Monday, December 9, 2013

Tigress on the hill

In the Kisli Range at Kanha National Park in MP there are two hills famous for tigers. Dig Dola and Sal Ghat the latter is named after numerous Sal trees present along with associates and bamboo. Dig Dola is named after a rock balancing on another.  This mountain has more of bamboo but practically the topography is the same. 

Some water bodies intersperse these mountains and the dense canopy in the valleys provide ideal cover to the tigers. The dense canopy also makes tiger sighting difficult although these areas are dominated by big males. Sub adult males sired by the dominant tiger and few tigresses some with cubs inhabit these mountains. 

The climb uphill is a rugged jungle path which twists and turns precariously along the edge. The "S" turns make the road ahead almost invisible and you can be surprised by a big cat if not careful. Leopards also inhabit the area but they are very shy and rarely seen. 

The tree line begins right where the road edges and some patches of small grass are often encountered. The dominant tigers are often encountered on the road. Munna the present male is often seen here by people on  tiger safari. This tiger maintains a large territory in the Kisli Range which keeps on changing. The tigresses are shy and rarely seen. 

We missed a tigress on Sal Ghat as she refused to come out of the bush. We heard her calling as I have mentioned in my earlier blogs. This is the tigress I wished to see and one fine day the wish came true. We where climbing uphill from the Saunf Meadow on Dig Dola Mountain trek whence we came across a group of jeeps at the Siliari Tank. 

"There is a constant ring of alarm cries,'' the guide on other vehicle informs me. We decide to wait but in futility since the tiger was deep inside the grass near the tank.           

"Move on." I goad the driver. "Lets move"

I surmise that the tiger is too deep and disturbed to come out hence it is futile to wait. The tempting thought of empty road downhill is the second incentive to keep driving. And as luck would have it a couple of kms  and we see a tigress coming straight at us. 

This is the Dig Dola tigress that we missed so often. She is shy and nervous and strangely does not vanish into the forests.  A large cat she appears to be pregnant? "Surprisingly big for a tigress," I inform the guide and he too confirms that she is pregnant by the bulge in the belly. 

The tigress keeps coming towards us and warns whence we are too close due to steep incline. A terrifying grimace, but then eases down as sufficient distance is maintained. We maintain a distance of twenty meters and my guests from Slovenia have time of their life photographing the big cat. The tigers have markings that differ and this female has thin stripes on white brows.

After giving long moments of filming the tigress vanishes into the jungle. One last look and we move on to our luxury hotel in Kanha for a comforting accommodation. The tiger safaris are tiring mind you,
Tiger at Kanha By Uday Patel
the jeep ride can be excruciating at times.

The guests are extremely happy having got amazing pictures of the big cat in Kanha. The evenings are spent over drinks and bonfire both helping us to contain our joy and the bitter cold.               

The menacing leopard of Kanha

Kanha Tiger Reserve - MP - India 

Our earlier trip to Mukki Range in Kanha National Park was devoid of big cat sightings. The range is unique since it holds extensive grasslands and two important water bodies. There is an old rest house built during the British times and worth a stay. The Mukki Gate is about 35 km from Khatia Gate and can be approached from inside as well as outside. The forests are much visited from people of Raipur in Chhattisgarh State of India and those who stay in hotels on Mukki near the park.  

Our recent trip to this range boiled with excitement. My guests were from Europe from a country called Slovenia. Both were professional photographers and one of them was also a tour operator. At Mukki we saw two tiger cubs near a water body. Probably the tigress was out hunting as we could not get any signs of her presence.    

Earlier we had seen two tiger cubs of Umarpani Female at Kanha meadow but the images where not satisfactory. The tiger family kept a distance and most often hidden in the bush. But the cubs near Babathenga Tank at Mukki were quite in the open and we could get some fine images. 

Satisfied and much happy we had a fulfilling breakfast of cheese and vegetable sandwiches, aloo paratha and fruits. Post breakfast we moved on to return to the Khatia Gate via a long stretch of jungle road. 

