Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer 2013

This looks like one of the hottest summer ever I have witnessed in my life. Day temperature in Bandhavgarh is constantly around 107 degrees or more since last ten days. 
Indian Pitta comes here to breed in summer and so the Paradise Flycatcher. When summer starts we await patiently to hear the call of Indian Pitta and then Peacock display and then that white streak diving on water surface.
When we are witnessing these in the jungle, at the same time we see jungle suffering with heat.  Ground cover gets dry and over grazed, in sandy meadows most of the new shoots dies of heat and even some shallow rhizome also dies. This makes meadows more barren for deer. Major concentration of deer for feeding now a days is under fruit trees. This year Tendu, Diospyros melanoxylon,  crop is very good in the jungle. Langur monkey drop lots of fruit for deer so most of the ground under Tendu trees looks ploughed by deer hooves. Summer don't comes here unexpectedly. It's a slow process after frosty days of January. February shows the colour on trees. Whole forest slowly slowly turns in to turmeric yellow. Sal drops their leaves from the top and by the time leaves in the middle of the tree turns yellow top is already getting new leaves. Flame of the forest buds start opening and within few days whole forest turns orange red. This is a feast time for monkeys. By the time the flame of the forest flowers dries out the new juicy flowers of Mahua , Madhuca indica, start dropping. This attracts birds, deer, Monkey and sloth beer. Often deer and Sloth Bear get drunk by the fermentation of these flowers in their stomach. Yellow hanging bells of Amaltas is the sign of peak of heat and by the time the Amaltas flowers are finished the Monsoon has arrived some where in the country and not so long to touch the grounds of Central India.
Wind drops grass seeds in earth cracks ready to germinate with first shower. Every evening Crows, Bee eaters and Drongo start gathering in our garden for water. They are notorious for killing butterflies. Rain is still few weeks away. Any sign of cloud in the sky gives us a false hope of Temp going down soon but by the morning sun comes as strong as ever above blue sky. Tigers sit in the water to cool off their body and all other animal that comes to drink move away, informing others about his presence by giving alarm call. 
We were in jungle this morning. Park opens at 0530, sun is  up and I am already wiping sweat drops from my forehead. No deer in meadow. Jungle looks very quite until we reach Bathan junction. Langur monkey's has seen some predator. Some people standing in a jeep holding camera towards jungle is a sure sign that they have spotted a Tiger or Leopard. Excitement of seeing a Tiger make them stand up in the jeep and forgetting photography rules and ethics. We just glimpsed the Tigress sitting in Nallah and kept on moving. It's still early to get our allocated elephant so we decided to look for him and inform him about tiger location. 
By the time we came back we saw her on other side of the road.
A lone Sambar doe, standing frozen on hillock watching Jaya, exposed her movements. She came out of the jungle walked few meters on road, turned right, walked along the hill sniffing ground, pick up an old kill and moved away. This was a Sambar kill. We tried to look for her off the elephant back but she disappeared in thick forest. A smelly meat piece was lying on ground covered with maggots. Was the other piece she took was also covered in maggots? Must be.

This is normal for predators in the wild to eat maggot filled meal. We have seen it many times.
J1 and J2 were chasing deer. Looks like sometime they may have got a spotted deer fawn hiding in the grass and they want to repeat that luck. They vanished much before we could set our eyes on them. 
Saving grace for today's visit was J3 who was sitting on top of a rock. She was very relaxed, feeling cool on rock.
   And at last a fleeting glimpse of Rufous Naped Hare.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tigers of Bandhavgarh in summer.

