Sharad Kumar Vats

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Everything posted by Sharad Kumar Vats

  1. You are right @Dipa123 that the safaris get full very quickly. This is because there are very limited safari permits now, and the demand is very high. So whoever plans the safaris atleast 120 days before is able to secure the permits comfortably. Anything less than 120 days is taking a chance. 4 years back it was very easy to get safari permits, but after the Supreme Court reduced the number of vehicles after calculating the carrying capacity of the national parks things are not the same. In a way it is good for wildlife as now only people who plan earlier are able to get the permits and yes the human imprint on the forests has reduced. Regards Sharad
  2. This is to inform all that the online safari bookings have commenced for all national parks for safaris starting next month. The bookings have opened much late this year in central Indian parks of Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna, Pench, Satpura. The permits are few so decide soon if you plan to do safari before end of December 2017. If you are looking at best time for safaris in India then i recommend March-May. Though May gets real hot, about 45 degree celsius during the days but the Tiger sightings improve considerably this month. So, if you can brave the weather then travel in April, May. For a photographer and a wildlife lover every month is good. So choose time convenient to you and plan soon if you wish to travel to India for safaris in next few months.
  3. It is never an easy feeling when you hear about your favorite Tiger dying for reasons beyond anyone's control. One tends to develop a bond with Tigers whom you have been seeing for some seasons. Seems as if those Tigers also know you. Then one fine day you hear about a Tiger found injured, and despite best efforts by the forest department he passes away. This is exactly what happened with Bheema a big male Tiger in Kanha. He got into a mortal combat with another of my favorite Tiger who also happens to be currently the biggest Tiger of central India, the Umarpani male and it proved to be his last fight. Tigers are born to fight, they live to fight and fight to live. And they die fighting. Please read the below link to know about Bheema the big male Tiger of Kanha. http://naturesafariindia.com/blog/bheema-peaceful-warrior-kanha-national-park-passes-away/ Best Wishes Sharad Vats
  4. You are right, it is concerning, though lower today than Africa but our numbers too are much lower, hence the risk is much higher. Our human population, being a developing country, destruction happening everywhere, highways being built, forests being cut, dams being built. It is unfortunate that wildlife has to take the brunt for nothing that they demand, desire or need. Elephant poaching cases are not such a big concern as the train accidents. I just fail to understand how can a train driver miss such a huge mammal on the tracks. And it is not that they just appear on the tracks. They are usually crossing the tracks in their migration route or their corridors. The railways is much aware and so are the driver told to be cautious in these areas. There is a speed limit as well in such areas for the train to pass, all it requires is a bit of caution, even that seems to be thrown to the winds. Having said and accepted all this, it is still incredible that despite all this, wildlife has managed to survive in India. Infact some key species numbers have gone up. Tigers, Rhinos, and Lions have actually seen an increase in population. There is concentrated effort in the direction. Only if help comes from all quarters will it be so much easy. It is like in a team sport where everyone must contribute. If one does well, and the other falters it does no good for the team. So it is in conservation.
  5. Oh yes, Kanha has been a pioneer in such conservation efforts. The Hard ground Swamp Deer, followed by shifting of the Tigress to Panna to start the Tiger program again there. Then the relocation of Indian Gaur from Kanha to Bandhavgarh 4 years back. Subsequently the Hard Ground Swamp Deer relocated from Kanha to Satpura. And lately about 750 spotted deers successfully translocated to Phen Wildlife Sanctuary. So a lot is being done in Kanha. Fortunately all has been well in these endeavors.
  6. I have been doing safaris in India since 1990. But never thought i would get so lucky ever. It was December 2014, i was searching for Wild Elephants in Dudhwa National Park. Saw them at a distance of about 50 meters, it was late evening, dipping light, mist did not help, and i started to take photographs. Suddenly noticed some crouching movement between myself and the Elephants, Focussed and i could not believe my luck, a Tiger. he was stalking the baby elephant, maybe a month old, and the cow Elephant was very cautious. The Elephants would trumpet, try to scare the Tiger away, but he remained focussed, with a mission possessed, and did not leave his ground. Having watched the scene for over 20 minutes we had to leave the park as the safari time had come to a close. Left with a heavy and a praying heart that God save the baby. I left Dudhwa after 2 days, it was only after 7 days that my driver called and said, "' Sir the baby is safe, and i saw him today during the safari", was i releaved would be an understatement. Sharing the images here. Detailed article titled The Dudhwa Drama on below link www.naturesafariindia.com
  7. @@wilddog Sure it is a huge consolation, and perhaps the most apt way for Tigers to go down is fighting. Guess, such deaths are also important as only the best genes should be passed on, it is only good for the survival of the Tigers.
