Thursday, October 31, 2019

Elephant feeding

After coming out of corral and showing his skill of understanding the Mahavat's command he was offered food first time out of corral.
This is the best way to feed a captive elephant, Mr Mridul K Pathak said.
You can see here Roti and Jaggery in his meal.
By this way the number of roti he gets per day and amount of jaggery gets embedded in his memory.
Just within less than four months he became such a docile animal that here the mahavats are standing just having a stick in his hand. I have seen them working in corral it was simply the Tender loving care of the staff which made him friendly towards human being. No doubt this was all possible under the stewardship of Mr Mridul K Pathak. The new boys were appointed to work with these new elephants and very soon they develop a rapport between them.  
There is a story from Bori from 70's about elephant feeding.
Hopefully Dinesh K Dubey will tell us because this was told us by his father, who use to be CF Hoshangabad in those days. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wild elephant release from corral on 26th Jan 2019

When I say that this wild elephant capture programme was unique in many sense then really it was. There are so many stories which needs to be written about this.
This elephant was the most naughtiest in all for breaking the wall. His footprints were smaller than the other big tusker and his footprints were more common around the houses.
He was the caught in mid september and in October he was put in the corral.
Mr Mridul K Pathak the then Field Director of Bandhavgarh Ntl park use to visit Corral almost every day and every time he went to see them he use to feed them Jaggery or Roti by hand.
His stewardship made new mahavats to work with new, unknown, temperamental elephants.
His only order for them was to win them with love.
Staff worked hard to achieve these goal and results were very positive and were seen very early.
In two months time Mahavats were telling me that they can go inside to clean the corral and for dressing of their old gunshot wounds.

One even offered me to take his picture inside the corral but I refused.
In less than four months time this elephant is brought out of the corral.
You can see a houda on his back with sandbags.
This all was done when elephant was in corral.
After his release he walked around and then his hauda was removed.
Within 40 minutes of his release Mr Pathak was feeding him by hand.
This was confidence and faith on that animal.
This was a great achievement in elephant training.
We know in other states the elephants were treated so badly that court has to order to release them back in the jungle.
Initially when he was put in corral he tried his level best to get out that corral and in that process he broke his left tusk.
In May I saw him standing next to a tiger.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Rai Grass

This is one of the most common grass in our area and its most non palatable grass for herbivores but in our garden it comes through cow muck. It means the cattle do eat it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Animal deaths and Shashi / Bamera pugmark

Some animal deaths in the jungle really made me very angry and often you find yourself very helpless in these cases.
Charger, Bamera, Indrajeet and Indrani deaths are some of them.
While looking my old files for habitat shots I just found these two pictures of Shashi / Bamera pugmark.
Bamera had a small injury in one of his pad. For Cats that kind of injury is nothing. It's like a scratch for us.
Shashi / Bamera had this injury in his pad for months together and ultimately he died of septicemia of this injury.
You can see the pugmark in dry sand where constantly he is leaving a wet mark on the sand.
This all happened when Bandhavgarh have a qualified Govt Vet posted especially for looking after the wild animals.

Jungle Cat.

Not an easy subject to photograph. Sightings in this forest are very irregular. You need lots of time to let her accustom to your present but nowadays that's not possible only because of unruly guests ibn the park.
People do not respect other animals or do not respect other guests in the park.
This has happened only because of Guide and drivers who do not have any knowledge about Natural History of the area or one can say if tiger is not there then they don't know how to keep their guests interest in the park or how to keep their guest busy by showing other animals in the park.
luckily we found this cat in the area where other vehicles were not there so we had the opportunity to watch her pounce on a mouse in ten minutes time.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Chinku aka Mangu

At the time when this picture was taken on 9th Feb 2019 this dominant male tiger was less than 9 yrs old.
Experts says this his prime age but here in Bandhavgarh this male is facing tough competition from two young males who are just reached to their sexual maturity age.
This is only due to high density of Tigers in this area.
When we hear in other parks a male tiger survives 14-15 yrs of age and still roaming as dominant male we wonder why it does not happen here because they also claim
similar density there too.

