Is it true? Yes, it is true, and speaks volumes about the efforts by the forest department in conserving Tigers and wildlife in Kanha. While many talk about the number of Tigers poached this year, very few discuss the number of different Tigers being sighted. Thirty Three different Tigers, including 11 cubs, is a healthy number, and that too just in the tourism zone. Please remember that these are not the numbers given by the forest department. But these are the Tigers sighted by the tourists. There is a documental evidence of the same. Significantly, this has been recorded in just 45 days. Besides, it is also reported that there are two pregnant Tigresses in this list, hence this number of 33 Tigers is bound to go up further soon. These many different Tigers sighted in Kanha is indeed good news for Kanha.
In October 2016 we heard about two Tigers getting poached and one Tiger dying in territorial fight. While nothing can be done about saving Tigers in a territorial fight, but in poaching it was done. The poachers of one Tiger were caught within 30 hours of the Tiger being found dead. Such a prompt action by the department is commendable, suggests dedication of the team towards the cause. Four people involved in the crime were arrested. On investigation it was revealed that they were local villagers who had laid a trap to get a wild boar or some large herbivore. But the Tiger walked in the area and was trapped. Unfortunate but true. The second poaching case is being investigated still. It is a matter of concern but i would still like to compliment the department for keeping these numbers to minimum.
With 22 adults, and 11 cubs the times ahead for Kanha look good. These are only the tourism zone figures, and the tourism zone is about 20% of the total area of Kanha. The latest camera trap census estimated that Kanha has over 110 Tigers as on date. Of the total 22 adults sighted in the tourism zones of Mukki, Kanha, Kisli and Sarhi, there are 9 male Tigers. So the male to female ratio though not ideal, but it is close to being ideal. These are positive signs for the Tigers of Kanha.
Some experts had indicated that even if the Tigers disappear from rest of the protected areas, Kanha will still be amongst the last bastions of the Tiger besides Corbett. This forecast has been true so far, and i think it will remain true until something untoward happens.
List of Tigers sighted since October 2016 in Kanha include:
Rajaram aka Kingfisher (died in a territorial fight in October 2016)
Chotta Munna, aka Link 7
Jamun tola male
Karai ghati male aka Dabang
Choti mada with two cubs
Mahaveer feamle with 3 cubs
Distt line female
Link 8 female (pregnant)
Link 7 female with 4 cubs aka Mundi Dadar female
Unknown female with two cubs near Indri camp
Female near Chimta camp
Budbudi female, and
Jamun Talab female
Conserving Tigers is not an easy task by any yard of imagination. Tigers roam free in large areas without boundaries, and with no technological surveillance yet. It is heard that soon there will be Drones to monitor them. With many villages around the parks, highways, inadequate forest guards, bio mass dependancy, forests and wildife are a soft target. But the forest department works relentlessly. They risk their lives from dangerous predators, stay away from families so that the forests can be preserved. Their sacrifice is hardly seen forget being appreciated.
I pray that you are able to sight many Tigers on your visits to Kanha. But a humble request to you all that please enjoy the park in it’s entirety. Yearning for Tigers alone can be a tad disappointing, hence appreciate the smell, sight, and sounds of Kanha. Trust me, it will leave you enthralled.
Kanha national park in central India is starting Night Safaris in the buffer zone. Only time will tell if this is a good, bad or an ugly decision. Let us not jump the gun in ridiculing the step, neither let us support it with closed eyes, let us try and understand the pros and cons of starting Night Safaris in Kanha. This has been tried in Satpura and Pench National Parks already, and now being brought to Kanha.
It is always better to know the negative and flip side first, followed by the positive side too.
Negatives of promoting Night Safaris in Kanha
Having personally done a night safari of about 2 hours in Satpura i know for sure that it is not easy to sight Tigers, or any other wildlife with naked eyes in the pitch dark of a forest. Either one needs to go in with the night vision glasses, which are not easily or cheaply available, or one needs a search light to see the animals. Please note one needs a serious search light in the night of the forest. Now, what do you think will this powerful search light do; it will make tracking animals easy, and it will hurt the animal eyes for sure, resulting in temporary blindness. So, we need to ask this question, is it worth it, is it required?
What if poachers also book these safaris in the buffer zone, to try and pick on the animals? Hopefully the forest department has thought about the repercussion and has a solution for this.
