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Found 8 results

  1. Denizens of the Tiger Jungles Of India Just at the break of the dawn, a distant alarm call by a sambhar deer breaks the quietness and alerts the jungle folk of the presence of a striped predator. The tiger is on the prowl. The sharp senses of the guide picks up the clue and gets the jeep right there. After some tense moments appears the most majestic of all cats. You will never forget the awe of your first wild tiger encounter. Somewhere on a deserted road in the thick bamboo cluster a mother sloth bear returns to her lair with her young one. They were feeding on the wild fruits and termites the whole night and now rush to the cool of their den before the sun bakes the earth. In a maze of rocky hillocks a leopard, the most cunning of all predators sit on top and surveys the surroundings. At the very first hint of your presence it fades into the labyrinth. It has disappeared but still keeps an eye on you. Out in the grasslands the wild dogs, the whistling hunters have just had their kill and are now socializing with the pups. With their bellies full and the support of the tightly bonded pack of 17, there is little to worry about. Just as the sun goes down, one of the first creatures to appear is the agile jungle cats. It walks through the tall grass stretching every now and then and smells the presence of rodents. It stalks, jumps and fails yet again. probably feeling embarrassed, it gives you a last look and exits the scene as if nothing happened. Some of the best times I have lived are in the tiger jungles of India. it just never ceases to excite, stun and impress me. Below are just some glimpses of few moments spent with the 'Denizens of the Tiger Jungles of India' A tigress from the Central Indian Jungles of Tadoba The cub after a lot of hesitation finally walks up to us with his bold mother. Shot in Tadoba A sloth bear mother in the rush to reach back her lair, pauses and gives us one last look. From the jungles of Tadoba A leopard from the Wilds of Pench decides to fade away. The alpha male from a wild dog pack in Pench. The embarrassed jungle cats gives us the last look after a failed hunt before quietly exiting the scene. From the wild plateaus of Panna.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Trip Dates: 1 to 6 May, 2015 Little known to the world, still undiscovered by many. Dudhwa is a hidden gem lying in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh (India), touching Nepal border. A Sal forest combined with grasslands (19% of the forest) and wetlands make it one of finest forest of India. ROAD PASSING THROUGH FOREST CONNECTING INDO-NEPAL BORDER VILLAGES TO HIGHWAY I took a group of four people from Mumbai, who were going first time to explore this forest. We started around 1230 hours from Delhi Airport and reached around 2000 hours at Palia Kalan, nearest town to Dudhwa. Our next two days’ stay was in a Sugar Mill’s guest house at Palia Kalan. My main purpose for this trip was not just going for safaris but also to explore tourism opportunities in Dudhwa, whereas guests were completely geared up for the wildlife adventure. READY FOR FIRST GYPSY SAFARI IN DUDHWA Day 2 morning, we reached Dudhwa National park safari gate at 0545 hours. Everyone left for the safari at 0600 hours, while I decided to visit the nearby villages with a local person, who is also a forest guide, Ramas. He took me to a village, around 20 kms from Dudhwa gate. It’s the last village in India, beyond which Indo-Nepal border starts. The road for this village is a tar road which passes through the forest. On our way, we spotted a Jackal crossing it and spotted more than 10 Asian paradise flycatchers, a summer migrant in Dudhwa. JACKAL MULTIPLE GIANT ANT HILLS SPOTTED ALONG THE WAY ASIAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER As the periphery of the village started, we saw some women going for fishing carrying their nets. I had never seen such a unique design before and was curious to know the fishing technique with it, but the ladies were shy and hesitant to disclose their secret. Then we saw some more women selling fruits and vegetables, Ramas told me that they are from Nepal, they cross Indo-Nepal border daily to sell things, and same way Indians go there to earn. FISHERWOMEN WITH THEIR NETS NEPALI WOMEN SELLING VEGETABLES AT BORDER VILLAGES My main purpose of this visit was to meet Ms. Arti Rana, who runs an NGO there. Through it she has created employment opportunity for many local women to make them self dependent. More than 100 women from nearby villages work with her in making jute bags, caps, purses