Below is the Kanha Safari Review; Season 2016-2017 being done by Naren Malik. To tell you briefly about him, Naren is an avid Kanha lover. Having started his career in Kanha in the year 2006, he has been doing safaris practically daily. This makes him very special as far as Kanha is concerned.
October 1st, is the day every wildlife lover waits for. Almost all the National Parks of India open post monsoon on this day. Kanha’s season 2016-17 started with a bang. On 1st October itself almost all vehicles spotted two huge male Tigers in close proximity. They were doing territory markings, hugging trees and scratching ground to make their presence felt in the wild. Due to social media and interest of tourists these two Tigers were immediately identified as Chota Munna & Bheema.
Out of the four males two getting sighted in the first drive was a grand opening of the season. Within an hour images of both tigers were everywhere on social media and It was a delight to see them. Monsoon is the time when we have no idea what’s happening in the jungle. Curiosity increases further as we know that there are four big male Tigers in Mukki zone. How would they have fared? Would they have tolerated each other? Or would we have lost few in the territorial fights? To know that two were seen safe in the first safari was a huge relief.
I started my jungle pilgrimage of this season on 2nd of October in the evening drive. Butterflies were flapping in my stomach. Entering into the jungle after a big gap brings in lot of anxious moments. The jungle looked fab and lush green all over. While we were searching for Tigers on the Duke road, i saw a tiger walking in Bishanpura meadow in bright daylight. He was heading directly towards us.
In an instance excitement and thrill was back in my body after three months, I grabbed my binocular just to check if this was a new arrival or one of our old friends? Indeed it was our old friend Chota Munna. He sat down by a tree and started rubbing his cheeks to a tree, and then he walked on road towards us in his own style. So this was my first big cat encounter of this season. I had ended my previous season with the same fellow when we saw him on 29th of June and now, started the new season with the same cat.
Kanha zone saw a marked improvement this season over the last season. Mundidadar female was frequently sighted with four cubs. Now her cubs are fully grown and they are ready to leave the mother. Though the dominant male of kanha zone is Bajrang but Mundidadar female was sighted mating with a transient male called Bamnidadar male. This was the same male who had a fight with Bajrang last season in Kanha meadow.
Bajrang was seen in full command in meadow this season and also seen mating with Link 8 female. Neelam has grabbed all attraction in the meadow. She is a mother of four cubs fathered by Bajrang. She was often sighted with her tiny four cubs in kanha meadow, no doubt she has replaced herself with Umarpani female who ruled kanha meadow for almost a decade. Another female called Parsotola female was also sighted with three cubs.
However the new attraction of Kanha zone was a new male who appeared this season. It is always interesting to see new tigers in the park. This male was sighted in Bajrang’s territory, injuries on his forehead indicated he has had a fight with Bajrang for sure. He is an old tiger whose stripes pattern is different from Kanha tigers. Also known as thin-stripe-2, it is believed he has come from Pench and spent most of his life in non tourism zones or less visited areas.
Thin stripe -2 will have lot of challenges in Kanha as there are already two bigger and young males are dominating Kanha zone. So there were three males sighted in Kanha zone this season, Bajrang, Thin stripe 2 & Bamnidadar male. But still there was no news and sign of the Red eyed male.
Kisli zone surprised everyone with the sightings this season. The attraction of the zone was a new male called Dhamangaon male. He was regularly sighted in Kisli throughout the season. Karai ghati male was also sighted frequently.
Munna the legend of Kanha had vanished from the core last monsoon and spent most of his time in the buffer. There was no news of him and everyone believed he would never come back in core. But as season started he was sighted in his kingdom. The entire credit goes to the Forest department who kept tracking this CAT boy in the buffer zone also. Munna has lived his life and now he is in last stage of his life. He ruled all over kanha like a King. Kisli being occupied by three big males is going to pose a life threatening challenge to Munna.
In the last season Budbudi female had four tiny cubs and one cub was reported killed by the Supkhar male before season ended. We were expecting Budbudi would be sighted with three this season but there was no sign of any cub this season. Such is life in the wilderness. It is believed that the rest of the three cubs also got killed by some male in the off (monsoon) season. She was seen mating with Dhamangaon male most of the times in Kisli.
There was no news of Supkhar male in Kisli zone this season. Once he was sighted in December in Mukki mating with Dhawajhandi female. This male has very different behaviour. In 2015 he was seen in kanha-mukki zone, in 2016 he went to kisli zone and stayed there for long and now again he came to mukki zone for a short time. Maybe it was the pressure from other males .
Sangam male & Jamun tola also seen in kisli zone. There was another female regularly sighted in Kisli who is supposed to be the previous litter of Budbudi female. Indri area was less visited by tourist so there was hardly any news of any tiger from that side. All in all kisli did a very good job in term of tiger sightings this season, and possibly accomplished some glory back to Kisli zone.
Now we come to Mukki zone. This zone had been very dramatic and full of surprises throughout the season and has been fantastic for tiger sightings. To say unexpected happened is not right, it was expected, and it happened. Such are the laws of the wild.
Dhawajhandi female and Choti Mada were sighted in the first month of the season, Choti Mada sighted nursing two cubs. There was no news of her third cub. Perhaps the cub got killed by some male in the off season. Sometime later 2nd cub was also found dead. Till the end of the season she was seen with one cub in her area.
