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Friday, May 15, 2015

Mahua & Sloth Bears at Kanha

The Mahua Tree has a legendary status amidst Flora of Central India and perhaps other places. This tree is sacred and is never felled by the locals. Most cherished by the tribal it is a symbol of fruits of labor. The fruiting tree is very popular since the fruits whence dried and fermented are capable of yielding a coarse brew that can be very strong. 

The locals are inextricably linked with the intoxicant and hence the tree. And so is the illusive sloth bear which can be often seen foraging under its cool shade at Kanha National Park. It is also a part of many rites and rituals amongst the tribal.
Sloth Bear - Dinesh Makhija
Well this is a good time to see the sloth bear in the park and the buffer zone. The highly nocturnal animal is seen by many tourists in the grassy meadows and the dense canopy in search of fallen Mahua fruits.    

On my recent guiding trips in the months of March April and May I was able to sight many of these magnificent animals. The quest for nutritious Mahua fruit fetches the sloth into the open else it is highly nocturnal.   The Mahua fruit whence eaten fresh is a good source of vitamins and minerals besides loads of antioxidants. 

The tribal are allowed to keep certain amount of fruits in their possession which dry out as time passes. The taste is acrid and sweet and I have regularly consumed it during may guiding trip at Courtyard House in Kanha. The brew is distilled as and when required while a coarse oil is also obtained for cooklng.

Besides excellent source of nutrition the fruit acts as a mild laxative and helps lubricate your innards well. About five fruits consumed for a week does the trick, hence it proves very good for those on hard stool. He!He!      

Much ignored and maligned for the strong brew this is a tree in waiting for the modern World to benefit from its enrichment.
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