Monday, February 23, 2009


Conservation history of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve or National Park is not very old. It is only 40 yrs old. Present Tala range was donated by Late H.H.Rewa in 1968. Before it it was his one of the favourite hunting ground to shoot Tigers. In those days their belief was that shooting 108 tigers by one person in his life time brings you good luck???

Maharaja of Rewa shot 108 Tigers easily in his life time. In India Maharajas lost their privipurse rights in Late Indira Gandhi's first tenure as Prime Minister of India. She did not stop here. Later on she brought Land Sealing Act to help Vinoba Bhave in his mission.

I first visited this park in 1979 with Late Ashutosh Dubey, Ranger M.P.Forest Depttt. On that most of the hills were barren. One could see animal walking on hills. There were hardly any big trees in the park. Bamboo was very poor only because till 1968, a nearby paper mill did bamboo extraction from Bandhavgarh. That day when I asked road name to our Guide Bhuvan Bhaskar Pandey he replied Birla Road. Some roads here still called Birla Road.
Today when we see the jungle in Tala range the average age of trees is not more 30-35 yrs. We don’t see many good old trees. Once I got a census figure paper of 1968-69 and there was no mention of any Tiger in Tala range. Sambhar figure was higher than Spotted Deer. Only 4 leopard and few wild boar and Muntjak were mentioned in that list.
Mr Jagat Jyoti Dutta was conservator of Forest in M.P.Forest Department in 1968 and assigned the duty to take over the designated land for M.P.Forest from Maharaja of Rewa. He wrote me that that time along with Maharaja of Rewa and that time Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh he drove in Tala area for three consecutive nights without seeing a single quadruped. Maharaja was not very pleased with the situation in his shikargah. Loosing the control on his land could be the one reason helped him to decide to donate this land to Government with a condition of declaring it as National Park.

Late Sh. Amar Singh ji told me that at that time Khitauli was a much better hunting block than any other area in 200 km radius of Umaria. One of his client shot seven tigers in a day. Those were the days. Tiger was rated as a pest when alive and once dead treated as God . Late Ajay Kumar Reddy showed me the photograph villagers praying to dead Tiger as a symbol of Goddess Durga.

Once the habitat in Tala range improved Tigers from Khitauli range must have moved in. Official figures of 1979 Tiger census in Bandhavgarh National Park shows 20 plus including cubs. Today after 28 years there figure in Tala range is 3 adult male, 8 adult female and 18 cubs of different age group. Surplus population born in Tala range and moved out must be living some where in other ranges but no one talks about them in tourism industry. People in tourism industry talk only about those things that they can show to tourists to prove themselves right.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


A pair of Brown Fish Owl is breeding since last twenty years on a Peepal tree in Jamunia, Bandhavgarh Ntl Park. Is it the same pair for all that time is not known. They are breeding again this year. I saw one guarding the nest and other bird sitting in nest.
According to The Book Of Indian Birds By Salim Ali they feed on Fish,Frogs,Crabs, Small Mammals, Birds. Habits: Nocturnal Affects well wooded country, well-watered tracts. Fond of over grown ravines in the neighbourhood of jheels and streams.
The river bed where this tigress is walking use to be full of water. At one time it was so deep that I photographed elephant bathing there. ( unfortunately all those pictures are on slide and i don't have the scanner)
In last few year some changes in design of culvert construction in the park took place and it destroyed the habitat of Brown Fish Owl. A very similar story like the mud-puddling spot of butterflies was destroyed.
This junction was such an important spot in the park that many tourists use to spend hours to wait for an opportunity for a better photograph of Brown Fish Owl.
Since that water is made run trough under the bridge Brown Fish Owl is seen sitting on ground looking for other mammals and insects to feed on.
Now birds are breeding again but they have lost their fishing pool in Jamunia and Siddhbaba.
With all these kind of Management Practices one should not blame tourist for Tiger oriented Tourism.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Sometimes we get some very knowledgeable tourists who knows every nooks and cranny of wildlife management. Discussion with them always increases the knowledge of each other. Hiding the truth about bovine T.B. is simply a futile exercise. Bovine T.B. is everywhere. It shows its presence in each and every village of central India. Thanks God we don't behave like Europeans otherwise most of our cattle's would have slaughtered. I say it is one of the means of keeping our homosapiens population under control. India needs such epidemics more.