Chinku aka Mangu

9th Feb 2019
This was the day when me and Kay were in the jungle and we reached to the spot, as most of the time we are the last to enter the park, people had already seen some tiger crossing the road twice.
But no one had any clue which Tiger it is except some Guides said for surety that it's a male.
People lose their patience very quickly in the jungle and sometimes Tigers do wait for the people to go away.
Patience rewarded and after about an hour we heard some leaves cracking and soon he appeared in that small opening in the forest.
It was Chinku aka Mangu.
Since last few weeks we were seeing some very unusual movements of male tigers in his territory.
Photos published on social media showed two different male moving in his territory, both young.
This day Chinku was restless and very alert. Looks ike he was expecting to face some other intruder.
He was not wrong.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Eucalyptus plantation.

This spot will be an eyesore in coming years. How this happened nobody knows. Staff said that they didn't knew that this is a part of the park. Management knew it only when the owner came for a NOC for electricity.

Glory Lily Gloriosa superba

Glory lily is said to be one of the most poisnous plant found in the jungle. At one time it was said that even LTTE people in Sri Lanka keep it handy for suicide.
Its one of the most striking flower in the jungle in Months of October November. At one time we use to see it a lot on road side but as the flower start catching the eye of plant thieves most of the Glory Lily rhizome is taken out by plant thieves. 

Dhobina Dalbergia lanceolaria

Dhobina / Dalbergia lanceolaria has a sub-specie too which is named as D. paniculata. There are few spots in Bandhavgarh where saplings of Dhobina are growing in abundance. They have compeletely covered the ground.
Today when I went to that road again this plant was in my mind.
This tree grows as tall as 50 feet. To compete for sunlight it grows straight and tall. Looks good as a timber but once the wood is dry it peels out like cardboard.
Only use looks good is for paper industry.
Easy identification of a mature tree is look for horizontal lines on trunk.
Bark is pale looks nearly white, mostly smooth with some rough patches.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


While going through my pictures of Sundargaj which I took on 9th October suddenly I saw this picture.
Staff said that he is in masth / मद .
What I see here is very small mark of pungent liquid coming out of his temporal glands but a huge wet mark below his eyes.
Photographed this on 9th October morning.
Is he still crying for Ravi'S death?
I have seen elephant shedding tears.
Seen it more than one time.
I leave this question for you all to answer for your own satisfaction.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Meadow management in Bandhavgarh in 2016-18

In November 2016 I was told by the then Field Director that Spotted Deer Population in Bandhavgarh is well beyond 55 thousand.
I did not ask him to tell us the cattle lifting figures also of the previous years but we all knew that sign of their presence were not present in the park.
If park has 55 thousand deer then we should see the rings around bamboo clumps. They will feed up to the height of 5 feet so clumps should be more open in the bottom and Tigers should not rely on cattle.
Other thing which we did not see in the park since Mr R.C.Sharma left as Field Direcor was Spotted deer rut in March.
If we see the old papers of Forsyth, Danbar Brander, George Schaller , S.R.Choudhary and H.S.Panwar they all mentions that major rut starts in March and finishes off in June, after the few monsoon showers.
They all relate March rut with winter burning of the grassland. George Schaller mentions in his book that till mid 1960s the grassland of Kanha were burnt in Nov and latest by Christmas.
This use to provide fresh fodder to herbivores for whole winter and resulting the rut in March.
One day when the then Field Director Mr Mridul K Pathak, Mr Abdul Alim Ansari DFO, Mr Rishi Mishra ACF and me were sitting and discussing this meadow burning he said that I understand it but in present scenario we are not allowed to burn the meadows.
Then think about cutting the grass and long and wide Firelines.
He said yes that's the vival option but we have to look for funds which are scarce at the moment.
The suggestion came to look for grass cutting machine.
We found one online and I ordered it for the park.
Within a week the work started.
People had no clue what's happening in the park only because they could not understand it. This was a long term plan for making the mulch all over the grassland to retain the moisture.
Soon he saw the favorable results of it . Soon the new shoots attracted the deer in fireline and most of the animal started gathering in a small area.
According to S.R.Choudhary and Panwar this is important for creating a competition for healthy gene transfer for the future.
This practice continued in 2017 and 18 too.
I will cut short this story here and would like to mention the name of Mr Suresh Kumar Mishra, a retd DFO from Odissa who was incharge of Simlipal, Satkosia and other reserves in Odissa and was a Wildlife trained officer. When he visited this Park in February 2019 I showed him rut behaviour of Spotted Deer in Rajbehra meadows.
This picture of Rut behaviour was taken on 9th Feb 2019 in Rajbehra.

