Thirty Three (33) different Tigers sighted in Kanha since park reopened in October 2016

Different Tigers sighted in Kanha
Tigers of Kanha

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:

  1. Rajaram aka Kingfisher (died in a territorial fight in October 2016)
  2. Chotta Munna, aka Link 7
  3. Umarpani male
  4. Bheema
  5. Bajrang
  6. Jamun tola male
  7. Karai ghati male aka Dabang
  8. Junior Kankatta
  9. Supkhar male
  10. Munna
  11. Choti mada with two cubs
  12. Mahaveer feamle with 3 cubs
  13. Dhawajhandi female
  14. Umarjhola female
  15. Distt line female
  16. Neelam (pregnant)
  17. Link 8 female (pregnant)
  18. Link 7 female with 4 cubs aka Mundi Dadar female
  19. Unknown female with two cubs near Indri camp
  20. Female near Chimta camp
  21. Budbudi female, and
  22. 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.

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

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Night Safaris in Kanha

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.

Night safaris in Kanha
Safari in Kanha National Park

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
NIght Safaris in Kanha
Sambar Deers in Kanha National Park

Suggested steps if taken by the forest department may optimally utilize the night safaris.

  1. The tourists will need to be briefed about the code of conduct in the night safaris in Kanha.
  2. There must be standardization of search lights that should be used.
  3. 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.

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

 

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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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Quick understanding of premium zones in Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks

Safari in Premium zones
Umarpani Male Tiger in Kanha National Park

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.

Top 3 Tiger National Parks in India

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:

http://www.naturesafariindia.com/photo-gallery-detail.html?type=Destination&id=270

Hope you found this information useful. Should you require any update or more information, do get in touch with me on sharad@naturesafariindia.com

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

 

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Kanha national park safari summary for season 2015-2016 by Naren Malik

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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.

Kingfisher male in Kanha National Park
Kingfisher male

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 in Kanha National Park
Neelam Tigress by Naren

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.

Bheema Kanha National Park
Bheema Tiger in Kanha

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.

Munna in Kanha National Park
Munna by Naren

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.

 

Mahaveer Tigress in Kanha National Park
Mahaveer Tigress by Naren
Choti Mada in Kanha National Park
Choti mada in Kanha

 

Link 7 Tiger in Kanha National Park
Link 7 Tiger by Naren

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!

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