Here I will talk about Bovine T.B. Sometimes we see Spotted Deer and Sambhar Deer grazing very close to cattle. They are not in direct touch but their presence is noticed on either side of the fence. Often we see very sick looking Deer in the park.

Are they suffering with Bovine T.B.??

If they are then does that effect the life span of a Tiger??
We don't have any such research done in this country. Once I asked a french Vet to work on this. Poor girl jumped on this idea got everything done from her end to know later on that Indian Govt. does not recognise French Vet degree here.
But tons of money spent every year on inoculation of cattle's without any results.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Tourists and Travel Agents are accused of promoting Tiger Tourism. Tourists wants to see Tiger and only Tiger. This is true there is no doubt about it. If he has an option of choosing between a Tiger and a Chital he will choose Tiger but once ha has seen the Tiger he is happy to devote time to see any small animal in the jungle. Here Guide becomes an important person to look for him other small mammals, birds or insects to keep his interest alive.

At one time Chakradhara was very good for this. One could spot mud-puddling butterflies and Drosera plant side by side. It was a very popular spot to kill the time and at the same time keep the tourist busy or after seeing the Tiger guides get a chance to show their skills.

But all off a sudden this all was lost in Feb 2007. Present Management (No one has changed) of the park then decided to put the concrete on a small patch of this road. They chose exactly the same length of road that was used by Butterflies for mud-puddling and where lots of drosera plants were growing year after year.

This picture was taken on 4th March 2007. Since than we never saw those big numbers and different species of butterflies mud-puddling here.

By the way one should know that our present Field Director of Bandhavgarh National Park has authored two books on Butterflies.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Some of my friends says that I am the only person in Bandhavgarh who criticise park auhorities regularly.

I must clarify this.

Yes I do. I am the only person who choose Tala village my home only because of Bandhavgarh National. My wife left her lucrative job in Britain to live here only because of bandhavgarh National Park.

Our Only and Only hobby is to visit national park which is next door for us. It is not a cheap hobby. Every visit cost us 1000-1200 Rs. If we go on Elephant to see Tiger it costs another 3-4 Hundred Rs. We have choosen this place our home and we would like to live in the same area till we are alive and for that we have to see that our surroundings are not destroyed.

Next few blogs will be on Bandhavgarh National Park.

In last few years we have seen forest department (read park authorities) dumping the rubble inside the park. Rubble is being dumped in Chakradhara, Bathan and Sehra.

Above picture was taken last year of Sehra meadow road. Rubble is dumped on the road. Since then grasses have stopped growing on the spot where they put th rubble and cement mortar mix had killed the rizome.

I dont want to say anything on this but this is what we see happening in the park and this is done by those people who are Trained Wildlifer in the department.


These are the pictures of a brick kiln next to my house and kiln is fired about 40 mtrs from my bedroom. When the kiln is fired my bedroom get filled with CO (carbon mono oxide gas) We rush down stairs to sleep in another room that is another 40 mtrs away from our room.

Legal status: Brick kilns can not be fired in village premises or residential area. In last ten years we tried hard to complained this matter to local authorities inclusive of Colector, SDM, CEO Janpad Panchayat, Tehsildar, Patwari, DFO Regular Forest, Field Director Bandhavgarh National Park and Chief Wildlife Warden of M.P.

Wood used for firing the kiln is always the firewood. None of the concerned authorities seems to be interested in dealing with these.

Recently one local Advocate submitted a complaint to DFO Umaria and the rply he got was do you have any personal grudges against them.