Umarjhola female and District line female were also sighted but still there was no news of Kingfisher and Umarpani male. Bheema was sighted with Dhawajhandi female in mating in October. She was seen mating with Chota Munna and Bheema last season also but never conceived.
October 12th was the day when we spotted a big male lying on road while coming back in the evening drive. When he started walking towards us, I immediately recognised him to be our Kingfisher male. I will never forget this particular sighting as it was my last sighting of this magnificent male.
28th of October we got a news that a Tiger was found dead in Bishanpura range, the news spread all over like a jungle fire and I started receiving calls and messages from all my friends. We were assuming it could be Chota Munna or Bheema as spot of the death was mentioned as Bishanpura.
Late night it was confirmed that the dead tiger was Kingfisher. Eyes were full of tears and heart was not ready to accept the truth. We humans are emotional fools and develop a great bonding with animals. That was the day I realized our attachment towards these big cats, I literally cried and felt like losing a family member. As per post-mortem report several wounds on his body indicated he was killed by some other male but question remains unanswered as to who killed Kingfisher? Was it Umarpani or Chota Munna or Bheema?
This was followed by another tragic news in December when Bheema was found almost dead by forest department. He was kept under medical supervision for a week but he lost the battle of life. On 11th of December he took his last breath. When I last saw him on 16th of November, he was slightly limping and he had few injuries on his forelimbs.
Tough to conclude who killed both, but the only likely answer is Umarpani male
In December Supkhar male was seen mating with Dhawajhandi female. It seemed like he was trying to take Bheema’s territory but his sightings were not very frequent as Chota Munna and Umarpani were already dominating this zone.
Mukki is a small zone to retain four big giants so nature has balanced the situation and now we have only two adult dominating male Tigers left in Mukki. Chota Munna has enough space after Bheema’s demise but he has established himself in main Umarpani’s territory. This situation could never be comfortable for both tigers. Most of the time we saw these tigers avoiding each other, but for how long was the question. The time had come for a bloody and a fierce battle between these two powers.
The tension between them escalated and they brutally fought in May 17. This resulted in an eyelid injury to Umarpani male It seemed as if he had lost his left eye. But in a matter of a few days Umarpani was found feasting on a kill with Mahaveer family. He looked perfectly fine.
But Chota Munna looked in more pain as his forearms were full of nasty scars and he was seen limping also. It seems like a never ending tale between Chota Munna and Umarpani. After ten days they were again seen in a fight. But this time we observed a different behaviour of the big cats. This time the fight was over Choti Mada, when these both male were fighting she was calmly watching them from a close distance. The fight went for about three days, fortunately no serious injuries to both the beasts. Only Chota Munna was left with some minor injuries on his forelimbs. Towards the end of season both were sighted fit and fine.
Mahaveer female was seen with four cubs and everyone was assuming that cubs were fathered by Kingfisher male who spent most of time with Mahaveer female last season and sighted in mating also. But when Umarpani was sighted with family sharing kill and spending quality time with cubs then everyone believed that he is father of Mahaveer’s cubs. Umarpani male had seen visiting Choti Mada and Mahaveer female on intervals throughout the season, so there is a threat to the cubs of both females.
There was one more male sighted in Mahaveer female’s territory, he is known as nav pathra male. He is a transient male who doesn’t come very often in Mukki zone.
Next season all three zone are looking great, specially kanha and mukki will be more rocking as there so many females nursing cubs. There are more chances to see tiny cubs in Mukki as both Dhawajhandi and Umarjhola female have delivered. It would be more interesting to know, how Umarpani and Chota Munna deal with each other in the off season.
Tough to summarize 9 months of sightings in just couple of pages, but i hope you enjoyed reading the Kanha Safari Review. If you are keen to know Kanha more then visit Kanha via this famous tour of Kanha.
Note ; Forest department has given an unique id code to each tiger this season, most of these tigers are found in tourism zone of KTR!
|Jr. Kankatta : T1 (Kisli Zone)||Umarjhola Female : T32 (Mukki Zone)|
|Karai Ghati male : T2 (Sarhi Zone, Kisli Zone)||Mahaveer Female : T33 (Mukki Zone)|
|Mundi Dadar Female : T8 (Kanha Zone)||Kingfisher (Late) : T35 (Mukki Zone)|
|Munna : T17 (Kanha, Kisli, Sarhi Zone)||Supkhar Male : T57 (Kanha, Kisli Zone)|
|Jamun Tola Male : T24 (Sarhi, Kisli Zone)||Bajrang : T64 (Kanha Zone)|
|Dhawajhandi Female : T27 (Kisli, Mukki Zone)||Neelam : T65 (Kanha Zone)|
|Bheema (Late) : T28 (Kisli, Mukki Zone)||Sandukkhol Female : T66 (Kisli Zone)|
|Dhamangaon Male : T67 (Kisli Zone)|
|Chota Munna : T29 (Kisli, Mukki Zone)||Link 8 female : T76 (Kanha Zone)|
|Umarpani Male : T30 (Mukki Zone)||Budbudi Female : T83 (Kisli Zone)|
|Choti Mada : T31 (Mukki Zone)||Navpathra male : T50 (Mukki Zone)|