Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dramatic and drastic changes took place in Bandhavgarh after 2006. Chainlink fence all over the Tala zone made it a complete disaster for Tigers.
Lakshmi was one tigress who shared the territory of her mother with her two other siblings. Her share was a long thin stripe of forest, a tar road and other side of Tar road up till Ranchha village. 
Often she was seen crossing the road in late evening and early morning. There was nothing new in this. Tigers of Bandhavgarh were doing this since the day they came here.
Banka, Charger, Sita, Shashi, Lakshmi, Bamera and Rahsy are the few name to who were doing this. People including myself has seen tiger going through Tala village high street. Once in monsoon a lorry driver was blowing his horn for about ten minutes. It woke me up and in that curiosity that what happened to him I reached the spot to see Charger standing in middle of the road. I backed up to give him some space. Once he is gone I asked lorry driver where he saw him, sitting on the road was the answer.
Lakshmi use to take her cubs in Tala village and beyond to feed them on cattle. Once Rajesh Dwivedi phoned me at about three AM asking for help because a Tiger entered in cattle yard. By the time I reached the Tiger was gone but it killed few cattle in some other house. She made a kill in backyard of some house and when her cubs started playing only then villagers knew that a tiger family is there in their backyard. This was the day when Pancham got killed by Lakshmi in Tala village. 
This is an open secret in Tala that Lakshmi pulled her leg in leaping over the fence. She limped throughout his life and this limp became the cause of her death.
So because of Lakshmi a Chain link fence was put on Tala Umariya road but before this chainlink fence replaced the electric fence in Tala range. This electric fence forced four sub adult cubs to stay more than longer (up to 3 years six months of age) they should have been here and in this extra time they deminish the prey base in Chakradhara, Jamuniya, Bhitri, Chorbehra and Dhobiyakhol area. These areas has not recovered since then.
Other thing that changed Chakradhara meadow completely upside down was ploughing with a tractor. Chakradhara meadow has sandy soil due to the Sandstone fort hill. There was a thick layer of leaf litter on top of the sand that was helping in holding the moisture. Once this leaf litter culture was ploughed all came out on top is sand. Removing elephant grass also did not helped the meadow. Now there is not much new shoots available for deer to graze.

One officer wonders why more deer graze in village fields than park land. Every evening he sees Spotted Deer and Sambhar grazing in Gohni and Mahaman field.
I add some more fuel in his fire by asking him that why there is no Sida type weed in those grasslands?
He was puzzled.
If they start working in right direction even then it will take minimum three years to bring the things on right track.

Blue Eye

Blue Eye, a dominant male in some part of Magadhi tourism zone of Bandhavgarh appeared on scene when he was fully adult. There is not lineage available of few Tigers in Bandhavgarh so most probably they were born and brought up in main Khitauli area and ended up in Tourism zone of Tala - Magadhi range.
We believe he is about 10 years old now. 
Blue Eye had a fight of his life with Jobi male in which he lost a big chunk of meat from his forehead.

When we were shown those photos I assured them that if he survives you wont find him for months. He was absent from the area for months and rumours about his death were everywhere. 
He survived and survived well. Laying in Lantana bushes to wait for wild boar and cattle was technique of survival.
His body has no new injury marks but his foot still giving some trouble.
Did he injured that foot too in that fight with Jobi male? No one knows about it. When he came back on scene after that fight he was limping and since then he is always seen limping but health wise he is in good nick so we presume that that foot is not giving him much trouble in finding his food.
Jobi moved towards Tala after that fight and ultimately landed in Khitauli. 
Presently how far Blue Eye is moving no one knows. Last time he was seen near Dhamokhar. We presume he has lost all his dominance on female of that area because when we were watching Blue Eye another male Tiger was seen moving about a km away.
He still have some life left in him but how long he can face the challenge from these young ones is difficult to say.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Shashi aka Bamera

Shashi had very short tenures of everything in his life. He left his motherland at the age of 36 months and came back at the age of 50 months or so. Although he never showed his presence by challenging any dominant male in the area, Sundar or Shaki.
That time I photographed him sitting quietly 100 mtrs away from a mating pair. 