He was shocked but he shot back asking him do you have some personal interest in brick kilns thats why you dont want to take any action against them.

Anyway this all happened a week before. Nothing happened till today. It looks like soon we have to sleep in other room for few days.

These brick kilns have destroyed the buffer zone forest around Bandhavgarh National Park and still people are talking about conservation. when Government is not interested in conservation then what the hell the general public can do. Nothing but watch destroying the forest around them.

15 years back we were talking about buying some land around bandhavgarh. he suggested that i should try to find some land around Western side so minimum there will be someone to keep an eye. We bought 5 acre of land, built a beautiful well and starting buillting our house. After monsoon we found no approach road to reach our land. road was encroached by villagers, we tried to get electricity but cost of two poles was too high to our budget on that time so till today we never got the electricity on that land. Recently one of the my Journalist friend wanted to retire here so I offered him the land and the house. He found no mobile signal on the land so he dropped the idea. Forest around that village is also disappearing fast. There it is only the population growth consuming the forest. Who can stop the population growth to save the forest. None of the government is serious about it then why we should have a false hope of saving the nature. Ultimately at one day population growth will eat away all the forest. So be happy and dont worry about the nature.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Today I heard that forest department wants to shift the Bhitri female, P13, to Panna. We saw her moving in Lakshmi's teritory. She was marking on every bush and tree. Rubbing her body on the ground to leave her scent marks. Today, 15th Feb, we saw P10 walking on Chorbehra road. At one spot he stopped, sniff the road, sniff the tree, flehman and moved on. Minutes later we found him rubbing his shoulders with P13 and mating. They are from same litter of Pyari born in Nov 2004. Normally female Tiger produces their first litter between age of 32-40 months. P13 is 51 months ( 4 yrs 3 months) old. Still no sign of pregnancy. What is happening. Again the same question.

My Gypsy's clutch plate gone wrong in the jungle so I have to call to come with Whity. She came with Munmun and Mahi. we were on the Tiger spot so we thought to send them on ele to see tiger. Mahi wont go alone so Hariom has to go with them.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Conservation and corruption are first cousin to each other. Corrupion prospers in company of Conservation. Our Tiger figures since 1973 proves it very well.
Project tiger started with less than two thousand tigers. Poor Tigers dont know that till today, in last 26 years, how much is being spent on their welfare. What they know for sure that their community members are decreasing year by year. Their census figure now is less than 1400. They cant find suitable boy or girl to marry anymore so many of them has to look in to their neighourhood in their own family. Thanks god they dont have to get a certificate for their childbirth otherwise they would have never got it. I have seen them breeding with their sister, aunt and nieces. Some scientists says this is in-breeding? Everyone opposes their lifestyle only because they cant protest others who can protest does it legally. Nobody talks about inbreeding there.
We were checking the family tree ofTigers of Tala range in Bandhavgarh Ntl Park India where 85% tigers carry the genes from Sita and Charger. What are the ill affects of in breeding are unknown to this area. In-fact no-one has documented these to prove it scientifically.
Last week we saw Lakshmi mating with P10. Lakshmi is a daughter of Pyari and B2 from third litter of Pyari and P10 is from next litter of same parents. They both carry the same genes or blood. Lakshmi's cubs left her last year. One of her cub is now in Bhopal zoo. He is about three and half yrs old. We are seeing Lakshmi mating with different males since last one year but never seen her really preganant. Why she is not conceiving? No one knows. Neither their is any case history mentioned in any of the literature I have. What could be the reason?
talking to different Doctors / Veteranary the reasons I got are -
1. It could be a stress related mater. Sometimes when some animals do not find their teritory safe enough for raising their cubs they do not conceive.
2. If carnivorus animal have poor prey base in their teritory they may not conceive for a long time.
These two reasons can be seen in her teritory.
Her teritory is a strip of 600 mtrs wide to 2.5 km long forest. North side of this is fenced with chain link fence and southern side is a hill. There is another tigress on southern side that do not allow her to flex her muscles in south.
In East and West of her teritory their are two different tigress who keeps an eye on her teritory and do not allow her to move further in their teritory.
She has a beautiful meadow in South East but other tigress from Chakradhara pushes her back.
So she is in a very difficult teritory where prey base is depleting year by year.
I will love to hear from readers of this blog if they know more about this because I know nothing about this. ( Cant think like an animal).
So we were talking about Tiger conservation and corruption. I will feel very happy if any one of you prove me wrong on this issue. This corruption may not be directly in financial terms but it may be in terms of sincere duty in conservation. But that too affects financially.
I dont want to bore you any more so let us stop here. tigers have a very secure future as a breed and people will see them for few more decades in isolated forests and lateron in Glorified Safari Parks of Bandhavgarh, Ranthambhore, Kanha and few more places in south india.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