  8. @Atravelynn; i have tried this numerous times on Tigers and it works always. Sending positive thoughts works on all living beings i guess.
  9. @@Atravelynn..unfortunately he did not leave any cubs behind. But his sibling is doing well in another zone of Kanha. He is popularly known as Bajrang. My personal experience has been that nervous energy disturbs the big cats. Have noticed the same on a few occasions. And there are times when one sends positive vibes internally and the big cats get close without any worries.
  10. @@twaffle indeed a satisfying way for a predator to go like this than human inflicted ways. Glad you liked the image.
  11. Strictly my view, but arrived having seen many Tigers over 28 years of safaris in various parks of India. It was not easy to arrive at this decision but not a difficult one either. In the current Tigers in the Wild it is Umarpani Male in Kanha National Park who will get crowned as the largest Tiger in central India. Son of Legendary Munna, and Umarpani female, he is a huge Tiger who has outsized his parents, and is all set to takeover reins from his father as King of Kanha. Read the link below to know about him and his competition today. http://naturesafariindia.com/blog/biggest-tiger-central-india/ Best Wishes Sharad Vats
  12. In a pioneering effort by the management of Bandhavgarh National Park, they have come out with a book containing photos of the Tigers of Bandhavgarh. The book has photos of 24 Tigers form the core zone of Bandhavgarh. So next time your are in Bandhavgarh pick up this book from the resort you are staying in, or from the Forest nature Shop. For more details, click on the link below: http://naturesafariindia.com/blog/jeep-safari-in-bandhavgarh/ Best Wishes Sharad
  13. The new Tiger safari season has commenced from 1st October. Some real exciting news has come from Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambhore and Satpura to beginwith. 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. 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. To read more on safaris in Bandhavgarh, Ranthambhore, ad Satpura click the link below: http://www.naturesafariindia.com/blog/safaris-in-the-national-parks-of-india/ Best Wishes Sharad Vats To know more details read the link below
  14. For all those who have followed Tigers of Kanha over the years, know that there is something unique and very interesting happening in the Mukki zone of Kanha National Park for last two seasons. There are FOUR big male Tigers, all adults, who have made Mukki zone their home. This has been absolutely unprecedented. Mukki was always known for Tigresses with cubs, and maybe an odd male transient Tiger showing up. But what seemed to be a fluke two years back has now settled well. The four big adult males have kind of accepted each other in a relatively small area. Last year did some some fights between the big four, namely, Umarpani Male, Bheema, Kingfisher and Link 7 male. There were fights, there were injuries, but they all have survived well. What surprised many was that towards the end of last season they had also sired some cubs, which hopefully should start showing up when the park reopens in October 2016. Everyone has fingers crossed and praying that hopefully nothing untoward has happened in the last 3 months when the park has been closed for monsoon. The safari permits are limited, and booked 120 days prior to your safari date. So wait now, go right ahead and book yourself into Mukki zone of Kanha to see some spectacular male Tiger sightings in the coming season too. Sharing the images of the Big Four of Mukki. 1. Kingfisher Male 2. Umarpani Male 3. Link 7 Male 4. Bheema Male Book yourself soon to catch some amazing sightings in Kanha in the coming season. Best Wishes Sharad Vats
  15. @@wilddog In my opinion, if you are covering a specific Tiger, or are doing a documentary film, then it makes sense to do a full day safari. Or, if you are a professional photographer then also it makes sense to do a full day safari. Otherwise, it is just too much of money going for just 4 extra hours inside the park. Just calculate how many safaris you can do extra in this Rs. 50000. Atleast 7 exclusive safaris, and if shared about 11. Which means atleast 25 hours of extra exclusive safaris, or 38 hours of shared safaris. Do you want extra 4 hours in Rs 50000 or extra 25-38 hours? What is better, i leave to you to decide. I think you will get many more opportunities to shoot Tigers if you do extra safaris, than one full day safari.
