the movements of animals at places and have begun to host events that are not at all suitable near these forests meant for other life forms.

But these issues are not contributing to the decline of the tiger in India. The immediate concern is prevention of poaching. This threat is well realized since the incidents at Panna and Sariska. Tadobe Tiger Reserve has been in news lately of tiger poaching. This means an effective apparatus equipped with protection trained forces and an intelligence network that is proactive in nature. Most important is the will to act. Since years villages in the core areas have not been trans-located due to lack of funds, political interference and what not. Well Yes! Resorts and establishments obstructing the corridors should be included in this exercise.   

There is no mechanism which screens people concerned with conservation work before inducting them in this onerous task.  I have come across many an indolent lot without dedication and commitment. For such people park duty is more of a punishment posting. A hard working and committed staff at conservation units is a prerequisite for saving the tiger.

The regular reserved forests are being denuded almost all over the country. These where tiger habitats before hunting and land takeover began. Some of these forests are totally devoid of wildlife and subject to uncontrolled resource utilization. Many of these can be reconverted into habitats for animals like the tiger and the leopard.    

Disease prevalence becomes a big threat whence human incursion in wilderness increases. There have been cases of foot and mouth disease and rinderpest in such areas due to livestock. Man animal conflicts are taking serious toll of wildlife everywhere in the country.

With large number of people (who matter) participating in conservation efforts, things would work out better. There will be some succor for the beleaguered life forms neglected and persecuted by the dominant species - Man.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wildlife Photographs by Teerath Singh

Tiger Photos by Teerath Singh

Some fine example of Tiger Photography by Teerath Singh based in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in MP in India. Teerath Singh organizes tiger photography tours in India in tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh.  He and his team is able to assist amateur and professional photographers in their endeavor to capture tiger and wildlife images. Years of experience and guiding skills deliver their best for the photographers who come from all over the World.      

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dharma Giri - Wildlife Photography

Born in a small village near Chitwan National Park in Nepal Dharma Giri is a naturalist, birding guide and nature photographer. He has worked in many conservation units in Nepal and India. He is working at present in Pench Jungle Home Resort as a manager and head naturalist.
Dharma Giri
Sambar Deer


Golden Jackal

Indian Ground Beetle



Gray Langur

Indian Leopard

Hard Ground Barasingha Kanha

Ruddy Mongoose

Sambar Doe

Spectacled Cobra

Tiger with Langur

Male Tiger with his cub

Vine Snake

Wolf at Pench
Dharma Giri's work is more of a study than professional photography. The images are as natural as they can be and exude empathy for the denizens of Indian Tiger Reserves. Most of the photographs have been taken at Pench National Park in MP, India.  He has captured astounding moments that display rare unbelievable facets of animal behavior.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Drones to the rescue

With death looming large on the highly endangered tiger species effective conservation measure are the only solutions. But these   measures do not come easily in case of a lack luster approach as has been seen on many instances.  

The World Wide Fund or WWF has tested two drones that will locate poachers and inform the authorities. The unarmed drones are  capable of patrolling 25 sq km at a time. These are set to monitor conservation units in Nepal and tests have already been conducted in Chitwan National Park. 

The tiger reserves in India are very susceptible to poaching. This has been noted in the past at Panna and recently at Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra.  An innovative and proactive approach is required and the drones set a fine example.   

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tiger Photos

Tiger Photographs By Tirath Singh at Bandhavgarh