Monday, January 5, 2009

Sloth Surprise

It is not often that you checklist an animal to see in a wildlife sanctuary or a National Park and get to see it.

But it happens!

My American friends came to Kanha on the final leg of their long safari from Corbett, Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh. They had seen the tiger and many other animals and wanted to see wild dogs and a sloth bear.

"Sloth Bear!"
I said rather surprised. "Well lets see," I said Kanha is full of surprises so everything is a possibility.

Sloth bear are shy and nocturnal animals by habit and hence prefer to move in at night. Nevertheless some awaken in search of food and can be seen around the park meadows but with great difficulty. I have seen sloth bears around this jungle camp at Kanha on the periphery which has substantial forest cover and fruity shrubs to forage on. With luck a tourist can see a leopard around this resort as they often hunt spotted deer which make their way here after sunset. Most of the resorts at Kanha safari park are situated in the buffer zone and hence surrounded with lush green forest. The forest at places are dense and hence a habitat for lots of wild animals and birds.

Sloth bear are more often seen at Bamni Dadar hill road which they prefer due to some food factor and perhaps less disturbance. We headed on to the hill top on our morning safari but no luck as there were lot many jeeps on safari here which disturbed all animals including the sloth bears and the tigers.

It was in the evening ride as we were rolling down the hills whence we managed to spot the sloth bear which was well hidden in the jungle bush. The animal has a peculiar gait and is completely hidden in short bushes when on four legs. It was a big surprise not only for my friends but for me as well. It was there perhaps in answer to our prayers. At Kanha you can spot the tiger with greater certainty than a bear or a wild dog.

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