2024-03 India Tiger Safari

08th – 19th March, India Tiger Safari

I travelled with Nature Safari India Tiger Safari India: Tiger Tours & Wildlife Safari Operator and went on their Kanha, Bandhavargh & Corbett tour. I was first in the Corbett reserve North-East of Delhi towards the Nepalese border and then in the state of Madyha Pradesh in central India for the other 2 reserves. There are long taxi journeys and sometimes also short internal flights between them. I had booked a private tour. Corbett has its own simple accommodation in the reserve, otherwise one stays at luxury hotels nearby. On arrival at New Delhi airport, I was met by the Nature Safari India representative and I was assisted by them for all transfers. The text on the following pages is based partly on their programme.

I saw plenty of tigers but no young ones or bears or leopards. I found Corbett to be the most rewarding with a more varied landscape (large river with flood plain) and many elephants as well as excellent tiger sightings. In all three reserves there are deer, birds, langur monkeys, gaur, gavial, wild pigs and jackal to be seen. My tiger safari was very enjoyable if rather strenuous due to the intensive programme.

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James Corbett National Park is a national park of India located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand state which borders on Nepal. The first national park in India, it was established in 1936 during the British Raj and named Hailey National Park after William Malcolm Hailey, a governor of the United Provinces in which it was then located. In 1956, nearly a decade after India’s independence, it was renamed Corbett National Park after the hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett, who had played a leading role in its establishment and had died the year before. It was chosen in 1974 as the location for launching the Project Tiger wildlife conservation project.

Corbett National Park comprises 520.8 km2 of hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grasslands and a large lake. The elevation ranges from 400 to 1,220 m. Winter nights are cold but the days are bright and sunny. The monsoon rains last from July to September. The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics.[3] Dense moist deciduous forest mainly consists of Shorea robusta (the sal tree), haldu, peepal, rohini and mango trees. Forest covers almost 73 per cent of the park, while 10 per cent of the area consists of grasslands. It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species.

As an ecotourism destination, the increasing tourist activities, among other problems, to present a serious challenge to the park’s ecological balance. Bengal tigers, although plentiful, are not easily spotted due to the abundance of foliage – camouflage – in the reserve Thick jungle, the Ramganga river and plentiful prey make this reserve an ideal habitat for the tigers which are opportunistic feeders and prey upon a range of animals. Other mammals include Indian elephants, barking deer, sambar deer, hog deer and chital, sloth and Himalayan black bear.

Kanha Tiger Reserve, also known as Kanha–Kisli National Park, is one of the tiger reserves of India and the largest national park of the state of Madhya Pradesh. The present-day Kanha area is divided into two protected areas, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 km2, respectively. Kanha National Park was created in 1955 and was designated a tiger reserve in 1973. Today, it encompasses an area of 940 km2 in the two districts Mandla and Balaghat.

The reserve hosts populations of Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, barasingha deer, gaur, dhole, sloth bear, Bengal fox and Indian jackal. A notable conservation effort in this national park is the reintroduction of barasingha deer. The gaur, an ancestor of the domestic cow, has also been relocated to Bandhavgarh and some barasingha will be relocated to Satpura Tiger Reserve.The barasingha is adapted to swampy areas while the gaur inhabits meadows and waterholes in the park.

Around 300 species of birds inhabit the reserve and the most commonly seen are the black ibis, Asian green bee-eater, cattle egret, plum-headed parakeet, Indian pond heron, drongo, common teal, crested serpent eagle, Indian grey hornbill, Indian roller, lesser adjutant stork, little grebe, lesser whistling teal, minivet, Malabar pied hornbill, woodpeckers, pigeon, Indian paradise flycatcher, hill myna, Indian peafowl, red junglefowl, red-wattled lapwing, steppe eagle, Tickell’s blue flycatcher, white-eyed buzzard, white-breasted kingfisher, white-browed fantail, wood shrikes, warblers, and vultures among many more.

Bandhavgarh National Park is a national park of India, located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh, with an area of 105 square kilometres, was declared a national park in 1968 and then became Tiger Reserve in 1993. The current core area is spread over 716 square kilometres.

This park has a large biodiversity. As well as tigers the park has a large breeding population of leopards, and various species of deer. Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured the first white tiger in this region in 1951. This white tiger, Mohan, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajas of Rewa. Historically villagers and their cattle have been in threat of the tiger.

The biggest attraction of this national park is the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) of which Bandhavgarh has a very high density within its jungles. The 105 km2 of park area open to tourists was reported to have 22 tigers, a density of one tiger for every 4.77 km2. (Population estimation exercise 2001).

The reserve is also densely populated with other species: the gaur or Indian bison (Bos gaurus gaurus), became extinct but have been reintroduced from Kanha; sambar and barking deer are a common sight, and nilgai are to be seen in the open areas of the park. There have been reports of the Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena hyaena) and the caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi) the latter being an exclusive open area dweller. The tiger reserve abounds with chital or spotted deer (Axis axis) which is the main prey animal of the tiger and the Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca).

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