Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tigers at Pench

The recent BBC film on Pench tigers was an enjoyable wildlife film and offered a lot of insights in a tiger's family life. The documentation of the tigress and her cubs was well presented and very informative for wildlife lovers and nature conservationists as well.

In Central India at Pench filming tigers is a difficult and time consuming task and requires lot of resources as well. In tropical dry deciduous mixed forests like the Pench National Park the forests are dense and impenetrable at places. The grasslands are only place where reasonable viewing and filming of wild animals is possible.

Since tigers are secretive animals most of their biological activities takes place in dense forests. To film a tiger on kill is also not as easy as filming the lions on hunt. The obvious difference is the habitat which in Africa is mostly open grasslands or savannas.

Major wildlife photography establishments as BBC, National Geographic or the Partridge film company have the necessary resources, expertise and innovative skills which result in secretive aspects of the tiger being filmed.

Wildlife films are by all means educative in nature and entertaining. They create awareness and encourage people to turn into nature conservations or wildlife photographers or at least end up drawing sympathy for all forms of life. These are the crucial human behavioral traits that will go a long way in saving the tiger, other wild animals and conserving wildlife habitats for gen next.

Monday, November 3, 2008

White tiger in the wild

The white tiger was discovered in the State of Rewa besides its hunted mother. So far in the wild there has been no sightings of the amazing animal which has become world famous.

The white tiger is the same species as the normal orange Bengal tiger panthera tigris tigris and is not a separate subspecies as many believe. The lack of yellow pigmentation is attributed to a recessive gene which perhaps is present in all tigers. If this is true than may be once a again a white tiger will be born in the wild if the tiger species survives that is.

The white tiger has bred successfully in the zoos and the number is good all over the world. Some white tigers may be with private zoos or collector of animal species in USA and elsewhere. There are many white tigers in Indian zoos which are breeding fairly well.

White tiger is an amazing sight to behold and visitors to the zoo are wonder struck. It will create history if the white tiger is discovered again in the wild.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Indian Wildlife

Documentation of Indian Natural history goes back to Vedas. The growth of Indian natural history in modern era is due to the keen interest shown by the British rulers. India with its diverse landscape, fauna and flora caught the eye of the British naturalists many of whom where in administrative service while serving in India.

The Vedas are the earliest record which list the names of 250 species of birds besides notes on various fauna and flora. The Vedas mention brood parasitism in Koel. The method of capture, taming and eventual training of wild elephants in India was documented in text dated 2000 years back.

The fauna and flora of ancient India are represented in clay potteries and tablets excavated from ancient civilizations. The protection of animals and forest conservation was first recorded in the Mauryan period especially during the period when Ashoka became a Buddhist and relinquished royal hunt.

Among Moghul rulers hunting and falconry was regularly practiced and the kings took a keen interest in documentation of nature Jehangir and Babur being the foremost. The notes from hired scribes during Moghul rule indicate widespread range of many animals which are now locally extinct in those areas.

During the British Raj, Indian Civil Services employed British naturalists many of whom studied Indian natural history out of curiosity while other collected wild species for naturalists and museums in Europe and Great Britain. Unfortunately destruction of forests and hunting went on a large scale by Indian princes and British royalties. As a result the lion was reduced to a small pocket in Gujarat and the India Cheetah became extinct. The precarious state of Indian tiger is as a result of indiscriminate poaching and habitat destruction.

During the British rule and post independence period Bombay Natural History Society has done a commendable work on Indian natural history by studying and recording nature and wild animals in India. The society is engaged in productive active of nature conservation as well.

India records around 1300 species of birds including sub species while there are more than 300 mammalian species. The list of reptiles and insects including butterflies is also very impressive. Due to influence of various zoo geographical zones Indian wildlife is unique.

Many wild species in India are threatened with extinction and wildlife itself survives in badly fragmented pockets. The tiger is one such case where in the population has decreased to few thousands from estimated forty thousand during the British Raj.

Most of the flora and fauna in India now survive in tiger reserves, Indian National Parks and sanctuaries scattered all over the country and contiguous forest belts are rare and diminishing. For tourists wildlife safaris at the conservation areas NPs and tiger reserves is the best way to see the tiger and other Indian wild animals.

Most of the National Parks and wildlife resorts have tourism zones for tiger safaris and bird watching. These are popular for tiger sightings, wildlife photography and watching wild animals like deer and lesser carnivore. Most popular reserves in India are Corbett National Park, Ranthambhore, Kaziranga, Manas, Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh also Pench in Central India.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tiger Safaris in October

In early days of tourism at Central Indian tiger reserves the park opened up in November for tiger safaris this offered a much needed rest and peace to wildlife and the park authorities had the time to re - establish road infrastructure etc.

All that has changed now. The tiger tourism is on peak and the tourist rush is considerable. So the park now opens in October a month earlier than before. Why?

Well! Tourism. Yes!