We always talk about Bandhavgarh fort. How good it was to walk up to the fort. Munmun always loved it. She walked all the way from Sheshaiyya to Fort temple and back at the age of 30 months. Chocolates were always with her to boost up her energy. We don't get any chance to talk to Tourists while we are inside the park. That is the time where we are always busy in spotting the things or planning how to use remaining time to produce best results. Once Kay and her friend went for Lunch in one the costliest lodge. She saw that all the guests staying there were allocated a different table for lunch and there Naturalist was not accompanying them. Means the guests do not get chance to have conversation with other guests or with their Naturalist. Bizzare----------.

So people who wants to visit Bandhavgarh in future can note some information from here.

Now fort visit is not cheap. You have to pay an extra Entry fee to the Park and jeep charges. For Nationals it is Rs 680/ and for Foreighners Rs 2180/ entry fee and jeep charges are Rs 2500/.

What you see their Ruins and a temple. There are some Good statues of Vishnu incarnation and even of Kalki. According to hindu mythology he is yet to born. Very good view of the park and of surrounding atreas. One can see from there that how isolated the park is. Everyone talks about corridor but where is the chance to have a corridor for the animals to move. Statue of Matasya, Turtle, Varah and view from Maharaja seat is worth seeing. Bathan side is good for Vulture photography. My best Vulture photographs are from there.

If you know about Kabir and his Doha "Pathar puje hari mile, to me pooju pahar" then must visit a place called Kabir temple on the fort. There is no statue or anything in that building but every year Kabir followers comes visit this place in thousands and that day park is in full mess. Thousands of people are allowed to walk through the park. I am here since 1990 but visiting this park since 1979. Never saw this Kabir mela before. It all started all of a sudden like in mid and late 60s we saw Santoshi Mata. One Priest told me that Fear creates the faith. I beleive him.

I firmly beleive that people working in wildlife wing of forest department have changed their attitude and now they succumb to every political pressure and bend the rules otherwise this tradition of Kabir pilgrimage would not have started.

Anyway avoid those dates is the only advice I can offer.

Walking around Temple can be rewarding, good for birds and butterfly photography.

The picture of a cliff is basically an old Long Billed Vulture nest that is being abondoned due to the death of nesting birds. They do change their nesting site but this nest was always occupied since I visited the fort about 22 yrs back. we presume that parent birds must have died due to Diclofenac affect.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


