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NAGARHOLE TIGER RESERVE : KABINI RIVER LODGE

NAGARHOLE TIGER RESERVE : KABINI RIVER LODGE

We visited Kabini in first week of June 2014. The road journey from Mysore to Kabini was comfortable and we reached the Kabini River Lodge by one o’clock. This resort started operations at Kabini over 30 yrs ago. Today, it is one of the famous wildlife resorts in the world. What is now the Kabini River Lodge was earlier the hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore and a favorite with his guests. The lodge is located in Karapura village on the back waters of the Kabini Dam. The sprawling premises are very aesthetically set with a plethora of interesting wildlife that delights the eyes. Besides the many species of trees, there are over 50 species of grasses on the property. Also seen are mammals, birds, butterflies, spiders, ants and chameleons.

Cottages at Kabini River Lodge

A Chameleon at the Kabini River Lodge

After checking in, we went in for lunch and were told the evening safari was leaving at 3.30 pm. As it was the first day we opted for the boat safari.

At the beginning of the safari, we were pretty disappointed as all we could see were small villages along the shore with domestic animals grazing. However, after about 15 mins, the landscape slowly changed and the forest of the Nagarhole National Park came into view. Water birds were a plenty and prashant managed to capture the killer moments in the life of an Osprey, with his camera. Oh! What a rush it gave us.

Then, came the elephants, the Gaur – the Indian version of the Bison, the spotted deer, the sambar and the wild boar grazing along both banks. Suddenly, the boatman took a detour towards a sandbank, on one side, and we spotted a crocodile sunning itself, without a care in the world.

Suddenly, the boatman took a detour towards a sandbank, on one side, and we spotted a crocodile sunning itself, without a care in the world.

Further ahead we spotted deer and sambar frolicking, grazing and even locking horns with each other.

Prashant suddenly spotted a wild dog – alone – trying to hunt a deer. It was awesome to see four Sambhars, take on the dog while, the rest of the herd continued grazing in peace. We got some good photographs of the face off.

 

The wild dog is at bottom left corner.

We went upstream for quite a distance and saw a colony of spoon – billed storks. PKG went crazy clicking away and I just admired them. They were sunning themselves and were totally unafraid of humans passing close by.

Spoon Billed Storks

Cormorants in Kabini Reservoir Backwaters

A Pond Heron

White Cheeked Wag Tail with it’s prey (above). In flight (below).

On the way back, the reflection of the setting sun from amidst clouds brought a lot of drama into the atmosphere. We managed to click a few good shots of the beautiful scenery. After a 3hr boat safari, we came back satisfied and satiated, having seen a lot of wild life.

The setting sun at Kabini

We now looked forward to the jeep safari next morning, hoping to see the bigger cats and other wild life.

We woke up at break of dawn, next morning, as we were scheduled to leave at 6.25am. The first animal we saw that morning was a Ruddy Mongoose – a beautiful, big, rust colored one – sunning itself on a rocky outcrop.

Jungle Fowl

Then we saw spotted deer, gaurs, elephants and wild boar grazing right along the track. It was stupendous to see the animals from such close quarters. The animals seemed unaffected by human presence and only moved off when the jeep was too close to it.

Suddenly, the tracker got a message telling him that a tiger had been spotted by one of the jeeps. Hearing this the whole atmosphere got electrified and the chase was on! We drove at break neck speed to reach the spot on time, to see the tiger. But Alas! We were not in luck and he had disappeared into the forest, just before we reached. The adrenaline rush of the chase and the depths of disappointment of not reaching on time – An experience of a life time. After that we saw peacocks, the jungle fowl, chameleons and other varieties of birds but, the letdown of the near sighting remained with us.

I was still on such a high that I could neither eat nor drink and kept pacing up and down, willing the time to fly, till the afternoon safari. The prospect of a ride in a coracle – a round basket woven with bamboo and used as a boat – excited me and I decided to give it a try.

Prashant was not enthused at the idea and decided to stay on shore. It was great fun, though scary at times. The thought of the crocs lurking in the water, enhanced the fear factor. I was ready for the evening safari, way before time. The anticipation of the safari had me on pins and needles.

This time our guide was Afsar – the best tracker at Kabini. Regulars told us that he could actually sense where the cats would be. We took off at 3.30pm and kept visiting the various water holes and we saw every other animal but the big three – the tiger, leopard and the sloth bear. We saw the crested serpent eagle, yellow footed green pigeons, black faced langoors, bonnet macaques, a pair of Indian rollers, a pair of turtles and the gaur. The tiger still eluded us.