And the hotels at National Parks which wish to capitalize of tourist inflow to the optimum best. They managed to convince the park management that since the breeding season o most of the wildlife gets over by this time it is okay to commence tiger safaris earlier.

Since Kanha is the largest and mos popular National Park the owners of wildlife resorts at Kanha are the most active in matters relating to park safaris and tourism.

In October the monsoon rains have come to an end and with its departure humidity and wetness have been replaced by sunny weather and a bit of comforting cold. Inside the park, flora is at its optimum density and visibility is limited to few paces. Hence tiger trekking is difficult but nevertheless tigers are seen albeit at higher odds. So a minimum three night stay is advised to the tourists.

During October and early November the parks are at their picturesque best attired in green all over. This is the time when the weather too is at its best. So it is a happy time for tourist on tiger safari at Kanha National Park, Pench and Bandhavgarh National Parks.

In anticipation booking is done months in advance and especially during the Diwali holidays. This is the time when the rush is at its greatest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

End of the season

With the start of the monsoon the park closes for the tourists. Every year the park closes down on 3oth June and re-opens on 16th October this year. This gives much rest and privacy to the wild animals of the park.

But one negative aspect of the absence of tourists is that the park become more susceptible to poaching another reason for this is the turbulent rains which makes traversing many areas of the park difficult even for the elephant patrol. The whole staff including the guides are involved in safe guarding the park and protecting the animals from marauding poachers. It is hard work for the park staff looking after the wild animals and forests. This is true conservation effort and the staff should be rewarded by tourists and all for this if nothing more.

The activities in hotels in Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench and other Indian tiger reserves comes to an end. It is time for rest for the hotel staff and the managers much needed. Servicing the guests is a difficult task what with most of the resources being fetched from major towns.

The timings for the staff are very tough during the season. They have to get up as early as 3.3 am in the bitter cold after having gone to sleep around 11pm. The immediate task is to prepare breakfast and tea which is offered as packed brunch too. The visitors are woken up for the park safari after this so that they leave for the gate in time. The whole day is spent doing numerous chores and serving the guests. Most of the staff goes to sleep late and gets up very early with limited rest.

It is very disappointing when some ungrateful guests do not tip them.

Eco tourism is not only fun and excitement watching rare and endangered species like the tiger. It is a responsible tourism as well so all activities that encourage the locals and those involved will go long way in saving our precious natural inheritance.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Welcome to a Wildlife Resort

Ever since I started frequenting Kanha as a naturalist guide, I developed a habit to account all things interesting at this wonderful National Park in India.

The last trip was few days before the Kanha gates closed for the monsoon. Monsoons are a period of heavy rains in most part s of India including Kanha National Park.

Once you become a Kanha fan it beckons you again and again, such is the magic of this nature preserve. Not only the tigers, the paradise has so much to offer.

On my last visit I happened to visit a luxury resort at Mocha - few kilometers from park gates - in order to take a measure of new accommodations that have been established in recent times.

The Celebration Van Vilas Resort in true sense defines the world "luxury". Yes the Kanha Resort is three star resort set amidst the lush green ambiance of Kanha. It has been designed to cater to the upper class tourists who wish for luxury yet do not wish to sacrifice the feel of the wilderness and tradition.

As a premium three star jungle lodge Celebration keeps it promise. It delivers luxury and comfort and yet mingles perfectly with surroundings of Kanha's pristine forests. In spite of being a luxury lodge meant for high profile tourists from India and Abroad it retains India's rustic charm and warmth.

No wonder the owners are age old conservationists and wildlife lovers and hence their experience of forest life speaks quite loud in their venture at Kanha. The resort justifies its surroundings and adds to the natural beauty of the forests. The wide expanse of the property with large number of cottages dressed in ethnic splendor and cool pool invites wildlife lovers with open arms. The hotel spells class and justifies it with its superb architecture, exquisite decor and dotting service and cuisine which never fail to impress. Yet the resort is a prime example of responsible tourism.

  • The resort has all the must haves of a true old time hunting lodges - a lofty machan (hide) for bird watching and catching site of the elusive panther who patrols the jungle treks in the night as sentinel of the wild. He often drops in to say Hello to the guests...Well almost.

  • Naturalist guides with years of experience who regale you with enchanting encounters in the wild with tigers and other mammals. The interactive well equipped lecture hall is where one should lend ear to detailed lectures on Kanha and Indian wildlife. One should also spend free time with the nature guides here for interpretative dialog on the amazing biodiversity - flora and fauna of Kanha.

  • Well stocked library lets you step deep into the realms of the wilderness, hunting and wild animals of India, penned by top naturalist guides, wildlife biologists and writers. Else watch a movie of nature and wildlife in the auditorium.
I rate Celebration as the best place to stay in luxury at Kanha. It cannot be outdone in organizing luxury widlife safari in the parkas well. Celebration Van Vilas is simply the best.