Saturday, May 14, 2016

Manglu

Manglu just came in my mind. He is fit personality in present scenario where everyone is running after the degrees for themselves or others. People who have earned a name for himself through their hard work in their life also feels ashamed in saying that they were poor in education.
No one asked for any qualification to Haji Mastan?
No matter what he did but there was a long queue of all sort of people to get him on phone.
Even the people who dare to meet him in public due to their public image were put on hold on phone, and they happily accepted it. Other example is Sai baba type people. No one ask their qualification but all feel proud in touching his feet in expectation that Baba will put his hand on their back.
Through out his life Manglu was treated like a Baiga by his employers, even I was also one of them for a year or so. In those days there was always a new story from Manglu.
One of the Rangers wife gave Manglu the old dress of her husband. She never saw Manglu wearing that dress so one morning when all the staff comes to Rangers house to report the days work she asked him why don't you wear that dress?
I wore it one day then all these sahab log (staff below the rank of Ranger) started saluting me so I never wore it again.
Everyone had a good laugh except Nagpure who asked him Kyon re when did I salute you?
Another time in summer of 1979 we all went to Bamhani dadar to control the fire. I was with Dinesh Dubey. After the fire was sorted Panwar saab asked for water. By that time everyone finished their water. In those days plastic bottles were not available. Mostly whisky bottles were used to store water in the fridge. People use to carry that cloth bottle (Chhagal) hanging outside their jeep or water in a jerrycan. Only person who was seen with a gourd bottle (Tumdi) was Manglu. So Panwar saab asked Dinesh to bring his Tumdi. The moment Manglu heard this he started running. Dinesh never got hold of him that evening. Later on everyone realised thatManglu must hae been carrying his Mahua in it.
In those days a newly appointed IFS officer came to Kisli for his probation period for a month. Range officer Kisli invited him for dinner at Log Huts Kisli.
This officer, just out of enthusiasm, desired to see Kisli Range. Range officer suggested to get ready after breakfast at 6 AM and Manglu will take you to show Kisli Range.
This officer did not liked the idea of aving Sabji Paratha at 6 AM so he just had tea and met Manglu.
I am just portraying the picture of Manglu for the people who has never seen him in physical.
Manglu was about 5'2" tall man. Often he will just put one neck button in his shirt and rest leaves open below it he may wear Dhoti tucked above his knees like langoti. A small axe in one hand and Tumdi in other.
So Manglu accompanied the Sahab on Tour of Kisli Range.
To cut the story short at about 4 pm Sahib asked Manglu how far is Kisli from here?
Kisli is just behind this hill, we will be there before dinner.
Sahib decided never ever again go to jungle with Manglu.
Once Manglu lost his job from Forest department so we employed him in Log Huts Kisli . He use to walk in morning from kanha to Kisli and again after sunset he will walk back to Kanha. One day I asked him Manglu why dont you stay here in the night? Nahi saahab, My Mem Saab lives in Kanha.
We were speechless.
Manglu and his wife were a perfect couple who lived for each other. She use to brew Mahua and they use to enjoy drinking it everyday.
One day when we were in Kanha I called Manglu and introduced him to my Mem Saab Kay. After meeting Kay suddenly he ran back home to fetch his wife to introduce her to Kay.
When he came back he put on his dress and cap. I photographed him than and there

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Velavadar was on my travel list since so many years but I never had a chance to visit that place. It's such a tiny place with so much potential to explore. Very rich in wild and bird life but very poor in Hospitality services. 