  16. The caption might sound unrealistic, but the ground reality today is, that there are some serious efforts in the direction. The captioned statement is made by our new Environment Minister. Honestly, i am not sure if this will happen, but i quite like the confidence, intent, and positivity in his approach There are things beginning to happen on the ground, and i would like to believe the old saying, that, "We should aim for the moon, because even if we miss we will be among the stars". So, even if the population does not reach the intended double mark, but it will be at a good high. To know as to what is being done on the ground click on the link below to know more: http://naturesafariindia.com/blog/tiger-population-to-double-by-2022-in-india/ I sincerely hope that this happens. Best Wishes Sharad Vats http://www.naturesafariindia.com
  17. In an unprecedented move, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has proposed to monitor Tigers using Drones fitted with night vision cameras, faster speed, longer batteries, and better landing capacities in 5 different national parks in India. They have already tested the same in Panna National Parks quite successfully. Now the other 4 parks which will be brought under the Drones are: Corbett, Sunderbans, Kaziranga, and Sathyamangalam. Once successful this will be launched in other Tiger reserves too. 3 Biologists and 3 Engineers per Drone are being trained for the same. A final approval is awaited from the Ministry of Defence. Hopefully by the end of this year this technology will be used to track the Tigers, and keep poachers at bay. Best Sharad Vats http://naturesafariindia.com/articles/drones-tiger-conservation-national-parks/
  18. In an unprecedented move, the Forest Department has brought about some wonderful changes in the Tourism Policies of Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, and Pench National Parks in central India. This will Officially the changes will be listed by next week on their official website, but the news is actually very good for all foreign guests. 1. The concept of premium zones stands abolished. The extra rates that were charged for the premium zones of Tala in Bandhavgarh and Kanha are now not applicable. Which means all zones in the Madhya Pradesh park will have the same rate, and no premium charges for any zone. That makes the safaris more reasonable. Isn't that great? 2. Most important change; the entry permit rates for Indian and Foreign guests will be same with effect from October. This will actually mean a reduction in rates for foreigners from what they were paying until last year, and what they will pay from coming season. 3. These national parks now will remain open on Wednesday afternoons as well for safari. So no lazing around in the Lodge, or by the pool, hit for the safaris, until and unless you wish to stay back in the Lodge. 4.if you miss the 120 days deadline of booking safari, then don't worry there will be some last minute quota for permits reserved. But my suggestion is not to plan your safaris based on the last minute permit. It is better to book safaris 120 days prior. Many more changes but above are the most crucial ones, which will impact the tourism in these parks in a positive way. Enjoy the Tiger Safaris. Best Wishes Sharad Vats http://www.naturesafariindia.com
  19. This is good news indeed. Glad the Tiger numbers are increasing there as well, like in India.
  20. You are right @@egilio these regulations were put in place to release pressure at a time when the Tiger sightings were good in limited areas only. 1. There has been a considerable change in that now. Sightings are infact better in other zones now. For e.g. Magdhi a non premium zone had more pressure than the premium zone Tala in Bandhavgarh, and also same for Kanha, Mukki zones was more in demand than the premium Kanha zone. 2. The restrictions on the number of vehicles in a particular zone are still there, so the pressure is not high in certain areas and low in others. 3. The premium rates will drop to regular rates, no other name being given to it. 4. It does not impact the wilderness experience at all. Warm Regards Sharad Vats http://www.naturesafariindia.com
  21. India pleasantly surprises me always. No one is ignorant to the fact that we have 16% of world population living in less than 1% land mass of this planet, and 4% of this 1% is the protected area in India. If the bio-mass pressure of our population was not enough on the shrinking forests of our country, add to that the pressure of cattle grazing. The growing demands of a developing nation do not help the cause either. To say that the Government is not doing enough will not be fair, and even more unfair will be to say that the people of this country are intolerant, not by a distance when it comes to environment. If one travels in the interiors you will still find, rural India worshipping trees, animals, mountains, streams, and practically everything that is in nature. No wonder this is the reason, why despite all adversities, all activists, politicians, NGO’s, courts, etc, India has still managed to hold on to some key species. The so called #TigerExperts had given a apocalypse that Tiger shall not survive to see the turn of the 21st century. Well, the Tiger survives well into 16 years, with a increasingly healthy population. Did these experts underestimate their subjects of study, and overestimate their own expertise? Maybe no, they were perhaps quite right at the time of