Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Haven for wildlife

Bandhavgarh National Park lies in the eastern part of the state of Madhya Pradesh in the Vindhya range. (Madhya Pradesh or MP as the name implies is in Central India). Though, it is a comparatively small park - about 110 sq. kms it has the highest density of tigers amongst all the national parks & hence there is a great possibility of spotting the tiger during a 3-4 day visit. The best time to visit for spotting the tiger, other mammals and birds in breeding plummage is during the heat of summer before 30th May when the foliage is comparatively sparse. Winter is a good time to watch the numerous resident & migratory bird species that flock to this area.

It is unfortunate that many visitors throng the place just to see the majestic tiger while ignoring other species. The area is rich in flora & fauna & enjoying the bio-diversity of the area can be a most rewarding experience.

The photo above shows the Chakradhara meadows with the Bandhavgarh fort in the background atop the hill. This was originally the hunting ground of the royalty of Rewa and the famed white tigers (those with a recessive gene of the species) were found in this area.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tracking down the Tiger

Locating the elusive tiger was quite a challenge. While our very first evening safari brought us to the Churbehera tigress hidden in the foliage with a kill beside her (wild boar), the ferocious Chakradhara tigress refused to oblige the numerous jeeps gheraoing the meadows which she made her cover. Nearly 100 odd jeeps lined up in anxious wait hoping she would emerge from the grass until it was time for all humans to leave the park at 7 p.m. sharp

The centre Point where all jeeps are to report by 7.30 a.m. and the only place within the park where we are allowed to alight from our vehicle and refreash ourselves.

Pugmarks of a male tiger - possibly B2 who also refused to oblige us. We waited in vain until it rained heavily & drenched us all in the open jeeps. By then, an irritable jeep driver informed us it was time to exit the park.

This pregnant tigress is the Churbehera female who gave us sightings throughout - pix taken from atop the elephant barely few feet away from her. She had abandoned her kill of few days and had moved a few yards away. By this time, the kill began to really stink!It mattered little to her that there was a flurry of activity in her honour with people from all corners of the earth keen to get a close-up. Instead she found all this very boring! Yaawwn!!!
Other tiger sightings included the Munjani cub, the 3 Rajbehera cubs and the Bitari female. Unfortunately these were spotted behind the tree cover & hence could not be caught on the lens. It is always a thrilling experience to watch a tiger in the wild rather than seeing them behind iron bars.
Visitors are strictly prohibited from alighting from the jeeps in the park area except at the Centre Point. While climbing onto the elephant, you need to climb atop the jeep to do so. For the tiger, when you are in the jeep, you are part of the vehicle. However, when you alight you are a human and fair game. Few days after we left, I received the unfortunate news that the Munjani female had attacked and killed a local youth who entered the park to collect Tendu leaves.
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This Hanuman langur near the gopalpur pond believed he owned the place!


Spotted deer

Indian fox
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Friday, July 18, 2008

Scavengers/ Raptors inside the park

With so much of life brimming in the area can these species be far behind? The long billed vulture was a fairly common site above us. Below the Red headed vultures giving the spotted deer company

The Changeable hawk-eagle

Grey-headed Fish eagle taking some respite.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Variety of Birdlife in the sanctuary

Adjutant stork near a waterhole
Brown fish owl with its Baby owl below. You will need to click to enlarge the pix of the baby owl. It can be seen charmingly perched between the V- of the trunks & merging with the bark. Pic cropped & edited for viewing.
Grey Hornbill

A Crested serpent Eagle calls out to his mate below. She is happy to answer the call giving us a resounding chorus

The Red Jungle fowl (male) is the original ancestor of our domestic fowl all over the world

a peacock is always a beautiful sight to behold in the Indian wilderness

a common but beautiful bird, the Indian roller kept us good company during our safaris. watch the action!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Structures within the park

35 ft. Statue of the reclining Vishnu at Seesh shaiya halfway up the hill towards the Bandhavgarh fort. The river Charnaganga is believed to emanate from his feet.

