Monday, March 30, 2009

Rubble on park roads Bandhavgarh

On 18th Feb I wrote about the rubble and other mess on the road in side the park. Last week I was able to shoot a photo how vehicles in the park avoide going on this rubble.

Including me no one wants to drive on this rubble.

This is only a photographic proof about how our parks are managed??

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tiger Photography

What is Tiger Photography? Can someone earn his living from Tiger photography?? I worked with so many Top Photographers of the world and majority of them answered NO. Here I am talking about Still Photography. Being a photographer myself I says yes I don't earn any part of my living from Tiger Photography. You must be thinking that I am lying or I am not a good quality photographer. So let us see the good quality photographer like Steve Bloom, Jeremy Woodhouse, Kim Sullivan,Theo Alloff, Rajesh Bedi, Nick Garbutt, Tony Heald and all what they have done. I visit their website and found majority of pictures are of other animals Tiger is less than 2%. So if these pictures are not saleable than why make so much fuss about them?? We know how difficult it is to make a good quality picture. Majority of photographers thinks Tigers is a good flowery picture, one must have this kind of flower in their flowerpot. Working with photographers is tough, even very tough if you know what kind of photograph they want. There are many places in Bandhavgarh where i would like to see a Tiger in early morning or late evening light. How many times I have photographed in this kind of situation answer is almost NO. I was talking same thing to one Forest Officer he asked then Why so many tourists comes to see and photograph a Tiger. That is Tourism?? Is like addiction? If I have money and I have seen this and this then now I would like to see this. This kind of Tourist has nothing to do with Tigers. They treat it like visiting a restaurant. One goes there orders his favorite food, enjoys it

and goes back home happily without thinking about the crockery, cutlery or linen used in the restaurant. That's why Kailash Sankhla wrote in his book that we don't want such tourists who just wants to tick the tiger along with Taj.

Let me come back to photography. Tiger photography has become difficult because of so many reasons. But I want to talk about its cost, why it has gone so costly. Only reason what I see is due to the policies of forest department. I say firmly that Forest department officers have no idea about the cost, and the value of the money one pays to enter the park. In last thirty years I have never seen any retired forest officer of any rank visiting national after paying entry fee. I know some who will not plan their holiday until unless they find some connection who can arrange their free Lodging boarding and vehicle. Still enjoying perks. So if this is the attitude then how one can feel the money pinching.Recently I was in ASSAM. One of my friend called me. we keep in touch on regular basis. That day I said I m in Assam, in Kaziranga. Oh one of my batch mate is there we were together in wildlife training. Find his number I will love to talk to him. So after our game drive I asked driver if he know this person. Yes we will see him on way to the lodge, Driver said. I met this person and simply asked his phone no because my friend------ wants to talk to him. He remembered him after good twenty years, asked about his posting and promotion. In next 5 minutes I take his leave. Next morning I saw him again at entrance gate. He started talking about some retired PCCF of M.P. who is interested in Birds and staying with forest deptt consumed lots of his time unnecessary. That is the perks after retirement. And that is the reason why they never feel money pinching. Everything comes free. I know many cases like this. Do you think system will improve, never. One Field Director of one of the Madhya Pradesh's Tiger Reserve said clearly about allowing people illegally without paying entry fee that we help them in this manner and they help us in return. I asked him is this not corruption and why don't you ask them to help you officially. Never got any reply. So that is the reason why Tiger Photography is costly.

I took this picture on 19th March at about 0744. I was waiting for this Tigress to appear with her cubs since last 30-40 minutes. When she started coming out of the jungle on a perfect spot suddenly a Gypsy appeared in speed and stopped parallel to me throwing a cloud of dust in front of my camera. I lost a very good opportunity of photographing a tiger simply because of some idiot driver. Fores department failed to control them in the park. For speed they believe in putting the speed breakers rather than telling them to behave properly in the jungle. After how many days one gets a chance to see Tigress with her cubs walking towards you in such a calm manner. My client was furious.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Departure of P13 TO Panna.

P13 is being sent to Panna and so another tigress from Kanha. People opposed this move in Kanha but nothing happened in Bandhavgarh. Probably that was the reason for park officials to go for Puja at Siddhbaba that evening. I did hear some murmuring about protest. Someone asked me to join. I knew what they wanted but they never appeared on time.