Later on one day in end of june ,when I was with Mr M.K.Pathak along with Mr Shrivastava Vet Dr from Jablapur, he showed this to Mr Shrivastava that most of the females were looking pregnant and he agreed to it.
This was the achievement means major rut was in March which we saw starting in Feb.
Since then many people commented on social media too that in comparison to last few years they see a better population of Spotted Deer in the park.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Plumbago Zeylanica

Plumbago zeylanica growing in our garden is the food plant for Zebra blue butterfly. They lay egg on flower buds and then the caterpillar stay in that clump of sticky flower buds.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Bandhavgarh, Tala and Magadhi on 1st and 3rd October 19

We were in the jungle on first october morning in Tala and on third morning in Magadhi.
First morning in the park is always for photographing landscape and wild flowers to add the collection of last 25 years or more.
First thing which we wanted to photograph was this waterfall from fort hill which we were seeing from our land since last many days. This waterfall is from fort plateau.

Some of the areas got the grass which was sowed year before last and this year it was noticeable. Hopefully in next few years it will bring the glory back to normal as it use to be 15 yrs back.
All those sand bunds which were made in 2007 and 08 were washed away. They were completely wrong but it was very difficult for next few Managers who knew that these will do nothing except to increase the silt in downstream. They had no option except to maintain them. Luckily nature cleaned them this year but stream is full of silt.
Two of these were at Damnar river at either side of the rapta and few in chakradhara.
What surprised me was half filled Gopalpur and Sukhi Patiya pool.

 According to my guide Premlal that day last year water was on the road at Sukhi Patiya. Looks like the feeder channel at Gopalpur was filled with silt early in the monsoon thats why Gopalpur did not receive the September rain water. I know the Mahaman pool channel was not cleared last year so this year question does not arise to have enough water in it but still it looks good.
In Magadhi that Verma forester was again on job with all his sincerity as usual. His work around Charakwah pool is showing results. The barren land was full of grass so much that saucer was not at all visible and nor the pool banks.

Vishnu was as usual good and I hope the grass on vishnu statue won't be scrapped. It's a sandstone and scrapping the grass with wire brush always removes some layer of the statue too. When I see my picture of Vishnu statue taken in 1982 then we see more decoration than now on it's head.

Last years labour work, taking the soil for road repair from rocks, in Tala Jamunia shown the effect. Now we see very low density of Begonia plants in Jamunia rocks and the same at Sita Mandap.

 Glory lily plants were not as much as last year. It could be due to excessive rains in September months. Even the Glory Lily in our garden has died.

Tiger situation looks pretty good.While we were watching two male Tigers chasing each other in Magadhi at the same time Xena was seen in Tala. Kay saw the pictures on social media and she thinks that Xena is still single means no cubs. Is it due to Tiger conflict in her area. Hardly any work is done on cats in INDIA. Why they do not conceive when they see male Tiger conflict in her area and they mate with both the tigers. We rely on papers from Natuaral History Museum London or some other work done on similar subject on different cats in the world and think they might be behaving the same like other cats. Laxmi was a live example for this.