So i was talking about our Two guests. 4th afternoon was superb for photography. Although I was not having a clear view of the Tiger but I am satisfied that I made a saleable picture. Tiger sleeping on the road and none of the tourists from jeep on otherside are looking at him. How boring it is to watch a sleepy Tiger. Dappled light never makes a good picture.
It is very difficult to show the park in its best in this route system so we prefer to go late. Bandhavgarh means hills. Beautiful hills, good landscape and forest. many locals dont like me when I describe the forest. Conservation started in Bandhavgarh only after 1968. Average age of the forest is less than forty years old. All the old trees we see are those that were not good Timber at that time. Kay says we have better Bamboo then jungle. I first visited Bandhavgarh in 1980. Ashutosh Dubey Ranger and me came here from Kanha. When I asked for the road name to our Guide, reply was Birla Road. Most of the roads were made by Birla Paper Mill that were extracting Bamboo from this forest. This was going on till 1968. Mr J.J.Dutta Retired PCCF and CWLW of M.P. told me in person and in writing that before handingover of this area to M.P Govt he drove for 3 consecutive nights in Tala shikargah with Late H.H. Rewa and then Chief Minister Of M.P. Late Govind Narayan singh ji and did not see a single quadruped. He said that Maharaja was very unhappy with the condition of his Shikargah and probably this was the reason to donate the area to Govt. with a condition that Govt will declare it as a National Park. Dr Terence Walton, Equerry To H.H.Rewa confirmed this to Iain Green author of Tiger Jungle a story of Bandhavgarh and B2 ( Sundar).
The census paper of Bandhavgarh in 1968 does not mentions any record of Tigers. More Sambar and Barking Deer than Spotted Deer. Mr Dutta agreed with this figure with the fact that most of the land was under cultivation so there was not enough room for Spotted Deer to survive. Hill dwelling animals were somehow surviving. Most of the Tala range meadows are old agriculture fields. At some places farm bunds are still visible.
It was a nice sunny cool morning good for photography. We photographed some good Sambhar and birds. we reached Tiger show spot at about 0930. One could hear the growling noise of a male and female Tiger. Presumably they were mating. Tiger show was on another young male P10 who was sitting next to road on a rock. We went on Badhaini, small sturdy elephant, good for photography. I hesitate to photograph Tiger from Elephant back only because of angle. It gives an Aerial View of tiger. Jhannu said come come Aaj aapke layak he. I took wide angle and 300 both. I was cheating. I did not wanted people to see that I am carrying wide angle because I didn't want people to compete with me so I changed wide angle when we reached to the spot.
He was sitting on eye lable spot. You dont get much time on Elephant during Tiger Show. 2-3 minutes are enough. So one has to think about the frames even before seeing the object.
It was not enough so I asked the Ranger if we can go again. Yes, but only after everyone has seen. So we decided to look for Brown Fish Owl.we came to Jamunia Machan, 500 metre away fromTiger show where three tigers are present. Stork Biled Kigfisher were calling each other. Kay spotted them so one aftr the other about five jeeps were there to see King Fisher. We saw few spotted Deers running out of river with alarm calls. we look but nothing followed. Everyone left except us. We moved 100 mtrs further to look for Brown Fish Owl. There was another jeep watching them. One bird was in the nest and otherone was guarding the nest from a nearby tree. Within minutes we were alone again. I thought let us look for Photographable Adjutant Stork. We moved for 50 mtrs to owl nest and suddenly Kay whispered Tiger. Right to our jeep we saw a tiger entering the bamboo then she crouched. Her hind portion was clearly visible. Few minutes later she came out of the bamboo crossed the road infront of our jeep. we watched her for an hour, walking around river spraying ad rubbing her body to trees and on groud. She is on edge of her teritorry. She is marking her preence to claim the area. She wont succeeed. Lakshmi is too strong for her.
We went back to Tiger show and saw the sleepy Tiger. Mike dropped his flash light and his wife dropped her glasses from elephant back. Torch we got glasses belongs to Jungle now. Another point to mention in our Room Note. Careful with your Glasses, Cap, Lens cap. If dropped from elephant back little chance to get them back.
Afternoon beat the morning sighting. We thought to go to Rajbehra and spend the aftrnoon near pool watching birds, listenig alarm calls in peace. We heard an alarm call near Susiyari junction and there was a Tiger sitting in middle of the road. Cant beleive third tiger on road in two days. Oh another one sitting right to us behind the bamboo. Another alarm call fromleft and third one left to us. These are Durga's cubs. 17months old now. At this age cubs behaves like Teenager. Would like to explore the area but only when mother is not around. Whole afternoon was dedicated to them. Three good frames.
Fried Peanuts with Chai around campfire made the end of Daylight day.


