For the First time…Tiger and Snow Leopard at the same altitude in India..Is the Safari on?
Absolutely true…a Tiger camera trapped at the altitude of Snow Leopards. Is the duel inevitable now? Who will win the contest? The dark ghost of the Himalayas or the roaring beast of the plains? What if there are more Tiger and Snow Leopard in the area? This possibility cannot be ruled out as of now. Is it really a good news? Well, not bad either. Most noteworthy would be to go on a Tiger Safari in the area and see the Snow Leopard.
Having excelled in staying in the deltas, dry deciduous forest, almost desert like conditions, in rain forests, now the Tiger has been camera trapped in the regions of Askot in the upper reaches of Pithoragarh district in Uttrakhand at a height of 12000 feet. Sometime back Tigers were tracked at an altitude of 13000 feet in Bhutan. While the highest altitude the Tigers got in India was at 10000 feet in Sikkim. A male Tiger’s pug marks were also seen in snow near Jelepla in 2009. Occasionally Tigers are sighted at 6000-8000 feet in Sikkim. While in Nepal Tigers are found at an altitude of 12000 feet or above as well.
But why Tiger and Snow Leopard are moving to higher altitudes?
Is there some change happening in the territorial patterns of the Tigers? Maybe yes. But why, is the next logical question. Simply due to immense bio-mass pressure on their home in the plains. Tiger habitat is shrinking and they need to adapt to survive. Let us not forget the fact that the Tiger is a fast breeding and a highly territorial cat. When it doesn’t find enough space to share with other Tigers it wonders around in search of new home.
One must also realize that state of Uttrakhand is mostly hilly, with sparse population. Hence big cats find peace, prey, and parking space much easily here compared to lower altitudes.
Just few months back Snow Leopards were camera trapped in the upper reaches of Uttrakhand. This simply suggests that the Tiger and Snow Leopard are happy with their new found home in the upper reaches of Uttrakhand. After all, the forests of Corbett, and other areas below are crowded for them as far as Tigers, and tourists are concerned.
Though the Tigress has marked her new found home as taken, i pray there is no untoward incident with humans, but livestock with be in their radar now.
Hope the Tigers and Snow Leopard thrive in their new found home.
*P.S the above image is of the Tigress marking her territory in Kanha National Park. Image of the Tigress marking her territory at the high altitude are not available yet.
Changes in the tourism policies in Madhya Pradesh NP’s, i.e. Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench and Panna National Parks done by the forest management.
Listing the most important changes below:
1. Good news coming in less then 24 hours of my yesterday’s blog about Premium zones, i.e. PREMIUM ZONES ARE SCRAPPED in #Kanha and #Bandhavgarh #National Parks from the coming season starting October 2016. All zones will have only one rate. Did the Chief read my blog post, and thought of doing changes, well i would love to believe so..
2. All the Foreign tourists have a reason to rejoice, the differential rates in entry permits of Indian and Foreigners has been done away with. Now there will be one rate for all tourists. Absolutely incredible. This means the safaris become a bit reasonable for our foreign tourists. This is a first of it’s kind step by any state in India. This is one of the best Changes in the tourism policies in Madhya Pradesh NP’s.
3. Even better for all foreign tourists doing Kanha and Bandhavgarh, Panna and Pench national Parks is that now the parks will remain open on Wednesday afternoons also.
4. There is some good news coming for last minute bookers as well. Wherein they can book individual seats in the Jeeps. A small percentage of seats will be kept for the last minute bookings. This means that you will get to do safari on sharing basis with four more guests. My recommendation is that you book your safaris in advance, ideally 120 days prior to safari date. The advantage of booking in advance is that you get to choose the zone of your preference. How to choose which zone? Well, we are there to take care of the same for you.
5. The opening timing of the park is from 1st October till 30th June henceforth.
Isn’t this all incredible, great news for tourism, that too coming on International Tiger’s Day. In my opinion these are some initial good signs. Some more will follow soon. Hopefully some good areas like Bamni Dadar in Kanha and Bandhavgarh Fort in Bandhavgarh might be opened for tourism again.
