Saturday, May 26, 2018

Fifty Years of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

I remember sighting my first ever male tiger at Bandhavgarh in 1974. This was at Kill Khuta where a bait was tied overnight to attract a tiger. Well it was successful, but I could see the magnificent beast only at the fag end of the day.  

The forest belts encompassing the Vindhyan Ranges near Umaria where constituted as National Park in the year 1968. This was earlier the hunting reserve of erstwhile Maharjahs of Rewa. Mohun the first and only white tiger found in the wild was discovered somewhere in these forests by HH  Martandsingh Deo. The discovery threw light towards the remote and isolated kingdom of the tiger. 
Fort Wall


Look Out
The success as conservation unit was augured whence Bandhavgarh was brought under the aegis of Project Tiger, and hence became a tiger reserve. This happened in 1993 and today the big cat population is constantly on the rise surviving in approx 1100 of Sal forests. The protection accorded to the tiger eventually helped all life forms. They benefited from enrichment of the ecosystem as whole and protection accorded to the habitat niches.
Bengal Tiger

The limelight has also brought out into the open, remains of ancient civilisations that once thrived here. While the fort is in ruins many architectural splendours survive and enchant during the safaris.  
Ancient Stable

With the increase in tiger numbers sighting increased as well and Bandhavgarh from a sleepy little reserve became a popular destination as well. Though visited by few interested in wilderness since the inception, the number of visitors increased substantially in the late nineties. This called for a greater tourism infrastructure and as a result a number of hotels and resorts were built. 
Tourism Gate Bandhavgarh

Tourists flocked from all over the globe to see the legendary tigers as well as amazing birds that thrived in the National Park. Big cats like Banka, Barka, Sita, Charger and B2 to name a few became legendary and attracted lots of tourists, wildlife photographers and filmmaker alike. The reserve also contains training and research centres. Animal translocation and disease management are crucial elements of conservation and the techniques are being applied here.  

Apart from conservation the park benefited immensely from the thriving tourism industry. Jobs and small businesses fulfilling the needs of tourists increased four fold and empowerment of local communities took place rapidly.                
Reclining Vishnu 

Today the park is one of the fifty tiger reserves set up in India. But the name and fame of Bandhavgarh continues to climb higher and higher. With greater efforts the tiger population in the reserve is going to increase thus helping in fetching the animal species out of danger of extinction. 
Sambar deer

Image Courtesy Tirath Singh

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