Birding & Wildlife Watching Nauradehi & RDWLS
When you wish to explore a lesser known destination then someone should have done the ground work for you. Nauradehi has been explored by a tour company based in Madhya Pradesh in India. I have been associated as a naturalist and birder with the company.
Nauradehi WLS (Wild Life Sanctuary) is situated in the districts of Sagar, Narsinghpur and Damoh near Jabalpur City in MP in India. The head office is situated at Sagar, it is manned by the Field Director who is usually a conservator of the forest.The WLS is unique, since the ecosystem differs much from major tiger reserves like Bandhavgarh, Pench and Kanha all in MP State.
It is one of the largest wildlife sanctuary in India. Once a major tiger habitat, the big cats are scarce in this region probably hunted down to extinction. However evidence of big cats are often encountered in the park. Recently a tigress was found dead due to old age. Few years back she and her two cubs were sighted by the park officials.
The WLS is slotted for Cheetah trans-location. This will give the sanctuary a better protection since the conservation efforts will increase four fold. Noradehi is best suited for this project. The black bucks found in the open areas are the ideal prey base.
Some time back the project to trans-locate cheetah was scrapped apparently by the courts in India. Probably the legal body desired greater efforts to be made on the tiger since it has not come out of the brink of extinction yet.
Wildlife & Bird PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Noradehi is a diverse habitat of mixed forests which are dry deciduous in nature. This is a unique ecosystem in Central India. There is a prevalence of wide variety of floral species some of which are not easily seen elsewhere.
The region is hilly with open grasslands and dense forests spread over an area of more than one thousand square kilometers. The expanse of the sanctuary contains a large number of niche ecosystems within. Varied terrain offers impressive flora and fauna diversity. A part of the sanctuary towards Damoh District contains habitat which is ideally suited for the black buck and cheetah. A number of black bucks are fond here but the cheetah is long extinct.
The reserve is well inundated by rivers and water bodies, They support reptiles and other wild animals. The whole sanctuary is divided into six ranges as follows:
The ranges are managed by the rangers and deputy rangers with the help of beat guards. The latter patrol the forests on foot and keep an eye on poachers and wood smugglers.
Tigers at Nauradehi
Recently in the moth of April 2018 a pair of male and female tigers were released in an enclosure in the wildlife sanctuary. The pair was trans-located from Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Park in Central India.
A healthy population of tigers once inhabited the sanctuary but due to habitat, hunting loss and poaching no big cat was left alive. Albeit an tigress with cubs was sighted some time back but its whereabouts are unknown.
Thanks to the translocation exercise the endangered species will once again get a chance to repopulate itself.
Crocodiles at Nuaradehi
The tributaries of Ken River at Nauradehi are Bamner River, Vyarama, Kopra and Bearma. These constitute the major lifeline of the protected area. At many places these are home to the marsh crocodiles in good numbers.
The most popular place called crocodile point inside the core area offers good sighting during the winters. This place I have visited with lots of luck and managed to sight many reptiles basking in the sun.
The crocodiles inhabit river pockets close to villages as well, but very little man animal conflict is there. On discussion with park rangers I was told that there are more than two hundred reptiles in the Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary and surroundings.
The reptiles are rarely seen at the outside the park since there is too much human disturbance. But there are reports of there presence in the rivers outside.
The reptiles are not easily seen whence the winter is over, hence visitor interested in crocodiles should make their plans for this period.
Wildlife Safari and Birding
The mixed forest canopy and great water bodies yield different floral and fauna elements. The Indian wolf and chinkara are less seen in major tiger reserves unlike here. Other wild animals seen are Nilgai or Blue bull which are in wild abundance, black buck, barking deer, sloth bear, Indian fox, spotted deer, wild boars and langurs. The tiger is less seen and so is the leopard. More exploration will result in new discoveries. Nauradehi is home to wild crocodiles or muggers and otters. They can be seen in the rivers that intersect the wildlife sanctuary.
Wildlife safaris at Nauradehi are conducted around Chiwala Lake and nearby forest patches. Bird watching is carried along with the safari as the forest and water bodies are ideal habitat for the avian species. The avifauna is less studied here but notable finds are spotted gray creeper and white bellied blue flycatcher.
