Thursday, December 22, 2016

grasses.

At present in Bandhavgarh this grass is flowering every where.Thysanolaena maxima is used by villagers to make broom, phool jhhadu.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Bandhavgarh revival

Bandhavgarh is under revival. New Field Director is working day and night to get the things right.
Park is in such a mess that even he work for three years solid even then he will be able to see only ten percent results of his hard work here.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bandhavgarh

This can be a controversial post only because either you have not read enough or you don't have the knowledge about the jungle and it's dwellers.
I asked this question to many that when tiger density rises in an specific area such as National Park then is it not important that the herbivore  population should also increase in that ratio to sustain the ecological balance?
Second question I asked Why we do not see Spotted Deer rut in March?
Why all of a sudden burning of Grassland and Fireline has become a taboo in Forest Management in the Parks when present Parks thrived on this practice only so far? 
Capt Forsyth mentions grass burning in jan feb in his book in The Highlands of Central India published in 1889.
George B Schaller mentions meadow burning in Kanha in Jan - burning of the grasses in january, chital and barasingha congregated on the meadows and remained readily observable until August. He writes - Since the cool season follows the retreat of the monsoon, the vegetation is still green and rank in the forest , but the grasses on the meadows have already gone to seed and turned yellow. The forest department then begins to burn the grass on the kanha meadow burning a patch here, another there until after a month or more only a black stubble remains. In 1963 the burning began on December 28 but in 1964 as early as November 30. Burning the grass apparently releases nutrients into the soil and, together with the sporadic shower / heavy dew stimulates a fresh growth of green grass to appear within two weeks. The new growth is very sparse in areas that are not burned. (George Schaller)
The Kanha meadow was burned by Danbar Brander (1923) in 1902 and has probably been set afire every year since then. ()
It means when Indian Foresters got Kanha in their hands it was a good habitat for all the herbivores then why and when it got worst that grasses were sown to get better fodder for deer.
This is the time when early rut in March and April was recorded depending on the burning of meadows (Danbar Brander) while major rut was always recorded within first fortnight of monsoon rains. (Mr H S Panwar)
Early 1980's within a fortnight of monsoon rains as many as 5000 Spotted Deer were recorded in Kanha meadow.  While normal numbers throughout the season were about 3000. (Mr H S Panwar)
This is the time when Mr Panwar left Kanha who used meadow burning practice since the day he arrived there as Director till the day he left for Project Tiger in delhi. 
Danbar Brander writes - There is a distinct rut in the end of April and the beginning of May, when most of the breeding takes place, and during this period it is rare indeed for a fully mature animal not to be in full horn.
Mr Hemendra Singh Panwar writes in Kanha National Park guide book - In Kanha fire is used as a tool . The exact words of Sh Panwar are  However the popular axiom "Fire is a bad master but a good servant" stands well for wildlife management too. Controlled and periodic winter firing of grasslands help suppresses advance of woodland and produces green shoots in winter for animals to graze.
Although he warns that if this practice is not used wisely then it may deteriorate the productivity and fodder quality.
We have seen alternate meadow burning in Kanha and that did not deteriorate the quality till early 90's. (as i saw that place)
If we see the same measures took place in Bandhavgarh then Bandhavgarh started its history as National Park with Zero Deer and Zero Tiger.
When all the villages were shifted from the park area those farmlands turned into a good grassland. (Mr J J Dutta)
Surplus population of Deer from surrounding area of a Hunting game reserve started moving in newly declared National Park which did not had any kind of disturbance for wild animals.
Wildlife managers who came here learn their a b c d of wildlife management in Kanha so they also kept on doing the practice of wildlife management what they saw / learn in Kanha and one of them was burning of grasslands and fireline.(Mr J J Dutta)
Winter burning of grasslands in Bandhavgarh did not harm any rhizome of any grass species because in December / January the lower stem of grasses are still green so what all fire did was removed the seedy grass that deer don't like and gave some more nutrition to land to grow more new shoots from the same rhizome. (Mr J J Dutta)
This attracts deer in grassland to feed on new shoots and this congregation of deer ultimately starts rut in early summer months. This depends on burning of grass meadows time in winter, if they are burnt in Nov - Dec the rut starts in March and if grasslands burnt later then in April.
This rut is very important for deer population or for keeping the balance right of prey base for tigers. 