Doing #Tiger #Safari in India for the first time? Yes, then first things first, have you chosen the top Tiger #National #Parks you wish to visit? No, then please go through this link below, and subsequently it is important to understand the concept of premium zones.
Next, if you choose to visit these parks, which zones you should be doing safaris in? What are the premium zones? The name sounds, that all Tigers are in the #PremiumZones? NO, not true. Simple reason is that #Tigers do not know which are premium zones in the national parks.
In the Top 3 Tiger National Parks in India, there are two parks which have premium zones, namely, #TalaZone in Bandhavgarh National Park, and #KanhaZone in Kanha National Park.
What are the premium zones?
The concept of premium zones was started by the Forest department when they realized that the Tiger sightings were very good in certain parts/zones of the park. This resulted in lot of tourists gathering in those parts and not visiting the other areas. So the forest department did a good thing to dissuade the tourists. They increased the rates of those zones. In Tala zone they doubled the rate, and in Kanha zone they hiked it by 50%. This was a huge step which paid off, and the general tourists started to do other zones also, and during the visit to the park they would perhaps visit the premium zone once or max twice only.
But the things changed. Wildlife is ever changing, new Tigers come, old one’s move away, new cubs come, etc, and the dynamics of the park change every 2 years literally. Hence the two zones which were tagged as premium suffered a lot in the year 2014, and 2015, the Tiger sightings dipped. The normal zones of #Mukki zone and #Kisli zone in #Kanha started to perform, while #Magdhi zone and #Khitauli zone did well in #Bandhavgarh. Please read our year summaries of these two parks in my previous blog posts of July.
To ensure you do safaris in the right zones, where your chances of #TigerSightings are maximum you need to book your tour with the company which has ears in the national parks, and hands driving the Jeeps in these parks. Our resident naturalists in these parks are clued on to daily sightings, hence our guests have had some amazing Tiger sightings in the past season. To see some of the Tiger images of our guests, please see the link below:
There is a growing worry in the Forest department in Chandrapur. Too many Tigers in Tadoba region. How this happened is secondary. Need of the hour is corrective action. Hence the forest department is shifting 6 Tigers from Brahampuri in Chandrapur to Sahydari Reserve.
Over the last year 1500 cattle deaths, and 12 human mortalities were reported. This prompted the state government to shift Tigers. Painganga is a good area to shift as it has a habitat like Tadoba.
For the first time in history Tigers are being relocated due to their high density. In the past Tigers were relocated only when poaching had wiped them out in some parks.
The Tiger identified to shift are the sub adults looking for territories. Identification of these Tigers is done to avoid any conflict among adult Tigers. It was analysed that male to female ratio is in favor of males. Hence more sub adult males are being moved. This proposed move has been sanctioned. Hopefully Sahydari and Painganga wil hear more growls in the near future.
What led to too many Tigers in Tadoba region?
None had heard of Tadoba about 10 years back. Besides hardly any visitors went for safaris here. So what went right for Tigers in Tadoba in such a short time? This will be an interesting case study. Was it tourism? Or, was it proactive forest management? In my opinion it was a combination of two. But the later should get more credit for the same. It will be good to share results of such case studies with other states with negligible Tiger population. States like Chattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa, and Uttar Pradesh will benefit immensely from the Tadoba case study.
It was month of June, i thought of making a quick tour to Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh. I boarded the Shatabdi train from New Delhi at 6am to Bhopal. Comfortable train with a comfortable seat, fortunately with good company of a young Indian IT engineer and time flew faster than the train. THe train reached Bhopal station at 2pm. From there i drove 180kms to Satpura National Park on a smooth highway. Stopped very briefly en route at Bhimbhetka.
Finally reached Reni Pani Lodge at 6pm. Met up with Aly Rashid the man behind this beautifully run Lodge. He briefed about the range of activities that i will encounter in my brief stay. Early dinner was proposed and accepted. It was followed up with night safari to explore the buffer area of Satpura National Park.
