Review: Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sactuary, Nagpur, Maharastra

#1 Nov 7th, 2016, 16:02
Join Date:
Jan 2012
Location:
Pune
Posts:
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  • Pharaoh is offline
#1
Hi All, I visited this sanctuary for couple of days during Diwali vacation. My experience was bad to say the least. I am putting down detailed review here to save precious time of other travelers.

First, the Positives
1. Closer to Nagpur as compared to other sanctuaries (Tadoba or Nagzira). It is possible to do an “one safari visit” from Nagpur in half days’ time.
2. Eco Tents available for accommodation are newly built, spacious & clean.

Negatives (the list is long)
1. Tiger sightings have gone down from “every safari” to rare “once in a week/fortnight”. That’s because the no. of tigers have gone down from 5-6 to 1-2. The reasons for this degradation are mentioned separately in this review.
2. The famous tiger/asia’s largest tiger “Jay” isn’t there now; has been allegedly poached from this sanctuary.
3. The guides are untrained, inexperienced teenagers from nearby village. They don’t have any experience of animal spotting. They don’t even know about animal calls. They were not able to provide any information about jungle/flora-fauna. Even for spotting the animals like deer & bison you will need your luck as guide’s skill & knowhow are zero.
4. The jungle is not dense & it’s a mostly flat land everywhere. You hardly get any feel of visiting a jungle.
5. Per safari cost for family of four is Rs. 2880 (Rs. 1800 for Gypsy rent, Rs. 440 for Gypsy entry fee, Rs. 80 per person entry fee, Rs. 100 fee for carrying your camera & Rs. 300 guide fee); which is not cheap. They don’t allow private vehicles inside anymore so one has to pay pretty high amount for very mediocre safari experience.
6. The Government staff is rude, arrogant & even careless about tourists. During my stay at Government Accommodation, I was told that drinking water is not available & was asked to drive for 2 km to buy it from local hotel. Also even when I had paid tariff for extra person during my booking, the mattress & blanket for extra person was not provided by care taker. The higher authorities turned deaf ear to these problems.
7. No canteen facility at Government Accommodation. You have to order food from outside restaurant 2-3 hours in advance & restaurant guy delivers it at your tent. Other option is driving out to this restaurant which is 2km away.
8. Hot water facility is not available at Government Accommodation.
9. The private accommodation options (which are outside the sanctuary) are very basic though they solve problem of hot water & food.
With all these points experienced & having visited Tadoba & Nagzira, I genuinely feel Tadoba & Nagzira are much much superior options in every aspect. This place doesn’t deserve your precious holiday time & hard earned money.

Reasons for recent rare tiger sightings,

It’s an interesting story & thus I am putting it separately. Originally, Umred-Karhandla belt was never known for having multiple tigers owing to sparse jungle. This was new sanctuary as compared to Tadoba & Nagzira. For years it was lesser known for the tourists. But all things changed few years before when a big male tiger named “Jay” (the largest tiger of Asia) & his brother “Veeru” migrated to this place on their own from Nagzira Sanctuary. It is believed that lack of female tiger (tigress) at Nagzira caused migration of Jay & then Veeru.
Jay was a big & handsome tiger. He was never shy of tourists. He would often sit on jungle roads those are frequented by Tourist vehicles. He would remain unfazed & still when tourists clicked pictures. He even used to walk close to tourist vehicles calmly as if he is supermodel walking on ramp. It was because of migration of “Jay” this sanctuary came in sudden lime light.
With big tigers like Jay & Veeru roaming in sparse jungle of Umred-Karhandla, the tiger spotting was very easy & sure shot for the tourists. After few months, sightings of the tigress with cubs (probably fathered by Jay or Veeru) happened. As the time passed the sightings of tigress & grown up cubs became frequent. The Umred-Karhandla sanctuary which hardly had one or two tigers before became home to 5-6 tigers (Jay, Veeru, Tigress & cubs). That’s a reason you can see so many positive reviews about this sanctuary. In this period, the sanctuary was always flooded with tourists. It was even frequented by foreign tourists. The tiger spotting was cakewalk & it needed zero skill from guide. All this merry period probably brooded high headedness in sanctuary staff, carelessness in guides. Tourists didn’t care much about it earlier as their primary motto of tiger spotting was always fulfilled; courtesy to Jay-Veeru.
But now things have changed. Jay suddenly disappeared from the jungle few months before (18th Apr-16 to be precise). Initially everyone felt that it was another migration; as experts had always believed that Umred-Karhandla sanctuary cannot sustain 5-6 tigers owing to sparse jungle & low population of ruminant animals like deer (food for tigers). But anxiety of animal lover grew as Jay was never spotted again anywhere & more importantly he could not be traced which was very strange as he had electronic tracking collar installed on his neck.
Locals believe that Jay has been poached. I could learn from locals that the original tracking collar of Jay (which was probably installed by Forest officials of Nazira) was replaced with new tracking collar by Umred-Karhandla staff just two days before his disappearance. Rumors are floating among locals about forest officials befriending with foreign tourists & granting them illegal access to sanctuary for mid night photoshoot/video recording in exchange of bribe. The state government was not satisfied by investigation done by Forest officials & now has ordered CBI enquiry of the matter.
After disappearance of Jay, Veeru has also disappeared but some locals say that Veeru was recently spotted at Kanha National Park but its not concrete news.
Now the cubs have also moved out to find their independent territory (as they do after growing up), the Umred-Karhandla Sanctuary is back to square one to their initial count of one or two tiger.
For the records: The positives & negatives mentioned above are my own experiences during my visit. The “Jay-Veeru” story above is compilation of info collected during my interaction with local villagers & I cannot guarantee its correctness. Still I thought of sharing it here as I found it worth sharing with fellow travelers.
#2 Nov 8th, 2016, 09:05
Join Date:
Jun 2009
Location:
Mount Meru
Posts:
967
  • vic86m is offline
#2
Thank You for the information!! Nice write-up..

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