We are happy that she has gone to find a better place for herself in Panna. Here she was living in a very poor territory. Bhitri was her main base. If she climbs southern hill she lands at Sitamandap, territory of Reshma. And if she climbs western hill she meets territory of Lakshmi and Pyari, two very dominant females. Her other sister P12 living in Bamera has produced her first litter. P13 never got pregnant here. May be due to stress of living in such a small sandwiched territory. Two males use to visit her territory and third one occasionally met her on road but never been together. Tala range of Bandhavgarh has a very high density of Tigers. At present there are 7 breeding females with 18 cubs of different age group, two dominant male and one transit male so total 28 Tigers in an area of only 105 sq km. Do they have sufficiently prey base for their survival?? No one knows the right answer.

Our major worry is will these Tiger survive in Panna?? Some journalist wrote that they (Forest deptt officers) cover up each others sin. If that is the case, which looks very true as no enquiry is being conducted so far for missing Panna tigers, then there is no hope for these tigers in Panna. He, journalist, says the enquiry will cover up their sins properly.

After her departure from here Reshma, Lakshmi and Pyari should feel more relaxed. They will share her territory. Lakshmi will get the smallest share in it and Reshma will benefit the most.

Anyway she is gone. We hope she will have a better life there.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back in Tigerland

We reached Allahabad before schedule time but Howrah mail got late after it. We reached Katni by 6PM and Tala by 2045. Munmun, Mahi and Mummy join us from Umaria. Everyone was tired but eager get up early for Jungle.
Kay saw Durga walking on road towards them. that was really good sighting. Chris got some nice photos.
Denise arrived yesterday and they already saw B2 in their first game drive.
Next few days will be very busy and I dont think I will have enough time to write blogg.

Kaziranga from 11th March to 15th March

In all for me Kaziranga was not that exciting as I use to see it before. It is long time back and old story. Now at this time I found it more dry and smoky. Whole of Assam was burning. In-fact we never saw blue sky during our one week stay. Everyone in our group has same complaint about the park. Local tourists does not treat park as they should to this Heritage site. Guides and Drivers blame them for littering the park. Some Guides try to attract the attention of Rhino by imitating their call. People laugh on this. Guides needs to learn what the tourist wants, what is the need of photographers?? I will say that photography in those five days was not good.
on our journey back home Me Chris and Tony wanted to try Guwahati Dump again. It is nice filthy place for storks.
After dinner we board Howrah Mumbai mail for Katni.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grassland burning in Kaziranga, Assam

Rhino lives mainly in marshy grassland. In summer months often they are seen in or near water.

Our most of the sighting of Rhino were near water.We never saw them wallowing or playing in water. Park authorities dont send Gunmen with Indian tourist but it is must for every vehicl with foreign tourist. One Guard told me that Indian tourist dont stop like foreigner near Rhino so they are safe. We saw Grasslands burning. It was nice for photo but not for other creatures. I found Kaziranga very poor for butterflies and all other ground nesting birds. Peacocks are not found in Kaziranga. Park timings are odd. Visitors are allowed only at 0730 AM. 2 hours of morning light is wasted. We found sunlight at 0730 very strong for photography. Park should be open 30 minutes before sunrise and to make the better use of tourism all the roads of the park should be open to tourism. Not a great day for photography. Our guide use to imitate Rhino noise to call them closer and this irritate us badly so I had to tell him about the feelings of group members.

Elephant Ride to see Rhino

Except Grant and Sharon every one opted to go for Elephant Ride. Rhino watching is easy. It not like Tiger in Kanha and Bandhavgarh that sometime one has to look for them for hours without producing any fruitful results. We saw about 7 Rhino and a herd of wild Buffalows in one hour time.

Not good for our kind of Photography but for tourists it is great.

We saw quite a few Rhino again but by that time light was too strong.

Guwahati Dump

Kay felt sick last night. It was due to long train journey. Security personnel did not allow us to enter the visitor lounge with our rucksacks so we decided to wait outside. When theycame out first we went straight to coffe shop. Indigo does not serve any food, what they serve on flight is very costly.

Everyone is very excited about photographing Greater Adjutant. One of the biggest colony of them feeds on Guwahati Dump. People collecting useful items or recyclable items from rubbish can walk or sit feet's away from storks but they will avoid us. It was not a pleasant place to walk. One can write a complete different definition of Hygiene after seeing people living there. I am told that most of them are Bangladeshi's??