I did not carry my camera for the night safari as i just wanted to get a feel of the night safari whether one see anything at all or not. But, the guide, and Aly both surprised me pleasantly, they were spotting things out of nothing. The permission to do limited night safari is a very good idea by the forest management of Satpura National Park. It surely keeps the poachers at bay, as i could see Jeeps from other Lodges also in the night safari. It was a nice experience though we missed a Leopard very closely. But we saw everything that Satpura National Park has on offer, except the big cats.
This park derives it’s name from Satpura hill range. Satpura was declared a National Park in 1981, and is spread over 1400 sq kms. Satpura, Bor and Pachmarhi combined become a part of central Indian highland ecosphere. For people who have done Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench will be pleasantly surprised as Satpura is a very different park.
Morning Safari in the Satpura National Park
Next day i got up early for the morning safari. I was served a wonderful green tea, and then i was all set to go on a safari with Aly. The drive to the park commenced. As the darkness started to wane, and the park came close, the beauty of Satpura range started to unfold in front of my eyes. It was a beautiful sight of the #Denwa river in front and the Satpura range in the backdrop. The sky was turning pale orange as sun was about to show up. The birds were out chirping. Cows had also started to sound their bells. But men in the village still slept. I could see the women folk on work already, the choolah was lit already.
We parked the Lodge Jeep just before the Denwa river, boarded a motor boat, and crossed the river. There was a Jeep on the other side waiting for us for the safari. The local guide joined us, and his first question was, “What do you want to see Sir”. My mind was set for Leopards and SlothBear, and so i conveyed. Tiger was not a priority for me having seen many over the years. “So, shall it be”, a confident reply from my guide got me a bit nervous. I checked my camera settings to ensure all was set, as the confident voice of the guide conveyed that it was matter of minutes before he shows them to me.
Flora and Fauna of Satpura
Entered the park with no hope for Tigers, idea was just to experience Satpura. Serene, light wind, some deers on the waterhole near the entry was a perfect beginning. I stopped for a few moments to internalize this beauty of Satpura National Park. After a while we met a Jeep that was coming from another direction with happy tourist faces. It was evident that they had some wonderful sighting already. On being asked, they said, just two minutes back a sloth bear with two young ones on her back had crossed their trail. Happy that they saw, and not disappointed that we did not.
The impression so far was very positive. This was not a run of the mill Tiger safari park. One has to have patience, and zero expectations about the Tiger for sure. Only a true nature and wildlife lover will appreciate Satpura. This is not a park for the masses, but for the classes.
Over 250 species of birds, 38 mammals, which include, the Tiger, sloth bear, Leopard, Indian Gaur, Dhole, Jackals, Cheetals, Sambhar deers, Hard Ground Barasinghas, and more, over 65 types of butterflies, plenty of reptiles, this park has a lot to offer to a serious nature lover.
Activities in Satpura National Park
Apart from the regular Jeep safaris, one can also do a boat safari, a canoe safari, a walking safari, an Elephant safari, and a night safari. Variety of activities is as diverse as Satpura bio-diversity. We stopped in a camp to have some delicious Aloo Paranthas packed for breakfast by the Lodge. As this was peak summer, so we saw some work going on in the park to replenish water holes. A very thoughtful step indeed. Came out of the park after seeing practically everything except the big cats.
On the way back i thought of visiting other Lodges to get a feel of other good Lodges in Satpura National Park. Apart from Reni Pani Lodge which i would rate right up there for a great overall experience, #Denwa Water Escape, and #Forsyth’s Lodge are also very good Lodges in the area with good product and management.
Lunch with the naturalists was very informative. Most of the naturalists were very experienced in rest of the parks of central India as well. So a very good discussion followed until it was time for the afternoon Safari.
The recent introduction of the Hard Ground Barasinghas from #Kanha National Park has been very successful. The breeding has happened, and the next generation of Barasinghas have already adopted Satpura National Park as their homeland. Tiger population is also on the rise. The rest of the wildlife is fairly commonly distributed and seen.
Best time to visit Satpura National Park
Good time to visit Satpura National Park is from October till April. May and June get very hot in Satpura National Park. Temperatures reach about 45 degrees an above. So the months of May and June are best avoided. During this time the rocks in the park get hot and radiate heat in the evenings. This repels the Leopards, and the Sloth Bears, who move into the areas which are less rocky. Therefore it is not a good time to see Leopards in these two months.