They all knew each others presence but because he never posed any threat that day the dominant male Shaki ignored him altogether and He was not dominant so female didn't show any interest in him. 
He spent another year avoiding these two dominant male in Tala Range. He never had a chance to show any dominance on any of the female in Tala Range but he was always muscling.
Reason why her mother left the area was his slapping her on a dispute on a kill.
At last he was the one who challenged his own father and pushed him successfully.
I will say that he did not had more than 30 months peace in his life as Dominant male. Even less than that because once people saw him chased away from a kill by two young sub adults male from Mirchahni. 
He had to face lot of resistance from these young males of Tulsi and Wakeeta but somehow he survived for some time but not very long.
It was these cubs who injured him badly in 2012 and he was missing for more than a month licking his wounds somewhere safe in some cave.
When he was seen he was still limping.
He never recovered from these wounds.
Another male Rahasy chased him away and beat him up in Chakrdhara.
He was chased from his main area of Chakradhara to Chorbehra side where he started moving till Thauni.
Here he met with another male Jobi and had a good fight with him.
In this fight he got his both foreleg injured but left one was more than other and Jobi lost his one eye.
In last three years he was hardly ever seen eating a natural prey killed by himself otherwise he was always seen attacking cattle.
He was unable to walk properly but otherwise he was perfectly fit to challenge any Tiger.
He proved this in last summer when he lost one of his tooth in biting to Tarun.
This day Tarun was challenging Jobi and they both were intimidating each other but none had the courage to charge.
After seeing Jobi going out of his territory Tarun started going back to his own sanctuary but he met Shashi on way. Probably in utter frustration of not being able to deal with Jobi this male charged on Shashi.
Shashi, showed him the strength of a Tiger although he was having an abscess in his both fore leg.
He bit him hard on his shoulder.
Mahavat saw two tigers rolling over on each other and growling but he was so far away that he could not recognise the other tiger. When he came nearby he saw Bamera sitting with blood dropping from his mouth.
This is the time when we reached to the spot and when we heard the story we went to look for other male.
We found him sitting behind the bushes licking his shoulder.
All what we could see through binocs that this male has both the eyes intact and blood oozing out from his shoulder.
He was not Jobi but Tarun.
In this fight Shashi / Bamera got his teeth damaged. This blood from his mouth is coming out of his gums.   
Last one year or so was worst.
His injury on his left foreleg pad was still weeping. He had this injury since last 18 months or so. But last summer he had abscess in his both forelegs.

This made him unable to run faster and in this monsoon this wound must have gone bad to worst. 
In August one day while coming back from Umaria I saw him crossing the road and walking in the grassland. He use to stop and shake his left fore paw. I thought he is limping more than usual probably because he got some thorn or stick or some mud struck to his wound.
His survival on cattle was a real threat not only on his own life but also on the life of the staff who were monitoring him or the Forest Staff in whose territory he was surviving. Forest staff were threatened regularly by the villagers.
He was a big liability in open area.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pug Mark Impression Pad

Pugmark Impression Pad or PIP is one of the most useless practice adopted by forest department. They just don't gain anything from it.  This is a practice from older days when staff use to try to recognise the pugmark of an individual Tiger. Now it is just counted the pugmark of a tiger male or female. No one has any clue that if there is a male pugmark here then which male? 
By this method number of tigers remain the same while tigers goes missing.
Today afternoon I was with a guide who saw a Tigress opposite siddhbaba in Tala zone last year. he and driver wasim saw the female while tourists saw cubs running on hills.
This tiger was never seen with cubs again while her cubs pugmarks were seen in Chakradhara last year.
So where these cubs gone?
In a similar case last year Tulsi lost her one of the cub which was never seen again, Wakeeta lost her one cub and one is with her now but the third cub is missing and no one knows his/her whereabouts.
Her cubs from last litter is not seen in park area so they are also treated as missing.
Mukunda male who came to Bhadrashila area from Mukunda is missing since last season. Two cubs of Hemi from previous litter are missing.
There are so many people walking in the park in the name of Patrolling but none could find the dead body of these missing tigers.
All these people on foot and on bicycle are more of a disturbance to tigers than anything else.These people needs to patrol the periphery of the park from outside.
This constant presence of human being in there area must have affected their predation habit. Now we very rarely see any Tiger walking on road.
Some of the young cubs are still not habituated with the presence of these foot patrolling staff so they runs away for safety. 
These foot patrolling staff needs to check all the PIP to report the pugmark. Who compile those datas? No one then why we are wasting so much manpower on this very unproductive practice?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Panpatha Sanctuary _ Why Panpatha never had a viable population of Tigers?