We wish that these bloody NGO's which have no brain except money which is collected from innocent people will not suggest anymore Solar water pump in the park. If the rain water harvesting is done properly then there is no reason of any water shortage in the park. Animals are happy to drink from a pit instead of a pool. Any running water or spring is good enough for them. And in sandstone hills there should be tons of springs as I have seen in the past. They just needs to be clean to solve the problem.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Elephant Behaviour.

Ravi Baiga was killed this morning 3rd October 2019 by Sundargaj elephant at coomhi kachhar camp.
Elephant is the most dangerous animal on earth I am writing here some of my experiences.
Sabir and Shivaji. Kanha - These two had the best relationship in every aspect. Sabir never spoke to his elephant in harsh words or never shown any anger to him.
Once Sabir was sent to Sarguja in wild elephant operation and his Elephant was taken care by his Characutter. When he came in Masth he killed a forest guard near Kopedabri camp.
After this Shivaji gone so mad that even park was closed for tourism for few days. He was chasing any vehicle seen on road.
I was told by Lakhnu Mahavat that when he use to run his chain use to ahead of him.
At last Forest deptt decided that either we capture him or eliminate him.
somehow this news reached to sabir that evening itself so he decided to go and look for his elephant. He told me that he reached Kisli in the morning but by that time tranquilizing team was already gone on elephant so I decided to go on my motorbike.
He reached to the stpot and asked the FD that Sir let me see my elephant first and if he comes o me then well and good otherwise ..
Sabir told us that I called him in the jungle.
और फिर साहब हाथी ने क्या आवाज करी हे।  बांस तोड़ता हुआ चर्र मर्र  करता हुआ आ के मेरे पास खड़ा हो गया।  मैंने बेडी लगाई और उसे घर लाकर बाँध दिया  . ( Then he responded to my call immediately. Bamboo noise was giving us the feeling as he is running through the forest. He came and stood next to me. I put a chain in his forelegs and brought him Home.
Here Shivaji was not happy with the Characutter who was treating him while he was in masth.
2 Sabir with Indrajeet.: Indrajeet was brought to Kanha from Sonpur Mela in 1980-81. We remember him as Langdi haathi in those days. This name was given to him by a 3 year old boy Vinod Ramchandran who saw him limping. Initially Indrajeet had slight limp in his hind leg.
There was no extra Mahavat or Characutter there so Sabir was given the responsibility of looking after him. Sabir treated him like he was treating Shivaji.
In due course Indrajeet was sent to Bandhavgarh.
One day Sabir came to Bandhavgarh and met us. We asked him to be ready in the morning for the jungle.
Me Kay and Sabir reached to Chakradhara there we saw that Tiger show was already going on.
Sabir asked me if that elephant to whom Mantu was riding is Indrajeet. I said yes.
Sabir asked me shall I call him? I said yes why not.
Mantu had 4 foreigners with him n elephant and he was about 200 mtrs away from us.
Sabir called him just once. Within seconds we saw Indrajeet stopping.
Sabir called him again.
Now Indrajeet turned back and started walking towards us.
Mantu could not control his elephant.
We were just laughing that let us see what he does to you now.
Indrajeet came straight to Sabir.
Sabir kissed him on his trunk and we saw Sabir and Indrajeet crying.
3 : Kuttappan with Gautam. A tiger show was going on at Mahaman. In those days Kuttappan use to ride Gautam. During that Tiger show while standing near the jeep Kuttappan dropped his Ankush. He got off the elephant to collect his Ankush but after that his beloved elephant Gautam did not let him go on his back.
Kuttappan tried his best and failed so he decided to walk him back to Bathan Camp.
Me and Kay were there in our Jeep so I said it's not good to leave him alone with angry elephant so we drove behind him. Later on we thought that that was the most foolish act of us.. If he would have turned on us then we had no chance to get away from him.
When we reached to Badhaini junction there we heard Siddhnath elephant coming. There Kuttappan climbed on Siddhnath and then jumped on Gautam.
Now Kuttappan was in command so we left them there.
Me with Sundargaj. - I was leading a group and met Kuttappan on his elephant in chorbehra. I got off the Gypsy and stood right in front of the gypsy, talking to Kuttappan. His elephant brought his trunk to my hand which was resting on Gypsy bonnett. I showed him my empty hand.
Then he brought his trunk to my other hand and I showed that hand also which was empty.
I was talking to Kuttappan so we both did not had our attention on this elephant. This elephant just push me by his tusk so I was leaning on his tusk and then he just flicked me over the Gypsy.
Tourist sitting in Gypsy saw me flying over there head. With a great thud I landed 5 feet behind the Gypsy. Then I saw people talking to me and sprinkling water on my face.
They wanted me to talk to them but God knows why I was not in a position to talk. Someone told me to close my eyes for 5 minutes and relax. Yes that's what he said to me and I smiled. Someone said Oh he is alright.
Anyway after 6 days when I got the Xray report in my hand mentioning four fractured ribs.
Indrajeet and Chanchalpyari : Chanchalpyari was a virgin female here in Bandhavgarh. All other female use to chose Gautam and this use to frustrate him.
Only female elephant which was free was Chanchalpyari but she was not at all interested in Indrajith's moves.
One day when Tiger show was going on Indrajeet pushed Chanchalpyari so hard that she fell on a Gypsy and died within weeks.
Again his Mahavat could not control him.
4 . Siddhnath and Kuttappan : Once Siddhnath along with his Mahavat was transferred to Pachmarhi. Siddhnath nether could produce a medical certificate nor any other excuse so he was sent to Pachmarhi without his Mahavat.
Now Siddhnath who was a young leader here found himself completely isolated in Pachmarhi and that too without his Master. there was nobody to console him.
What he did ? He turned back on his Mahavat and killed two Mahavats in within months.
One day when he was tied to a tree somehow reached to the rope where Mahavats put their laundry to dry.
He picked Mantu's clothes and tore apart them.
When Mantu saw this he left for Bandhavgarh immediately.
I can write few more stories like these but the question is how to predict his temperament.
What happened today with Ravi Baiga only Ravi or Sundargaj could tols us but Ravi is not there and Sundargaj cant speak so we have to wait if I get some more info that how it happened.
RIP Ravi.
You will be remembered here in Bandhavgarh for your good work with elephants.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Formation of Bandhavgarh