Due to shortage of time, i could not visit the Forest Rest House in Churna, but some of our guests in the past have experienced this rest house, and have come back happy with the experience.
The sun was setting, and much against my wishes i had to come out of the park. Sunset on the Denwa river was very picturesque and serene. A great discussion on future of Wildlife tourism followed with the naturalists of Reni Pani Lodge. In a brief stay of less than 36 hours, i could make out that this Lodge has very good operations, and less carbon footprints. Wish my stay was longer, but my favorite Kanha was tugging me. Next day it was a long drive to Kanha which i was looking forward to.
For any queries on Satpura National Park please feel free to write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Kanha National Park opened on 1st October, and my first safari was on the 2nd. After roaming for around two hours we were having breakfast in Sondar camp. My guide heard a frantic Sambar’s alarm call from Baiga nallah side and said, pack up. Without wasting time we rushed towards the nallah, parked our vehicle on Moala road and within five minutes a huge male came on road and started walking in front of us. Some guides said, it’s Umarpani and some said it is Link 7 but without delay I recognised it to be the Kingfisher male with a full belly and bulky size. First sighting of the season after the break of 3 months is always rejoicing.
It is very difficult to know tiger movement just after monsoon, as some Tigers change their territory while some migrate to other areas. It takes time to understand the Tiger movement after three months of monsoon break.
This season I did 356 drives just like the last season. Like last year this year has also been a great year for tiger sightings. There has been a slow but steady growth of Tiger sightings over last 10 years. Reason is simple. Since 2012 the Tiger show on Elephant back stopped. This resulted in compulsory tracking by the Jeep wallahs. Earlier they used to just wait for the Tiger to be tracked by the Mahouts, an once tracked they would park their vehicle in that area. But now, they must continue to track if they want their guests to be happy.
Mukki zone in Kanha National Park
Mukki in particular has been the pick of the zones in Kanha National Park in terms of tiger sightings. Four big males are beautifully co-existing with five females in a relatively small area.Mukki zone is the most sensational zone of the park in term of tiger sightings. It is quite surprising to see four male Tigers fitting in such a small zone. After seeing some fights last season between these males everyone was afraid that few of them might now survive the monsoon. But they all showed up in October to the pleasant surprise of everyone. Mahaveer female was seen with four tiny cubs, no doubt they are sired by Kingfisher male.
Big males of Mukki zone in Kanha National Park
Bheema, Kingfisher, Link 7, and Umarpani males are the big four of Mukki. Bheema looked more confident this season as he stared expanding his territory while Link 7 seemed more wiser. This season there was a fight between Bheema and Umarpani in January. Bheema was in mating with Dhawajhandi female (daughter of BT female) in April. But Link 7 had mated with her a few days back, so he came and fought with him. Link 7 had skirmishes with all three males since he was seen with some minor injuries most of time. Choti mada has also three small cubs fathered by Umarpani male. Both male looked very protective, most of time they were with their female and cubs.
Kingfisher male has gained quite a lot of muscle mass, and territory. But he is a warrior who avoids any confrontation. When Link 7 came to Umarjhola talao, Kingfisher pushed him away and stayed there for three days to ensure that he does not come back. Umarjhola female had mated with Link 7 earlier in October and in June she was seen with Kingfisher male. It was quite surprising to see Bheema in Minkur anicut which is Umarpani’s main area. Minkur had been a place where all four male Tigers were sighted in spaced out time zones. There was one more female sighted in district line having cubs but no one saw the cubs. Hence it is difficult to say how many she has. Overall for Mukki this was a great season as expected.
Kanha zone in Kanha National Park
Kanha hd a tough last season in terms of Tiger sightings. But it showed sparks of revival with Link 7 female frequently sighted with her four cubs. Surprisingly all cubs are male.
