Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pench Tiger Reserve

Situated in dense forested hills of Satpura Ranges, Pench Tiger Reserve is tiger heaven in MP India. It is about 80 km drive from Nagpur Airport and about 200 km drive form Jabalpur Airport. Rudyard Kipling made these hills of Seoni popular in his "Jungle Book" which was later made into a film by Walt Disney. 

The forests is home to the characters of Jungle Book but not in same numbers. The wolf at Pench is in decline. the tiger thrives in good enough numbers so do leopard, wild dogs and many species of deer. You encounter a tiger more often than the leopard on safaris but the leopard it is more sighted here than any other place is Central India. The Indian wolf is seen outside the park but keeps moving as human pressure is a troubling factor.    

The reserve is best place to see the bison about 700 hundred live here. the herbivores exhibit excellent health and are larger then their counterparts in other reserves in MP.  Many films have been made on wildlife of this National Park. The popularity has resulted in more visitors coming on wildlife safari every year. Birding is excellent in these forests a treat to bird watchers. Less work has been done here on avian species therefore more discoveries are in offing.    

The habitat at Pench differs from Kanha and Bandhavgarh since it is dry to a greater degree and the rainfall is quiet deficient. The park is well protected and tiger have increased during the lat decade. Sloth bear, wild dogs and small cats are often seen. The Nilgai herds are impressive with some reaching their full growth. Other animals seen are the wild boar, langur, rhesus macaque, jackal, fox, civet cats, ratel, porcupine and jungle cat. Some of these are nocturnal and can be easily seen of night safaris.      

The park is named after the Pench River which intersects the park to reach the Totladoh Dam. This reservoir is excellent for the wetland birds and a crucial lifeline during the dry summers. Birds like Osprey, Ruddy Shells Duck, Northern Pintail, storks, Marsh Harriers, Booted eagle, Vultures are draw among the birders. 

Pench attracts lot of tourists on tiger safari in MP in India. The number is growing every year in terms of inbound travelers. There are a number of wildlife camps in the jungle which offer budget accommodation. For upscale tourists luxury lodges in Pench offer finest accommodations at reasonable price. The park guides conduct safaris in the park. A vehicle entry fee has to be paid for entering inside. The safaris have to be booked in advance since number of vehicles are restricted. It is best to ask you hotel to do the booking before you arrive.   

Central India Predators

The ecosystem is a complex web of life interconnected for sustenance and survival. The food chain governs the elements of the whole system. Without an effective food chain the populations would cause havoc and the habitat would come into imbalance. 

The predators consume the herbivores in order survive and in the process control their population. This prevent overgrazing which would be disastrous for the habitat. In this manner they also act as seed dispersal agents. The top level carnivores are tertiary carnivores like the tiger and the leopards. Other come below the pyramid and some like the Jackal are both hunters and scavengers.   

Hyena and Wolf are predators that are more often found in open scrub and dry habitats. These are getting scarcer as human civilization has moved. The predator play an important role in the food chain hence utilization of energy.

The tiger at the top consumes anything that moves but its prime prey is the deer, wild boar, Nilgai, Langur, Bison and sometimes other predators.  It kills other animals like the omnivorous sloth bear and porcupine. The leopard kills smaller animals like spotted deer, barking deer, langurs, wild boars and so on. 

Wild dogs survive on deer but are not able to kill bison and large Sambar. They are pack hunters and consume their prey while it is still alive.  Jackal and fox survive on  small animals like rodents, fawns, reptiles, and even insects. These animals can also survive on vegetation especially fruits and berries.

Hence these animals often treated as vermin play a crucial role in preservation of an ecosystem and the habitats there in. Tiger number has drastically reduced in India and they are in danger of becoming extinct. Since it is an indicator species as well its loss will be a major blow to natural Earth. 

Forest trees of Central India

Well renowned for it biodiversity the trees of the forest have been sidelined in favor of more charismatic mega fauna and birds. This blog gives a basic idea of some well known trees. Larger trees which dominate are Sal and Teak. The associates are Saaj, Salai, Tendu, Dhava, Harra, Bahera, Tinsa, Palas, Jamun, Char, Bel, Lyndia, Kosum, and more.

The Banyan Tree is present in almost all habitats, so is the Peepal tree, the Jack fruit is very popular for its edible fruit. The skeletal ghost tree or Kurlu is an amazing spectacle in the forest. The riverside tree is Arjun omnipresent near the nullahs and rivulets. It is an important element of water preservation system.    