Will the night safaris not change the behavioral aspects of the animals? It is a known fact that the herbivores usually come out in the grasslands, or in the fields of the villagers in the buffer to feed on the crops. So when the flashlights start running around in the night, will they be able to eat in peace? The counter to this is that herbivores eat during the day in the grasslands. But not so in the buffer zones. We see them eating in the grasslands in the core zones of the forest as they are usually not disturbed in the vast grasslands of the core zone. But in the buffer area, the grasslands are not as big, the fields near the villages are small. So my gut feel is that the night safaris might disturb the feeding habits of the herbivores.
Positives of Nights Safaris in Kanha
I recently read news that some poaching has happened in the buffer areas of Kanha. So the night safari will deter the poachers to stay away from the buffer zones for sure. It is a noted fact that most of the poaching happens in the buffer. While there is regular patrolling happening by the forest department and also the tourist vehicles, there is no patrolling but the tourist vehicles in the buffer zones. Hence these zones are far more susceptible for poaching. Hence any movement of tourism in the buffer zones will be a deterrent to the poachers. If done and controlled well, this can be the trump card of the forest department to curtail poaching.
It surely will be a revenue generator as well for the forest department and they can utilize this revenue towards conservation of the flora and fauna.
There are plenty of buffer areas in Kanha, like the Baisan ghat area, Samnapur area, area between Banjar river and Bamni. There is presence of Tigers in these buffers, hence any safaris during the day or night here will be only beneficial.
Suggested steps if taken by the forest department may optimally utilize the night safaris.
The tourists will need to be briefed about the code of conduct in the night safaris in Kanha.
There must be standardization of search lights that should be used.
Ideally a forest guard must accompany the tourists to ensure discipline during the safari.
Hope this initiative of night safaris in Kanha is a huge success in conserving the flora and fauna of Kanha.
Safaris in the National Parks of India opened after the monsoon break with some amazing Tiger sightings. As we all know that the Tiger reserves in India close during the monsoons, which is from 1st July till 30th Sept. Hence during this time it is not possible to do safaris in the national parks of India. So, all the animal and nature lovers wait eagerly for the parks to reopen on 1st October to enter the parks. And out of the 50 Tiger reserves in India, the eye of all the Tiger lovers are mostly on, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambhore, Pench, and Tadoba. Such is the eagerness of some safari lovers that they book themselves for the first safari on first day.
Kanha National Park
The news of first phenomenal Tiger sighting came from Kanha this year. On October 1 in the morning safari, Chotta Munna was seen walking from district line. He is the son of legendary Munna. What surprised everyone was his sheer size when he stood against a tree to mark his territory. While he continued to walk, the vehicles continued to reverse. After quite a while he changed course and went towards Chotta chatapatra. Some of the experienced guides knew exactly from where he would come out, and reached that spot.
Their experience paid dividends when Chotta Munna appeared from the said trail at the time they anticipated him to come out. Sightings during a safari is not purely luck. When you have experienced guides, and drivers accompanying you in your vehicle then it is a lot of science, mathematics, and the jungle knowledge.
The Duel; Bheema and Chotta Munna
While some tourists were happy with Chotta Munna’s sightings less did they know that another big surprise was about to unfold in front of their eyes. Bheema, the peaceful warrior, emerged in the Junglescape. He seemed to be following a scent mark. Was he following Chotta Munna? The naturalists around did not take long to guess that indeed he was on Chotta Munna’s prowl.
Their fights over last two years has still not ended. Chotta Munna at a budding, youthful, but an inexperienced age of 4, had challenged the mighty Bheema at a competent and seasoned age of 6. Bheema’s efficiency overshadowed the over-confidence of Chotta Munna, and he has repeatedly got Chotta Munna to retreat. But the dominating genes of Chotta Munna remind him not to let go, and he comes back to challenge Bheema quite repeatedly. So far, he has retreated regularly, but he has lately learnt now to avoid injuries in such skirmishes, and simultaneously inject injuries on his opponent. Chotta Munna is surely more richer now having learnt that what does not kill you, makes your stronger.
It seemed that this territorial tug to establish one’s supremacy left some marks around the neck of Bheema. The claws and canine mark around his neck would have also left an indelible scar on Bheema’s mind to either start relinquishing his domain, or be prepared for an inevitable duel in not so distant future. Happy were those who saw this scene on 1st October.
Other Tigers of Kanha
Apart from Chotta Munna, and Bheema, other Tigers that have showed up in Kanha are the mighty and legendary Munna, Dhawajahandi female, and Chotti mada. But there is one Tiger, i am earnestly waiting for, the big Umarpani male. He hasn’t showed up till the writing of this note on 11th October. I pray to almighty on this Dussera day that he is save, fighting his ordeals vigorously, and will show up soon. Son of Munna, and Umarpani female, he is bulky, and a dominating Tiger of Mukki for last 3 years.