The unexpected happens, we were still in the confines of Babathenga Tank on the Zila Fireline in the Mukki Range. Driving casually and quite relaxed after having an onerous task accomplished we were ambling across that road at 20/km per hour. This is the prescribed speed of the park and allows your sensory apparatus to work more efficiently.     

Somewhere across the Zila Fireline, I spotted a leopard crossing the road few feet away. There was just enough time to react and I asked the driver to stop right at the spot from where the crossing took place. I was expecting that the big cat would have melted away in the bush. This did not happen!!!!!!

The surprised leopard was starring at me. The guide, driver and two lens men were taken by absolute surprise. Stunned into silence by fear is what I will describe the scenario as. Having heard me shout, "Leopard" the big cat sat there in "about to spring" position starring menacingly at me. I was on the seat. The eyes shone bloody as cryptic patterns created by strands of sunlight  formed on the animal. The chiseled canines,  deadly claws and the musculature,...few would like to view from so close. Given a choice, I would maintain a safe distance.

This is what was least expected although big cats do behave aggressively at times. I slid down behind the driver unnerved. But the lens men though out of wits were at their job with such a wonderful opportunity knocking at their cameras. But the guide was apprehensive as he could sense my trepidation. And soon the leopard was encircling our open jeep.   

This was a dangerous moment for the spots could strike. At a distance of six feet we were a sitting duck. The guide sensed trouble and shouted full throat, "HAAT." The leopard slid into the thick bushes and vanished for good. The driver was already moving forward during the episode in order to maintain a safe distance of 20 meters but then things happened too fast.
Leopard Photo by Teerath Singh
For some time there was stunned silence as we got out of the big cats range. The leopard could have gone unseen but for my alertness (Ahem!).  I turn toward my guests, my face beaming with pride, "so" I manage to speak. Still in a state of surprise they poke fun at me...yeah...ok...good. They had got super delicious shots of the leopard which we could see at the Courtyard House.

The rest of journey was full of exciting moments as we came across many animals of Kanha National Park.   

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Munna Tiger at Kanha

We are at Kanha on tiger safari. My guests from Sweden and India are excited and intrigued. This is their first tiger safari in India and expectations are high. We climb up the Sal Ghat Road in the Kisli Range hoping to see Munna and a female that often arrives here.   

With their cameras ready the guest priority is the tiger which disappoints me. I would like to give equal importance to birds of Kanha. Searching for tigers in their wild habitat is a tough task whence they are not stressed out to be on the move.  But there is always a chance of sighting one on the jungle road,

As we move forward we see no signs of the big cat but plenty of other game like sambar, spotted deer and many birds. We continue driving uphill on the torturous trek my eyes glued for moving leaves or rustle in the bush. My ears are alert to catch the tiger is a desperate bid in this season as tigers do not move much unlike the summers.   

The jungles of India always hold big surprise to those with patience. About half way up the Sal Ghat we come across excited chatter of jeeps the ensuing commotion is suggestive of the big cat. We hold our ground as Munna emerges behind the jeep and heads toward us. 

The tigers are not very tall and maximum height is two and half feet. This helps them in ambush as they can easily hide in the grass and bush. Seen upfront the size is not evident. but when we saw this animal sideways we were stunned by the size. The huge tiger is about 250 KG and dominates the Kanha Park by its sheer size and strength.

We drove on reverse as we have to maintain a distance of twenty meters by the park rules. The tiger walks very fast and it came upon us very close. Oblivious of the jeeps and commotion the animal kept on invading. This is the moment whence the inexperienced are frightened. Big male tigers do not bother about safari jeeps albeit they are aware. You have to give ground to these tigers else they come frighteningly close. In case of delay in moving away the tiger slips into the adjoining forest. It is truly a gentleman.

Munna is a dominant tiger and moves around the major portion of the park with brazen impunity. He has sired many cubs through tigresses in his territory. As long as he is strong he will hold on to his kingdom and eventually lose to an emerging male. This is how nature works the survival of the fittest through best gene selection.   