Neelam, the collared tigress was sighted with two cubs last season. She lost one male cub in starting of the season to a male tiger and towards the end of season she lost the second cub also. The second cub was killed by Link 8 female (half sister of Neelam). A male called Bajarang (Bheema’s brother) has taken over the Kanha meadow this season and indulged in a fight with Bamnidadar male in December. He proved his supremacy and Bamni Dadar male had to leave the meadow. The queen of Kanha meadow Umarpani female was not sighted this season, she had successfully raised so many cubs in Kanha and was old enough to survive. She has left her legacy behind in a male with huge head in Mukki, known as Umarpani male. The other male called red eyed was also not sighted this season who used to visit meadow frequently.
Kisli zone in Kanha National Park
It is always interesting to see new tigers in park. This season a male was sighted between Nakti ghati and district line. After a few days he moved towards Kisli and was seen on Chimta camp-Dhawajhandi road and then sighted in Raja Kachar area. As per the forest officials, it was a transient male who came from Supkhar and was trying to settle down in the area. As Mukki zone already had four males so he moved in Kisli zone and by the end of the season he had occupied part of Kisli. He was seen in a fight with Budbudi female who was nursing four cubs in that area. Unfortunately he killed one cub of Budbudi female to mate her so the female had to leave that area to save her cubs.
Kisli zone on the other hand, also improved on the sightings. The beginning of the season was not good in Kisli. But there was a dramatic change towards the end of the season and tigers were sighted everywhere in that small zone. Bheema was a frequent flyer till Chimta camp from Mukki to Kisli just like last season.
Munna the legend of Kanha National Park
The leading star of zone was again Munna, most beloved tiger of the park who never disappointed any tourist. But he is aging now, one could see the broken canine and wrinkles on his body. He is 14-15 yrs old, which is old age for a wild tiger to survive in the wild. Munna was sighted in, Digdola, Silyari, Saunf, Ronda and Bandri Behra area. By the end of the season, he moved towards Kisli talab area near Kisli gate as Bandribehra male (son of jamun talab female) started visiting silyari area. Munna avoided any interactions with him at this age. Karaighati male another aggressive male of this zone covers till magar nallah. Supkhar male was also sighted in kisli talab area so it would be difficult for Munna to sustain in Kisli as there are too many Tiger in a small area.
But this iconic male has ruled every inch of park (mukki-kanha-sarhi-kisli) and has been a celebrity in past years, one of the boldest tiger anyone has seen with CAT written on his forehead. This magnificent male has left his legacy behind and he will be remembered as an iconic Tiger of Kanha.
Kankatta, another warrior of Kanha was seen two to three times this season but after February he vanished from the park and was never sighted again. In his absence new tigers like Supkhar male and Bandribehra male had a chance to take over his territory. Budbudi female’s previous litter dispersed and spread out, one of her male cub’s was sighted in Kanha meadow too.
Next season in Kanha National Park
Next season in Kanha National Park is expected to rock again as many Tigresses are with cubs in all zones. Mukki would hopefully be the pick of all zones due to four males and three females with cubs. Kanha zone wouldn’t be far behind as Link 7 female has four male cubs. Kisli zone would be attraction of the park and new males will try to take it over in absence of Munna and Kankata!
Bandhavgarh National Park has been popular with the tourists as it provides excellent Tiger sightings consistently. Like every year the nature of the Tiger i.e. intense discipline, ferocious will power and fearlessness was on display this season at Bandhavgarh National Park. One always wants to get the glimpse of the Tiger walking in front of their jeep, or behind the Jeep. But would one have the rare sight of the Tiger depends on your destiny and devotion.
Will we be able to pass this legacy to our newer generations is a questions which keeps haunting us? But the efforts of the Forest department brought reasons for some celebrations. Bandhavgarh this year had 61 adult tigers and 14 sub adults. These are unprecedent Tiger numbers for the first time in the history of this park.
Bandhavgarh National Park opened on October 01, 2015 with only two routes in Tala zone. The opening wasn’t impressive with Bandhavgarh standards. It was like a lull before the storm. One could even say a sedate start to a Virat Kohli innings. But as the season progressed Bandhavgarh returned to it’s former glory of the best place on the planet to see the Tigers. Subsequently with every passing day the sighting graph only improved.
