Monday, August 2, 2010

Table Land Bandhavgarh & Kanha

The tiger reserves in Central India are unique with diverse terrain - typically rising and falling. The undulating terrain creates niche habitats often extensive.

While Bandhavgarh, North of Narmada is situated on the fringe of Vindhya Hill Range the forest extend to meet Achanakmar wildlife sanctuary which is partially contiguous with Kanha. Maikal Hill Range of Satpuda extend into Maharastra where Melghat Tiger Reserve is situated. Kanha is partially contiguous with Pench Tiger Reserve in Satpuda/Satpura Hills. This was once contiguous forest patch spreading more than five thousand sq km.

Described as Central Indian Highlands By James Forsyth, the reserves are the true tiger havens. The topography accords bewildering diversity to floral elements which in turn creates habitats for multitudinous life forms. Once flourishing with tigers and Central Indian mammals the preserves have been brought back from certain denudation and catastrophe by conservation programs.

Though the forests have been reduced due to continuous wood logging in the past, the pristine forests still retain their glory.

Short hills and table land are unique to all tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh albeit degree may vary slightly. Hillocks at Kanha called Dadars, are not as steep as some are in Bandhavgarh - more of a cliffs than mountains. The walls of the cliffs at places are steep and rocky an provide excellent nesting grounds for vultures and eagles.

Bahmni Dadar at Kanha and Bandhavgarh Hill at Bandhavgarh have large table land or plateau. The floral elements vary at every climb eventually giving rise to spectacular scape at the top. As you move up these mountains, change in canopy is evident. The slopes covered with bamboo give rise to more complex as mix of herbs, shrubs, vines and mix forests. The ecosystem differs from the grounds below.

Rather than chasing tigers in the meadows these plateau offer new grounds for exploration. Less seen species of birds and mammals could be sighted on these table top mountains.

The plateau is flat mostly edaphic grasslands with scattered tree line. In Kanha, I have seen the four horned deer often at Bamni Dadar though no record is found in the plains. Out of reach these are perfect breeding grounds and shelter for tigers. This could be one reason for high fecundity seen in these tiger reserves. Tigers in plains adjoining the villages are more susceptible to disease and poaching.

Bison or Gaur retreat to hill side and perhaps the plateau during verdant season in winters as they are coarse feeders. Unfortunately the bovine is extinct in Bandhavgarh.

The plateau at Bandhavgarh and Kanha are worth exploring on jungle safari in the parks. A holistic insight into wildlife and the ecosystem is the way to enjoy these tiger havens. The pristine forests have so much to offer that a life time is not enough.

Bandhavgarh fort plateau, Ghoda Damn, Cave No 10 and Bamni Dadar at Kanha are a must visit on a long haul stay.

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