My guests were happily clicked away to their hearts content. Things are not always the same after seeing this big cat. We moved on silently happy and excited after the marvelous tiger tour at Kanha National Park in Central India. Back at the Courtyard House accommodation in Kanha I could look at the images. The images sent by our guests are included in this blog.           

On subsequent jeep safaris my guests came across a sloth bear with two cubs. The sighting is no less exciting for true nature lovers. Animals big and small are charismatic creations of nature and we should admire them. Kanha Park is popular with birders from all over the globe. Keep a good pair of binoculars on safaris.           

Monday, October 14, 2013

Misssssssssssed the cat! By a whisker!

Brown Hawk Owl
Leaf Bird - Tirath Singh

Langur - Tirath Singh
The discovery of Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox Scutulata) a Northern Taxa was exciting. We were on the spot at Dumna Nature Reserve in Jabalpur on usual Sunday birding. We could not see the owl that day but were satisfied by images taken by Prayut and Aishwaray Mandal. These two young guys have a knack for locating birds not check listed earlier in Jabalpur in MP State. They have discovered Bar headed Geese, Whimbrel and a group of Ruff(?) besides this owl.   

Leopard - Tirath Singh
We spent a lot of time searching for avian species in the nature reserve. Dumna Nature Reserve is named after the Dumna Airport since it is on the way. The nature reserve encompasses 200 hundred hectare of mixed forest along with the Khandari Reservoir. The water body is large and is meant to supply water to some areas of Jabalpur City. But there are forests and small water bodies all around. 

The Khandari Reservoir is home to fresh water crocodiles, turtles and various species of fish. In winters it is visited by many wintering and resident water fowl. About five hundred Gray Lag Geese can be seen here alongside, wigeon, red crested pochard, lesser whistling teal, nakta, northern pintail, common pochard, gargeny, spot bill duck and Eurasian wigeon. 

The surrounding forests are natural and once formed an intact ecosystem that was home to leopards and tigers. These forests formed a contiguous patch around the extant of the city. This is no more the case since the forests are badly denuded. The Dumna forests are subject to rapid construction hence another protected area for deer park has been earmarked for conservation. The fate of the forests now reside upon humans with greed for the land. The creation of triple IT or IIIT has denuded lot of land and continues to do so. There is a five star hotel proposed for development by MPTDC? If true than it will be a further blow for the wildlife in the area. An immediate stop to all construction activity is a must in all green patches of Jabalpur.     

This is a stretch of about ten km and leads to the Dumna Aiport. There are some water bodies surrounding the airport as well as the reserve forests. This area is in the news for the regular sighting of the leopards. A leopard has been filmed on the airport road by some enthusiasts. On numerous occasions we have seen crocodiles in tank, barking deer, wild boar, spotted deer, langurs and rhesus macaque. In spite of regularly frequenting the area we had not come across the big cat. Few year back I had seen a leopard with three cubs at Imzhar Ghati Forests near Pariyat Reservoir. 
Our birding trip led us to these forest tracts after we had a good look at the greenish warblers and an Eurasian Oriole family.  We came across several birds like shikra, white eyed buzzard, white eye, rufus treepie, gray hornbill and long tailed shrike. It was a dull birding day on eve of Dusshera and we were busy discussing things besides birding. On our way back we noticed a group of people standing near the restaurant being built for IIIT.  Ignoring the crowd we moved on till Prayut called us back using the mobile. " Some guys have seen a leopard pair near by" he informed excitedly. So we drove back to the spot but the big cats were no where in sight by then. 

The group was chattering excitedly and we could make out that they had seen the spots. "Just here, whence you passed us by. Look near the pole about hundred yards that was where the pair was idling," one of the guys informed us with baited breadth. Other people joined him in the confused chorus pointing to various directions where the big cats could have vanished. "You should have stopped upon seeing us," he spoke. "Your binoculars could have fetched them close."                          

