Monday, January 30, 2017

Phen Wildlife Sanctuary - A Diminished Tail Light

Phen WLS - Micro Core (KTR)

Courtyard House Guests (Kanha) - Sudhir Pawar & Family

The bright sparkling sun hits us as we emerge from the dusty Raipur Highway and enter Phen Wildlife Sanctuary a verdant paradise and heaven.  Albeit smaller than its neighbouring core Kanha Tiger Reserve, the forests are connected to some degree by buffers Motinala Supkhar Range, & Garhi Forests.  The natural corridor (Kanha Achanakmar) formation is reminiscent of era whence the Central Indian Highlands were one large tract of forests teeming with wildlife.   

We are greeted at the Gate by the forest staff who gave us a much required brief on the forests and its wildlife. A pair of gold mantled chloropsis welcome us along side. Filled with exuberance we leave for the safari after a short repast.    
Phen Ecosystem

This was my first visit to Phen, and the scope of making new discoveries was exciting. Barely one hundred and eleven square kilometres in area the conservation unit is full of promise.    

"A good place to sight leopard, sloth bear and wild dog". The staff informs us. 

"And the tiger?" I butt in needlessly. 

"We can make a presence of two from roars and pug marks."  Sure enough we come across generous lay of pug marks of a tigress on the game round.   

The guardians of the ecosystem number only two or four if you add vagrant or un-traced tigers. Any way that did not dampen our excitement as we believe in holistic experience. The tigers, like at many places in India have lost ground here, but more promising future can be accorded with right conservation efforts.  

Phen WaterBody
Hilly, packed with dense canopy, the topography is a turbulent terrain with hills, grasslands and deep valleys. The forest comprises of tropical moist deciduous mixed, Sal and bamboo. Intermittent water bodies in form of Phen River, smaller rivulets, water holes and moist grounds are the life line of the ecosystem.  

While relocation of some villages have already taken place some are yet to be trans-located. 
The park is vital for tiger conservation in Central India. The health of the ecosystem, minimal disturbance is suggestive of a perfect tiger landscape, albeit the prey base is poor - probably due to extensive hunting and poaching in the past.  With an improvement in the prey base, the big cats will get more space for survival. Large herds of spotted deer have already been trans-located from Kanha. 

Phen Canopy
Phen Wildlife offers excellent scope for birding besides safaris. The trip can be accommodated along with tiger safari at Kanha National Park. The distance is two and half hours of drive from KTR along the Bicchia, Motinala Raipur Highway. The micro core is at a distance for 15 km from Motinala.  
Phen Images 

Directors Picturesque Cabin


Jungle Road


Rest House View

Water Body
Trip &  Accommodation

Highly recommended for leopards, sloth bear and wild dog along side great birding. There is no accommodation at Phen, but a rest house at Motinala can be availed.

Accessible from Kanha Tiger Reserve this is good way to spend a day off from hectic safari routine. Also visitors without entry pass at Kanha can make day here. Full day and half day safaris are available at less cost.  Please contact Kanha FD Office at Mandla.    

Please carry all eatable which can be consumed at the rest house and at the Gate. Jeep availability can be made from Kanha. 

More Information Phen  Micro Core

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wildlife Photos India

I have here a collection of photos of wild animals and birds. These are images belonging to my friends and acquaintances. The intention is to display hard work that goes into the imagery and yes the cost involved.

Striped Hyena - Ghanshyam
Langur Monkey - Dag Larsson

Desert Fox - Ghanshyam Singh
Leopard - Marie & Andrew
Indian Wolf - Monu Dubey

Tiger Teerath Singh 
Bison - Money Dube

Tiger Teerath Singh 
Wild Dog - Nandita Amin

Kanha Tiger  Teerath Singh 
Cinnamon Bittern - Prayut Mandal 

Marsh Crocodile Teerath Singh 
Swamp Deer - Ruchi Patel

Sambar Deer Teerath Singh
Shreyas D - Common Pochard

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Food Chain - Biotic/Abiotic Components & Tigers

Understanding Ecosystem in Tiger Landscapes 

The article's emphasis is on tiger surviving outside the protected areas in India. This is more of a simplification of the biotic components that prevail in an area highly stressed by human and livestock use.    

To understand this phenomenon we have to first under stand food chain in its simplest form. The food chain is best explained using a pyramid. 

How the creation and transfer of energy takes place.  

1) At the lowest level are the autotrophs the living beings that use abiotic elements like sunlight, soil, water, Co2 in order to produce energy. These are also called producers. Examples are plants, grass, herbs, shrubs, some micro-organisms and trees.   

2) Consumers or primary consumers subsist on the autotrophs so as to enable transfer of energy. Herbivores are the example . Deer, Wild Ox, Bison, Elephants, Primates and so on.    

3) Secondary Consumers are small predators and omnivorous creatures who subsist on primary consumers. Examples are fox, jackal, wild dog, raptors etc. 

4) Tertiary Consumers are large predators which subsist on primary consumers and to some extant on secondary consumers.   Like Tigers, Lions, Cheetahs & Leopards, some bears etc. These are also known as Apex predators, Normally these are designated as indicator species since their presence is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.    

5) Decomposers  or scavengers feed on dead organism they are small predators, hyena, vultures, eagles, corvids, bacteria and so on. 

Each layer from 2nd stage acts as population control mechanism, in order to maintain an equilibrium in the environment. All components are instrumental in maintaining humidity/moisture and composition of gases. Hence tigers are major control elements, and as top predators they are indicators of healthy ecosystem. I think this should justify conservation to all minds, Further understanding should arise by reading literature from acclaimed field biologists, conservationists etc.    

When the tiger habitats contain a perfect ecosystem, the animal's survival is presence of protection from nefarious human activities like poaching. Land grab is another major threat to ecosystems all over. Niche habitats are destroyed by expanding human settlements, industrialisation and agriculture. We have lost large tracts of grasslands, marshlands, estuaries, river, marine ecosystems and forests...all on massive scale.    

In areas outside the critical tiger habitats, multiple pressure arise from agricultural practices, human habitation, livestock and waste including toxic chemicals. The latter are as a result of widespread use of toiletries, fertilisers and pesticides. Fumes emanating from vehicles, cooking, noise pollution also contribute to damage to some extent. 

Livestock compete with natural inhabitants for vegetable matters and are instrumental in damaging the fragile ecosystem. They have been seen to easily outnumber the natural consumers reducing prey base for predators including the tigers. In most of the buffer areas of our NPs the big cats are dependent on cattle and other live stock.  Besides conflict with man they are susceptible to contagious disease.

Tree felling in order to feed livestock is another practice that reduces the canopy. Denuded land is easily subject to loss of top soil, proliferation by weeds like parthenium or carrot grass and  lantana.  As a result altered weather can inhibit breeding of tigers along with reduced prey base. 

Another reason for denudation is our dependency on wood for energy, furniture and construction.  In the past clear felling was resorted for commercial logging resulting in wide scale denudation as done by agricultural practices. Mining has the same impact as the latter besides contributing to hazardous environmental pollution.  

Hence we depend on tigers as well as all life forms for our survival plus not forgetting the purity of abiotic elements.  

Lack of planning has resulted in indiscriminate use of our land and not leaving the niche habitats inviolate. As we aim for high economic growth further pressure is created. PA's are good example of wise land use but we need this on larger scale to preserve all that we can.   

Humans should minimise land use and let the Earth flourish. 

This article is in order to create an impressive group of thinkers, nature lovers and environmentalist. A large voice/pressure group would mean the implementation of better policies which would save critically endangered species like the tiger in India and elsewhere.