An article on Kanha National Park

ASHISH RAMESH KHADAKBAN
(Science Teacher)

KANHA NATIONAL PARK a.k.a. KANHA TIGER RESERVE

And all was set for Kanha National Park (K. N. P.) a.k.a. KANHA TIGER RESERVE. We were ready to board CST-Jabalpur Garibrath express for our much awaited tour.

The beautiful grassy meadows and dense Bamboo and Sal forest leave every traveler who visits Kanha speechless. Located in Mailkal range of Satpudas in Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the largest national parks in central India.

Kanha was declared as reserved forest in 1879 and upgraded to wildlife sanctuary in 1933. Later it was upgraded to a national park in 1955. And in 1973 it was given a status of tiger reserve. The Kanha national park is spread over the total area of 1950 sq.km;with core area of 940 sq.km and buffer area of 1067 sq.km. In year 2000 it was awarded as ‘Best Tourism Friendly National Park’ by govt. of india. The park has a significant population of royal bengal tiger, leopards, the sloth bear, barasingha and indian wild dog.

Day 0,May 25, 2017
After boarding train at around 2:45 pm from Kalyan, there was an healthy discussion on the territory of tigers of various National Park Such as Ranthambore, Tadoba, Pench, Bandhavgarh and of course of Kanha. Tigers have their own territory in which he/she rules. They mark their territory by scratching on the bark of the trees and by spraying their urine. Another tiger can smell the urine sprayed and understands dat territory belongs to which specific tiger. According to census done, presently there are 2228 tigers in India. If any other tiger visits their territory den there is a healthy fight between them. Usually female tigers take care of their kids but there was an rare case in Ranthambore that one of themale tiger rared his kids till they grew up. Recently many news are there on killing of tigers. Reason poaching still has not stopped. After burning the dead body of the tiger their bone ashes are used as medicines in china and also as aphrodite, a male hormone.

Thats all of the discussion in train. Trying to have a good night on the upper berth of theboggie @ 10pm.

As I said trying to have a good night in train… As there are sleepless nights for me in train journey!!!! @ 11:58 midnight…sharing some thoughts…
There’s a lot of difference between photographing an event,function or wedding and wildlife.For eg. there are many barriers when we shoot an event – judges, chief guest, dignitariesare present and we arenot allowed to move in front of them. So that restricts our movement while shooting for an event and sometimes we don’t get a perfect photograph. But this is not the case in wildlife there are no barriers between me, my camera and my subject i.e. my wild creature. So it becomes much easier to shoot perfectly into the wild for me and we get some beautiful photographs. Its just like that you cannot say an heart surgeon to perform a kidney operation though they share similar kind of equipments.

As I have heard that kanha is most famous for Barasingha… So hoping for a perfect shot of it. And its May 26 and I’m still typing… As we go to a National Park or a wildlife sanctuary, we usually hunt for tigers. Don’t hunt for the tigers, hunt for the beautiful forest, explore the jungle and tiger sighting will be an icing on the cake.

Day1, May 26, 2017
And its Good Morning from Jabalpur, M. P. @6am

We left for our resort after having breakfast -Poha withjalebi (specialtily of Jabalpur) and tea. During our road journey to Kanha National Park we spotted various grassland birds in our way. After covering almost 4 hour journey we approached near Mukkhi gate of Kanha National Park. Our road was covered by Sal and Teak wood trees and also we were passing through buffer zone of N. P. In the mean while we saw a species of buzzard which is a raptor from our vehicle. In total of 1900 Sq. Feet area a total of 120 tigers are present. Finally we reached our Grand Tiger Resort to freshen up followed by lunch. Rest till 3:15pm And here we are ready for our first safari of Kanha National Park from Mukki gate.
First safari – Mukki zone -Mistimed and Mis guided…. But still…. An evening of Indian Gaur. Nice birding, Sambhars, Chitals, Deers, Barasinghas and major Gaurs.