We searched the canopy for some time and then gave up. We could not see the spots that day but there will be endless visits hence better luck awaits us I am sure. As we drove back in silence we traversed through huge buildings that are changing the landscape of this once pristine forests. Total disregard for our natural places is causing havoc and endangering prime forest animals in India. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Leopard in Jabalpur - Video

These video speak of return of wildlife or beleaguered status. The leopard roams around the periphery of Jabalpur City towards Khamaria Forests, (Dumna) Airport Road, Mandla and Bargi Townships. It is heartening to note the animals presence. Much earlier tiger roamed around the periphery of this city. 

With reference to the second video why do newsmen not highlight humans making inroads into the home of the wild animals?  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tiger Trouble - Live Stock Killings

It is quiet often that tigers come out of their hidings from dense forests in order to kill live stock. There are many instances of cattle kill by tigers in brought daylight right in front of the villagers.  This often calls for retaliation by the villagers during the kill or after it. The irate live stock owners often poison the carcass in order to seek revenge for the loss of their cattle. 

In many cases the tiger is at the kill with hundreds of villagers gawking at it. This is a dangerous act since there have been cases of people being killed by tigers on kill. This usually happens whence villagers venture too close to the big cat. These animals are intolerant whence eating and they charge in fear.  

The villagers encroach tiger habitats with impunity in periphery of many tiger reserves. This invites conflict with big cats inhabiting the area. Often the cattle are killed or the big cat chased away by the herdsmen.  This is an ongoing problem in tiger habitats and no solution has yet been found.   

Charismatic Wildlife of Central India

Male Tiger

Sunset at Bandhavgarh

Barking Deer & Peacock

Mugger Crocodile

Great Stone Plovers

Leopard at Kanha

Leopard on Tree

Tiger at Tadoba

Sloth Bear

Tiger at Bandhavgarh

Tiger Near Water Hole
Tiger is Grass
Tiger Road Crossing

Wild Dog at Tadoba
Central India or the State of Madhya Pradesh and part of Maharashtra abounds in enchanting wilderness and amazing wildlife. The animals and birds can be seen at tiger reserves which are of World Fame. Most popular tiger safari destinations in Central India are Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench National Park.

Other tiger reserves in MP are Panna and Satpura while sanctuaries such as Bori and Nauradehi are slowly gaining popularity. The charismatic wildlife can best be enjoyed at tiger reserves with proper tourism infrastructure. Places like Bandhavgarh, Pench and Kanha National Park are well equipped for tourism. 

The Tadoba Tiger Reserve is in the state of Maharashtra. Tadoba Tiger Reserve is an emerging tourism destination. With the establishment of budget and luxury hotels in Tadoba tourism for tiger safari is increasing. The reserve is part of Central Indian Highlands which were ones a contiguous patch. Tiger sightings are very high in this reserve thanks to less restrictions imposed. 

For wildlife photography Kanha and and Bandhavgarh are the best. The former for its tigers and abundant wildlife and the latter for its tigers and picturesque settings.    

Photo Credits Teerath Singh

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tiger Family at Bandhavgarh

This video was taken during Bandhavgarh tour organized by MP Tiger Safari in the State of Madhya Pradesh in India. The little cubs follow their mother obediently straying away could be dangerous. This video was shot at Banbei in Bandhavgarh and is a rare sight.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wildlife Photography by Teerath Singh

Teerath Singh does not need an introduction in this blog anymore. The photographs below exhibit his skills at capturing the images in the wild.  
Sunset Bandhavgarh

Honey Buzzard Balck Morph

Wild Leopard

Male Tiger

Bengal Tiger

MP Tiger Safari Office

Tiger By Water

Tiger Male

Wandering Tigers

With the creation of National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries a myopia has set in. That the tigers survive in  protected areas only is a result of this assumption. Tigers are peripatetic animals and can traverse a long distance to reach other habitats. This is more by instinct and need based, driven perhaps by hunger or territorial subjugation...whatever. Tigers may also seek areas without any competition hence there are number of time whence they are seen wandering in reserve forests.