Safaris in Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh of yore beckons many a Tiger lovers to witness the land of Sita, Charger, B2, Bhamera and some more legendary Tigers. This year once again, the Tiger sightings opened with a prediction that months to follow will be magnificent, and will reinforce the Champion status to Bandhavgarh National Park.
Once the area of a handsome young male (Challenger) whose life was cut short by an unfortunate incident, Mahammen is now home to T24 and her cubs. Relax, this is not T24 (Ustad of Ranthambhore). This is T24 of Bandhavgarh. The Tigers in Bandhavgarh are numbered like in most of the parks. So T stands for Tiger, and 24 is her number. She was sighted next to the Mahammen water hole with her cubs.
The last two years in Bandhavgarh have belonged to Rajbhera female (T34) and her cubs. This year again she made a public appearance on Bairahani road which was a feast to the eyes of the tourists. Chotti female (T40) was seen with her cubs too. Spotti (T41) was sighted in Tala near Piparadandi. The mighty Bheem male Tiger (T22) was sighted in the evening on 6th October at Patparha in the Khitauli zone. So the good news is that all the zones have had a decent sighting. But my gut feel is that the future months will belong to the Tala zone.
Safaris in Ranthambhore National Park
The land of the Tiger; Ranthambhore is one Tiger reserve which satisfies the Tiger appetite of maximum tourists every year. It is the location of Ranthambhore which makes it the fastest selling Tiger reserve. So if you have less time on hand, then spend 3 nights in this park and take back home some real memorable Tiger sightings.
Due to excellent monsoon this year, all the national parks are full to the capacity as far as water is concerned. This is indeed good news for the flora and fauna of the parks. Ranthambhore as well has it’s share of good monsoon thereby a lot of water in some zones. Currently (while writing of this note on 11th October), it is only zone 2 which is fully open and accessible. Thus the Tiger sighting in this zone specially during the evening safari has been very good. Noor (T39) is sighted often, though her young cubs are not seen yet. But it is a matter of time before the tourists jubilate with the cubs sightings.
In zone 8, which is not so commonly done zone by most of the tourists, the Tiger sightings have taken off very well. T61 is being seen regularly with her cubs. In the celebrity zone 3, Arrowhead, Pacman, and Lighting all showed up on the opening day of the park.
Safaris in Satpura National Park
In Satpura National Park also, the Tiger sighting happened to some guests on first day, first show. This park might not be a favored park as far as Tiger sightings are concerned. But this park is simply amazing because of it’s bio-diversity. It is a matter of time before this parks also gets branded for good Tiger sighting. An orphaned Tigress from Bandhavgarh which was relocated in the Churna areas has given cubs, and is sighted often in the region. This particular Tigress lost her mother when she was just 4 months old. The park authorities reared her in a large enclosure till she learnt to kill on her own. Then they relocated her in an area which had lesser density of Tigers in Satpura’s Churna range. She made this new home her permanent home, and has given a litter of cubs in Satpura.
Lately, a Tigress has been moved from Panna national park to Satpura. She had started to wonder out of the core areas, and started to pick on the cattle. Fearing some resentment from the locals, and to avoid any catastrophe they shifted her to Satpura. Whether this reason is good or bad, only time will tell. But there seems to be more than what meets the eye for this shifting. Is the Ken-Betwa river link project also a major reason behind this shift? Most likely yes, as another Tigress was also moved from the area which they feared will be drowned once the river linking project is completed.
Hope that you can make it soon to see some Tigers in the wild. Remember to book yourself atleast 120 days before as the safari permits are now very limited.
An unprecedented story has been developing in the Mukki zone of Kanha National Park. Mukki was never known for male Tigers. It was mostly home to Tigresses with cubs and some odd male Tiger showing up. The limping male (father of Munna), used to spend time in Mukki. After him no one really dominated Mukki until about 3 years back, when Umarpani male started showing a liking for Mukki. He is an unusually big framed Tiger. In particular his head is massive when compared to rest of the Tigers of central India. But lately the big four males of Mukki have become a talk of the Tiger world.
But after Umarpani male spent about 2 years dominating Mukki, there was advent of Bheema. Then Rajaram, a.k.a. Kingfisher male, and finally Link 7 since last year started to regularly show up in Mukki. These four male Tigers have developed a liking for Mukki for reasons beyond anyone’s imagination. Actually Mukki is too small a range for four adult Tigers to co-habit. It has become a favorite pass time talk of all Kanha lovers that a deciding battle for supremacy of Mukki is round the corner. Everyone anticipated the monsoon of 2015 to decide this. But when the park reopened in October 2015 these four male Tigers surprised everyone by showing up within the very first week.