Why Panpatha never had a viable population of Tigers?
This question comes in my mind all the time when I see that in initial days of Bandhavgarh all the surplus population of Tigers was moving towards Panpatha.
People who do not have enough knowledge about the place or of the past they can understand this from the name of a present dominant tiger called Bamera. He got his name only because he moved out of Chakradhara with his other siblings towards Bamera village in Panpatha sanctuary.
His male sibling survived for some time but just in opposition direction of Bamera village (photographed in kalwah range). His female sibling shifted from there to some unknown territory and never seen again. 
Panpatha is hardly few kms in crow flight for the Tigers of Tala range. This should be their natural choice and was but today we don't see many tigers thriving there like Magadhi, where till few years back sighting of cattle was a routine scene for tourists.
We have seen that how in last 6 years only Magadhi zone has transformed in tiger sightings. Although some part of it comes under Tala range.
So do we have to mention this Magadhi transformed in last 6 years only because Tourist vehicles started going there or in conservationists words Tourist vehicles started harassing the tiger so tiger population increased there and because no one ever tried to harass any tiger in Panpatha thats why their population dwindled there are they never survived there.
Now you can put it in whatever the words you like but the truth is, in Panpatha without tourism Tiger population is not surviving as well as in the area with Tourism. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bandhavgarh - Tiger population in core area.

First time I heard about Tiger density in Bandhavgarh was in 1979 and that time it was claimed that Bandhavgarh has highest density of tigers in India. 
This is true story that some Rangers who were sitting with me suddenly started counting Tigers in their range and starting laughing like mad.
That time Kisli and Kanha  range of Kanha national park had as many tigers as many were in Bandhavgarh but because they were a part of a National Park and here a Tala range itself was a National Park. 
That time total area of Bandhavgarh was only 105 sq km.
If you want to know tiger figures in this park then you have to find the papers written by other  than park officials or look for the films made in 80's and carefully hear the commentary.
What is happening now?
Tiger population in this park is at it's highest numbers.
This park does not have prey base to support these many tigers in the park boundary. 
Youngsters do not have a chance to survive in the park boundary so they move out to the area where there future is more uncertain than inside the park.
There are so many factors which worked negatively for the park and it's habitants in last few years.
Encroachment on forest land right next to the park boundary is one such case that has destroyed lots of corridor for wildlife.
In  present political scenario in the state and in the country wildlife do not have enough hope for their secured future.
People keep on talking about the tiger future and some times they start talking so seriously as it looks as tigers are going to disappear overnight but if you see the things properly then you will realise that most of them are talking for their own survival.
Their survival is attached to the shouting of Save the Tiger. 
Tigers future around here is very much safe. Poaching case  of Tigers has come down to almost zero in last few years. What you have heard was not the tiger poaching but it was unfortunate accident where tiger lands in a trap put for herbivores.
Tiger population is so good now that even any dominant male is not having a good time  in his own territory. Every year one or two new males are challenging him.
Bamera lost his territory at the peak of his age, Jobi lost most of  his territory to new young tigers.  
Blue Eye lost his territory even before he could sire a litter in his  area.
This whole new conflict of male is affecting the life of females too. Some of them are living in a dilemma, don't know who the master  is and this is the one reason why many of them are not getting pregnant quickly.
So  new season will have new secrets to reveal.
Let us see what happens to Tulsi? Will she lose her territory to new female or will secure a small little place for herself?
Wakeeta will be elusive again. Poor girl have  very poor territory.
Chakradhara is still empty (june 2015), ownership of Chorbehra - Dhobiakhol is still unknown.
So let us see what happens this year.
Last year was very poor as far as tiger sighting was concerned.

