Monday, July 28, 2014

The Spotted Cat - Leopard in Bandhavgarh!

I have seen and photographed many tigers. But finding a leopard in the wild is always special. Known to be very shy and elusive, leopards are masters in tricking anyone.

The jungle of Bandhavgarh holds a very high density of tigers. With so many tigers around leopards are even harder to sight. Though not many tourists and photographers choose Khitauli zone for their safari, I recommend it as the best zone in Bandhavgarh to see leopards. In my personal experience, I have always seen a leopard on my drives to Khitauli. I've come across a couple in courtship, cubs, males wandering around and all. 

The forest department in Bandhavgarh has closed nearly half of the area in Khitauli after the Apex Court ordered for limiting the tourist area. But Khitauli is still by far the best area, mostly unexplored and a birders paradise.

The leopard at Bandhavgarh
Marjatgarh, an area situated in the centre of Khitauli has a watch-tower from where you can have a bird’s eye-view of the jungle. We planned to visit marjatgarh, as there are some water bodies near the area which attract tigers and other animals. On our way to marjatgarh, all happened in a flash. Here we were right in front of a male leopard who was trying to cross the road. Stood right in front of our vehicle and then rushed towards the other end of the road. Before it vanished in the thick forest it turned around, posed and walked away. What a sight it was!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The beginning of a new season!

October 16, 2013 : It is that time of the year for which all the wildlife lovers and enthusiasts were waiting since the last three months. The National Parks in Madhya Pradesh are now open. It was a great opening as far as tiger sightings in the two major tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh is concerned. Kanha and Bandhavgarh both were loaded with tourists and photographers for the first drive. Where most of the people had booked their safari drives in advance, others had to wait for the current bookings.

It is the same every year but this time around a few things have changed. After the Apex Court ruled out a few points in the tourism case, the vehicles entering tiger reserves have been confined. But the passion and love for wildlife did not not fade. After all, wildlifers were waiting for this moment since months.

Tiger sightings have always been an attraction in the state. The new season did not disappoint the wildlifers. It sure will be an action packed season with migratory birds who have already started to come to Central India.

Sightings in Bandhavgarh: The cubs of the famous tigress Bacchi were sighted near Rajbehra. It is a good sign that the cubs have started to move on their own in the wild.

Sightings in Kanha: Munna, the dominant male was seen patrolling his territory early in the morning. I am sure it was a brilliant sight. (I shall be sharing pictures of Munna in my next post).

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Wild Indian Safari!

Of lately, I have not been so regular at updating my blog. No, my passion for wildlife has not faded but there has been a lot of things going. The first would be work. And that brings me back to wildlife. I have started a new venture WildIndianSafari and I just love my work now. I would request all the readers of my blog to give it a look and do let me know what you feel. 

It has been a great year for me as a wildlifer (some say so..). I have a lot to share. Many stories of the jungle are still in my draft folder. I shall share them soon. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The New King!

As they say time never stops for anyone. Bamera took over his father’s dynasty in no time. He made his plans clear when he started visiting the grasslands of Tala. He has been known for aggressively expanding his empire’s frontiers. In 2010, Bamera came up front with his father B2. The father was badly wounded and had to step back. With the death of B2 in 2011, it was time for all to bow down to the new king in Bandhavgarh!
It is very hard for tiger cubs to survive till maturity. To get rid of the future rivals cubs lose their lives to males other than their own father. Some vanish in search of a safer haven and never return to their usual territory while some go missing forever. Poached or even killed in territorial mishaps.
Born to a very courageous mother Chakra, Bamera had to leave tala at a very young age in search of territory. B2 was in his prime and was not letting any tiger intrude, be it his own son. Bamera had to fight his way up the chain of command. It was B2’s own blood who could take on him and conquer him. With time he grew and was all set to win it from his father.

The ancestry of “Charger” and “B2” has now passed on to all together a new generation of tigers. Today the new king has taken over most of the region of Tala. The king has about 5 females in his kingdom. Bamera keeps exploring his dynasty, while keeping an eye out for his enemies and has built his empire strong and safe for his cubs to grow. 

Here are a few pictures I have clicked of Bamera.

Bamera near Siddhababa temple, Bandhavgarh National Park.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Leopard attack! Rescue Operation. Man Vs. Wild!

06.30 am, Khamaria woke up to fear and shock. A lady was attacked by a leopard in a residential colony in Khamria, Jabalpur. The incidence took place not more than 10 kms from the city. After the attack when the residents of the building got up and searched for the animal it ran and took shelter on a eucalyptus tree. The poor animal had no other option than to sit on the tree whole day. The mob that had gathered to see the leopard was very noisy and was disturbing the staff as well as the animal. On a few instances the leopard growled in anger and rushed down a few branches just to show its anger. The animal was stressed and had no way out. It was surrounded by thousands of people.

Thousands had gathered to see the leopard. It was very hard for the staff that had come to rescue the leopard to control the crowd of thousands and also rescue the leopard.

The trap was laid. But it was very hard for the officials to control the mob. Then it was decided to wait till it gets dark. The crowd could be cleared and they could go more easily with the operation. The safety of the people and the animal both were of prime importance to the team.

As per sources that were also present at the spot, the leopard got down 02.45 am and ran towards the forest. Though the poor leopard was lucky to escape, but the fear still remains! The natural habitat of the leopard was just a kilometer away from where it was spotted. This was not the first time when an animal had lost its way.This is another big example of man-animal conflict.

