Kanha in Indian Mythology and folklore

Whenever you go to a National Park, apart from safaris, keep aside a day to know the ecology, the economy, and the electorate of the area. This will make your tour far more enriching, and memorable. As they say no trip is complete if there isn’t any adventure and learning. So, while Safaris take care of the adventure, you need to explore the area for self learning and self development. Here are some interesting stories about Kanha.

Mukki Kanha
Saundhar Talab Mukki Kanha

Kanha in Dwapara Yuga

All our national parks have some history, and some mythology attached. Kanha National Park is also one such park. Some people say Kanha got it’s name from the type of soil in the area, the black clayey soil. While some say there was a holy sage named Kanva who lived here. He was the father of Shakuntala. One can read more about Shakuntala in “Abhigyanshakuntalam” by Kalidas. Story goes that King Dushyant came, saw and was captivated by the beauty of Shakuntala. They had a son through their wedlock named Bharata, who became the founder of Bharata dynasty. Kauravas and Pandavas were descendants of this dynasty. All this happened in the Dwapara Yuga. Lord Krishna an Avatar of Vishnu had incarnated in this Yuga. The sage Kanva lived in this region, and his hermitage was called Kanha.

Kanha
Beauty of Kanha National Park

Kanha in Treta Yuga

Prior to Dwapara was Treta Yuga. The Yuga in which Lord Ram came as an Avatar. This Yuga saw the story of Ramayan. It is said, that King Dashrath, the father of Ram used to frequent Kanha for hunting. He was an accomplished archer who could hit the target just by listening to the sound from the area.

One fine day he killed Shravan Kumar who was filling water from a water hole for his thirsty parents. The sound made by the empty vessel in water made King Dashrath think that there was some deer in water. He shot an arrow following the sound, and it hit Shravan Kumar, who died instantly. On realizing his folly he apologized to his parents. They lit his pyre and cursed the King that he will also die longing for his son in his old age. And so it happened. The area where his pyre was lit is known as Shravan Chita, and the water hole where Shravan Kumar died is known as Shravan Taal. Today this Shravan Taal is often frequented by Tigers. 

Lapsi Hunter in Kanha

Then there is this wonderful story of Lapsi the Hunter. He was a proficient hunter who used bow and arrow to kill the man-eating Tigers in the area. Britishers were controlling the forests via the Imperial Forest Services which was set up by them India in 1865. They basically conserved forests, and managed timber. Lot of felling of sal trees was done in setting up of Indian Railways. Kanha in particular saw a lot of felling of trees in the early 20th century. The boom years for Indian Railways were from 1920 till 1929. This was the time when services of Lapsi hunter were utilized by the Britishers in killing of Tigers for hunting, sport, or even the man eating Tigers. Lapsi was a professional hunter who hailed from a family of hunters.

Kanha
View from Lapsi Kabar of Kanha National Park

Once lot of complaints came of a Tiger killing cattle unabatedly and even some villagers. Lapsi heard of the news. He reached the spot, tried lot of tricks to fool the Tiger, but Tiger was much smarter. His wife was very concerned as his reputation as a hunter was going down. So she asked him to tie her as a bait in the area. He refused, but she argued. Finally she was tied to the tree, while Lapsi waited on the nearby machan (watch tower). The Tiger arrived, and Lapsi shot the arrow, which injured the Tiger. But the Tiger in a fit of rage attached his wife. Seeing this Lapsi panicked, and he rushed towards the Tiger with his dagger. Fought ferociously and killed the Tiger. Later Lapsi also succumbed to his injuries.

He and his wife’s grave is now present in the area in Mukki zone of Kanha National Park. This incident happened in late 1920’s.

Meeting Chotey Lal in Kanha–today’s Yuga

I personally had an opportunity to meet a man who fought a Tiger. Chotey Lal, a resident near a village in the Mukki zone.. Once in the evening he alongwith some friends, was picking some wood close to his forest, when he was charged by a Tigress. On seeing the charge his friends ran away, and Chotey Lal was hit by the Tigress on his head. He fell, but got up, and pushed the Tigress off him, infact he managed to hit the Tigress with his both hands on her head. Before a Tigress could further retaliate, he quickly climbed the tree nearby. His whole night was spent on the tree, and Tigress below the tree. Only in the morning when some people came looking for him, he came down, and narrated the incident.

Kanha
Jeep Safari near Khapa in Mukki Kanha

 

There are so many stories, folklore, and information on Kanha that it will be really tough to write them all here. I urge all of you to explore all the national parks you stay in beyond Tigers. Kanha is a very special park, and one can feel it the moment you enter it. So, explore it in totality.