Monday, August 10, 2015

House turning in to a Home.

Not only me but many of my friends never had enough money to buy a house in any city and even at times some of us did not had even money to buy the land in rural areas.
All of us were very scared of bank loan too.
I bought land, on which we live, very late in my life and even then we did not had enough money to finish the construction work at once.
In those days I use to say When you don't have money construction keep on going.
I have my own joy and sorrow of living on this land but when my friends visit my place they become jealous of the life we live.
If that's the case then I will suggest that people should buy some piece of land in Rural India and develop it bit by bit.
We are living on this land since last 17 yrs and still planting trees. Since last two years we are having very good crop of Pomegranate and now I regret that why I did not planted more.
My Cheeku plantation failed because I don't think it's suitable to this area.
Oranges are good and so the Lemons.
If Orange gives fruit as our Lemon plants does then we may not need to buy any orange Juice ever.
We failed to use all our lemon crop. Even after feeding 8 families, for their yearly supply of Lemon Squash and pickle, we waste a lot.
So my dear friends if you have money even to buy a smallest piece of land in Rural India buy it immediately because by the time you retire that land may become a destination for your holidays.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rise and Fall of Bandhavgarh 7

In last three years time what changed Bandhavgarh most is the free hand given to Labour to do what they feel best.
This relaxed attitude of forest department employees did not do any good for wildlife of any sort.
Tiger is always a major attraction for Tourists but all other small things makes this place more interesting. Start from the beginning Tourists were allowed to visit some of the caves in the park. These caves had lots of wildlife (Bats, spider, Lizards). Tourists were always interested in these small things. 
Badi Gufa, Astbal and Kutchehary were the most important caves around Sheshshaiyya. 
At one time Tomb Bats were found in abundance at Kutchehary and Astbal and Great Eastern Horse Shoe Bats in Badi Gufa.
Now we see them none at any of these places. 
Badi Gufa was turned in to a store where labour started parking their bicycle and keeping all the road maintenance material disturbed the bats.
Here a motorcycle is parked in Kutchehary.

I hope people remember the days when Gohni gate was put at it's place only for one reason - to keep villagers at bay from park area. 
Villagers has to go to their farming land after crossing the Gohni gate controlled by park management. Tourists were allowed to visit those fields in search of yello wattled lapwing, White Eyed Buzzard, Monitor Lizard, Porcupine, Indian Fox, Indian Jackal, many species of Pipits and Larks and Chinkara. Later things changed bit by bit and villagers were invited to farm their land. Few years back one of the Field Director saw this and decided to have C.P.T. instead of Chain Link fence. This was a very clever move. But present management in the park completely defeated or say wipedout all those efforts of previous Directors and allowed them to run Tea shop at right at the edge of core area. This created lots of disturbance to wildlife. Below in the picture is Tea shops at Baghnaka camp in Magadhi zone.

 It's not only in Magadhi zone they have allowed this disturbance in Khitauli zone also.