and other things. Recent thunderstorm destroyed her working premises which was being re-built with the help of the government. It was a high point of my trip to meet such an inspiring lady. After meeting her we returned from the village, I joined my guests at the gate and we went back to the guest house. They had a wonderful time in the safari in which they saw they saw herd of elephants and different species of birds. In the evening, I also decided to go for a safari. Tall Sal trees with undergrowth of fern – it was so good to see this park again! I had some amazing bird sightings. A herd of elephants gave us some memorable photographs. CHESTNUT BELLIED NUTHATCH EGRETS ELEPHANT HERD FROM A WATCH TOWER AT (BANKETAL) GREAT HORNBILL GREAT HORNBILL KINGFISHER SAFARI ROUTE LIST OF COMMON BIRDS – 1 LIST OF COMMON BIRDS – 2 Day 3 morning, our guests went for a safari again while I went to see the “Jaagir Lodge” by Tree of Life. It’s a luxury resort situated around 20 kms from Dudhwa park gate. They have rooms as well as thatched huts. It’s a lovely place to stay, I was taken to visit nearby places for birding and wildlife by their in-house naturalist. There is a wetland nearby as well as a small water stream, where one can see crocodiles especially in winters, as the probability is high in comparison to summers. There is a wooden bridge over the stream that connects the village with the forest. The view is so relaxing that one would want to sit for hours on the bridge itself. After a sumptuous breakfast at the lodge, I joined my guests and we went back to our guest house. WOODEN BRIDGE OVER WATER STREAM BLACK BITTERN SWAMP FRANCOLIN SPOTTED NEAR JAAGIR LODGE A night stay in the forest rest house of Sathiana range was planned for our guests, after dropping them, I decided to visit more villages on Indo-Nepal Border. Day 4 morning, I went to see the Junglelore resort (https://www.facebook.com/dudhwajunglelore) situated very close to Dudhwa Park gate. It’s a nice budget property providing tented accommodation. I received guests after their morning safari in Sathiana range and we left for Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, which is around 30 kms from Dudhwa gate towards Delhi via Palia Kalan. We stayed there for two nights at the Barasingha Lodge. It was a beautiful small place with six rooms adjacent to the forest. We were greeted by very warm and homely staff. The food they served was outstanding, can’t forget their mint leaves chutney, made from mint grown in the property. BARASINGHA LODGE AT KISHANPUR STANDARD ROOM AT BARASINGHA LODGE, KISHANPUR SUITE AT BARASINGHA LODGE, KISHANPUR AT BARASINGHA LODGE AT BARASINGHA LODGE We all went for an afternoon safari (which lasts till sunset) in Kishanpur range together one gypsy. Kishanpur has a huge wetland known as Jhaadi taal (taal means lake). One thing is sure that you will always find Barasingha (Western swamp deer) there, few in winters, but in abundance in summers (March onwards). After spending some good time at Jhadi taal watchtower, we moved ahead and saw various birds. FLIES IN THE SKY WESTERN SWAMP DEER AT KISHANPUR (JHAADI TAAL) BLUE TAILED BEE EATER GREY HERON CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE The Sun had already set, and our safari was about to end. Suddenly our driver stopped the vehicle, pointed on his right and exclaimed “Tiger!”. It took us good amount of time to spot it as it was very well camouflaged. It was a cub, no wait, they were in fact two cubs! On seeing us, they stopped where they were. Probably they would have been on the road if we had come five minutes later. We knew that now they won’t come forward in front of us, so we decided to move on as the safari time was also over. It was an amazing experience for all of us. Especially me, as I had been to Dudhwa multiple times, but spotted tiger for the first time. The nights were cool and breezy. The temperature would drop to 20 degrees Celsius during night even in May, when Delhi’s minimum temperature would touch around 34. I had planned to take our guests on a night drive by our car. We went on a road which separates the forest and the village and were blessed to spot a Indian fox also known as Bengal fox. It was also a rare sighting, as this species is nocturnal and their sighting during day is very less. Everybody was excited. Day 5 morning, we went for safari again in Kishanpur range. Everybody was freezing in the safari for first one hour as it was very cold. I took some photographs. While coming back from the safari, someone at the gate told us that one gypsy had spotted a leopard in the forest that morning. INDIAN PEAFOWL BLUE BULL WESTERN SWAMP DEER STREAK THROATED WOODPECKER In the afternoon safari, As we were going through the forest, our guide said “Ruko Ruko Leopard” i.e “Stop…Stop…Leopard!”