All the best to you

Sharad Vats

http://www.naturesafariindia.com

 

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Online safari bookings open on 22nd August 2016

Online safari bookings
Spotti in Bandhavgarh National Park

This is to inform all safari lovers of central India parks that online safari bookings for season starting 1st October are opening today. Bookings are available to be done for the next 120 days. For the first time there will be a quota of tickets for last minute bookings too. The details of the same will be out in the next couple of days.

In Bandhavgarh all the three zones, i.e. Tala, Magdhi, and Khitauli will be open for online safari bookings from 1st October. But in Kanha just Mukki and Kisli will be opening from 1st October. The other two zones, i.e. Kanha and Sarhi will open for tourism from 16th October. Reason for this partial delay is the black clayey soil of Kanha. Normally the monsoon gets over by mid or end of September, occasionally there are a couple of late showers in 1st week of October as well. This late rain hinders the track repairing process, and the black clayey soil being very slippery does not help matters either.

Similarly in Pench all the three zones, i.e. Touria, Karmajhiri, and Jhamtara will be opening from 1st October. Satpura will also see the opening of Madhai gate from 1st October, and Panna will also open the Madla and Hinouta gates from 1st October. Go ahead, plan your dates, and do your online safari bookings now.

General information for post monsoon opening.

Online safari bookings
Sambar Deer in Bandhavgarh National Park

Post monsoon is a great time for wildlife photography. Nature is at it’s best. The colors are deep, and thought provoking. There is lot of water in the forest, thus plenty of undergrowth, and lot of food for all the animals. October is also a busy time for birds, thus good for birding. Migration also tends to starts by end of October.

Only word of caution is that one must be careful with falciparum malaria. Certain areas of central India, in particular Kanha has this mosquito active in post monsoon time. Hence take precaution, carry anti-mosquito sprays and cream, wear full sleeve shirts and trousers, avoid T shirts and shorts.

In the first week of October there could be an odd shower or two, hence take precaution to keep your photography equipment safe. Carry some plastic covers to protect them.

This year has seen heavy rain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, so the road conditions in October might not be very good. The time taken from the Airport and railway stations could be a tad longer than usual.

As the national parks open after 3 months of closure, hence even the regular guides and drivers will not know the whereabouts of the predators. It takes a week of two for them to assess what is happening in which area of the park. So higher degree of patience will be good for you.

The days will be warm in central India in October. but mornings and evenings will be pleasant. If it rains, it can get a bit cold and misty in Kanha.

So what are you waiting for, book yourself now. Click on the link below to book direct.

https://forest.mponline.gov.in/Index.aspx

Have a great safari season.

Sharad Vats

 

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Tiger cell for Tiger conservation

Tiger cell for Tiger conservation
Sharmili Tigress in Corbett National Park

NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) and WII (Wildlife Institute of India) have decided to set up a Tiger cell for Tiger conservation in the campus of WII in Dehradun.

What is the need for a Tiger cell for Tiger conservation?

Last 5 years has seen an unprecedented growth in the Tiger population. While this is good news for the country, it is good news for the poachers too. How? Simple, they have more possibilities for poaching now. So, this increase in Tiger population brings in more responsibility to protect the Tigers. Hence a need for Tiger cell for Tiger conservation was felt by the Government.

Poachers have done their bit this year. In the first 6 months of this year, 74 Tigers have died, out of which 14 were poached or electrocuted. Some Tigers also died in the territorial flights as the habitat is limited and the population is increasing. While some died due to old age, or other reasons.

Tiger cell for Tiger conservation
Tigress in Corbett National Park

What will the “Tiger cell for Tiger conservation” do?

  1. They will keep track of population of Tigers in the 50 Tiger reserves. Every Tiger will be documented.
  2. Tiger cell will keep a record of the DNA and stripes of all individual Tigers. This will be challenging, but progressive.
  3. Also, they will keep database of the photos of all the Tigers. How these images will be collated is yet to be ascertained. Will it be from the camera traps only? Or, will they also take images from tourists and photographers? Whatever be the source of the same, but the idea is good, and will bear fruit. The photos help identify the Tigers instantly in case of poaching.

But is one Tiger cell for Tiger conservation enough? No, infact far from it. Ideal situation will be to have one cell in each region if not each state. Hopefully they will get there too.

With the usage of technology by the Government the Tiger is getting more protection. Drones are set to make their entry in 5 Tiger reserves by the end of this year. Subsequently the installation of theTiger cell for Tiger conservation will be icing on the cake.

Best Wishes to the Tigers

Sharad Vats

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Tiger Sightings and precautions to take during a Safari.