When night temp in village Tala, that is close to Bandhavgarh National Park, stays around thirty degree celsius than one can imagine the misery of people in cities close to high rise buildings and tar road. Do animals suffer? Yes they do. When we saw a tiger panting around 0630 in the morning sitting under sal tree, she was feeling hot. All what she wanted to do was to cross over to swampy meadow and sit on wet grass. It took her more than 15 minutes to cover the distance that she could have covered in less than 90 seconds. Poor girl has to make a detour to reach the destination but that detour satisfied the hungry cameramen. Often it's Indian photographers who asks the driver to move more close to the Tiger.  On 23rd morning we were on elephant and a Tiger came out to walk on the road and a person having 70-200 lens in hand and 500mm on seat was asking driver to move close. Thanks to some other driver who asked the driver to let her cross. Some times I am failed to understand that what people wants? Are they only after close ups of the Tiger that they can have anywhere in the zoo. Some of the photographers with whom I work always comlaints that they don't get good "animals in their habitat" picture in Bandhavgarh any more. Why so? Have you ever thought on this? Yes Tigers do change their behaviour accordingly and so the hervibore. B2 a male dominant tiger of Tala range was a prime example of this. This Tiger was born in tourism zone and in those days we had very sensible drivers in the park. He became very confident with vehicles. But later he changed his behaviour. After seeing the vehicles on road he use to change the direction and walk away from jeeps. Kuttappan Mahavat knew his behavior very well so he stopped following him for Tiger Show. He was rarely a part of any tiger show in his last 2/3 of life. If he was caught than it must be because either a kill or in company of his companion. Drivers are to be blamed for this change in his behaviour. Hervibores in Bandhavgarh has changed their grazing time due to human disturbance caused by labour on foot and on bicycle. Someone just wrote an incident from Pench and similar things are happening everyday in Bandhavgarh and Kanha.  
    Spotted Deer and Sambhar comes to Chakradhara meadow in mid afternoon. In april we saw 40 Sambhar deer and more than 300 Spotted deer between Siddhbaba temple and Watchtower junction. (Picture above). They have changed their grazing habit due to this labour. Same thing with Tiger. Damdama tigress was sitting near road in nallah on 23rd May 2013. She was cleaning herself in presence of Tourist jeeps without paying any attention to them. After 15 minute or so she heard the bicyle noise, ears goes up and eyes focused in the direction of noise. this labour informed others and 3 more labour appeared to see her. She saw men walking towards her on foot and she simply melted away in the forest. 
I will finish this soon so keep in touch.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A female cub died in enclosure, Bandhavgarh.

Lakshmi's daughter L2 moved to Panpatha range and her brother moved in completely opposite direction to her towards Gohni. They both ate a women in their childhood and similar things they did in their adult hood. L1 sent to Bhopal Zoo and L2 died of poisoning. At the time of her death she three cubs of about 6 months old. These cubs were shifted to an enclosure near Sukhi Patiya. They were in an individual enclosure which have sufficient water and forest. Even enclosure itself is huge.
Why she died is very difficult to say. No injury marks were reported on her body. Only postmortem report will tell the exact cause of her death.
Loss of this tigress is no loss in actual sense. There was no plan to release her in wild in near future so chances of her free range breeding were minimal and no one wants to breed Tigers in Zoo.
I am reading reports in newspapers about ill treatment of this tigress by forest department and laughing. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vijya's first litter female cub killed by a male Tiger.

People are making so much hue and cry on such a small issue in Tiger's life. It always happens there. Whenever a dominant male is defeated and a new male takes over he just wants to show his supremacy through power only. Looks like either people have very short memory or they just don't care to look back "what happened in the past". 
First question is why female cub is killed?
General saying is that male kills all the male cubs? Then why this happened? 
In a very similar circumstances both the cubs of Yoshila were killed in Sukhi Patiya area.
I have record of more than ten incidents where female cubs were killed by a male tiger. Most of the time food was involved in the killing and few times young cubs didn't knew how to behave to an aggressive male Tiger.
We were hearing the news of Vijya mating with this new male but no one seen actual mating except by one Mahavat who said he saw it. 
If we go through the cubs age it looks like a perfect timing for this but we knows that animals always prefer to mate with a dominant male. If Vijya was mating with this male then mating should have been continued for minimum three days. They never spent any day together. Most of the time they were seen sitting apart and growling at each other, Mahavat's report. This kind of aggression from a new male is previously seen in Bandhavgarh.
For months people including Mahavat's reported two males in Vijya's this litter. Last fortnight only when two cubs were sitting on a rock Mahavat identified them as two males. Her big built created all the confusion. She was calm and bold. We saw her hunting down a spotted deer which she did not allowed others to share while she was eating. She was a dominant cub amongst her siblings. She was becoming more independent than others and probably that cost her life. 
This new male has come from Mahaman. Indranis second litter probably. In those days she was very secretive and due to the new route system there were hardly any sightings of these cubs. Those were the film days, so many people has not even marked dates on their slides, so for many this is very difficult to find the real ID of this male. 
This is the one major drawback of park rules through Supreme Court rulings now. Park authorities should allow tourism in most of the park area for a better park record on film. In Madhya Pradesh most of the parks do not have permanent record of their Tigers.
Lately I heard that some people are claiming that she is Killed by her mother? So far in last 35yrs in the Jungle and in Wildlife Tourism I have never seen any female cub being killed by their mother. Once the cubs reaches to 18 months or so mother start looking for mate. This is the time when she start kicking her cubs to keep them away from her. In other words she tries to convey the message to Get on with your life by yourselves. We have seen Bachchi and Pyari taking her cubs far away from their territory to dump them. With few attempts they succeed in getting rid of them.
This cub was killed by this new male. Forest department got him in camera trap returning to same spot sniffing the bush.  

    Vijya's female cub that got killed by a male Tiger.