  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Preying mantis eating common lime butterfly

Bandhavgarh 1997.
Praying mantis eating common lime butterfly.
In those days I was using Nikon N 90 body but did not had any macro lens so we use to use use those macro ring on normal lens and were very happy with results.
Skay's camp garden was full of flowers and Butterfly larval plants in those days. Later on the fruit trees grown and birds taken over the garden.





Bandhavgarh in 1988

Bandhavgarh, some time in 1988. Park was only 20 years old. Most of the land in Tala Range still showed sign of villagers land. Rice field bunds were still visible. Most of the waterholes were filled by natural springs.
Bird life was good. This was the time when we use to see "Tree Duck" nest in the park.
I had a Pentax MX camera body with 80-200 F 4 - 5.6 lens.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Babu killing Jungle Cat

In Jan 2002 Pyari's first litter sub adult cubs were still roaming in their mothers territory and diminishing her prey base in Chakradhara meadow.
One morning we saw Narangi, female cub, sniffing in tall grass. We followed her for 10 minutes or so and saw her cornering something under a dead tree.
At that point me and Kuttappan were not sure about the animal she cornered so we decided to stop far far away from them.
Narangi lowered her head and moved closer towards the log where this animal was hiding.
Suddenly we saw Narangi leaping back and started licking her nose.
She was scratched on her nose by a Jungle cat.
Her brother was watching her. When he realised that she is not going to hunt that then he came forward saw the cat and killed her instantly.
Those were the film days.
I was very cautiously using my camera.


Watching whole incident through the view finder.
At last he just showed the cat behaviour of a kitten.
Tossing his kill in air.
Sorry for poor scan

Manglu 2

So after the photo session and meeting of his Mem Saab to my Mem Saab he started showing us the wound mark of leopard canines which he got somewhere near Chhatarpur.
A leopard was creating lot of trouble for villagers by attacking their livestock and keeping them shut in their houses during dark hours. Manglu said that such was the fear of the leopard that women and children were not allowed to go out and were allowed to pee and poo in the house compound.
At last a rescue team from Kanha was sent to deal with the leopard and decision was made to capture him alive.
Unofficially Manglu was Head of the Team because he has to chose the spot to put the cage and he himself has to set the cage and check it.
So one afternoon Manglu set the trap in that cage and while he was going to check it the Leopard strike. He charged him from the back and Manglu could feel his canine going deeper and deeper on his neck and cheek.
Manglu said I thought within minutes he is going to kill me so I must do something. I slipped my right arm over his paw and started strangling him with my both hands.
I knew I must press it hard so I pressed at the right spot and within seconds I could feel that his canine grip on my neck is going lose.
I saw my chance and pressed it more hard.
Now he withdrew his canine completely from the first grip here I thought probably he is going to bite me at another spot so I pressed it more hard.
Now I can feel his weight on my hands.
His forearms started drooping.
God knows from where I got the courage and power that I decided to press it more harder.
Now me and Leopard are standing face to face. He is of the same height as me.
I had no pain but I knew he did put his canine on my face because I can feel something dribbling to my neck.
I am holding Leopards neck and I can feel his total body weight in my hands too. His eyes are turning white. He is no longer looking at me. Saliva dripping and his tongue hanging on one side of his mouth.
Now I thought I have killed him so I threw him like a bag (the word he used was jhola) on one side and ran for the safety.
I spent a month in Hospital and Leopard must have learnt his lesson that day, Never go close to human.
We all had a big laugh when I asked him that they never let you drink Mahua in Hospital.
I photographed Manglu again and as usual shook hands with him before leaving.
  

Indrajeet elephant.

Today while going through my old files I found an undated note written aboput Indrajeet Elephant.

Indrajeet Elephant: This male Elephants tusk were cut in Oct- Nov last year on the instructions and supervision of Local Vet. From Manpur. Tusk were cut so deep that they cut the raw portion of tusk, very close to lips. Later this wound got maggots and Tusk had a deep wound about 2 foot deep in his tusk towards the head. This elephant is tied with chain in Hardia, away from tourism road so other people cant see him. He is in such a pain that he doesn’t allow anyone to come close. His food is offered to him by throwing it towards him.
He tosses his Roti on his back means he is not in a position to chew the food.

At last Indrajeet died few years later.

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.