A week in the forests of Pench and Tadoba

#1 May 6th, 2011, 01:18
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It was almost 2 years since my last forest visit and my heart was screaming out loudly for one. So I decided to spend a few days in the lang of Mowgli, Sherkhan and Bageera in Pench and follow it up with a trip to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve(TATR) in Maharashtra. After some planning and lots of consultation and reading (IM & elsewhere), it was decided to keep things simple. 2 forests - 3 nights each and nothing else.

Day 0: It was Holi in Kolkata and after getting ourselves smeared in color, we left by Indigo airlines flight for Nagpur. Both Pench and Tadoba are accessible from Nagpur and Nagpur is a convenient base for going to both these places. A vehicle had been pre-booked and it was waiting at the airport when we landed at 8:00 PM. Nagpur to Pench via Kwasa is 90 Km and we reached our hotel Bageera Retreat in Turia village. Pench NP has a number of entry points in MP and Maharashtra, but the park drives are more organized in MP. Most of the hotels are located at Turia gate, while the FRH is located at Kalmajhiri. However, there are no vehicles at Kalmajhiri and they have to be procured from Turia, which makes it an expensive proposition.

Day 1: It was Holi in MP and the forests were closed. As the Forest Department was accepting bookings initially I had thought that the park was open on this day. It was only a few days before Holi that they announced that that the forest entries would be closed due to Holi. By that time I had booked my tickets, so I left it that way and decided to spend an idle day in Turia. Holi in Turia was seemed to be a bit subdued and not many colorful faces were seen. I loitered around the village for some time but nobody even attempted to smear me with color!! Played with some of the village children for some time and then again returned back to catch up with some sleep.

Day 2: Collarwali fascinates Ready before six in the morning and rearing to enter the forest, we did not have to wait long before Lalan, our driver, arrived with the gypsy. All formalities were soon competed at the gate and soon we had crossed the gate and were in the forest.
We were in for hardly five minutes, when we were alerted by the assembly of a large number of jeeps in front of us. Even before we could realize what was happening, a huge tigress with a collar around her neck walked by the side of the road and almost in front of us. This tigress is known as Collarwali, because of the radio-active collar around her neck. This collar is used for tracking the tiger when it is not seen for a long time, primarily during the monsoons. The tigress flaunted herself majestically, oblivious of the surroundings, totally ignoring the presence of vehicles and jeeps around her. It crossed the road, circled a jeep and then proceeded along the road. Some of the vehicles followed Collarwali from a distance and those immediately behind her were suitable rewarded when she decided to go for a kill and killed a spotted deer in front of everybody. We missed it, but no regrets. Collarwali is the proud mother of five cubs and we hoped to catch the cubs and mother together sometimes during our stay in Pench.
Pench has a wide variety of landscapes and there are large meadows, water bodies – the backwaters of Pench river, sal forests and thick high grasslands. Even without any wildlife sighting, it is a pleasure to move around the forest. Pench is also the home of a large variety of birds and birding was a great experience for me in this trip. We saw around 50 varieties of birds in Pench and Tadoba. In the rest of the morning drive we saw lots of spotted deer, sambar deer and birds.
Because of the afternoon heat, we started the evening drive a little late, around 3:30. The forest seemed to have withdrawn into a deep slumber and hardly any signs of life were visible. But gradually as the heat subsided, more and more animals came out. Tiger sighting is definitely attractive, but I am also fascinated by the way the guides track the tigers. Alarm calls and pug marks are the major indicators of the presence of a tiger or leopard in the vicinity. Alarm calls are raised by deer and langurs. As the tiger moves about in the forest, the alarms are also raised by these animals and are used to gauge the movement of the tiger. This, along with the knowledge about the location of the water bodies is successfully used to locate a tiger. This evening we moved about in the forest till Bablu, our driver stopped the jeep on hearing alarms raised by deer. The call kept moving, which indicated that the tiger was moving about, but soon the calls became irregular and infrequent. This left everybody around confused and soon some of the cars left. But Bablu wanted to wait and I went by his judgement. After all, he was the one who knows everything about this place. Soon, his judgement proved right as Collarwali once again walked out on the road. Collarwali walked around a bit and decided to lay down bang in the middle of the road. Two cars were in front of her and another four behind her.
It was almost 6:30 – past the deadline by which the vehicles need to be out of the gate. Reluctantly, we reversed and proceeded towards the gate. The cars in front of Collarwali were lucky, really lucky!! They had to wait for more than an hour before Collarwali decided to make way for the cars…