this prediction, perhaps they did not understand the Newton’s 3rd law of motion. For every forest being disrobed, there are many Krishna’s prohibiting the same. There are poachers and there are protectors. In summary the experts saw only one side and predicted, they did not see the other side, the positive side, the human side. But I would still like to thank them for the prediction, cause that woke up lot of sleeping souls of the society, who did not wait for someone to tell them to rise, awake, and stop not till the goal of protection is reached. I would like to share an incident that I witnessed in #BandhavgarhNational Park in Feb 2016. Do see the image of the same below the text. While doing an evening safari in #Bandhavgarh, from a distance I noticed a forest guard sitting near the #Rajbhera waterhole. On looking closely we see a cheetal (spotted deer) by his side, and the guard feeding him with water and leaves. We waited. When we asked him what happened, he said, while patrolling this morning he noticed the deer, who was old and weak, almost dying next to the water hole. He then fed him with leaves and water. Thereafter, the deer was able to lift his head after a couple of hours. When he came back in the evening to feed the cheetal, he saw more improvement. I was touched by his gesture, no one had told him to do that. We appreciated his work, and what he said after that amazed me, and made me laugh simultaneously. He said, “Sirji hum to tiger ko bhi aise kar dein agar woh karne de”. (we would treat / handle the #tiger similarly if he allows us to). His voice and eyes had genuine concern and love for animals. Whether the deer survived the night by himself or not, whether he became food of some #predator or not, is not important. What is important is, that we do have a lot of sincere people in our forests doing their job very sincerely, silently, away from media and recognition. In my eyes, he did not only save the cheetal, he saved the tiger, and the forest simultaneously. His boss sits about 35kms from #Bandhavgarh, still he was doing something beyond his job, with no expectations, and perhaps hence I could see the smile and peace in his eyes. This is why I say, that there are Krishna’s working silently in many areas. A silent forest ranger at work in Bandhavgarh National Park I have not lost any hope despite a lot of adversity. Nature will regenerate, it is powerful enough to take care of itself, it has done so for eons, and will continue to do so eternally. Best Wishes Sharad Vats
  22. It was in 1996 that I first visited #Bandhavgarh National Park. We went on an Elephant to see the Tigers in the bush. We saw a Tigress with two cubs sitting near the #SheshShaiyya statue. The Mahout told us that this Tigress is “#Sita”. My first sighting of the Legendary Tigress from Bandhavgarh. In today’s terms she could also be called as the “Angel Investor” in Bandhavgarh. At the same time the dominant male of Bandhavgarh, namely, #Charger could be termed as the “Seed Investor” in this start up called Bandhavgarh. Very few people had heard of this national park, until these two Tigers decided to put this park on the world map. Sita somehow disappeared in 1998, some said she was poached, while some said, she had left her territory, it was tough to believe the later, as those were the days when poaching was a stronger possibility. I returned to Bandhavgarh in April 2000. This time again atop the Elephant I was taken to the opening of a small cave where sat the tired and aging Charger, he died in September 2000. I am told he was 18 when he died, an unusually long life for a Tiger in the wild. He was rightly cremated in the park where he ruled. There is an area dedicated in his name known as #Charger Point. The next day, I saw a young cub who later came to be known as #B1, the sibling of #B2. It was B2 who single handedly rocked the wildlife world. It was for the first time in the history of Indian wildlife that people were coming to see a particular Tiger in a particular national park. Making Bandhavarh famous would be an understatement. B2, started an Economy. Mindset for wildlife tourism took root, not only in Bandhavgarh, but in many other parks simultaneously. My visit to Bandhavgarh was not complete if I had not seen B2 resulting at times in my overstay. I can proudly say that B2 initiated me into Wildlife Photography. My photography journey started with a Zenith manual camera. Those were the days of film rolls, maximum 400 ISO, only SLR’s existed. B2 inspired me to buy the newly launched Canon DSLR with a 70-300mm lens. The days of memory cards, image stabilizers, and ISO options upto 5k started. Now I did not need to think before clicking, as I could delete an image instantly if I did not like it. Gone were the days of the film rolls where every click was precious. In the subsequent years I visited Bandhavgarh practically every month. Saw the other big Tigers, B1, B3, very briefly, and observed their mother Mohini, aka Bacchhi from close quarters. The sad end of #Mohini in March 2003 and #Jhurjhura female about 9 years later are a blot on Bandhavgarh. It was sometime in 2003-04 that I developed a liking for #Challenger, a sub adult who had everything going for him. His territorial range started to expand, until one day in his early years he died, reasons still beyond conclusions, only assumptions. It was a heart breaking moment for me, not only because he died on my birthday, but also that Bandhavgarh had lost a very strong