We were welcomed by a pack of Hanuman Langoors at Mukki gate. Then several grassland birds were observed. Among the raptors Shikra was observed many times and Crested Hawk Eagle at a water hole. We saw a glimpse of Flame backed Woodpecker. Beautiful jungle was full of Chitals a.k.a. Spotted deers, Sambhardeers, Barking deers and Indian Gaurs. Peacocks and Peafowls were also spotted many times by us. After two hours of ride we saw Barasinghas, a famous species of deer in Kanha. Our another gypsy saw glimpse of tiger for less than 30seconds and he walked back into the dense forest. “ChotaMunna” son of “Munna” tiger was spotted by our another gypsy at a waterhole. But as soon as they stopped at the waterhole, tiger became alert and it walked back. Very rare incident. Usually tiger do not walk back immediately from waterhole. May be he has done with its drinking enough amount of water or was disturbed by the arrival of gypsy.If a tiger is very very shy den only this happens. Even our another gypsy saw Sloth Bear crossing the road which was again missed by us as our gypsy was in another direction. At one of the waterhole Crested Hawk Eagle was spotted drinking water. There are many waterholes in Kanha National Park due to larger area. Usually a waterhole is present after every 3 kms.
In between near one of the waterhole we heard the call of Chital. Chital produces a peculiar sound if a predator is nearby. And we were indicated that there are chances of tiger near a water hole. So we were cautious to watch him. By the time a White Throated Kingfisher was fishing in the same waterhole. Also an egret and couple of peafowls were spotted at same place. Peafowl were also producing sound but rather than trusting on peafowls sound we should always go withchitals indicator. We waited for 5 mins and we left the spot. As we left after next 5 mins a tiger was spotted near the same waterhole for 20mins as informed by other tourist. It was just like missing a simple catch in a cricket match. We did not wait near the waterhole and we paid for it. Also we were misguided by our guide as he was taking us to different directions were he spotted tiger for last couple of days as he thought that today also he will get the tiger on the same spot. So we always say that tiger sighting is a matter of luck and patience. Even though we didnot spot tiger in our first safari but we were awarded with huge Indian Gaur, crested hawk eagle and decent pics of sambhardeers. So it was “Kabhikhushikabhi gam” type safari for us. After dinner we took a small 25-30mins walk around our resort and heard the call of Indian Eagle Owl. We headed towards the call for 10mins and then returned back as its call was stopped. Probably owl sighted us. It was a thrilling to walk at night with one torch in hand. Having some kind of satisfaction with mammals and birds in first safari, hoping for better luck in second safari which would be in kanha zone tomorrow morning at 5am. Thats all for today… Good night @23:23 from Grand Tiger Resort, Kanha, M. P.

Day 2, May 27, 2017
And its Good Morning @4:30am…. Left hotel at 4:50….. Late by 5mins… Should never be late on such days…. Because in morning safaris tigers are mostly sighted before 7.

Second safari – kanha zone – Beautiful forest but No tigers as expectations were very less in kanha zone. But second safari belonged to indian scoops owl, lesser adjutant, golden oriole, indian vulture and crested serpent eagle. Indian roller gave a beautiful look at one of the spot on the road. Yesterday we heard the call of red jungle fowl today we saw it. Elephant was spotted tracing the tiger in kanha zone. At one of the point golden jackal was chasing a peafowl which attracted the tourist. Though as such no tigers were spotted in forest two safaris, still hopes were alive for next three. Alarm calls were heard of chital for the presence of predator, but sometimes it can be a false call also. Jungle of K. N. P. is too beautiful. I guess no other forest will have such a huge kind of open meadows. Grasslands, open meadows, long and erect trees of sal and teak gave a class look of the forest. Environment of the jungle never disappointed in first two safaris. Two golden jackals were moving very close to our gypsy, so got excellent view of jackal. And finally in similar way common birds and mammals were spotted as of first safari.