Barasingha trans location

I am putting this article here only for as a record to note down the trans location dates from Kanha to Van Vihar Bhopal on 8th January.
Newsroom 24x7 9th January. 2015

The wildlife Wing of Madhya Pradesh forest department, with active participation of the Kanha Tiger Reserve and Bhopal’s Van Vihar National Park staff has achieved major success by relocating 7 of the hard ground central Indian barasingha from Kanha to Van Vihar.
This is a significant step towards conservation of the ground swamp deer specie, which is on the verge of extinction. Barasingha has the honour of being State Animal of Madhya Pradesh. The swamp deer arrived at Van Vihar today under the supervision of forest officers and veterinary doctors in a specially built vehicle and have been housed in conservation breeding enclosure especially prepared for them.
For translocation of the swamp deer from Kanha Tiger Reserve to Van Vihar, a capture strategy was chalked out after obtaining permission from the Central and state governments. The capture process started in Kanha Tiger Reserve on January 7 from 6 am onwards. Tills 12.30 pm, seven of these rare animals were captured in specially built Boma and sent to Bhopal.
The Capture process was led by Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Suhas Kumar and Kanha Tiger Reserve Field director Jasbir Singh Chouhan. Shubhranjan Sen of Indian Wildlife Institute Dehradun, Director Centre for Wildlife Forensic and Health Dr. A.B. Shrivastava, doctor of Van Vihar Bhopal Dr. Atul Gupta, Assistant Director of Kanha Tiger Reserve Rajneesh Kumar Singh and Dr. Sandeep Agrawal were part of the team that took part in the capture operation.
Mr. Suhas Kumar told Newsroom24x7 that the next step is to reintroduce barasingha in its original range in Satpura–to be precise in the Bori area. “Now this will open up the gates for the next step” he said adding the original plan was to reintroduce barasingha in Satpura where the soft release enclosure has also been developed. The proposal for reintroducing the barasingha in Satpura was pending and National Tiger Conservation Authority finally agreed with the condition that the barasingha should first be brought to Van Vihar to demonstrate the viability of the relocation exercise. The State wildlife wing took this as a huge and unique opportunity to create a gene pool by building a conservation enclosure, said Mr. Kumar.
The central Indian hard ground barasingha is a sub-species of the swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli duvauceli) of the sub-Himalayan terai of north India. It is highly endangered. The Central Indian sub-species, whose historic range covered several districts of the present states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, is now endemic only to the Kanha National Park and forms the only world population.
The Kanha meadows have grass round the year and the protected area has remained a perfect habitat for tigers and the highly endangered and the only world population of the hard ground barasingha. The historic range of barasingha covered several districts of the present states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, has remained endemic only to the Kanha National Park for several decades. Even in this part of the globe, the barasingha population came down to such drastic levels that the forest staff had started carrying out a daily attendance to monitor the status of this highly endangered species. Before the conservation initiative was taken up at Kanha, the barasingha was almost on the verge of exticntion. During the late 1960s, their numbers had declined and the count had come down to only 66 and the population was restricted to a small area inside the Kanha National Park.
The central Indian barasingha is a sub-species of the swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli duvauceli) of the sub-Himalayan terai of north India, the Kanha barasingha is a food specialist with a narrow niche, and is an exclusively graminivorous deer species, wholly dependent on grasslands. It is a very handsome deer whose characteristic bugle calls echo through the habitat during the winter, when it is also their mating season. It is a pleasant sight to spot the magnificient male barasingha plucking a typical grass with its antlers and displaying it for the purpose of natural selection in the midst of the Kanha grassland.
According to the Kanha Tiger Reserve Field Director, “the resurrection of the majestic hard ground barasingha in Kanha is by far one of the most inspiring successes in the history of wildlife conservation in the country.” The magnitude of poaching and habitat loss in and around the present national park in the past drove this magnificent deer to almost extinction. In the late 1930s there were around 3000 of the hard groundbarasingha.The Supkhar forest range of Kanha, which had lost every single animal by the late 1950s, has now become a safe haven for a small population of barasingha which has now stabilised.
As part of the Kanha conservation initiative, the Kanha Tiger Reserve management has been creating linkages between grasslands for foraging and reclaiming additional grassland habitat through village relocation. These abandoned village sites have started morphing into excellent grasslands and support barasingha dispersal and their multiplication.
Considering various biological constraints and risks of this small population, the wildlife wing of the State Forest department and Kanha management picked Van Vihar National park in Bhopal as an alternative habitat for this deer species where some introduced founder-animals can multiply and maintain another population in the state.