The local trees are a boon to the communities that abound near the forests. Mahua is fine example of utility a liquor is made from its fruits which is nutrient rich. The butter derived from its seeds is edible and used by the locals. Many herbs and shrubs are part of the local medicine system invaluable for health care in inaccessible regions. Modern medicine also uses many derivatives of forest vegetation to create new drugs for health care.

Prolific growth of medicinal plants takes place in Pachmarhi. The is due the geography of the region with varying altitude, extant of sunlight and levels of humidity.

Peepal. Pakur and Banyan are part of ficus species and are well known for their fruits. These provide sustenance to many birds such as horn bills. The trees are filled with birds, squirrels, monkeys and what not whence they fruit. 

Forest birding in Madhya Pradesh

Though MP is known as the tiger state it is a good birding destination as well. The tiger reserves hitherto popular for tiger safaris as ideal birding spots for those interested in forest species. Most of the tiger reserves in the state are home wetland species as well but the habitats are not extensive like in Bharatpur. Nevertheless on can see them in impressive numbers.    

Among the forest species the most sought after are the Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Shama, Racket Tailed Drongo, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Painted Francolin, Black Naped Flycatcher, Iora, Gold Mantled Chloropsis, Jerdon's Leaf Bird, Golden Oriole, Black Hooded Oriole, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Verditor Flycatcher, Brown Fish Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Malabar whistling Thrush (Pachmarhi), Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle, White Eyed Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, and many more. 

The best places for birding in the state are Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Pachmarhi, Nauradehi, Amarkantak, Satpura Tiger Reserve, Bori and many other wildlife sanctuaries. The habitat type differs depending upon the degree of humidity and food factor. The state has tropical dry deciduous, dry deciduous moist, mixed forests, broadleaved Teak forests, Sal Forests, Bamboo Zones  which are excellent habitats for diverse species. Similary grassland in the preserve and places like Karera Bustard Sanctuary are home to many grass dwelling species.    

Pachmarhi, Nauradehi, Amarkantak are lesser known destinations in MP hence tourism in not popular. While accommodation is available in Pachmarhi and Amakantak subject to advance booking, Nauradehi can be visited from Jabalpur where there is no shortage of accommodations. All three are reachable from Jabalpur City in Madhya Pradesh.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tiger tourism at Bandhavgarh National Park

With the highest density of tigers in India Bandhavgarh tiger reserve is most popular tiger tourism destination. The reserves offers best wildlife watching and highest tiger sightings in the World. It also offers unique sightseeing of ancient temples, fort, man made caves and stables.

The tiger preserve is situated in Umaria District of the State of Madhya Pradesh. It is under the aegis of Project Tiger Program that aims at conserving the Bengal Tiger in India. The preserve in home to many wild mammals beside the big cat. 

BTR as it is known is good place for wildlife watching and birding. The park and its wildlife have been filmed many a times in recent years hence the popularity. Till seventies and eighties the preserve was not that famous but occasional big cat photographs and the electronic media helped discover the paradise. The forests are home to some of the magnificent Male Tigers pictures of whom have found place on first page of major Indian newspapers. Tourism has increased at a rapid pace since then and thousand of visitors come here to have a glimpse of the elusive big cats.

Home to humans hundreds of year back the tell tale sign of old civilizations still exist.  The Fort is a testimony to that besides number of temples, man made caves and statues of Lord Vishnu. One comes across plenty of ancient ruins while on safari in the park.

Bandhavgarh is beautiful park enhanced by 32 hillock which form narrow glens inundated by rivulets and marshy grasslands. The panoramic splendor is breath taking in this land of the pristine forests and tiger.l 

Wildlife safari in MP

The state of Madhya Pradesh has many wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks. But for wildlife safaris most visited places are Kanha, Bandhavgarh. and Pench. Besides these Panna and Satpura National Park receive many visitors.   

These preserve are also very good birding destinations in Central India. More than 250 avian species make the places there home the numbers include winter migrants. These are also places where tiger sightings are more frequent as compared to other tiger reserves in India  

Lesser known places like Pachmarhi, Amarkantak and Nauradehi are also upcoming birding destinations. Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary is slated for Cheetah relocation in MP, India. All the tree places are accessible from Jabalpur City in Madhya Pradesh. The city is well connected by air with New Delhi and Mumbai. another sanctuary near Bhopal is Ratapani which is home to many wildlife and tigers as well. This is were Bhimbetika caves with prehistoric paintings are situated.        

Bhimebetika is said to date back more than 100000 years and is situated in Raisen District. But it is very near to Bhopal the capital city of Madhya Pradesh,. The paintings depict ritualistic lifestyle of inhabitants and several animals including those which are not found in the state anymore.    

There are more than 700 rock shelters with 243 in Bhimbetka Rock Shelter Group and about 178 in Lakha Juar Group.