Most of the garbage was burning. Very smoky atmosphere. In-fact we found whole of Assam smoky. During our seven day stay in Assam we never saw any piece of Blue sky.

We reached Wild Grass late for afternoon game drive. Some birding and butterflying around the lodge but not great.

Shall get ready for tomorrow to see Indian One Horned Rhino after a good night sleep.

Post for 9th March 2009.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Train to Guwahati

On 6th March evening we left for Katni to board Dadar Guwahati Exp for Guwahati. I must say that was my mistake in choosing the train. It was only 15 minutes late but instead of Two Tier A/C they put 3 Tier A/C. That was a bad start. I will never suggest anybody to travel in A/C compartment if your train is passing Bihar in day time because it does not makes any sense to pay that kind of money if what we saw is the normal norm in that area. The moment train entered Bihar Train Conductor and attendant literally gone missing. Passengers were entering the compartment on their wish and within few stops our compartment was like a General Compartment. Man were drinking Beer and Alcohal and young boys in their early twenty's started an argument with a family because they wanted to share the seats with them. No one dare to stop them I tried but i was suggested by fellow passengers not to indulge with them. Later on when train left Mukhtyar Ganj, I think this was the station name, A/C coaches were stonned. Few passengers were injured. RPF and train staff were no where in sight.

Most of the women young or old had to hear their comments. Which were not nice.Travelling in train in Bihar region was similar like sitting on footpath of Paharganj, New Delhi. At one stage I count 9 hawkers selling different items in our compartment. Here is the list of items hawkers were trying to sell in coach. bag, shoes, musical items, curd, toys, nail cutter, video game, foot pump for car, hair brush, ladies underwear and bra, track suit, scissors, rain coat, umbrella, pen drive, pen, torch, chime, dining mats, paper plates, mouth organ, piano, blankets, sheet, sari, shawl, petticoat, salwar suit, paan, cigaretts, gutka, camera, watch,binocular, gas lighter, men's baniyan, books, magazine, thermous flask, sweets barfi, roti sabji, boiled egg, peanut, chana boiled and roasted both by different hawker,hara chana, locks-chain, mineral water cold drink, kitchen knives, fans, shaving bags, dining cover, sofa cover, pillow, sauna belt, corn, sewing machine, playing cards, toth brush, safety pins, lighter, cotton buds, papaya, balm, shoe polish, massage man, scissors, immerssion rod, CD DVD CASSETS, belt, tripod, MP3-MP4, pant, shirt piece, film and money belt. Chai wala was always there. Chai is served in smallest cup ever one can in the standard of Rs 5 per cup.

40 hours train journey from Katni to Guwahati was enough to put us off for another visit to north east through this route.

We found a small guest house on 6th floor near Brahmaputra river. Comfortable accommodation for over night stay. Tomorrow morning we meet Tony Sharon, Chris, Monique and Grant to start our journey towards Kaziranga.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


News from Kanha is not good in any sense. A tiger died due to some territorial fight and locals demonstrated against the Trans Location of a tiger from Kanha to Panna.
Kanha is a funny place. Locals can damage the park on their whims and fancies. I have seen Kanha burning and no one ever found any person responsible for fire. Anyway---
Back to Bandhavgarh- There were many signs of Tiger walking on road but we did not see one. Our best chance we found on Tiger show. P10 was sleeping in Chorbehra and Lakshmi was sleeping on a hillock 100 mtrs away from him. Some nice photos. That's the beauty of 300 mm lens. I uses it all the time. In fact that is the only lens I carry in the jungle. Most of the Time when others were photographing I was quietly holding my camera then Mahavat slightly turned the elephant and I got the chance.
Afternoon was even better for sighting but no photography. Light was very poor and pictures are not as sharp as I wanted. Xavier and his wife and Kay are very happy with the sighting. It was Durga and her two cubs at Badhaini pool.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


P13 was released in her enclosure at about 2.10 AM in Panna. Hope she will have better teritory there.