But the greater abundance of tigers is always present in critical tiger habitats. These are also classified as core zones in National Parks. But thanks to successful tiger conservation in popular tiger reserves the big cat population in buffer areas and surrounding reserve forests has also swelled up.  The newspaper report frequently about tiger sightings in areas they are not thought to be. Most of the tiger sightings outside the tiger reserves goes unrecorded as villagers sometimes do not report these sightings. Another reason for this is difficulty in identifying the big cat from its cousin the leopard. 
Bandhavgarh Tiger Pic Teerath Singh

Every time I have spent at buffer zones in Kanha and Bandhavgarh I have come across signs of tigers. My stay at Muchmucha Lodge near Bandhavgarh was made exciting by presence of tigers and leopards. Recently a huge male at Muchmucha was electrocuted by local shikaris.   

Similarly I hear tiger roaring near the Courtyard House at Patpara in Kanha buffers where the home stay is situated.

Few years back I had seen a tiger pair on Bagharaji Ghat near in Kundam Range of Jabalpur. A tiger was reported at Phool Sagar Ghat on the way from Jabalpur to Mandla. Tigers were present in whole of Mandla before hunting and forest destruction took place. Tigers are found in reserved forest all over Central India or Madhya Pradesh living in isolation perhaps. Kanha National Park is situated in Mandla District.

A tiger was seen in a forest range near Bhopal as reported in newspaper recently. Like wise these big cats are reported in many other places in the state of India.

Will we be able to secure a favored gene pool from this distribution or will the animal become extinct. The latter is not much of a conjecture. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kanha National Park - Swamp Deer

Kanha National Park known as the land of the tiger is home to many animals besides the big cats. One of the most charismatic animal is the Hard Ground Swamp Deer or the Barasingha. This is a gregarious species of Red Deer and was once found in large herds in and around the Kanha National Park. 

The swamp deer have proclivity towards swampy grasslands but in case of Kanha there is a scarcity of such habitat. Hence the deer has become adopted to hard ground by evolution of a morphological change. Unlike other swamp deer species of India the Cervus Duavcelli Branderi does not have splayed hoofs. The main food is some species of grasses which abound in Kanha Meadows.  

The Branderi Barasingha was brought back from extinction in the sixties. A significant contribution of Dr.Schaller et. el. was active in saving this species. From about sixty six heads the population is now over three hundred fifty. A very large enclosure was established for additional protection of the deer. In absence of predation the survival rate of the fawns increased rapidly hence the result. 

The swamp deer in Kanha breed in the Sonf Meadow and some other grasslands. The mating period is in peak winters.Normally one fawn is born after a gestation period of six months. The deer is sensitive to human incursions hence needs complete isolation. 

These animals  avoid human settlements and are rarely found near them. The nearest  relative is the sambar deer which is ubiquitous. It can also be seen near the hotels in Kanha in the adjoining forests.  To see the deer one should visit Kanha National Park anytime. Large herds congregate in summers in meadows with abundant water. Kanha Meadow is one of the finest place to see the Hard Ground Swamp Deer. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Gun Cult & The Lion

Obviously the experts have been proved wrong. After years of preparation, expenditure of vast sums of money the guns comes in the way. According to the times of India news dated April 29/4/2013. Sheopur District in which the park is located is having 4800 guns while Gir Surrpundings has 2600 guns. 

What is paradoxical is that the guns at both the places can wipe out the lion population in days. Then why single out Kuno Palpur?  

The name of the game is pride. Albeit one pride to Kuno will not harm Gujarat's interest at all. It that is the apprehension than what is this ho ha about Gujarat's might - economic and in all sphere. Is there and element of doubt?

I am a staunch admirer of Narendra Modi governance...but this parochialism baffles me. It is time the able contender for PM post unshackles parochialism and adopts a Nationalistic Fervor. The gun cult is a universal problem in India...well almost. Poachers are everywhere, it is the management that has to be trusted. MP's  record in tiger conservation has steadily improved and Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench are a testimony. 

Lions have always been present in this area the last record is Sagar in 1852. the lions where wiped out by shikaris and habitat take over. The Asian Lions prefer open savannas, deciduous forests and scrub country. The intense clash with tigers is not possible as the tiger prefer dense forests with small grasslands, wetlands and bush as associates. 