Day 3: Tiger, Birds and Jackal Cubs: Another morning safari and we decided not to focus on the tiger but enjoy the forest. It was a learning experience and came to know a lot about the animals in Pench. Pench has an amazing variety of birds, more than 250 species and we enjoyed them. Bablu and our guide could identify birds hiiden in the trees and rattled out their names immediately. Almost at the wee hours, we went to the central point of the forest, Alikatta, just to check if any tiger sighting has happened in the morning. It seems that Collarwali along with the cubs has been located by forest department elephants.
We enlisted ourselves for the ‘Tiger Show’, hoping that we could see the cubs. So it was the customary elephant ride from a point on the roadside to the place where the tiger is. Normally once the sun is out, the tiger takes shelter in a shady area, preferably near a water body. The elephant ride was rough as the tigress had taken shelter quite in the interior. However, we had a good view of it lying down, but the cubs could not be seen. They were nearby, by had hid themselves and were not visible. Nothing significant happened in the morning, apart from waiting and scanning an area near Alikatta for jackal cubs. These cubs were hardly 1 week old, but we could not locate them and gave up after some time.
The evening drive proved to be fruitful in this respect and we could get the jackal cubs. They were hidden in a dead trunk that had fallen down and had a large cavity in it. The hole was home to the cubs (and most probably the mother too) and they playfully moved in and out of their home – much to our delight.

Day 4: Tiger Cubs and Birds and then to Tadoba: The morning drive was the last jungle drive in Pench. We would be moving to Tadoba immediately after the drive. We covered some parts of the forest that we had not been to earlier.
Palash trees were in full bloom and some parts of the forest looked colorful and bright. Saw quite a few new birds which Aheli noted down in her diary. The list of birds seen were increasing!! Just like the previous day, we made a halt at Alikatta where we came to know that the Tiger Show was on. To go or not to go in Tiger Show is a big dilemma. Ultimately, we again decided to go only if the cubs are there. Fortunately they were, but unfortunately by the time we went there, the mother had relocated herself. One of the cubs was peeking at the approaching elephants from behind a big boulder. The second cub was also hidden behind the boulder. Soon they dashed towards the thick and dried undergrowth and disappeared. Well, it was not a grand sighting, but atleast we saw them for some time. It was almost mid-day and time to leave the forest. Soon after taking some rest at our hotel, we were on our way towards Tadoba in Maharashtra.

Will continue my post for the remaining part of the trip along with necessary information.

Meanwhile, the trip photos are ready for viewing in my Photo Album.

Pindari Trek My Photo Album My Travel Blog


It is not down in any map; true places never are. ~Herman Melville
#2 May 6th, 2011, 12:10
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Some pics

Here are some pics from the trip. Entire album is at my Photo Album.
Attached Images
p_PT_0135.JPG p_PT_0223.JPG p_PT_0225.JPG p_PT_0157.JPG p_PT_0437.JPG 
Last edited by kausiks; May 6th, 2011 at 12:12.. Reason: Added content
#3 May 6th, 2011, 12:15
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  • abheekg is offline
#3
Great to find you here Kaushik da.
It was wonderful meeting and interacting with you at
pench.

Dr. A Ghosh
#4 May 6th, 2011, 12:15
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  • capt_mahajan is offline
#4
wow!

More pics!

(still reading the first post)
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This is computer generated drivel. No signature is required.
#5 May 6th, 2011, 12:56
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#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by abheekg View Post Great to find you here Kaushik da.
It was wonderful meeting and interacting with you at
pench.

Dr. A Ghosh
Same from my side too Abheek. Hope to see you soon.
#6 May 7th, 2011, 03:18
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#6
Lovely report and great pictures, thanks for sharing.
#7 May 11th, 2011, 13:12
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#7
Great trip report & lovely pics too. Waiting for the Tadoba part.

Ronak.
#8 May 13th, 2011, 22:16
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#8
Thanks capt_mahajan, shahronakm and tripsammy. Got busy this week, will post the Tadoba part with some more pictures this weekend.
#9 May 26th, 2011, 21:55
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#9
Great trip report and a very fascinating photo album. Look forward to meeting you in Bandavhgarh tour June 4-8, as Dr. informed me about you :-)

Regards,
Safique
Regards,
Safique

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