Yellow footed Pigeon

Black Faced Langur

Bonnet Macau

Indian Rollers

Black Shouldered Kyte

Ashy Headed Parakeet

Just as we were ready to call it a day, Afsar turned the jeep towards an area where he felt the tiger could be. The rest of us were down in the dumps and waiting to return to the resort. Lo and behold! Suddenly the jeep ground to a stop and Afsar asked us to look right ahead on the track – The Tiger – sitting right in the middle of the track, without a care in the world. We inched ahead to about 20 mtrs from it (it is the stipulated distance to be maintained from wild animals). Slowly other vehicles fetched up and we were about 50 – 60 people watching it and clicking snaps. The excitement all round was palpable and wow! The magnificence of its presence was over powering.

He just sat there looking around, lying down and then sitting up and glancing all round at us swishing its tail as if to say, “Come closer if you dare or admire me from afar”. We were all open mouthed at its sheer raw beauty. It is a totally different experience to see it in its own environment, where it is totally free and you are in near captivity. We were there for 45mins enjoying its presence, wanting to leave only after it vanished into the forest. However it was in no mood to oblige and the oncoming darkness forced us to move away, leaving it in peace.

My Spouse was elated as he had captured the tiger in all its glory, but I had become greedy for more. I wanted a glimpse of the leopard as well. I pestered Prashant to take a chance and take me for the morning safari next day. Though he was keen to check out early so that he could spend more time with his course mates – the CGT at Mysore beckoned – he capitulated and we decided to try our luck next morning. Just as we entered the game reserve, we were told someone had sighted a leopard. I bowed my head in thanksgiving as, the powers above had granted my wish. We rushed to the spot, with rain drops hitting us like pellets, in the open jeep. It was sitting on a branch of a tree, hidden by thick foliage. We could only get glimpses of it – a paw, its tail, its spots and its head.

After about 15 mins most of the jeeps got fed up of waiting as the leopard was showing no signs of moving. They left to try their luck somewhere else. However, Afsar refused to budge as he was sure it would come down from the tree. Suddenly, after 15 mins, it got up, stretched, slid down the tree and majestically came out of the undergrowth. It walked along the track for some distance then crossed over to the other side and disappeared into the forest. I was left open mouthed at the sheer elegance and feline grace of this cat. Wow! And Wow again, was all that came to mind.

Photo Shooters mesmerized by the sight of the leopard at stones throw away

I am at a loss of words to explain the sheer beauty of the animal. Ah! We were ecstatic and knew that we had been exceptionally lucky to have seen almost all the animals – except the sloth bear.
We checked out after breakfast, as we were now looking forward to meeting old friends at the CGT at Mysore. The afternoon and evening spent with old friends was like icing to the cake, making it a thoroughly memorable trip.

Gujarat Trip : Velvadar National Park

Gujarat Trip : Velvadar National Park

On 17th December 2014 we arrived at Velavadar National Park and checked in at the Blackbuck Lodge, a resort in the wilderness of this Indian Savanna. After having a sumptous lunch at the resort we were off for our first safari to have a look at the Blackbucks. Approximately 3950 Blackbucks are reported to be in Velavadar National Park.

Velavadar is about 65 kms from Bhavnagar, a prominent city in Gujrat and is home to India’s endemic Blackbuck. The park is also notable for being one of the few places in the world with a healthy wolf population – the endangered Indian wolf is the number one predator here. Other animals of interest include fox, jackal, jungle cat and wild boar.

Velavadar has an extensive birdlife.  Birds like Houbara bustard, lesser florican, common crane, sarus white stork, white pelican, and Montagu, pallid and marsh harrier can be spotted here. Raptors such as steppe, tawny, greater and lesser spotted eagle, imperial eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, short-toed snake eagle, and both white-eyed and long-legged buzzard are also a common sight here. Sandgrouse, larks and other grassland birds are seen in numbers, and the harrier roost is one of the largest in the world. Lesser florican migrates here to breed during the rainy season.

Velavadar National Park is divided in two parts, one is the wetland and the other the grassland. Total area of the park is about 34 square Kilometeres.

During our evening and next morning safari we spotted a large number of Blackbucks, other mammals and avians.

The Blackbuck is very graceful and a lovely sight to watch when leaping from one spot to the other.

We came across large herds during our safari.

The park has a fairly large population of Nilgai (Bluebull).

A male Bluebull staring at us.

A family of Wild Boars preparing to cross the water body.

The park also has large colonies of Flamingos.

Floricons (Titar) can be seen in large numbers.

Shikra sensing our presence just gave me a fraction of a second to get this shot before it flew away.

We came across many a common Kestrel during our safari.

A Palied Harrier

A Marsh Harrier

A White Breasted Kingfisher looking for prey.