The recent re-introduction of tigers in Panna has proven to be a success, and with additional protection they will survive for posterity.

So what's the problem with Kuno?  

Well IUCN Guidelines. At this juncture the issue is meaning less, let the Gujarat Government express affirmative and then proceed with interpretation of guidelines. If the experts say yes then relocate the lions here and save the species.     

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wildlife Images by Tirath Singh

Leopard at Bandhavgarh

Jackal Pair

Male Tiger

Tadoba Cubs
Tiger Cubs

Tiger in Grassland

Wild Dog

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Muchmucha Tiger is Dead

As the story unfolds the Muchmucha (Bandhavgarh) male tiger died due to electrocution in one of the fields in the village. Muchmucha is on the Tala Road about fifteen km from Barhi. This is the bitter tale of tiger's survival in India. The electric wire trap was laid by some notorious poachers obviously for small game.  

It is assumed that the tiger died on 25th February 2013 some times in the night while crossing over. The male tiger was about five years old and in a state of good health. I hope the tiger had mated with the female it encountered in my last trip. The tiger was in its prime and was in a position to sire many cubs but the tragedy has put stop to that.     

The tiger population in the outskirts of Bandhavgarh is thin and it will be some time before another male takes over the breeding process. The electrocution menace is wide spread in Central Indian Tiger Reserve. This is due to 11 KVA line passing through many reserves. 

It is problems like these which have to taken care of but unfortunately myopia rules over our thinkers. Precious time is wasted on issues like tourism which are already under an experienced control mechanism.  Not one voice is raised regarding issues that are really decimating the left over big cat populations in the country.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bandhavgarh - Tiger in The BackYard

Muchmucha is a small village located about forty five km from the Tala Gate at Bandhavgarh National Park. It is about 16 km from Barhi. Bandhavgarh lies in the Umaria District of Madhya Pradesh or Central India.  

Muchmucha lies amidst Bandhavgarh forest that is a contiguous belt of the Tiger Reserve.  On one side of the village is the oldlodge that dates back to 1935. The property established by ancestors of Mr. Avinash Pathak is in a perfect state of preservation looked well after by Mr.Pathak and & Mrs.Anjali Pathak Both are avid conservationists and oversee that same attitude dawns over the village folks that their ancestors nurtured with love and care.        

Before the legislation the members were keen hunters as well as philanthropists. They donated land and aided the poor in the area of their influence. 

Muchmucha Kothi or the Lodge is an elegant structure in same state as it was whence built. Now used as accommodation for the guest who arrive here to laze in salubrious climes go birding and enjoy wildlife safaris. The place is well equipped with all amenities that can be integrated in an eco-friendly manner. 

One can enjoy a palanquin ride as well as use it for bird watching and trek in the village forest to look for wild animals including tigers and leopards. For the less adventurous a sound massage on the machaan or the inviting hammock is the best recourse to enjoy the natural surroundings.   

The large expanse of the lodge is complimented by fantastic number of birds. The property lies amidst the true tiger country and offers an ambiance that existed in golden eras of tigers in MP.   

As the story unfolds we land at the lodge on 8th January around 6 pm. Sitting near the fire place I discuss the forests and its denizen with Chandan who is Mr. Pathak's nephew and often visits the place. Jeevan is an old trekker since the days of Mr. Pathak's grand father.   

The Roaring Tiger

In the cold evening the three of us huddle together by the bonfire waiting for the family and the guests to arrive. A cup of tea makes us feel warmer and cheerful. The roar is distinct and Jeevan's trained ears are the first to hear. "It is about 200 yards from the lodge and closing in," he whispers as we rush towards the direction of the roar. I have been to Muchmucha earlier but the evening never started like the way it did today.   

We waited with bated breath as the roar became louder and louder. The tiger was very near to the last hut and was searching for the buffalo that it killed yesterday. "The carcass has been carried away by the owners," whispers Jeevan. The thunderous roar continued  for about fifteen minutes and then there was complete silence. 