Tiger Trans location from Kanha and Pench are in pipe line. When it will be done not sure but I am sure that they will try to do it. Taj staff told me about rumours are that everyone is thinking that this programme is sponsored / helped by Taj CCAfrica. This is not true.
We did not see any Tiger today. Very disappointing day. Xavier is very anxcious to see his first Wild Tiger. Looks like he has to wait till tomorrow.
Blue Mormon sighted only second time in all these many years in the jungle.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Not a very good day. Attack on Sri Lanka team upset me more than Tigress trans location from Bandhavgarh to Panna.

Watching Sangkara playing is always a fun. He is one of my favorite player. When they play against India I support my favorite players in both teams.

So a Tigress called P13, according to Kay's chart, is sent to Panna. Forest department tried to kept everything very secretive but everyone knew that one tigress is going from here, other one from kanha and male will be from Pench.

I hope she will have a better life there. Here in Bandhavgarh she had very small teritory and if we beleive the papers written on Lions and Leopards than she was very much stressed out here. In comparison to other females she had smallest teritory in Bandhavgarh. She was always pushed by three different tigresses. She had two visiting Males. New male who is her brother is trying to prove his dominance on females. His presence in the area make them tense.

I talk to few scientists and other people in UK and US about her situation and their opinion is that in this kind of situation Cats do not conceive for a long time. It could be true she is 4 yrs 6 months old being seen mating more than 15 times in last two years but without any results so far. Today, is she preganant? No one knows.

This trans location has raised all those questions again. It is the same story as it was in Sariska. Sariske was a high profile case. Govts do not have any interest in these cases.

People are still talking about Sariska and Panna.

People wants to know the answers of few questions.

1. In June 2008 M.P.Forest Deptt. was claiming a healthy population of 21-42 Tigers in Panna

and in August September they started talking about skewed population of Tigers in Panna then what happened in those three or six months?

2. Did they showed the wrong figure of 21-42 Tigers in June 2008?

3. If that is true then who manipulated the figure?

4. If the figures were not manipulated then Why forest department did not conduct an inquiry on missing tigers from Panna?

5. By either way to whom they want to save Tigers or Officers in charge?

6. There is a rumour that lonely male tiger is not seen since last 2 months in Panna then what is the security of these tigers when they get released in Panna.

General thinking of Public is that when they could not save those then how they will be able to save these? Only the time will tell us the truth. Too early to blame or speculate.

People in Kanha went on strike this morning. Park was almost closed for tourism. They showed unity better than any other members of Tourism Industry in India. Hats off to them.

there were rumours that CCAfrica was involved in this operation. While coming out of the park we saw their jeep and Kay asked them were you involve in this operation. One boy in that jeep stood up showed hid T Shirt and said yes we are and we are very proud of that. I thought he did not under stood our question so I asked him in hindi and there comes the reply NO- NO and BIG NO.

I pray for her safe journey. Hope god will not treat her like he treated Barasingha's 27yrs back.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I photographed these Firewood sellers on main street in Tala village. Villagers do not sell firewood to local villagers then where it is consumed? None of those honest people will never give an honest answer about firewood consumed in their commercial kitchen. Firewood is only fuel used in most of the roadside food shops in Tala village.
Look at the picture carefully. This firewood has come from dead trees in nearby forest. See the age of people who are selling it. Do you think they are needy people. No they are opportunist-lazy village sods who opted easiest way of self employment.
Here lies the main problem of this country and its Tigers. None of the concerned department has any interest in controlling this. We tried our level best and failed many times successfully.

If you want to try in helping the Tigers and their habitat please write to Chief Wildlife Warden Van Bhavan, Tulsi Nagar, Bhopal. M.P India and D.F.O Umaria Division, Umaria M.P. India.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I was away for six days. Most important job was to consult the doctor about my back. I am suffering with Lumber spondolytis. Dr says few days medication and care will put me back on the road.
I travelled through Agra, Mainpuri, Etah, Etawah, and Karhal. These are the places to see Sarus Crane. I saw loads of them sitting, standing, feeding and preening next to farmers in their farm land. At one place one boy claims that one bird comes to feed off his hand. I did not see it but I accepted his claim.
At many places i miss my camera. Taanga or Horse Cart is one complete subject for book. First time I saw a lady Taanga women in Mainpuri. But all these cities are dirty and dirty. Agra has quality to top the list. People who can afford drink bottle water in Agra. If you are there be careful with food and Salad.
Just come today to hear that a tigress is going to be translocated from here to Panna on 4th morning or 3rd evening.
Let us see what happens.