Tiger. My interest in Bandhavgarh shook. Visits to Bandhavgarh reduced. An important park to me personally, I kept a close eye on the sightings through news that I would get from friends in Bandhavgarh. B2 was perhaps one link that kept me interested in what was happening with Tigers in Bandhavgarh. I also got some nice moments with Bokha, an assertive Tiger. B2 passed away in 2012, thereafter, the rest of the Tigers, namely, #Bamera, #Kankatti, #Jhurjhura, #New Male, #Blue Eye, and #Bhagoda, just became names. I knew the Tigers were showing up, and very regularly, but it was tough for me to gather myself to go back to Bandhavgarh after loss of B2. But as they say life must go on. The news of new buffer zones opening in Bandhavgarh again ignited the latent love for the place. I set off in Feb 2016 to Bandhavgarh once again. Nostalgia took over when I entered Tala zone. My mind was replaying all my sightings of all my favorite Tigers when I entered the gate. All the places in the Tala zone right from #Sidh Baba, to #Chakradhara, #Giraiyan, #Banbehi, #SitaMandap, #GhodaDemon, #Rajbehra, #Sehra, #Mahamman etc had a memory. Yes, this is where I saw B2 charge at a #sloth bear, this is where #Mohini used to kill etc..#Raghu my favorite naturalist, and #Jagat another gem of Bandhavgarh. These two boys (now men), are encyclopedia’s on Bandhavgarh. Few safaris in #Magdhi gave me an idea of how the tourism had divided the park. But I think it is a step in the right direction at the right time. To regulate tourism is important, perhaps as important as tourism itself to the park. Parts of #Tala are now in Magdhi zone. #Khitauli yes was a new area altogether, as was the beautiful #Pachpedi and #Dhamokar buffer. Did not get time to visit the #Manpur buffer but I have not a cent of doubt on it’s beauty as well. It was during a safari in Tala on 13th Feb that Raghu heard a distant monkey call, we started towards the area, and behold, we spot a Tiger walking right in front of us on the road. Raghu said, this is PD1, aka Spotty. She entered a bush while stalking some deers. We waited at a distance, and after about an hour she decided to come out of the bush again. Now we were ahead of her, and managed some shots. It was then she did something spectacular. She started to walk alongside the fence, carefully ascertaining the height, and from where she could take a leap. I was ready, and so was she. What a beautiful sight of a Tigress jumping an 8 feet fence. Beauty, power, agility, all combined in one super predator. My short 4 days, 8 safaris trip seemed to have gotten over faster than expected. But before I left Bandhavgarh, I promised to myself that I will makeup for the lost years. See you soon Bandhavgarh! Sharad Vats www.naturesafariindia.com
  23. @michael-ibk; Jagat is simply awesome, and Raghu is another great person to have when driving in Bandhavgarh. Yes, you are right the colored version of the family pic is displayed in the restaurant of Chitvan in Kanha. Words fall short when one starts to describe Sita and Charger. The founding members of Bandhavgarh is how i would like to call them. Bamera was another great male Tiger. Glad you saw him. I just returned two days back from Bandhavgarh, had a great sighting of Spotty. You may see the image of this beautiful Tigress on homepage of www.naturesafariindia.com.
  24. @@Big_Dog Many thanks for your kind words. Bandhavgarh is indeed a beloved park of many, me included.
  25. Camera, Sound, Light, Action…this is exactly how our safari was scripted on 14th June 2015. We entered the park at 4pm, hoping to reach the bush where the Tiger was supposedly sleeping in the morning. We reached the area, no luck, no alarm call, we moved on, and then our naturalist Naren spotted pug marks of a male Tiger, he said, Sir, Tiger has moved. The Forest guide alongside also saw the pugmarks, and excitedly said, "Naren, move fast, Tiger is on the road". We moved a bit fast, and the moment we crossed the bend on the road ahead we see a Tiger spray marking on a tree. Very few Tigers in the wild have a head this size is what i noticed when we crossed him. Raju our Forest guide turned out to be our lucky charm is not something i would like to believe, because the moment he saw the pugmarks he knew that it was absolutely fresh, and Tiger had moved only a minute or two before. So, his enthusiasm, and exact understanding of his job got us good results that day. This particular Tiger was busy marking his territory and smelling the area, we took the opportunity and moved ahead of him on the road keeping a safe distance. Naren identified him as Umarpani male, about 6-7 years old, a huge Tiger with an enormous face. Next 30 minutes i gave my undivided attention to him, and clicked almost 400 images, while the Tiger gave us all possible poses, he smelled, sprayed, scratched the road, sat down to leave his scent, every possible pose that a photographer would want to have. The tele lens compels one to keep a distance from the Tigers, and thus we were in safe comforts and at a safe distance in our Jeep, and the Tiger never felt uncomfortable. It was about 30 minutes later, that i decided that we have clicked enough, i was exhaused of pressing my index finger on the shutter. At the next turning we changed course, and the Tiger continued down the track. What happened next perhaps will be best described in the concluding Part 2 of this series. www.naturesafariindia.com

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