Sh J J Dutta Retd PCCF and CWLW M.P. told me once that the notification of Bandhavgarh National Park was issued on 23rd March 1968 by the signature of sh Rambihari Lal Sec Forest wo use to be once the employee of Maharaja of Rewa.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

30th June 2019

As usual we were again in the park for morning round.
Best thing what we saw there was a herd of spotted deer about 70-80 but with only two male in it.
What is happening there?? Why the rutt has not started here at all?
My guess is because we saw very high activity of rut in this park in Feb March that's why most of the female are already pregnant. 
This happened only because of the best work which was done in meadow management.
We were told that some people saw the Mangu crossing at Jhhilki nala in the morning. He is back in the area. Since last three days he was forcing Xena to accept his dominance.
Park looked more dirty than ever. Plastic was seen at many place in the park mostly tobacco wrappers. Behaviour of guides and drivers needs to be checked with a heavy hand if the park authorities wants this park to stay in best managed parks.
Drivers do not respect any other vehicle waiting or watching any other animal other than the Tiger. We lost some good images of monkey baby playing, spotted deer fighting and preaching.
I will say that lack of dedicated staff is the one reason for this. In last three months we have seen park deteriorating in tourism zone. Mahavats played a big role in defaming the park. There was no control on them in any way and people thought that this is happening with the consent of park management but it was completely false . Mahavats became rogue.
With the new drivers in the park, who have no knowledge about the park rules,  do let tourists do what they wants. Basically indians still uses it as a Park to do picnic. They have no idea about the wildlife.