After having lunch and a small nap @ 13:30 we had discussion with some tourist at resort that they spotted a tiger in mukki zone today morning in a waterhole. He was enjoying couple of hours in a pond. As per our plan third safari is in mukki zone. So lets keep the fingers crossed

Third safari – mukki zone – chotamunna spotted
And finally we saw him “ChotaMunna” a.k.a. “link7”. It was Worth A Watch. We sticked to our plan and directly we went to a waterhole. One sambhar deer was drinking water and couple of peafowls were present at d spot. Firstly peafowl gave a call followed by sambhar. Within two minutes sambhar ran far away from waterhole and that was a confirmed indication of the tiger present in an around area. In the next 30sec he arrived in a royal walk… “Royal Bengal Tiger” . He walked on the bank of the waterhole, came down, moved his head towards left then towards right, walked ahead, and finally sat down in puddle. May sambhar have sensed him by smelling and was also alerted by peafowl call. Sambhar have a very good sense of smelling. And after his arrival the whole jungle was stunned. Everyone parked there gypsys aside and started clicking for thepics. He was 80-90 meters away from us, but still was clearly visible. We spent few minutes over there and then got a message that theres another female tiger far away at another spot. As we were knowing that chotamunna will not show any movement now for next one and half hour we left that place and headed towards next spot. But by the time we reached she was back into the woods. As most of thegypsys first moved towards female tiger and then they came to see male tiger. We heard the alarm calls for her presence but she preferred to rest in the woods. We took the whole round of that specific area as there are chances that tigress comes out on open road. We searched, followed the alarm calls waited for more than one and half hour but she was not in the mood to display herself in front of us. But we were gifted with crested hawk eagle very closely at that spot. While leaving thesame spot at around 6:15pm there was a huge indian gaur drinking water instead of tigress. Then we tried to cover the other areas of mukki zone where we spotted open billed stork at one of the waterhole. Light was too low due to cloudy atmosphere. While leaving we spotted jackal with a fawn kill… May be a recent kill. As the jackal moved little bit away, mother deer of fawn was approaching near to take a final look at her fawn. A sad moment for her. The one tiger at the start satisfied us with our third gypsy ride. Its good to spot a Tiger in 900 Sq. Km area. The same male tiger “link 7” was spotted by other tourist today morning also. So dereare chances that he have a kill at the back of the pond. Searching a tiger in the jungle is more thrilling than spotting them. Alarm calls, listening to sound of grass wen they move, moving from one end to another in search of them and many more activities. So as such there was no need of any other activities for us atleast for this safari as we all were delighted by a glimpse of “chotamunna”. He is called chotamunna because he is a son of a huge male tiger munna who ruled the jungle till last year. But now munna is present in buffer zone of the forest and roams everywhere in the forest. So difficult to spot munna now. Munna is about 15-16 years of age and has grown enough old. Hence now its his sons time to rule certain part of the forest as his territory. Even there are couple of other male tigers which are seen in the forest. So thats all for now.
Freshing up in a while followed by dinner and will have a peaceful night.
Tomorrow morning fourth safari again in mukki zone but bit earlier then today at around 4:30am we have to leave our hotel.

Day 3, May 28, 2017
@ 4:30am Second last day comprises of two more safaris one each in mukki and kisli zone.
But think what happened???
It rained last night which reduces the chances of tiger

Safari 4 – mukki zone – sleeping beauty – Totally dominated by T-29.
Again today blessing for us. Same tiger bit ahead from yesterday’s spot, sleeping guy link 7 a.k.a. T-29. They are numbered for betterment of census. We waited for the call near same waterhole as of yesterday but received little bit ahead. Hence we quickly followed the call and started searching for tiger. Soon our guide spotted a sleeping tiger in the bamboos. Even though he was sleeping , he was looking magestic. He was just 8-10 feet away from us. First only one gypsy was present at the spot then count increased to 4 and it went on till 15. The place became crowded and noisy which was the disturbance for the tiger. He stood, walked for 10 secs and again sat in his comfort zone. After we left he gave a visual rampwalk to the remaining gypsys and disappeared into the bamboos towards kisli zone. Den we went at another spot where we heard the alarm calls many times but female tigress preferred to rest inside the dense forest. After that there were no other movements in the forest. It was pin drop silence for rest of the 3 hour safari except a small glimpse of flameback woodpecker and grey francolin. Comb duck and kingfisher were spotted at a lake. So this safari totally belonged to T-29. Its very very difficult to spot a tiger in the jungle. If you see it consider yourself lucky enough. So now main target is to enjoy the remaining jungle in the last safari.