views of the limestone caves carved out of rock by the royalty during their hunting days
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Birdlife at our resort

Tickell's flycatcher
Common flameback (picture cropped & edited)

Orange-headed ground thrush

Pygmy woodpecker

Another view of the Pygmy woodpecker

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More winged life around our resort

Eggs of the Red-wattled Lapwing just outside the resort
Crimson rose in the dining area

Black naped Monarch flitting around outside our cottage

Puff-throated babbler

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Birds seen during visit

White-necked stork, Adjutant Stork, Yellow wattled lapwing, Red-wattled lapwing, Pond heron, Little cormorant, small egret, Cattle egret.
Crested Serpent eagle, Changeable Hawk-eagle, Red-headed vulture, Long-billed vulture, Grey-headed Fish Eagle
Brown fish owl, Jungle owlet, Spotted owlet.
Red Junglefowl, Brown headed barbet, Coppersmith, Orange -headed ground thrush, Black-naped monarch, Tickell's flycatcher, Pygmy woodpecker, common flameback, Plum-headed parakeet, rose-ringed parakeet, Racket-tailed drongo, Black drongo, Paradise flycatcher, Green bee-eater, Grey hornbill, Indian pied hornbill, Golden oriole, Indian roller, Peacock, Yellow-throated sparow, House sparrow, Brahminy starling, Bank myna, Rufous treepie, Puff-throated babbler, Chestnut-bellied nuthatch.

Mammals/ Reptiles seen during visit

Garden Lizard at our resort

Peninsular rock Agama inside the sanctuary

Mammals: Tiger, Jungle cat, Jackal, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer (Indian Muntjac), sambar, Wild Boar, Mongoose, Indian Hare, Hanuman Langur, Rheseus Macaque.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Activity at our resort-Tiger Trails

The beautiful ambience in and around our resort enabled us to do some good birding when we were not on safari. Accomodation was in the form of 2 roomed cottages with the reception and dining area in the middle and with numerous trees around

Tribals regaling us with their folk culture

A view of the dining area at night

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Info & Acknowledgements

Bandhavgarh National Park lies in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Nearest airlink is Jabalpur and railheads are Katni junction 120 kms & a smaller station - Umaria about 35 kms. Most of the resorts are at Tala outside the park area.
To get the best of your visit, it is necessary that you go on all the safaris. The early morning safari begins at 5.30 a.m. & ends at 9 a.m. this is the best time to spot the tiger and other living beings. However, due to the large number of jeeps that line up outside the gate, you need to be on your way latest by 5 a.m. to obtain your route and guide so that you can enter as soon as the park gates open. It reminds one of the "Charge of the Ligt brigade!" If however, your idea of a holiday is a more relaxed one - arising at 10 a.m. in the morning, you will miss out on the real opportunities for wildlife viewing.

You need to hire an open jeep, arrangements for which can be made from your hotel. Each jeep carries 6 tourists and it is compulsory to take a guide from the entry point. Be aware however that during the busy season, temporary untrained persons are recruited from the nearby village. You need to impress upon your jeep driver that you require a trained & experienced guide with a keen eye who can show you all there is to see. A good guide can share a wealth of information that you may not always glean from the books. Do however, consult guide books especially for birds, butterflies & reptiles/amphibians which your resort/ hotel would normally have in its collection.

For an enjoyable trip like this, I would like to thank

  1. Bombay Natural History Society and especially the "Butterfly man" -Isaac Kehimkar, GM Programmes for being an excellent resource person & for the good arrangements made
  2. Staff at Tiger Trails Resort for the service rendered to make our stay comfortable and enjoyable in the scorching summer heat
  3. Pinku & his team of jeep drivers especially our driver Pappu who was not only an able driver but also played the role of a very knowledgeable guide
  4. The local guides who shared practical knowledge and experience with us
  5. My fellow travellers for adding to the pleasure of the trip & especially Alka & Ankita Siraswar for being good room-mates