I wanted to have a companion for this trip so at last I offered my friend Dinesh to come along and he agreed happily. Another friend Raag Patel in Ahemedabad arranged the transport to Velavadar and made our visit possible.
Accommodation in Velavadar is limited. I wont say it poor but if you are not use to of eating a very monotonus food then you may land in deep trouble.
At Forest rest House Menu for dinner and breakfast remains the same . If you are late for few minutes then demand for extra roti may get declined with an excuse that cook has left the premises few minutes before. They do serve Tea and meals spot on time but the man who issues entry permit do not have any understanding about the value of time in wildlife viewing. I curse him both mornings. First morning I had to get him out of his bed at 0730. These are the most negative part for promoting tourism in the state.
Attitude of Gujarat Forest Department about Tourism is no different than any other state. They want tourism but they treat it as an extra burden on their life style. And what tourist thinks about it, only a local saying in Hindi can describe it best Doodh diya bhi to mengni daal ke. (a goat always drops it droppings in milk while you are milking her) 
Do they (Forest Department all over the country) know that all the rules they make never works in favour of wildlife and the country. Recently I mentioned it in one of my letter that Kaziranga is loosing it's Rhino and country is loosing it's name and tourism only because of rules implied by the forest department otherwise why same numbers of Rhino are not poached in Chitwan?
I strongly object on Camera fee.
Tourist Cameras should be free and there should be a nominal charge on Professional camera's. One should realise the benefit park gets from a photo published or a film released. In both the cases park does not pays a single penny in getting that kind of publicity. So what they do in return? Literally nothing to promote conservation through tourism. Tourism policy changes in parks from man to man.

We did not see many Buzzards or Eagles in the park and nor any scavenger. Blackbucks were there in abundance but disturbance to them from labour and Indian Tourists who got selfie craze was very high. We saw so many Indian Tourists coming out of their car to photograph themselves with animals in background. It was very annoying. Same guide who was criticizing the act while sitting in our car and while sitting with some other Tourists was allowing them to get down from the car.  Once we were waiting for 30 minutes or so for some action. Animals were grazing quite close by and suddenly a car comes, saw the opportunity of selfie and they all came out of the car. They must have got some blackbucks running away in their picture. We lost the opportunity and morning altogether so we decided to come back and pack.

As I said earlier we did  not see any hyena, jackal or wolf in the park and for this Guides blame availability of water in river.
Management in Velavadar / Gujarat / Country needs to be more tourism friendly. They need to understand that Tourist wants the same what they get when they visit a park with their friends and family. We had to wait till 0800 AM on 9th Feb while a car was entering the park at 0655. On enquiring I was told they were some friends / family members of some forest official from Ahemedabad. Tourist should be allowed to enter or exit the park at the time when one is able to drive the car without using headlights. This is what we did for years while visiting the parks in 1970's and 80's and even till late 90's. I am sure one day public will have sense to ask If we are not allowed to see our national heritage then why we are saving it, that too from public money.



Major Wildlife what you are seeing today in the country is because of that contribution of Tourism in wildlife conservation.
People in Velavadar village needs to understand the potential of Tourism income. Someone needs to teach them to start Home Stay in their houses. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Cat Habits are same.