Leopard on the eucalyptus tree.

The poor animal could not do anything but just wait for the mob to clear.

The officials controlling the mob.

Watching the team get ready for the operation.

The trap!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Adios B2!

B2, a name that does not need any introduction. A name that will never fade with time. He will always be remembered as one of the friendliest tigers of India. A tiger who reigned for more than a decade in Bandhavgarh will always be missed by all wildlife lovers. It is not because he reigned for more than a decade but for the greatness of tiger himself. I waited hours and hours for 10 years to get a glimpse of him. But I consider myself more than lucky to have seen him and photograph him.

It was until April 2010 when B2 for the first time faced a rival who was able to push him back from his own kingdom. He was lucky to have survived as age was catching up and B2 was a soft target for all the males trying to establish their territories.
With time B2 realized that it was for his own good not to fight for territory and move. He moved to the outer parts of tala where there was no or very less competition. His own cubs (mirchehi) were too small to put a fight against him so as B2 decided this was the best place for him. After settling for a smaller territory near Damna, which is one of the most sensitive areas of Bandhavgarh B2 made regular cattle kills. The security of B2 was of prime importance to the forest department here. But he survived. Until one day when he was attacked by another male where B2 was seriously injured. B2 was again pushed back and was found 22 kms away from his regular territory.

With wounds all over his body, B2 wasn't able to move. B2 was tranquilized and was being shifted to his normal territory where on the way he took his last breath. The post-mortem report suggested that he had not eaten since 15 days and was very weak after the mishap. It is still not clear as to which tiger had a fight with B2. But it is the simplest rule of the wild “Survival of the fittest”. B2 will always be remembered as a ruler, a king, a true Maharaja of Bandhavgarh.

The hunting grounds of Bandhavgarh will never see him roam again! Here are few pictures I could manage to click of the Maharaja. The best way I can pay a tribute to my favorite tiger, who once ruled Bandhavgarh!!

B2 crossing the road near Damnar river. Photograph December 2010.

B2 near Badi Gufa. Photograph May 2010.

B2's pug. Photograph May 2011.

B2 resting under a tree on a summer afternoon. Photograph May 2011.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

B2.. The Maharaja!

B2, born to Mohini (Bachchi) in April 1997, was one of the 3 males born in the litter. With rivals like “Charger”, the then king of Bandhavgarh, and his own brother “B1”, the road to the top was not easy. But with the death of Charger in 2000, B2 started to take over the kingdom of Bandhavgarh from his nearest rival B1. B1 was reported to be poached somewhere around 2002. B2 was the new king.
B2 marched the jungle of Bandhavgarh like a maharaja now. His mere presence would send an alarm in the whole kingdom that the king was on the prowl. But the Rajbehra male (BOKHA) had different plans. He was the only tiger to have challenged B2 in Bandhavgarh and survived with his share. No other male could even dream of stepping in the maharaja’s kingdom. B2 still was the dominant male tiger with more than half of the kingdom under his belt.. Bokha, on the other hand was happy with what he got.
2009, B2 turned 12. With age catching up, B2 was an easy target. Kalua, one of the Mirchani cubs and his own son took on B2. But the wounds on the face and body of Kalua were a straight message.. DO NOT MESS WITH ME.. !!!! Bokha again tried to push B2 in 2009. With Bokha walking upto Chakradhara, again it was a challenge for B2. But this time B2 backed off. Bokha still visits the meadows of Chakradhara but on no occasion has any fight taken place. B2 still is the maharaja.. !!!!
Being one of the largest recorded male tiger in the country and undoubtedly the most photographed tiger of his times, B2 has ruled Bandhavgarh for a decade now. B2 lived fearlessly throughout the years until the NEW TALA MALE (BAMERA MALE) stepped in his father’s territory to start his own kingdom. He was in no hurry. He walked from the Bamera Range till the Tala range, but would never cross Siddhbaba. He was moving in with a plan in mind.
12th April 2010, Bandhavgarh: News of B2 injured in a territorial fight with Bamera male. B2’s got wounds in his paws and was seen limping in the Mirchani area. Every social networking website was full with the news of B2 being injured. “Prayers for B2” was the status message of millions of fans of B2. This was not the first time when B2 was injured but this surely was the first time when the MAHARAJA was BADLY INJURED.
I have so many wildlife lovers, photographers, journalist on my list. And everyone knows the primary law “Survival of the fittest”. But no one ever said so in the case of B2. Their love for B2 made them selfish. Nobody.. Nobody asked how the Bamera male was..?? Was he also injured.. ?? Had it been the other way round and the Bamera male would have been injured in the fight. It would not have gained so much publicity……
I myself love B2. I have waited for him for hours. I have never waited outside a girls’ school or a college for so long. But I have never seen B2 in my life. Never.. !!!! Came close many times but missed him by seconds.. I have been following him since the last 10 years now.. I have sighted almost all the males and females in the tourism zone. I have witnessed territorial fights, courtships, kills and all. But I could not manage even a glimpse of the Maharaja. Seen thousands of photographs of B2, but have never been able to click a single photograph of the maharaja.
I also wish B2 a long life. I pray that he recovers from his injuries soon. So that I may be able to see him and photograph him once in my life. That still remains a dream.. a dream…. !!!!