. Approx 40 meters from us, between two Sal tree there it was sitting on a branch like a spy. What a view! We were not able to see its full body as it was partially hidden behind the tree. So after taking some shots, we decide to take our gypsy a little back, from where it was clearly visible. I pressed shutter, took a single shot and the next moment it was off the tree and ran towards the forest. But after 100 meters it stopped for a split second and looked at us. That moment was magical and then it disappeared leaving us all awestruck. This experience made our day, our series of fortunate sightings continued as we later saw a python crossing the road. ROCK PYTHON CROSSING THE ROAD ROCK PYTHON HOG DEER We came back to our resort in high spirit. It was our last night there. We again went for a night drive, and this time saw a jungle cat. Day 6 morning, we packed our stuff and left for Delhi. On the way back, we saw a beautiful pair of Sarus Cranes making their nest. There couldn’t have been a better ending to this trip. Guests had to catch a flight for Mumbai at around 1900 hours. We reached Delhi around 1700 hours and I dropped them at the airport. They departed with a promise of meeting again soon for their next excursion.
  7. Rajaji National Park Vinod Goel For the last 6 years I have been visiting Rajaji National Park, Haridwar in Uttarakhand in search of a Tiger but never seen once.In the second week of April 2015, I was informed by my guide that a tigress was sighted by the tourists – hardly at a distance of 3-4 kms from the entry gate of Chilla Range. Hence, I decided to visit the Park. In the evening of 15th April, during my first safari, I was lucky to locate a nesting site of an Oriental Pied Hornbill on the safari route. Eventually I saw them mating on the next evening (16th April). It’s a very unique and a lifetime shot for a birder to capture such beautiful moment. After their mating was over, we moved ahead toMeethawali Rest House. With a pace of only 200 meters, we observed a small group of elephants who blocked our way, almost for 20 minutes. It was indeed a good feeling to observe their activity. As soon as we entered the park on 17th of April, we heard loud (and sharp) calls of Cheetal (spotted deer) making us stop at our places. We also saw a male Leopard on its toe in the Sal forest. Later in the riverbed, we were fortunate to see a Crested Serpent Eagle being harried by a Jungle Crow (eagle had a toad in its talon). During one of the jungle safari near Khara Chowki, our guide showed us the Black Stork in a search of fishes in the water streams. The sight of the stork spreading his wings to create a shadow in the water while moving his beak was an intense moment to look at. The shadow creates a darkness in the water, forces the fish to go towards the light, and hence makes it an advantage for the black stork to catch them. The unique strategy of the black stork catching his prey kept us busy for almost half an hour. On the morning of the 18th of April, while I was entering the details into the register for Jungle Safari at the booking office, I saw a tourist, exclaiming with excitement, having a sight of the Leopard on the road hardly 100 meters away from the barrier. Hearing them, I too looked out for the same and was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the male leopard. 19th of April, on my last day of the safari, I was being accompanied by Swami Ji from PawanDham Haridwar. We saw a number of birds such as Black Francolin, Indian Roller, Peacock, Pied Bushcat and a Shrike. Post crossing Mandwali Chowki, my guide-driver noticed a Snake in the undergrowth on the right side of the safari route. He stopped the vehicle in a safe place and asked us to observe the snake – a Python. I had my own doubts on the same, since I have observed python at a number of National Parks and Sanctuaries for the past 11 years. I kept taking pictures whenever I saw the opportunity. After spending about 20 minutes, the snake moved towards the dry river bed. We could no longer see the snake. I had observed one thing that it is a perfect place to see Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, Nilgai, Jungle Fowl, Peafowl and a wide variety of animals and birds. In the evening, I visited the Haridwar Range (Ranipur Gate) of the park, since here leopard sighting chances is quite bright. After a proper permission at the gate and forest guide, we began our safari. We saw a leopard perfectly camouflaged