So far more than hundred birds have been check listed. More will be discovered on further explorations.
A tour operator provides Nauradehi safari packages for wildlife and bird watching. The packages are affordable. The safari and birding are done on jeep and on foot. The winters are the best season to visit Noradehi for bird watching. For wildlife safaris all open seasons are good, but summers are hot.
For accommodations, this WLS has two rest houses within the forests. But you need prior permission from the DFO Sagar (Divisional Forest Officer) in order to stay here. The accommodation is basic and one needs to buy rations locally and ask the keeper to prepare your meals. Hence the best way to see the destination is from Jabalpur which is about 100 km.
For safari you need an open jeep since at present the road is very rugged inside the park area. Family cars are not able to bear the stress of the jungle roads and tough terrain. Hence it is better to hire a sturdy open jeep from Jabalpur.
Bird Photos - Dr.John Matthai
Birds of Nauradehi
Nauradehi Checklist of Birds
- Common Chif Chaff
- Moustached warbler
- Common Woodshrike
- Painted stork
- Verditor Flycatcher
- Lesser adjutant stork
- Lesser whistling teal
- Black Headed Oriole
- Golden oriole
- White browed wagtail
- Little egret
- White Wagtail
- Cattle egret
- Spotted dove
- Ring Dove
- Crested serpent eagle
- Red Throated Flycatcher
- White Eyed Buzzard
- Grey Headed fish Eagle
- White Bellied Sea Eagle?
- Booted eagle
- Plum headed parakeet
- Common myna
- Grey Heron
- Purple Heron
- Sarus crane
- Tree pie
- Asian paradise flycatcher
- Tickell's flowerpecker
- Chestnut winged petronia
- Rose ringed parakeet
- Crested Bunting
- Greater couckal
- Little Minivet
- White browed fantail flycatcher
- White eye
- Ashy Prinia
- Plain Prinia
- Red Vented Bulbul
- White Bellied Drongo
- Black Drongo
- Orange Headed Ground Thrush
- Wooly Necked Stork
- Open Billed Stork
- Crested Hawk Eagle
- Black Redstart
- Grey Breasted Prinia
- King Vulture
- Long Billed Vulture
- White Backed Vulture
- Egyptian Vulture
- Green Sand Piper
- Temminck's Stint
- Oriental Darter
People in the Sanctuary
There are more than sixty villages in and around the Nauradehi Sanctuary. The population comprises of tribal and urban migrants. Most of the tribal indulge in small farming while the urban migrants are traders and large farmers.
The large number of human settlements further compound park problems and often lead to man animal conflicts. Efforts are on to shift the villages outside the WLS but so far not even one village has been shifted. The Government has offered a generous sum for relocation.
Due constant movement of people the animal population is disturbed. Some villagers also indulge in wood smuggling and poaching.
Reaching Nauradehi is quiet easy if your are in Jabalpur City. The road to this wonderful wildlife refuge is well maintained and it takes about and hour and half to cover the distance.
The WLS is approximately eighty six km from Jabalpur City. The route is via Patan and then to Tendu Kheda. From here at a little distance ahead one takes a left turn to Jhapan Village which is near to the sanctuary.
Accommodation at Nauradehi is not always available hence the stay in Jabalpur hotels is preferred. In a day safari one can drive down from here and reach the WLS. Another place of interest nearby is the Rani Durgavati WLS which is ideal for bird watching and sightseeing.
Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary Map
Late in the 1960s a tiger was shot dead at Nauradehi by a hunter from Mumbai with permission. Sometime after that hunting was banned in India but it was too late all the big cats had become extinct in this wildlife sanctuary.
Scenic Spectacle at RDWLS near Nauradehi
Rani Durgawati Wildlife Sanctuary
The RDWLS is a patch of forest connected to the hill ranges of Nauradehi. This is a small sanctuary which is home to many wild animals and birds. The sanctuary is hot bed of picturesque settings with some major sightseeing points. They are:
Nidhan Kund (Falls)
Bhaisan Ghat Rest House
The sanctuary is situated on the fringes of Kaimor Range. It is about fifty kilometers from the town via Katangi township.
Map of RDWLS
© 2010 Uday Patel