Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First visit of the season to Khitauli zone, Bandhavgarh.

This was our first visit to Khitauli this season. Online booking has made a hell of a difference in choosing the park visit. We saw that hardly anybody is going to Khitauli so we decided to book an entry for morning. By the time we reached at Garhpuri entry gate few vehicles were already in. This was due to the sighting of a Leopard with cub and Tigress in Damdama yesterday. Gateman told us that she was near Damdama this morning. 
Jungle was green with thick undergrowth. Khitauli jungle is similar to Tala range 30 yrs back.
We didn't see any Tiger or Leopard but did hear few alarm calls. Some very frisky Bluebull and Sambar were seen.
Spotted Deer size in Khitauli looks bigger than Tala range animal.
Best sighting of the day in Khitauli was a flock of Black Ibis at Majholi pond. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Leopard on road.

In that chaotic Tala zone of Bandhavgarh finding a peaceful spot was completely impossible.
We entered late only to avoid the dust and racing drivers. Most of the tourists don't stop for small things and if you are trying to photograph a monkey or spotted deer in early morning light then get ready to cover in dust because these drivers will pass you from either side of the road without taking any note of your subject. All the deers in Chakradhjara were grazing in the area where grasses were uprooted and new shoots were available to graze. To bring back the old magic of Chakradhara meadow it need to have long and wide strips of Fireline to be cut as was the case in 90's. Deers use to graze in these firelines and tigers use to watch their prey from tall grass. Sometimes Lesser Adjutant use to join Spotted Deer herd in these firelines. Serpent Eagles were always perched around these firelines. Sight of Black wing Kite hovering for rodents is rarity now. In my opinion grasses in Chakradhara are unpalatable and too tall for a good deer habitat.
50 jeeps in the park and with new route system one don't have any chance to watch any animal in peace. Just to avoid the crowd we decided to visit Sheshshaiyya first. It's a wonderful place. Calm and quite. Some butterflies and birds always keeps you busy there. Khirki and Chua were also quite but many jeeps gathered at Damna. Here monkey alarm calls were coming from both side of the road. Within few minutes I realised that these alarm calls are not going to produce any result. There were few more jeeps waiting before Andhiyari jhiriya camp but we kept on moving. When we were coming back from Hardiya Sanjay Driver and Tejbhan Guide both shouted Tiger Tiger. I said look it carefully it's a Leopard. Yes it was a Leopard about 100 meters away from us strolling across the road. He glanced at us before disappearing in the forest.

I will say it was a good sighting although it did not produced any good picture.   

Sunday, October 21, 2012


On our first day in the park we did not see any tiger and none were seen for the next two days. How the tigers are so elusive in Bandhavgarh?
We entered the park again today. I accompany three guests who are staying with us at the moment. They were thinking all sorts of stories about the Tiger. They never saw one in the wild before.
Kalicharan served the coffee a few minutes before schedule time only because I asked him to do so because almost everyone was awake by 5.15 AM. Sanjay was gone to check the entry ticket. I got out with my tools by 0600 AM, Elisabeth and Stine were waiting anxiously but Till Nafe was still watching the minute details of make up. 
We start in time to reach the entry gate. Last night we heard that carrying capacity is being increased to 48 vehicles in a day, still a rumour going on about 110 vehicles. I have no idea how this rumour started and how they can push it to that high.
Only six vehicles at the gate, rest must have been still sorting their entry tickets.
Nice crisp and cool air, trees and grasses alongside road are shiny green, no trace of dust yet. We didn't see any animal until we reached Chakradhara. Two good herd of spotted deer were grazing on either side of the road.
Pugmarks of a male tiger were seen going towards Jamunia and Chorbehra.This male Tiger came from Ghodademon road and walk all the way to chorbehra and beyond. Vijaya was moving with her cubs in Chakradhara to Gopalpur to Badi Gufa and cut short to Kila rd to bottom of Sheshshaiyya. We thought to take that chance of Sheshshaiyya, if we see a tiger well and good otherwise we will see the Sheshshaiyya, one of the most important monument in Bandhavgarh.
We herd few Barking Deer alarm calls coming from kila road. So she is resting in that area with her cubs. Kila road is out of bound for tourism so we decided to move on towards our allocated route B. 
Nothing was seen till Hardia. Now when we don't have any tiger show then I don't see any point in going to Hardia for registration. This is an utter wastage of prime time in the jungle.Some jeep drivers guides heard few alarm calls near old Aama nallah camp so we chose to go back via that road but no clue or alarm calls. I wanted to check some Barleria flowers but there was not enough time left so I didn't ask him to stop.
We saw few jeeps waiting in Barua nallah. Tourists from these jeeps asked us to stop so we stopped. Tiger was miles away from us. She cross the road between two jeeps ahead of us. Luckily she moved towards dry river bed and that was good for us because she was going to come down in clear sand.
She came out of the forest and disappeared in thick undergrowth again. She is in good health. Her cubs must be about 18 months old and semi independent. Killing small prey for themselves.
Last few minutes in the park were very dusty. Luckily we all came out of park in time. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ranchha Land

