Kanha: Tiger Safari & Birding Tours
Tiger on Jungle Road
Kanha National Park: Tiger Tourism
Situated in the Miakal Hills of Satpura Range this Central Indian Reserve was declared as a protected area in the year 1955 and was included in the project tiger program in the year 1974.
Right from the British Rule in India, Kanha found visitors, albeit most of them where hunters with the privilege to shoot big game. An Indian Maharaja was said to have shot 32 tigers in a brief period causing huge uproar in the country. Nevertheless pockets of this wildlife heaven received protection right from the 19th Century during the British Raj.
The swampy grasslands in Kanha provide refuge to the magnificent twelve tine deer. Eventually this became the last strong hold of the Hard Ground Barasingha in India. In fact Kanha's success story was saving of this deer from a certain extinction by a team of dedicated staff and George Schaller the famous wildlife researcher.
Due to charismatic wilderness, the destination attracts thousands of visitors from all over the globe. They come in large groups from far and wide to see the tiger as well as other animals. All reserves in India have to follow tourism guidelines set by NTCA a conservation body.
Tiger at Kanha
The park has set some rules and limitations for safari in the core. Tourism is allowed in twenty percent of the total area of the park as per NTCA guidelines. There is a limit set for the number of tourist jeeps that can enter the park in one day, this means two rounds in the jungle. There are four tourism zones at Kanha National Park in the core area. Recently in 2014 Khatia Zone in buffer area has been added for excursions.
Tourists, registered jeep owners , guides and naturalist must follow the rules which are conservation friendly as well as for safety. The visitors are not allowed to get down from the jeep during the excursions, and toilet facilities are at designated rest houses and patrolling camps only. Edibles can be consumed only at Kanha, Kisli, Sarhi and Mukki RH.
Disturbance causing vehicles could be banned for a specific period. The routes allocated have to be followed strictly and a set of instructions are given to the drivers to move in a specific manner. A distance has to be maintained from animals as per instructions. No rubbish or edible can be thrown in the park.
The game rides are conducted in a fixed period in the morning and evening. The timings are generally from 6 am to 11 am and from 3 pm to 6 pm. Vehicles are banned if they cross over these timings.
Wildlife of Kanha
Tourists chase tigers but Kanha has much more to offer. The animals like swamp deer, leopard and wild dog are stunning by their appearance. The massive bison, secretive sloth bear, the majestic sambar are all worth a sight. The four horned deer and Nilgai are less seen while the mouse deer is extremely secretive and nocturnal. The common sights are the spotted deer, langur, sambar, wild boar and the peacock.
The avian are another attractive feature and absolute delight for birders. There are more than two hundred species in the park. The number is augmented whence winter migrants arrive.
Reptiles are nocturnal and less seen. The most prominent are the butterflies which are in amazing numbers. Kanha is ideal for research and photography of butterflies and insects.
Rose Ringed Parakeet
Mottled Wood Owl
Malabar Pied Horn Bill
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More About Birds
The best destination for bird watching in Madhya Pradesh, Kanha is home to beautiful forest birds though wetland species are often seen as well.
Birds like painted francolin, scimitar babbler, Indian pitta, paradise flycatcher, Asian monarch, shama, crested hawk eagle, Malabar pied horn bill, barred button quail and many more are targeted species of the National Park.
A good pair of binoculars, spotting scope, reference books and a naturalist guide are a perfect combination for a successful birding trip here. The strain factor is high and excellent sighting capability is required in order to discover birds at Kanha National Park. Understanding of calls increases the numbers sighted significantly.
Best birding areas in the reserve are Link Number 7, Indri Range, Bamhni Dadar (closed) Saundher Lake, Bisanpura Lake all grasslands with water bodies. Outside the park the lake at Boda Chappri and shores of Banjar River.
Kanha Elephant Ride
Locating Tigers in Kanha Forests
As a dominant specie, the tiger has an elevated status in scheme of things. He rules the forests and is a tertiary carnivore. Being at the top of the food chain it's aggressive nature is evident, but that aggression is for hunting and defending it's territory.
Being a territorial animal there are many signals of his activities which are used to locating it in the vast stretches of the wilderness. Overt search for mate results in vocalisation and scent marking which fetches the elusive animal into the open. When the tiger trudges on the soft jungle roads he creates pug mark impression which are used to trace his movements.
Resounding roars are as a result of defending his territory and warning to trespassing males. There are definite territorial patterns a male tiger creates in the prime habitat, a dominant one will keep his territory in control for a long breeding cycles till he is pushed out by another more powerful tiger. The theory of natural selection applies here the best and prime ecosystems are held by the most powerful for effective breeding.
Being carnivores, big cats limit the population of herbivores and hence the latter have developed a protective mechanism in order to sustain their numbers. Most of the consumers are gregarious by nature and have developed effective vocalisation in order to warn a predators presence. Silence, elusiveness and speed all act as barrier to over hunting by predators. The defensive mechanism also result in breeding success.
The alarm cry is a tactical feature of large herbivores specially the deer, peacock and langurs. These are the most alert creatures in the forest and numerous as well.
Taking into note the offensive and defensive signals the big cats can be located in their natural surroundings. Certain stress factors also results in tracing these animals. Shortage of prey and water localises these predators and they become more visible. Hence in summers their sightings increases at Kanha.
For guides and naturalist, experience and powerful sensory apparatus is a must in order to locate the cats. By nature leopards are elusive due to the presence of the tigers. They have become nocturnal in this reserve and are very difficult to locate unlike the bigger cousin. The location can be effective if you have an understanding of these signals else you have to rely on chance.
Tiger shows on elephant back in Madhya Pradesh parks is not operational anymore nevertheless joy rides are available which can lead to a tiger.
Video Tiger Safari at Kanha
What to do and when?
Tiger Safari in the Park
Pre Dawm to 11 Am
3.00pm to Dusk
Leopard at Kanha Video
Videos on Kanha
The video is taken by people who have visited Kanha. This will give us a real life adventure at this park. The video is about close encounter with the tiger on jeep safari in the tourism zone. The jeeps follow the big cat on the jungle road keeping a safe distance. This continues for fifteen minutes before the majestic animal vanishes into the depth of the forests.
Open Jeep for Safari
Tiger Tourism is an expensive affair in Kanha National Park in MP. The gate entry, accommodation and food come at a price. Those people conscious of the costs use cheap accommodations and economic travel, neither of which is comfortable or safe.
The best option is to travel in group, this results in sharing and brings the cost down. Hence many tour operators in India offer effective tiger safari packages for Kanha, Bandhavgarh and other tiger reserves in India.
Traveling in company also enhances safety although these are very safe destinations. Another benefit that accrues when you travel in a package is getting rid of hassles of travel arrangements.
© 2014 Uday Patel
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