In all solitary living cats their habits are very similar. Often we wonder that what wild cats does in cold mornings. Do they look for sunny spot?
Yes they do.
Not only that but even we have seen them sitting in water when temp was around 3 degree Celsius on  the ground.
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dramatic and drastic changes took place in Bandhavgarh after 2006. Chainlink fence all over the Tala zone made it a complete disaster for Tigers.
Lakshmi was one tigress who shared the territory of her mother with her two other siblings. Her share was a long thin stripe of forest, a tar road and other side of Tar road up till Ranchha village. 
Often she was seen crossing the road in late evening and early morning. There was nothing new in this. Tigers of Bandhavgarh were doing this since the day they came here.
Banka, Charger, Sita, Shashi, Lakshmi, Bamera and Rahsy are the few name to who were doing this. People including myself has seen tiger going through Tala village high street. Once in monsoon a lorry driver was blowing his horn for about ten minutes. It woke me up and in that curiosity that what happened to him I reached the spot to see Charger standing in middle of the road. I backed up to give him some space. Once he is gone I asked lorry driver where he saw him, sitting on the road was the answer.
Lakshmi use to take her cubs in Tala village and beyond to feed them on cattle. Once Rajesh Dwivedi phoned me at about three AM asking for help because a Tiger entered in cattle yard. By the time I reached the Tiger was gone but it killed few cattle in some other house. She made a kill in backyard of some house and when her cubs started playing only then villagers knew that a tiger family is there in their backyard. This was the day when Pancham got killed by Lakshmi in Tala village. 
This is an open secret in Tala that Lakshmi pulled her leg in leaping over the fence. She limped throughout his life and this limp became the cause of her death.
So because of Lakshmi a Chain link fence was put on Tala Umariya road but before this chainlink fence replaced the electric fence in Tala range. This electric fence forced four sub adult cubs to stay more than longer (up to 3 years six months of age) they should have been here and in this extra time they deminish the prey base in Chakradhara, Jamuniya, Bhitri, Chorbehra and Dhobiyakhol area. These areas has not recovered since then.
Other thing that changed Chakradhara meadow completely upside down was ploughing with a tractor. Chakradhara meadow has sandy soil due to the Sandstone fort hill. There was a thick layer of leaf litter on top of the sand that was helping in holding the moisture. Once this leaf litter culture was ploughed all came out on top is sand. Removing elephant grass also did not helped the meadow. Now there is not much new shoots available for deer to graze.

One officer wonders why more deer graze in village fields than park land. Every evening he sees Spotted Deer and Sambhar grazing in Gohni and Mahaman field.
I add some more fuel in his fire by asking him that why there is no Sida type weed in those grasslands?
He was puzzled.
If they start working in right direction even then it will take minimum three years to bring the things on right track.

Blue Eye

Blue Eye, a dominant male in some part of Magadhi tourism zone of Bandhavgarh appeared on scene when he was fully adult. There is not lineage available of few Tigers in Bandhavgarh so most probably they were born and brought up in main Khitauli area and ended up in Tourism zone of Tala - Magadhi range.
We believe he is about 10 years old now. 
Blue Eye had a fight of his life with Jobi male in which he lost a big chunk of meat from his forehead.



When we were shown those photos I assured them that if he survives you wont find him for months. He was absent from the area for months and rumours about his death were everywhere. 
He survived and survived well. Laying in Lantana bushes to wait for wild boar and cattle was technique of survival.
His body has no new injury marks but his foot still giving some trouble.
Did he injured that foot too in that fight with Jobi male? No one knows about it. When he came back on scene after that fight he was limping and since then he is always seen limping but health wise he is in good nick so we presume that that foot is not giving him much trouble in finding his food.
Jobi moved towards Tala after that fight and ultimately landed in Khitauli. 
Presently how far Blue Eye is moving no one knows. Last time he was seen near Dhamokhar. We presume he has lost all his dominance on female of that area because when we were watching Blue Eye another male Tiger was seen moving about a km away.
He still have some life left in him but how long he can face the challenge from these young ones is difficult to say.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Shashi aka Bamera

Shashi had very short tenures of everything in his life. He left his motherland at the age of 36 months and came back at the age of 50 months or so. Although he never showed his presence by challenging any dominant male in the area, Sundar or Shaki.
That time I photographed him sitting quietly 100 mtrs away from a mating pair. 