By the time I come back it is exactly a week. Many thing slipped from the mind. I will write it in some other day.
Toft had a meeting here. I was shocked and surprised to see Guides opposing Taj-C.C.Africa. They are dead against them. But the other thing that surprised me most was that how people behave in the jungle and how they talk about behaviour in the meetings. That reminds me 100-100 chuhe kha ke billi haj ko chali.
Mr and Mrs Mike Whitfield from Bristol were staying with us. They stayed for three nights for 5 game drives in the jungle. Sometimes it is very difficult to please a guest. They were very easy for Tigers. Had been to most of the National Parks but seen a Tiger only once. we were hoping that they will have minimum one good sighting in 5 game drive. Their trip was not that bad. They had some very good sightings. 4th morning we saw Tiger from Elephant back. P10 sleeping in Grass behind Forest Rest House opposite Kill khunta Road. There was nothing for me so I did not lift my camera but they were happy. Some nice wildboar and Orange Headed Ground Thrush were seen.
We decided to go to Gordon Road in the afternoon to avoid the rush but every one was there. by the time we reached to the spot he was lying in middle of the road between jeeps. I parked behind two jeeps and used the gap for photography. This cub ignored the jeeps and noise made by tourists.
Some Indian and foreign tourists thinks that Tiger get disturbed by human voice. Little they know that they are use to of human voice. They can hear us when they are hiding in the grass or forest. They get disturbed by quick action or movement in the jeep. None of the tourists control themselves for this. The moment they see a Tiger they stand up. Kay just Told me that at present there are 29 Tigers using Tala range. 11 adults and 18 cubs. These 29 are regularly seen by the tourists. None of the cubs from previous years are seen in Tala range. Tala is a good breeding nursery for Tigers. Where they goes and where they breed is the question to be answered by the forest department. We maintain a family tree of Tigers of Tala range since Sita and Charger's second litter. Sita had two litter with Banka and another four with Charger. She produced total 18 cubs in six litters out of which two females from her last litter Pyari and Reshma are still surviving in the park. They are 12 and half years old. They both are raising their 5th litter. Apart from one male and another female in the park rest are from the blood group are Sita and Charger. Yesterday Mahavats saw Lakshmi mating with P10. they both are from same parents but different litter. 29 Tigers feeding in Tala range where more than half of the boundary is fenced. These Tigers cant go out for prey. How long they can survive on this prey base available in Tala range? Few more years and then again we will start crying for Tigers in Bandhavgarh in the same manner as we are crying at present for Panna. I am affraid that power may go so I will post this to continue in next.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chainlink fencing

It took me long time to come back. I am not a proffessional writer and I need to be in right mood to write. Bedi brothers film on Sunday compeleted my job very easily. A tiger walking along chainlink fencing to come back in to the park was shown in this film. Other thing they showed was how little the forest is left outside the park. I have photographed Tiger next to chainlink fencing. Mahavats saw a tigress leaping the fence. Everyone knows and accepts its disadvantages except the park authorities.

We know now that B2 and Bokha are living without facing any challenge from any male Tiger. One male that has come back inside the park is the same sub-adult cub that left chakradhara meadow about a year back. This shows that how empty our surrounding areas are.

Ther was a toft meeting yesterday i heard someone thanking forest department for regulating the jeep numbers. I am sorry to say that that gentleman never realised that what they have done to the park. 45 Jeeps should have been in 109 sq km in 60 sq km. Part of Tala range can not become a part of Magadhi zone. This shows that how illiterate our friends are about the National Park or they just wants to be in good books of Forest Department. I was shocked to see and hear Guides opposing Taj-C.C.Africa.

Mr Dwivedi Ranger khitauli wanted a Photo of Mahaman Tigress

More later.