Last and final safari
Safari 5 – kisli zone – Heavily Downpoured
@15:00 leaving for our last safari….. Fingers crossed for an icing on the cake or cherry on the top. Ohh My God!!!! What was expected and what happened….. I was thinking whether to carry camera bag or not for last safari as I didn’t carried it for fourth. Yesterday also for evening safari weather was cloudy and dark very less amount of sunlight was there and even today in evening safari same condition but more darker than yesterday. I hope you could have made it out till now what I want to say. It rained heavily…… Yes it was a complete downpour. For the first 15-20mins it was cloudy weather then slowly some drops started falling on our hand. Then we realised that weather conditions are not in our favor now. It started to drizzle slowly, its intensity increased in 10-15mins and in the next 10mins it rained heavily. Beautiful forest has been converted into heaven now. It’s a confirmation that no more tigers now…. You are done with jungle safari…. We went to kisli zone in search of a male and a female tiger but it drizzled drizzled and finally rained. We packed all our gears in our bags and covered our gypsy with hood. Before it rained I was lucky enough to get some shots of Indian Scoops Owl and barasingha. Grey hornbill was seen in flight for three times. May be it happens very rarely that it rains at the end of may in jungle. Usually its after 15th of june. We cant guess anything… Anything can happen over here since its a jungle. It was good that I carried my camera bag with me… atleast my camera didnt got wet but I was enjoying to the fullest in the first rain. That smell of soil after first rain….. that too in the jungle….. Once in a lifetime moment it is. Once we crossed kisli zone and entered into mukki the intensity of rain was lowered down and immediately we removed of the hood from the top of the safari to enjoy the scenic beauty of the forest…. stunned with beautiful and amazing view of the meadows in rain. All thedeers were gathered at one place in the meadows and were running all over the place. Till now they were sitting below the shade of the tree to avoid heat and suddenly atmosphere changed. They were also enjoying to the fullest. We saw deer, sambhar crossing the road in rain, spotted an elephant patrolling in one area, heard calls of peafowl, pleasant and enchanting sounds of birds were heard. It just says that even after rain, jungle does not sleeps. Most of the changes will occur now trees will get their new leaves, tall grasses will growupto 8 feet height and due to this herbivores will get large amount of food for them. Reptiles will become active now and will start to showcase their activities. It’s for sure now that there will be no tiger sighting atleast for tomorrow as they will enjoy the rain in their dense area. Now they have enough amount of water to cool off as it has continously rained for almost 2 hrs. We were expecting cherry on the top but it was rain drops on the top.
So out of three zones mukki, kanha and kisli -mukki was the best zone as most of the sightings took place in mukki zone. Thanks to waterholes and specially the alarm calls of deers. Alarm calls are the only indicators by which we can spot the tigers. Two and half days at kanha, 5 safaris, beautiful jungle, majestic tiger, open meadows, alarm calls, chirping of birds, silence of forest, change in weather, cloudy atmosphere and much more. Will be back to work in couple of days with unforgettable memories. Though we sighted the same tiger twice, jungle never disappointed us. Alas we are done with safaris and K. N. P. Tomorrow planned a sightseeing at dhuaandhar waterfall and a boating in bedaghat. Lets wait and see how weather responds. For now good bye….. Will be having dinner in a while and will leave grand tiger resort tomorrow morning by 11:30am. Its very hard to type now since we will be leaving kanha tomorrow morning.

Day4, May 29, 2017
Good morning @ 6:30am after a wonderful and successful trip we are now moving into the city of marbles…. Its a long journey of 6 hrs from our hotel heading towards dhunaadhar waterfall. And we reached at around 2pm to look at sceneric beauty. Waterfall….. Dhuaandhar!!!!
Dhuandhar waterfalls

smoke cascade as it is rightly called, dhuandhar falls, is situated 30 kms from the city. River narmada, considered as one of the most important holy rivers in the country falls down from a height of 98 feet forming dhuandhar waterfalls. The name of the waterfalls in itself is suggestive of what you could expect there. The term ‘dhuan’ means smoke; as the river falls down with force on hard rocks, you could see visuals of smoke arising, which gives the waterfalls the name. Yet another star attraction here is the marble rocks. Since boating facilities are available, you can have a whale of a time here.