I bought this land in mid 90's in Ranchha village, 3 km from Tala, and that time we dreamt living on this land. It was as barren as it is today. After buying the land we dig up the well for irrigation, put 100's of fruit plants with drip irrigation system, put a pump house near well and started constructing a two room house for ourselves. There was no electricity nearby that time and nor it's today. Fruit trees started giving fruits and everything was growing well on the land but all of a sudden one night all the drip irrigation system was stolen. Watchman refuse to take the responsibility of protection and slowly slowly we also ignored the land. All those fruit trees died in young age. We stopped visiting the land. In last 10 years probably we have not visited this land more than once a year.
Last year was the worst. Person who used the land for farming even did not had courtesy to pay the money, share the crop or at least say thank you for using the land. This made me think to use the land properly again.
Choosing the fruit tree variety is a problem. We need fruit trees which are avoided by monkey's and parakeet's??
Your suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Drama at Umaria Station

I reached Umaria station well before right time of the Utkal to find out train is more than an hour late. I put my bag near railway bridge stairs and stood around. Just before the announcement of train arrival I saw a man coming down the stairs staring at my bag. I observed him and thought this could be interesting. I started looking at other side. Initially this man stood at about ten feet away from my bag and started moving closer to it bit by bit. Second announcement of train arrival and this man is standing almost right next to my bag and I am about 15 feet away from it. He has a black small black bag hanging  on his shoulder, wearing shirt and trouser with bare feet. The quality of that bag and the condition of his clothes did not match at all. .Scruffy looking man having a very good condition quality bag was suspicious. If I would have seen any RPF man their I would have asked them to search his bag.  Train is still over a mile away but one can hear it when it crosses over a bridge, a minute later I saw the headlight of train engine and this man moving more closer to my bag. My compartment did not arrived at the spot normally it comes right under the bridge. today it was about another 100 metres from the bridge. I started looking at train as I am waiting for someone coming from this train. Train stopped and both of us did not moved. Now it's more than a minute I am staring at train and keeping an eye on my bag. Now this man is confident that I am not the owner of this bag and he can claim it. Only mistake he did was that when he tried to put his hand on my bag he put his whole attention on the bag. It all happened in less than a second. I moved like a lightning and slapped him hard on his right side of his face. He was shocked surprised and started crying. I thought this man may have some weapon with him so I hold his both hands tightly. If I had time I could have made a bundle of minced meat. I am holding his both the hands and shouting RPF RPF RPF but there is no one. I wanted to hand over him to the police or someone who could take him to the police. About 50 or more spectators are around me now. Not a single one asked me what's the matter and neither they helped. At last I had to board the train so I let him loose. At one point he was bagging to let him go and at last he was saying I did not touch your bag.When people says that India is a country of spectators (yah tamashbeeno ka desh he, bandar nachaane par bhi sekdo ki bheed jama ho jaati he) I accept it coolly because I have the same opinion.
I think Umaria police needs to keep an eye on railway station.
By the time I am writing this in the train all the vendors of Pantry Car are asking me about last nights incident. If anyone of them would have helped I may have taken him in the train. Anyway train is running 40 minutes late. Pantry car served Upma and tea so I am happy with breakfast.    

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tiger Tourism

In India we are not allowed to speak against any decision by any court. We are taught to say We accept Honorable courts decision. In this ban I like the comments of M.P. Forest Minister " Supreme Court Judges are not the expert of Wildlife Tourism. We will put up our case strongly"
How strongly this case is being put up we will know that on 3rd October.
I have my own views on this issue.
If government is really keen in conservation than it has to keep people around the PA areas busy.  Govt can not provide them that many jobs than it should try to protect their jobs. Only Tourism industry can provide that many jobs to these unskilled labour. More than 70% staff in most of the hotels / lodges is local. Of course they all get menials job. It's only because of their habits. Many of them are very unreliable workers. So the only way to keep them away from destruction of surrounding areas and poaching is to let them learn the importance of wildlife who provides them the job. None of the tourist will come to any Tiger Project area to see the herbivore. They all want to see the Apex Predator - Tiger. Without Tiger there wont be any tourism and locals will never get benefited financially.
So the only option the Government has to allow the Tourism.
I am wondering that why these people are not talking about the situation of Tiger areas in 1971. Population dynamics of human and Tigers with growing tourism in that area.
In 1978-79 Tiger population in Kanha was around 68. Tourism was almost negligible. We use to look for a person to talk something different. Those were very boring few months of my time in Kanha. 
Tiger population grew there along with Tourism. Tourists photographed Tigers mating, hunting, rearing the cubs and relaxing without posing any threats to the tiger in any form. So from where that theory came that tigers get disturbed by human presence? Do these people know that Man and animals uses the same land at different times. In late 70's early 80's it was a common sight to see Tiger in night at Kanha Forest Lodge or at Log Huts Kisli. Things are not changed much either. Leopard is still seen around Log Huts.  In long run if we see negative effects on wildlife of this order then will they punish those people who wanted this to Happen?? I will say NO. This kind of things don't happen in this country.