When the party arrived we narrated the exciting event and could see disappointment writ large on their continence. Nevertheless the fun filled evening warmed up with many exciting jungle lore narrated evocatively by the shikaris who serviced the family.  

The drive to the village forest yielded many deers but the tiger had vanished into the deeper confines. We went up to the river and managed to see herds of spotted deer, a huge sambar deer, barking deer and a dainty civet cat. After an exhaustive night aided by sumptuous meal and some drinks we knocked off quite late.      

The morning brought in a  greater surprise as the guard woke me up at five o'clock  The bitter cold and tiredness made things difficult nevertheless I walked up to the edge of the lodge. "It is very close," the guard said. "Much closer then yesterday I am sure," I told guard. Much to our surprise a tigress began calling as she walked towards the tiger. Obviously we could not see the pair and decided not to approach them so as not to disturb. After some time there was a brief scuffle and frightening growls and then all was over.

We stood waiting for some more roars but there was complete silence. The party awoke late and heard us again with some disappointment. It was too cold and they were all very tired hence we did not wake them up. For the day and next we heard many alarm cries around the lodge while enjoying the bonfire and delicious snacks. We had an exciting time birding as well sighting wildlife around the village forests.  

The mating tigers were much too busy and secretive to awake us again but the memory bank will teem for life time.     

We enjoyed the gracious hospitality at the lodge. The central structure with its eco-friendly flush-less baths and grand but simple rooms offered us delightful comforts and sound sleep. However a couple of rooms with attached bath are being built for the conventional tourists.      

The tigers and leopards roam around in the confines of the village hunting on cattle as well as deer who come to raid the fields in hoards.  Muchmucha is a true tiger land at Bandhavgarh. The wildlife lodge at Bandhavgarh is managed by the couple and many an esteemed personality like Mr. Sumant Moolgaonkar of Tata were regular visitors.

The diverse habitat offers excellent bird watching opportunity and many birders visit the lodge every year. Wild animal sightings are exciting, the pleasure at the lodge is enhanced by the activities that includes tribal dance and musical performances.  

Reaching Muchmucha: it is about 16 km from Barhi after Katni. One has to take a left turn from Kuan village on the road to Umaria which is 32 km from the National Park. Umaria is about fifty plus km to Kuan Village. One can also approach Muchmucha from Khitauli Range of the reserve.   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A beautiful tigress and her cubs

It was an eventful tiger safari with my guests Dianne and Christopher from Australia. Avid birders they wished to see the tiger as well. 

The first safari on X'Mas in the Kanha Zone at the evening was uneventful. I could see disappointment as it usually comes about. The next day was Wednesday and there were no safaris hence we went birding. The guests were very happy with the outcome in the buffer Zone of Kanha National Park

Thursday fetched some luck as we saw a tigress as she was being flushed out by the trained elephants. Birding at Kanha is exciting and we could come across many interesting species. The last safari on the 28th December was  most exciting, we were cruising along in the bitter cold that morning without much to see. Eventually at one of the water bodies we met a jeep who had seen a tiger cub before we arrived. 

We waited for the tigress and cubs to surface but without luck. We decided to drive ahead to the spot were we had seen the tigress and her cubs. There were ten jeeps waiting there to the family since rampant calls were being heard.     

I told my guests that we will see the tiger and asked the driver to drive back to the water body. This is were the strayed cub was and the mother would certainly fetch him back. As luck would have it we came across the tigress running at full speed in our direction. Fear took over, I knew if the female took us for the cause of disturbance then she would surely charge. Luckily with one graceful leap she dashed into the bush. She was gone perhaps with the strayed cub following her in the dense canopy.   

We heaved a sigh of relief and turned back stunned by the amazing spectacle. The cubs and the female were not seen again but gave me an excuse to boast my experience. At the hotel in Kanha the guests said. "You can keep boasting. You are excused". So I went on to narrate more such events in my jungle adventures. 

Tracking tigers is a tough job and things do not work out well all the time. Tiger chase is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. Sometimes the events arise favorable and they are lifetime moments. This is what my experience has been at Kanha and other National Parks in India.