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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Untamed India: In search of the elusive wolf

I have developed a great liking for discovering new wildlife or birding heavens. The visit to Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary was my fourth. Two of the visits where a short survey one was on a birding trip. The recent one was as a nature guide for our esteemed guest a fellow wild lifer, birder and a photographer of repute Mr. Ujjal Ghosh. 

Though much publicized as a wolf sanctuary which it is, the sightings are difficult perhaps at times. It is yet too early to comment as an extensive survey is required. The forest guards seem to come across the wolves frequently especially along the Cheola Lake. This is a small lake but large enough to support the prey base and water birds. But the animal is encountered all around the sanctuary as informed.

We spent little time, only a day and a half which is not enough for searching carnivores like wolf. The animal is  local migratory by habit and sometimes forced by circumstance. It's persecution continues as it is misconstrued as a vermin all over India. 

Most of our excursions took place in the neighborhood of Mohali Rest House in Mohli Range. The mixed forest zones are a unique habitat for the Blue Bull, Fox, Black Buck and Chinkara or the Indian Gazelle. The crocodiles are found aplenty though we could not see one thanks to the approaching summer. From the rivers they have spread to lakes small and big. The forest department has done commendable work in the up keep of the water bodies in the wildlife refuge.

Our focus was the wolf and the sloth bear and the bird life. We could not see the sloth bear as well but came across ample evidence in the sanctuary. The forest are mostly mixed type with dense cover prevailing in undisturbed areas on the hill ranges. The sanctuary encompasses diverse habitats in an area of 1197 sq.km.  The two major river systems are Vyarma and Bamner besides other rivulets.

The reserve is slotted to house Cheetahs in India thanks to extensive grasslands and ideal prey base. Nuaradehi is an interesting wildlife refuge and offers good wildlife watching and birding opportunity. The ecosystem differs much from tiger safari destinations like Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Park in MP. The prevalence of open scrub, dry deciduous forests, grasslands etc makes it an ideal habitat for open country animals like chinkara, wolf and hyena. The reserves has a good population of Chital, Sambar and Nilgai, of which the latter is widespread. Wild Boars, Jackal, Gray Langur and Rhesus Macaque are seen often.   

Bird life is interesting and for more information visit: Indian Birding Blog  

If you wish to travel to Nauradehi, Indiana Safari an MP tour package service organizes the trip. You can visit Nauradehi for wildlife watching and birding. The sanctuary is open from Mid October to June end. Climate wise the best period is up to March end but one can visit in all seasons depending upon the time available. The distance to the Gate is approximately 86 km from Jabalpur and about 56 km from Sagar.    

Friday, March 16, 2012

Illegal Lion Safari: What Next?

As per recent report by TOI illegal lion shows are being organized by local hotels in Gir National Park in the State of Gujarat. The illegal safaris are being organized in the outer areas of the park. A bait is tied near the road and whence the lions come to kill and feed on it a tamasha is held.

The hoteliers charge up to 10,000 rupees for a lion show. In the photographs, I could see hordes on motor cycle rickshaw and tractor trolley watching the big cat. This practice of baiting goes against the conservation  ethics. Baiting  inhibits the natural hunting instincts of the big cats and also prevents local migration in search of food and water.

In the early stages of tourism this practice was followed by the forest department in Central Indian Reserves. But this was stopped in time whence the negative aspects became clear.   

If illegal baiting continues this will prove to be very harmful. As per the report the collusion of local forest staff is not ruled out. This has to be stopped in time. At Gir the bait killed by the lions is then subject to claims from the forest department.

This practice has to be brought to a halt else it will lead to other illegal activities by emboldened criminals. Gir National Park is the only abode of Asiatic Lion in India. Efforts to find another home at Kuno Palpur WLS  have been stalled so far.As a good conservation measure lion trans-location to Kuno Palpur would be a far reaching step in order to assure species survival.