in green covers at a distance of hardly 20 meters from the road. We spot a male leopard crossing the road and melted into the green cover on our right, later we found the same leopard sitting over the boundary wall. A female leopard also tried to climb the wall, but couldn’t since she was getting distracted by the humans on the other side. After sometime we heard a call from a Cheetal indicating the presence of a predator in the vicinity. We completed our safari at the Chilla Range with lots of pleasant moments of the elusive cat. On 20th of April, we left from Haridwar quite early in the morning, reaching Delhi at 10am. After reaching Delhi, I went through the pictures of the snakes that I had clicked. Somehow, I had an intuition that the snake was King Cobra. I sent two of the pictures for identification to Mr. Rajesh Bedi, well known wildlife photographer. He informed me it was indeed a King Cobra (female). He has also observed how few people have had the opportunity to take a good picture of the King Cobra in the range. The very same day Rajaji National Park was declared as a Tiger Reserve. It is the 48th Tiger Reserve of the country. Since the park was getting close for 5 months due to monsoons, I decided to try my luck yet again to see the big cat. My son Bharat, suggested me to explore all three ranges in Rajaji National Park (which can be visited by making Haridwar as a base camp). I spent my first day (10th of June) at RanipurGate and was lucky enough to see three leopards in the late evening. After completing three safaris at the Chilla Range (11th and 12th June), I went for a safari in the Motichur Range. This was my first ever visit here. Motichur Range is no doubt, different from others, since it is filled with Sal trees where besides leopards and tigers one can also have a good sight of elephants from a close distance. We were lucky to see two Tuskers in the wild. After the morning safari on 12th of June, it was talked about that a tourist vehicle has sighted a tiger in the water body at GhasiRam; tiger had left the place as soon as it saw the vehicles. In the evening, our guide informed us that the tiger killed a Sambar Deer at the GhasiRam waterbody. I decided to take a risk of checking the same for a chance of tiger sight in the next morning. On the next day, after entering the gate I told my guide-driver to take the vehicle to Ghasi Ram water body without making stops at any forest Chowki. On reaching the specific spot, we moved to the slope and the Cheetals who were present just 20 meters away from us, started making loud and clear calls. We couldn’t see the predator. Patiently we waited for some time, and then behind the bushes on the small hillock, the tiger came out and went back at his hideout on seeing us. After two minutes, it came back and stood for some time and looked at us and went back. Half an hour later it came back to look at the prized catch of yesterday, stared at us and went into hiding. In the absence of the tiger at the kill, Jungle Crows were having a gala time, since they had their breakfast in front of them. After munching flesh, they were quenching thirst at the water body adjacent to the kill. We waited for another 40 minutes at the same spot near to the kill (300-400 meters). We observed that the tiger was approaching the kill from the bushes directly opposite to us. It came back, saw us and without having anything, it went back to the bushes pretending he is not interested in the food. Personally, what I felt that the tiger was shy and wanted to be left alone to feed on the kill. Therefore, with respect, we decided to leave the spot. (He was getting disturbed from the other vehicles which were passing by from that area.) As far as I am concerned, my search for the tiger in Rajaji National Park was over. I have been visiting this park for more than 5 years. This year I made a point to visit all three ranges in Haridwar. People believe that number 13 is an unlucky number. However, for me it proved to be a lucky number, considering my last safari was dated on 13th June, 2015.
  8. With a few days of leaves pending at my disposal, I had to plan something before the year end. I ended up going to Uttarakhand for a birding trip. After a very fulfilling birding trip, I have just started writing my trip report. Part 1 of the report is up at : http://wildwildindia.com/uttarakhand-birding-prologue/ This is justa prologue and will be updating the rest of the report soon. I managed to see about 100 species of himalayan birds (most were lifers to me), and managed to get some decent photographs too. Cheers

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