They all knew each others presence but because he never posed any threat that day the dominant male Shaki ignored him altogether and He was not dominant so female didn't show any interest in him. 
He spent another year avoiding these two dominant male in Tala Range. He never had a chance to show any dominance on any of the female in Tala Range but he was always muscling.
Reason why her mother left the area was his slapping her on a dispute on a kill.
At last he was the one who challenged his own father and pushed him successfully.
I will say that he did not had more than 30 months peace in his life as Dominant male. Even less than that because once people saw him chased away from a kill by two young sub adults male from Mirchahni. 
He had to face lot of resistance from these young males of Tulsi and Wakeeta but somehow he survived for some time but not very long.
It was these cubs who injured him badly in 2012 and he was missing for more than a month licking his wounds somewhere safe in some cave.
When he was seen he was still limping.
He never recovered from these wounds.
Another male Rahasy chased him away and beat him up in Chakrdhara.
He was chased from his main area of Chakradhara to Chorbehra side where he started moving till Thauni.
Here he met with another male Jobi and had a good fight with him.
In this fight he got his both foreleg injured but left one was more than other and Jobi lost his one eye.
In last three years he was hardly ever seen eating a natural prey killed by himself otherwise he was always seen attacking cattle.
He was unable to walk properly but otherwise he was perfectly fit to challenge any Tiger.
He proved this in last summer when he lost one of his tooth in biting to Tarun.
This day Tarun was challenging Jobi and they both were intimidating each other but none had the courage to charge.
After seeing Jobi going out of his territory Tarun started going back to his own sanctuary but he met Shashi on way. Probably in utter frustration of not being able to deal with Jobi this male charged on Shashi.
Shashi, showed him the strength of a Tiger although he was having an abscess in his both fore leg.
He bit him hard on his shoulder.
Mahavat saw two tigers rolling over on each other and growling but he was so far away that he could not recognise the other tiger. When he came nearby he saw Bamera sitting with blood dropping from his mouth.
This is the time when we reached to the spot and when we heard the story we went to look for other male.
We found him sitting behind the bushes licking his shoulder.
All what we could see through binocs that this male has both the eyes intact and blood oozing out from his shoulder.
He was not Jobi but Tarun.
In this fight Shashi / Bamera got his teeth damaged. This blood from his mouth is coming out of his gums.   
Last one year or so was worst.
His injury on his left foreleg pad was still weeping. He had this injury since last 18 months or so. But last summer he had abscess in his both forelegs.

This made him unable to run faster and in this monsoon this wound must have gone bad to worst. 
In August one day while coming back from Umaria I saw him crossing the road and walking in the grassland. He use to stop and shake his left fore paw. I thought he is limping more than usual probably because he got some thorn or stick or some mud struck to his wound.
His survival on cattle was a real threat not only on his own life but also on the life of the staff who were monitoring him or the Forest Staff in whose territory he was surviving. Forest staff were threatened regularly by the villagers.
He was a big liability in open area.







Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pug Mark Impression Pad

Pugmark Impression Pad or PIP is one of the most useless practice adopted by forest department. They just don't gain anything from it.  This is a practice from older days when staff use to try to recognise the pugmark of an individual Tiger. Now it is just counted the pugmark of a tiger male or female. No one has any clue that if there is a male pugmark here then which male? 
By this method number of tigers remain the same while tigers goes missing.
Today afternoon I was with a guide who saw a Tigress opposite siddhbaba in Tala zone last year. he and driver wasim saw the female while tourists saw cubs running on hills.
This tiger was never seen with cubs again while her cubs pugmarks were seen in Chakradhara last year.
So where these cubs gone?
In a similar case last year Tulsi lost her one of the cub which was never seen again, Wakeeta lost her one cub and one is with her now but the third cub is missing and no one knows his/her whereabouts.
Her cubs from last litter is not seen in park area so they are also treated as missing.
Mukunda male who came to Bhadrashila area from Mukunda is missing since last season. Two cubs of Hemi from previous litter are missing.
There are so many people walking in the park in the name of Patrolling but none could find the dead body of these missing tigers.
All these people on foot and on bicycle are more of a disturbance to tigers than anything else.These people needs to patrol the periphery of the park from outside.
This constant presence of human being in there area must have affected their predation habit. Now we very rarely see any Tiger walking on road.
Some of the young cubs are still not habituated with the presence of these foot patrolling staff so they runs away for safety. 
These foot patrolling staff needs to check all the PIP to report the pugmark. Who compile those datas? No one then why we are wasting so much manpower on this very unproductive practice?