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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lost tigers of Nauradehi

Sanctuary 

Nauradehi or Noradehi WLS lies in Sagar, Damoh & Narsignhpur Districts in Vindhya Hills with affinity to Narmada Valley dry deciduous forest. The forest are Southern tropical dry deciduous mix type. The approach to the sanctuary is from Jabalpur, Sagar and Damoh in MP. The Jabalpur Sagar Highway goes through the WLS and is a great source of disturbance to wildlife.

Nauradehi was declared a wildlife sanctuary in the year 1977 and encompasses an area of 1187 sq.km. It is among one of the largest sanctuaries in India. The sanctuary is home to many mammals that suggests good prey base for the  carnivores. The wolf is the prime predator while few tigers and leopards are living in this WLS. 

Villages - Relocation

None of the villages have been shifted so far but relocation plans are in process. There are some difficulties being faced by the administration one of them is the need of requisite funds from the State Government.   There is an urgent need to shift villages to areas out of the sanctuary but the enormity of the tasks is obvious.  The expanding villages and urbanization of life style has put all our forests under pressure.

Animals - Tigers

Nauradehi and surrounding forests were once high density tiger heavens. One could come across tigers on all approach roads to Sagar, Damoh and Narsinghpur. The forest that constitute Noradehi WLS are the best tiger habitats but the big cat lost ground during the British Raj and the time whence hunting was open in Independent India. The forest have suffered habitat degradation in the past and most of the trees I could see are young. But great care is being taken to fetch the earlier status. The sanctuary contains excellent niches that support the large mammal base and many crocodiles. No wonder the Cheetah Relocation Project plans to initiate the program here. 

The keystone specie presently is the Indian wolf which on my subsequent visits I could not see but it is frequently seen by many others..  The reserve is home to Chinkara and Black Buck the latter confined to forest area in Damoh district. Nilgais are conspicuous by their relative abundance, spotted deer and sambar deer can be seen occasionally in day time. The sanctuary is home to fresh water crocodiles and smooth otters seen on the banks of the river especially at crocodile point.  Many species of small mammals, reptiles and insect are waiting to be discovered. The sanctuary is home to sloth bear as well.

Birds

I could checklist more than eighty resident species here and am waiting to come across spotted grey creeper. Raptors to appear to be abundant. Nauradehi is one of the few pockets where white backed vulture survives and breeds. King vulture and Egyptian vulture are often seen and the habitat is suggestive of the presence of  long billed vulture as well.  I saw a juvenile at Cheola Lake and an adult in flight.  The region around Cheola Lake is best for wildlife safaris and birding.  The water body is home to interesting wetland birds and one can see  resident whistling teal, little grebe, painted storks, lesser adjutant storks, gray heron and many more.          

Tourism

The WLS has tremendous scope for wildlife watching and birding tours in India. Like all preserves there is a criss cross of  motor able jungle roads in the sanctuary. A guide can be arranged at Mohali forest rest house. It would be advisable to take assistance from the DFO who sits at Sagar.   

Tourism is in the nascent stage and very few tourists visit the sanctuary. But the place has great tourism potential as the eco region and keystone mammalian species seen are much different from Kanha, Bandhavgarh National Park and Pench tiger reserves in MP.

The people behind the management and the local forest staff are committed to conservation. The  conservation measures will increase wildlife in coming years and improve the habitat further. The tigers and leopards will flourish once again.         

For more information on wildlife safaris and birding at Noradehi please contact The Penthouse. Privately owned hotel accommodation The Penthouse in Jabalpur organizes package tours for birding and safaris at Noradehi. 

Winters up to March is the best time to be at this WLS in Madhya Pradesh in India. But summertime is good for resident birdas well as wildlife wtaching which gathers around the few water holes with enough supply. Rani Durgavati Wildlife Sanctuary is about fifty km from Noradehi.