Monday, July 19, 2010

Tigers in the grasslands

Large extensive edaphic grasslands are typical to many of our tiger reserves. Earlier inhabited by local tribesmen these precious habitats were vacated for subsistence of wild species to whom the habitat belonged since eons.

The grasslands are prime habitat for deer specie especially for animals like the swamp deer. Swamp deer survive solely on marshy grasslands in India. The swamp deer or Barasingha at Kanha is an exception as it has adapted for existence on hard ground.

The grassy meadows are at the fulcrum of activities in our tiger reserves. Most of the prey and predator saga unfolds here - the grassland are vital element of the food chain.

Bandhavgarh is a prime example of grassland ecosystem interspersed with dense Sal forests. Many of the grasslands inhabited by tribesmen have been vacated. Inundated by rivulets, the wet marshy grass lands are preferred hunting grounds for the majestic tigers. Bandhavgarh though small is a prolific breeding ground for Bengal tigers. The undulating terrain, inaccessibility, dense canopy and large prey base is the reason. The survival rate of the cubs is very high in this picturesque animal kingdom.

The tall grass act as effective camouflage and hence allow the tigers to creep close to the prey before striking. Unlike lions, tigers cannot run for a long distance hence they hunt by ambush. The marshy grasslands are effective killing grounds and the big cats love them. They are excellent for raring cubs in absolute safety and shelter.

The grassland ecosystem is frequented by large number of herbivores hence are ideal prey base. The most powerful of the tigers reign over these habitats. The meadows are also frequented by territorial females and young males. The struggle for survival means the fittest should exist. Prime grasslands in BTR are Chur Bohera, Raj Bohera, Chakradhara, Bathan, Sehra and Mahman.

High fecundity, low mortality and abundant prey makes the preserve ideal tiger habitat with highest density. As the reason tiger sightings in the wild is very high. The jungle roads intersect prime tiger habitats in order to accord high visibility of these magical cats.

The tourism infrastructure is well developed. A large number wildlife resorts are available for stay in Bandhavgarh. One can avail of best packages for accommodation. For safari jeeps can be hired at Tala village or are arranged by the hotels.

The tiger reserve is well protected though danger looms all over. Bandhavgarh nature preserve in India is best place to see tigers in the wild. Every year thousands from all over the World visit the park.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Birds of Kanha

Kanha Forest though popular for tiger safaris is an excellent bird habitat. Though a diverse habitat by all means it lacks large water bodies. The wetlands basically comprise of Sondhar and Bisanpura and a medium sized tank at Kanha Meadow called Shravan Taal. There are many small shallow lakes besides the rivers Banjar and Halon and there tributaries. The water bodies are habitat of quite a number of aquatic birds but not as impressive as in other birding habitats.

The National Park is an excellent habitat for forest birds as well as some grasslands birds. The surveys conducted by me and many naturalists checklist an exciting number of resident and migratory birds.

Most popular birds of Kanha are those that are easily seen. Among them are Grey Headed Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Racket Tailed Drongo, Golden and Black Headed Oriole, Shama, Blackrumped Flameback, Grey Francolin, Painted Francolin, Northern Pintail, Lesser Whistling Teal, Common Teal, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red Billed Malkoha, Plum Headed Parakeet, Rose Ringed Parakeet, Crested Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Grey Headed Fishing Eagle,White Eyed Buzzard, Oriental honey Buzzard, Shikra, Osprey, White Backed Vulture, King Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Brown Fish Owl, tawny Fish Owl, Mottled Fish Owl, Jungle Owlet, Spotted Owlet, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Paradise Flycatcher, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Open Billed Stork, Painted Stork, Woolly Necked Stork, Black Ibis, White Ibis, Great Cormorant, Egrets, Orange Headed Ground Thrush, Common Iora, Brown Cheeked Fulvetta, Spangled Drongo, White Bellied Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Black Drongo, Gold Mantled Chloropsis, Jerdon’s Leaf Bird, Common Wood Shrike, Large Cuckoo Shrike, Black Headed Cuckoo Shrike, Oriental Turtle Dove, Red Collared Dove, Emerald Dove, Green Footed Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Spotted Dove, Eurasian Ring Dove, Black Naped Monarch, Verditor Flycatcher, Blue Capped Rock Thrush, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Red Throated Flycatcher, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher, Little Minivet, Black redstart, Rosy Starling, Jungle Myna, Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch, Velvet Fronted Nuthatch, Great Tit, Black Lored Tit, Wire Tailed Swallow, Plain Martin, Barn Swallow, Red Rumped Swallow, Streak Throated Swallow, Grey Breasted Prinia, Crested Tree Swift, Plain Prinia, Hume’s Warbler, Lesser White Throat, Common Chiff Chaff, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Sulphur Bellied Warbler, Tawny Bellied Babbler, Yellow Eyed Babbler, Purple Swamphen, Black and White Ibis, Peacock, red Jungle Fowl, and many more birds.

The birds check listed include resident and winter migrants. There are more than two hundred and fifty avian species in Kanha Nature Preserve in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Best birding season is winters from Mid October to March. After March migrants depart from the tiger reserve. Kanha offers best tiger sightings and wildlife watching. Like in Bandhavgarh preserve one can enjoy birding as well tiger safaris at Kanha. Most of the birds can be sighted on tiger safaris in the park while trekking in the buffer zone will yield more sightings.

Birding in Central India is becoming very popular as the concept of forest birding dawns upon the tourists. The added fun of enjoying the preserves is having an all encompassing outlook. Bird watching adds to you experience at Central Indian Parks. Seek a good naturalist.