Tiger Sightings in a safari
A flying Tiger

Most of the people go to a National Park for a Tiger sighting. Whether they might succeed in photographing a Tiger or not, but the Tiger sighting remains embedded in the memories forever. You will not forget a Tiger sighting till you are alive. Believe me not? Ask someone who has seen a Tiger in the wild. They will vividly recall the sighting like it happened yesterday.

Types of Tiger sightings in order of excitement with the l0th as highest in term of adrenalin rush.

  1. Tiger in the bush. This is a common Tiger sighting.
  2. Sleeping Tiger, either on the track, or on side of the road.
  3. A Tiger crossing the track, maybe he will give you a cursory glance, and if you are fast enough you will take a shot or two. Considered a decent Tiger sighting.
  4. Tiger sitting on the track looking towards you in a majestic pose is a delightful Tiger sighting.

    Tiger sighting in a Safari
    Royalty personified
  5. Tiger walking in front of your Jeep, away from you. He might walk  a mile or more. When he walks this much he would stop by, and do some marking on the trees, maybe scratch etc. Lot of opportunities to take photographs during such a Tiger sighting.
  6. A Tiger walking towards you on the track, and your driver reversing the vehicle for miles at times. This gives a big high to photographers who can trade off a part of their body to get the head on shots of a Tiger (me included in this category). This required great skills from the driver.

    Tiger Sighting in a safari
    Tiger Head On in a Safari
  7. A Tigress with her cubs, either sitting on the road, or playing in water. Again something lot of people would want to see, and it is a very satiating feeling once you see Tigress with cubs. The playfulness, the innocence, the care of the mother, all an be witnessed together in such a Tiger sighting.
  8. A Tiger stalking prey. The whole episode can last from few minutes to much longer. Caution is that you must remain silent during such a Tiger sighting.  Disturbing a Tiger while stalking or doing anything else is never advisable. Would you want to see an upset Tiger?
  9. A Tiger successfully managing to bring down his prey, and do a kill in front of your eyes. What a joy for photographers, and all tourists. It is one adrenalin pumping Tiger sighting.
  10. Two adult Tigers fighting. This does not happen often in the open for tourists to see, but there have been occasions when people have seen this. When the fight is happening, it can be very scary, as Tigers roar loudly which reverberates in the Jungle. It can turn bloody, and if the fight is over the territory then it can last long too. Tigers tend to move a lot as well while fighting. It is best advised to stay clear and away from them. An epitome of a Tiger sighting.

You may see any one of the above Tiger sightings, so be prepared, and be equipped with your cameras.

When you sight Tigers in the National Parks of India, it is imperative you take some precautions. I have listed four most important for your benefit.

4 important precautions during a Tiger sighting

  1. Silence is the biggest  caution that you can undertake during a Tiger sighting. It is advised to keep the enthusiasm under complete control, as it can go against you, cause if the Tiger gets disturbed by your energy levels he can just decide to go away. Who is the loser? So stay quiet. Camera click is the only acceptable noise.
  2. Distance from the Tiger is very important, maintain a safe distance for yourself. Remember you are in the territory of the Tiger, so give him distance and respect too. Stay far, stay safe.
  3. Listen to the guides and the drivers who go through this routine regularly so trust them. Do not impose your decisions on them, let them decide what is best for you. Please do not lure them by tipping, and wanting to get close. Remember Tiger is a super predator.
  4. NEVER, EVER, get off the vehicle in a national park during a Tiger safari. It is not permitted, and it is illegal. There are only some spots / camps where the driver and the guide will tell you to get off the Jeep for a small break. Tiger sighting is not a selfie moment, always remember you are in presence of an apex predator. Your safety is in your hands, and no one else is responsible for the same. Neither can you sue anyone at a later stage if you do not like what a Tiger does.

Tiger Safari is a vacation for some, and vocation for some, but not a picnic for anyone. Respect the Jungle and the laws of the Jungle in your own interest.

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

http://www.naturesafariindia.com/wildlife-tours/diverse-habitat-of-tiger-tour.html

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Tiger Population to double by 2022 in India

Tiger population to double
A Tiger confidently walking towards a bright future.

“Tiger Population to double by 2022 in India”, an awesome statement by our Environment Minister on the International Day of the Tiger. Well, only the time will tell if this statement is proven right or not by 2022. But his intention is loud, and clear. But is this just a comment by a minister? I don’t think so. It is scientifically possible to double the Tiger population. All that is required is WILL by the Government. Everyone knows that the Tiger is a fast breeding cat. All we need to provide is inviolate habitat and the Tigers will take care of the rest.