It's end of june and we still has not seen a good shower. Most of the meadows looks overgrazed and dry.
Chakradhara meadow which has little moisture looks little green otherwise all other areas looks yellow.
This is the arrival of monsoon but it looks very fake.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Roof was done on 21st June and 8 pommegranate were planted on 25th june.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Visit to UK with Kay & Munmun

Kay's idea was that " She is 18 now. She should have same facilities what the girls in UK will ask."
So start from the beginning Munmun was getting an independent room. When we stayed at Jay Pee Vasant Continental Munmun had her room then in our entire stay in UK she was given an independent room.
We are sure she enjoyed that freedom. It was hard to expect her to sit with us except meal times otherwise she always stayed in her room.
What we saw there was that almost all the girls and boys of 16 yrs of age were working to earn some pocket money. One of our friends daughter works 2 hours a day in a restaurant to earn some money.
Munmun did go to see her.
Taxi dropped us at the station and we boarded the train for our next stay at Hartland quay.
We had to change the train and wait for 12 minutes. Pete Underhay, to whom we have not met for about 15 yrs was waiting for us at the station.
It was really nice of him to drive 30 miles to meet us for few minutes. He saw Munmun when she was a toddler. On the next station Anne and Derek were there to receive us.
Anne and Derek are Kay's friends since her college time. Their daughter Esther came to stay with us in her gap year.
Gap year is the time when students after finishing the school takes a year off from study and do travelling or something else they likes.
We were again in a quiet coach.  All quiet coaches have this noticeboard and people follows it.

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And this system in train coaches which tells you about the reservation of the seat. Think about it? It's easy to do with present day technology. India is not far behind in technology but ideas and execution are missing in our country.
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Train Journey was always very quiet and comfortable.
Anne and Derek's friendship with Kay is solid as a rock. They decided to come to Devon for holiday so we have their company. They booked a cottage where they were staying with their daughter Liz and her partner.
They all are artists. Artists who enjoys life but stay away from all the glitter.
From the station we went straight to their cottage for lunch.Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

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Munmun did not say much but she was happy eating her favorite meal. Daal and Rice. After lunch and Tea they dropped us at Hartland Quay hotel where Kay booked a cottage for us. Three bedroom and two bathroom. One bathroom with bath.
Munmun rushed to see all the bedrooms and chose to stay upstairs where her huge double bed room was attached to a lounge. We stayed downstairs where a window has the sea view.
We were so full with the lunch that we did not feel like to eat anything but Munmun wanted a bowl of Chips.
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View from our room.
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Hartland Quay hotel where our cottage was left side in this building. Two white windows out of four were of our rooms. Where these chairs are there use to be a swimming pool.
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This was the view from Munmun's lounge window.
Evening was quiet except some wind noise.
Here Kay introduced Munmun to bath. She was told to enjoy it as long as possible but don't fell a sleep in it. In the morning she said she came out only when she thought she may fell asleep in bath.
We all slept well.
Breakfast is major meal for us here too. Munmun who never drank juice much at home started liking Apple juice.
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After breakfast Kay took Munmun to show the life rock which she use to climb in her childhood.
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Munmun and Kay looking for shells and rocks.
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What was more interesting here was that sea water quality was constantly checked between May and September for bathing. I just can't imagine these things happening in India. I know people reading this may not believe it, if so, then please read this notice board.
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Next day we went to
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Stones were put for visitors to chose, buy and pay.
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Someone made very good use of wellington shoes.

There are so many footpaths around Hartland quay for people to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
One day Liz and her partner did a long walk of about 15 miles and were so tired that they did nothing next day.
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 Munmun having cream tea at Watersmeet house.
Rail track
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Today we went to see this railway wagon which runs on weight system. Easy technology used very effectively.
Later on Liz Crow came to meet us so that was a very good meeting after almost 20 years.
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Today on our walk we saw this grey heron fishing in river. He looks so tame that I could walk about 40 feet to him and he still concentrating on his target.
Grey Heron
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