In 2014 and then again in 2015 there were a few skirmishes that happened between these Tigers. Some were more than simple alterations. People were still discussing Bheema and Link 7 exchanging some blows near Babathenga waterhole when Umarpani and Kingfisher fight went viral on youtube. I have never seen such a voracious fight between two adult Tigers. Few tourists who saw it had some sleepless nights.
One very interesting point worth mentioning here is how different male Tigers used Babathenga water hole. They had their favorite sides at the water hole where they would sit. And they made sure that they did not overstep their self defined boundary on the water hole.
The fight shifted from Babathenga to Umarjhola in summers of 2016. This time it was Kingfisher and Link 7. 2014 had seen emergence of Link 7 as a promising young Tiger. Also known as Chotta Munna, he was shaping up really well and was predicted to take over the legacy of his father. But his enthusiasm and aggression was no match for the girth of Kingfisher who gave him a run for his life. Kingfisher visited Umarjhola for three days to ensure that Link 7 left his territory. In the subsequent week Link 7 showed up again.
But this time everyone was surprised as Link 7 had seemingly lost a lot of weight. Was it because of the territory that he got confined to, the undulating terrain of Bada Chattapatra, or something else we don’t know, but he was visibly leaner.
Subsequent week, saw Kingfisher male mate with Mahaveer female, and she gave a litter towards the end of summers of 2016. It is predicted that Kingfisher should be able to save his cubs from Mahaveer who in the past has not been a good mother, though a great Tigress. Her past litter with Umarpani male did not survive.
The best was saved towards the end of the season. This time it was the Minkur anicut which became the Tiger station. Umarpani male, Link 7 male, and Bheema chose to be present at this depleting water hole on the same day at different times of the day and at different locations in Minkur.
Reopening of park in October 2016, will all the Males of Mukki show up this year?
With park scheduled to reopen in less than 10 days, all the Tiger lovers of Kanha have their fingers crossed. Everyone has his favorite Tiger. And everyone is hoping that their favorite male Tiger is alive when the park reopens in October. I am eagerly looking forward to my favorite, the Umarpani male.
Last one year provided me some amazing sightings of Umarpani male, Bheema, and Kingfisher. But i am yet to see the Chotta Munna, a.k.a. Link 7, the son of Munna. I am very eager to capture him on my lens because firstly it will complete my collection of male Tigers of Mukki. And secondly i have been fortunate to click Link 7’s father Munna, and his grand father too, the famous limping male. So getting Link 7 male will give me 3 generations of one line of Tigers of Kanha.
See you soon, you Males of Mukki, or should i say handsome hunks of Kanha.
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!
Few years back with manual cameras, and film rolls not everyone was keen to get into Wildlife photography. It was like golf, an art or a passion for the elusive. Not everyone found it affordable even if they thought it to be glamorous. But with the advent of digital cameras and memory cards, Wildlife photography has become a fashion and a passion. Now a days one gets to see many vehicles in the national parks with tourists carrying huge lenses and camera bodies. What has also made wildlife photography tempting easy is social media. Posting an image gets one instant gratification. Also, youtube and google are good teachers, and one needs no formal classroom photography classes any longer. But there are some basic things for wildlife photography that one needs to learn.
National Park knowledge: It is important for you to have some idea about the national park you would be visiting. The terrain, the tree cover, the tracks, the kind of wildlife in the park, the light to expect, the month you would be visiting, the park, the weather to expect etc.
Wildlife Knowledge: The kind of wildlife you would encounter in the park. If you plan to take #Tiger images, then you will be better equipped if you know the behavior of the Tiger.
Safety: Never for a second forget that you are in a national park where all animals are wild. Your safety and importantly the safety of animals you are shooting is of paramount importance. Do not underestimate the power and speed of wild animals, irrespective of the size. Hence it is important to maintain safe distance. Listen to the guide and the driver in the Jeep, do not push them to get close to the animal. Besides you will be able to take good images only if you are at a good distance wherein the animals are not disturbed by your presence. Do not make unnecessary sounds, or talk loudly, no jerky or sudden movements while you are in the vehicle. As all this can easily send the animal in cover, thus depriving you of a good memory shot.
Once the above basic things for wildlife photography are covered then what?
Then you must be sound in the technical knowledge of taking photographs. Bonus advise here is do not be overdependent on your equipment or post processing of the images, rather get them right while clicking them. Remember it is the eye behind the camera which is more important than the camera itself. Technology cannot replace the art of photography.