Banbei Tigress (T32) and her son Samrat were very frequently sighted near Sita Mandap, a historical point in the park. But in winters their sightings shifted to Ghorademon area. They were often seen playing with each other. On many occasions Samrat was seen near the water bodies of Kindarbah, Sita Mandap and Banbei river. For a Tiger just 18 months to be sighted alone so frequently is a bit unnatural. Samrat had everyone worried with his solitary excursions into the wilds, but luck favors the brave and he survived.
Spotti (T41) – This Tigress enchanted the visitors in the famous Tala zone. Infact during the winters she kept the healthiest record in sightings with her presence. She was seldom accompanied by the male of this region. This pair was seen mating at Andhiyari Jhiria, Rampur Road and Bandarchui. THis togetherness resulted in Spotti becoming a mother of her first litter of three cubs. In June this entire Royal family was seen at Damnar for three consecutive days. Guests who saw these cubs with their mother had sleepless nights.
Rajbehra Tigress (T34) – A very intelligent and an experienced Tigress. Initially she kept her cubs away from tourists behind Bathan area. Later in the season they were seen regularly as a family at Jhilki Nala. The summer months were quite amazing to see the whole family in the Sehra grassland. Almost every visitor in Magadhi had a glimpse of her with her cubs.
Sukhi Patiha Tigress (T5) was active from October to January near Patiha water hole. She was seen cooling off in summer months in the same water hole. Also her sighting was with T 18 near Dabhadol area. This area was also inhabited by a sub adult T 53 and has a healthy population of Indian Gaur.
Dotti’s (T17) movement was recorded primarily in winter months near the areas of Charakbah water hole, Boda Talab and Bhool Bhuliya area. She was occasionally sighted with male of Rajbahara offspring. Many were anticipating new cubs by the end of season but nothing happened.
New Kankati (T35)- Young offspring of Rajbahara is unrivaled queen of Tadoba – waterhole. In summer months she was accompanied by the male believed to be Bamera’s offspring. They were seen mating at least on three occasions in different parts of Magadhi zone.
Mahaman Tigress (T24) is an extremely shy female. She has been blessed with three young ones. These young cubs are now 1 year old and often seen crossing Magadhi to Khitouli zones by the tourists.
Bheem (T22) the male at his prime has been seen both in Magadhi and Khitouli. True to his name well-built challenging and winning the battles for dominancy from other males. It is most likely that he might fill in the void left by Bamera. He has all the requisite qualities to dominate the area. Besides, he is overcoming his shyness of tourists gradually.
Ranccha (T29) is a handsome male who roams in #Tala and #Khitouli. An exceptionally peaceful male #Tiger seen a few times at #Kindarbah and #Chakradhara area with the #Banbei and #Kankatti respectively.
Choti female (T40) – Mother of 4 cubs seen regularly in Khitouli. #Kodghar Nala, #Darha Talab and #Nigah water hole became popular this season. All thanks to T 40 and her cubs.
Dhamdhama female (T21) this elusive female was older of the lot. Last season her cubs were separated. This season brief sighting was reported near Dhamdhama area along with the new cub. Nothing mentioned for the rest of the season.
Chota Charger (T47) has been seen in Khitouli near #Nigha daria and #Kansa area. His name kept after his habit of mock Charging. Father of four cubs from Nigha or Choti female.
Solo (T42) – This young lady is sister of new Kankati. She was active throughout on #Nilgai road, #Jhurjhura and #Bathan road areas. She was often seen resting near #Nandu gufa.
Bamera bids bye to Bandhavgarh National Park
Finally we had to say Good bye to Bamera – a handsome male born in 2004 from Chakradhara and legendary B2. He was the undisputed king of Tala zone. After an injury in 2012 he was pushed out of his territory and he kept living in small area of Khitouli. Last six month he was kept at an enclosure in Bahera for his safety and survival. His tales became immortal forever on May 13, 2016.
Rest of the wildlife also kept the visitors busy this season. Khitouli had some good sightings of the pack of 18 wild dogs. This zone was also busy with Leopards as well this whole season along with sloth bears. Indian Gaur were also seen throughout the park. As of now the core zones Bandhavgarh national park are resting and preparing for the next season. Though the buffer zones are open for the tourists to come and enjoy the monsoons in Bandhavgarh.