Steps being taken to double the Tiger population:

Tourism friendly policies are being initiated in the national parks of Madhya Pradesh. This signifies that Tiger Tourism is being recognized as an important conservation tool. Synergizing tourism and forest department work will have beneficial impact on the Tiger population. But it has to be responsible tourism. Besides, tourism generates extra revenue for the local community as well.

The Goverment has red flagged the Rio Tinto project in Panna. This was a big diamond mining project scheduled to come up at Bunder. The revenue involved here was to the tune of Rs 20000 crores. Reason why this project has been stalled is that it would have cut the corridor link between Panna with Nauradehi. While this corridor is not of a Kanha-Pench corridor quality, nevertheless it has presence of a Tigress with cubs. This directly implies that it is a critical Tiger habitat.

To say that future of Tiger conservation lies in the corridors will not be wrong. A corridor is a life line of a national park for healthy transfer of gene pool. With more such decision in future, Tiger Population to double by 2022 in India is a reality.

Relocating Tigers

Six Tigers to be shifted from Chandrapur district in Maharashtra to Sahyadri reserve.  This will increase the Tiger numbers in the Sahyadari which currently has a low density of Tigers. The Tigers to be shifted are the ones outside the core zones, susceptible to being poached and engage in man-animal conflict. Hence an excellent step being taken to ensure Tiger populations double by 2022.

A male Tiger has been shifted from Ranthambhore to Sariska. The male to female ratio in Ranthambhore is currently about 50-50. The ideal male to female ratio is 1:1.4. Extra males in an area leads to in-fighting, and fatal injuries. By shifting a male Tiger to Sariska it improves the ratio in Ranthambhore and Sariska both. Apparently in Sariska the male to female ratio was more in favor of females. So, twin benefits with a single stroke. Yet another wise step  to ensure Tiger Population to double by 2022 in India. Something like this has never been done in the past. The thought process and action on these lines is a good beginning.

New habitat

Wildlife Institute of India has done a research in Phen wildlife sanctuary recently. The study found Phen to be a good habitat for Tigers. 18 different Leopards were also caught in the camera traps. Tiger pug marks were also documented in the area. But they realized that the Tiger does not stop in Phen. The tiger comes here nad moves onwards to Chattisgarh or return to Kanha. Most likely this was due to lack of prey and grasslands. Thereafter 500 spotted deers were translocated to Phen. Furthermore 500 will be shifted soon. With plenty of prey, hopefully Tigers will make Phen their new home.

Recently Tigers have been camera trapped in Achanakmar in Chattisgarh. Could these Tiger have travelled from Kanha via Phen. The possibility of same cannot be ruled out. In the last few years there were no direct signs of Tiger presence here. But the recent camera trap images showed a Tigress with 4 cubs. A very positive sign in Tiger conservation.

Reclaiming old home by Tigers

Four Tigers were camera trapped in Karauli wildlife sanctuary recently.  These Tigers moved out of Ranthambhore and found home here. On finding Karauli to be perfect habitat they have decided to stay here. THis sanctuary once was home to Tigers, but for some reasons Tigers disappeared from here. They are now making a comeback on their own. With plenty of Leopards already here, Karauli will be proud to have the Tigers too. It is interesting to note that Tigers are laying claim to their erstwhile home not only here but in some more areas.

Similarly some Tigers from Ranthambhore have reached Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh. This reserve has been waiting for Lions from Gujarat. But due to delay in arrival of Lions the Tigers have made Kuno their home in. Another positive development in Tiger conservation.

Technology and Tigers

Using of Drones in 5 Tiger parks to monitor Tiger population is a pioneering step. Highly sophisticated Drones will be put in use by the end of 2016. Infact these Drones have already been tested successfully in Panna National Park. With only 2200 Tigers in the wild, and huge areas to cover, using technology to patrol is a great idea. I hope even micro satellites can be used in the future to monitor the few hundred Tigers left in the wild.

All these are very good initiatives in the right direction. We all know that the Tiger is a fast breeding cat, all it needs is inviolate space, and they multiply on their own.

Tigers outside the protected areas

Study done by WII has concluded that more than 40% of India’s wild tigers are outside the core zone. This is a very high number. Not only it puts the Tigers in danger of being poached, but it also increases the man-animal conflict. Hence these Tigers need better protection. One way forward is to do more patrolling in buffer. Due to limited resources if the forest management finds it tough to do the same, the opening of buffer to tourism will only benefit Tiger conservation.

A Tigress was camera trapped at an altitude of 12000 feet in Uttrakhand. In all probability she came from either Champawat or Haldwani range after crossing the river Kali. This further emphasizes the fact that Tigers are straying outside the core zone, and need buffers to protect them. The Uttrakhand government has been working on this, and monitoring these straying Tigers.

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

 

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