Bhedaghat
Bhedaghat is located 25 kms from jabalpur. The place is famous for boating on river narmada as you get to sail between the beautiful marble rocks and beautiful sightings of eurasian eagle owl and other birds if you are lucky enough. The glittering marble rocks stand tall and proud at a height of about 100 feet on either side of river narmada. Rowing along the river with silence filling your ears as your eyes take in the moon shine on the marble rocks is a lifetime experience, which you cannot afford to miss.

Beautiful!!!! As its name says thereare smokes coming out of the waterfall. Its again on the narmada river. Thats due to the force of air and water falling from such a great height . Then after lunch we moved towards the last activity of our tour thats boating inbedaghat where you see the marbles on both the sides of the narmada river. Pure water and also potable if we do not pollute it. All credits to the guide who took us in the imaginative world. He showed us bombays shoe, elephants foot, fighting boys, accidental car and many more things in full sheroshayari style. There are natural cracks on the marbles which are due to the moving of level of water up and down. There are many pores on the marble which gives them an archeological look which are formed again due to the pressure of the moving water. Different coloursof marbles were also seen i.e. black, pink, white, blue. This is the reason why jabalpur is also called as the city of marbles. There is a special market were you will get many things made from marble. It’s a good place for window shopping and also you can buy things which can be kept as showpiece in our home. Also you can get a marble on which your name will be carved or whichever name you want can be carved on it. In rainy season the whole structure of marble rock is submerged into the water. The way he explained kept us on our high boost even in hot sunny day. Look at the marbles and increase your power of imagination. Beautiful view and enjoyable boatride in between the marble rocks.Many shootings of the movies such as omkara, ashoka, mohenjodaro have been shooted here. So it’s the most popular spot among tourist. And last but not the least if you look at this marbular structure from top view you will find that it forms a map of India. They are so formed that its structure looks like a India map. If you visit jabalpur then bedaghat is a must place to visit combined either with kanha or bandhavgarh National Park. So this brings to an end of our long tour. Memorable one. Will be back home by tomorrow morning and again will be busy in regular work.
Thank you so much for taking out your valuable time and reading the whole article. Hope this has added a bit of knowledge and value in your life and must have created love towards wildlife. Good Bye and thanks a lot again.

Kanha national park :- list of sightings

On the journey towards Grand Tiger Resort
Laughing dove
White throated kingfisher
Black kite
Rose ringed parakeets
Common hoopee
Red vented bulbul
Indian roller
Barn swallow
Black drongo
Cormorant
Spotted dove

First safari
Flame back woodpecker
Peacocks and peafowls
Racket tailed drongo
Black drongo
Yellow footed green pegion
Jungle owlet
Shikra
crested hawk eagle
Indian roller
Egrets
Pond heron
Red wattled lapwing
Green bea eater
Sambhar male and female
Spotted deer male and female
Barasinghas
Indian gaur
Barking deer
Wild pigs
White throated kingfisher
Rose ringed parakeets
Rufoustreepie
Call of indian eagle owl (at ni8)
Call of red jungle fowl

Safari 2
Golden jackal peafowl
Indian vulture
Black buck
Crested serpent eagle
Shikra
Indian scoops owl
Golden oriole
Tickells blue flycatcher
Red jungle fowl
Lesser adjuvant
Racket tailed drongo

Safari 3
Grey hornbill
Red jungle fowl
Open billed stork
Sambhar
barasinghas
gaur
Chotamunna / link 7 / male tiger
Jackal wid killed fawn
Calls of coppersmith barbet

Safari 4
Grey hornbill
Comb duck
Grey francolin
T 29 chotamunna
Flameback woodpecker
Coppersmith barbet
Jungle babbler
Mongoose
T-29 / link 7
Bhraminy starling
Rufoustreepie

Safari 5
Grey hornbill
Indian scoops owl
Red wattled lapwing
Stork
Shikra
Jungle babbler
Indian gaur
Elephant (patrolling)
Barasinghas
Spotted Deers
Sambhar Deers

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