We spotted a Common Bush Chat in close proximity

A Baybacked Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

White Cheeked Bulbul

A Rosy Starling is a common sight in entire of Gujarat

A Rosy Starling in flight

Spot Billed Ducks at the local pond

A Northern Shoveler

Common Moorhens at play

Common Moorhen

A Black Winged Stilt at the local pond.

A Reef Egret at the Resorts private pond

A Pond Heron at the local pond

Green Bee Eater

Rose Ringed Parrots at the resort

A squirrel taking rest

We stayed at The Black Buck Lodge during this trip which is the only option available apart from the accomodation provided by the forest department which is genrally over booked and hard to get. You can get more details about the lodge at their website www.theblackbucklodge.com .

This trip we saw only a handful of mammals and avians that this park has to offer, so I am sure we will return soon to try and spot the rest.

Desert National Park, Jaisalmer

Desert National Park, Jaisalmer

We recently visited the Desert Nation Park which is one among the largest parks in India.  You could take a jeep safari to enjoy the magnificent landscape, which offers view of extinct lakes in this park.The Desert National Park is spread over 3,162 sq km (1,221 sq miles) of scrub and sandy wasteland, close to the border with Pakistan.

The two biggest draws at the park are the Great Indian Bustard and the chinkara, other wildlife includes sand grouse, several species of falcon and vulture and desert fox and the best place to see them and other birds and animals are at Sudashri. From Jaisalmer, there are two, almost equidistant routes to Sudashri – via Sam or via Khuri. As this is a military area, the roads are well-maintained and generally free of traffic. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Sudashri from Jaisalmer.

The office of the Forest Department at Sudashri where you will have to obtain the permit to visit the Park. A village in the park (below).

My quest for the Great Indian Bustard took us to Jaisalmer in the first week of February 2015 and on to the Desert National Park. We were lucky to spot a pair of the Great Indian Bustard of which only 250 are known to exist in the Indian Subcontinent. Reportedly this park is home to 50 of these birds which is on the verge of becoming extinct. We were indeed lucky to spot these and some other birds and mammals and am sharing the images of what we saw.

The Great Indian Bustard

The Great Indian Bustard is an endangered species. Only around 250 birds exist in India of which 50 is reported to be in the Desert National Park, Jaisalmer.

Chinkara (Indian Gazelle)

Desert Wheatear

Variable Wheatear, this is common bird around here.

Sand Grouse can be seen near the Water Holes in this park.

The Desert Fox. A graceful animal.

White Eared Bulbul, a very common sight here.

Desert Wheatear (Female)

Black Crowned Sparrow Lark

Egyptian Vulture

Cinerius Vulture

Long Legged Buzzard

Common Kestrel

Long Legged Buzzard in Flight

Purple Sunbird

The park is open throughout the year, but the ideal time to visit is from October to February. At this time, the maximum temperature is 20 degrees Celsius and the minimum around 6 degrees Celsius. Light woolen clothing is reommended.

To visit the Desert National Park, you should ideally base yourself at Jaisalmer, where there are plenty of hotels.

Gujrat Trip: Gir National Park

Gujrat Trip: Gir National Park

Any Wildlife enthusiast must visit the Gir National Park at least once,  for it is the only place were Asiatic Lions are found. On second leg of our visit to Gujrat in December 2014 we visited Gir. We drove from Patdi Village at the fringes of Little Rann of Kutch to Gir a distance of about 314 kms. It took us abput 7 hours to reach Gir. We were booked at Saavaj Resort. Gir has many hotels and resorts to cater for all kind of budget.

The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India. Established in 1965, with a total area of 1412 sq kms, the park is located 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh. It is the sole home of the Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica). The forest area of Gir and its lions were declared as “protected” in the early 1900s by the Nawab of the princely state of Junagadh. This initiative assisted in the conservation of the lions whose population had plummeted to only 15 through slaughter for trophy hunting.  Gir forest the asiatic lion’s habitat is dry scrub land and open deciduous forest. These lions were once found across northern Africa, south west Asia and northern Greece. Now there are only around 411 left in the wild and all of them are in or around the Gir Forest National Park.

A cross section of the forest

A lion in its natural habitat at Gir National Park.

To visit the Park you need to obtain permit from Gujrat Forest Department office at the Gir National Park. It is advisable to book the permit online to avoid disappointment. Permits can be obtained by logging to their website www.girlion.in . The safaris are controlled and can be availed of in the morning and evening sessions. We took the 9 am Safari on 15th December 2014. unfortunately during this safari we were not lucky enough to spot the king of the jungle but had to remain satisfied by siting few common birds and mammals. Siting the Indian Scops Owl made are morning.

Indian Scops Owl

A rose ringed parrot having a feast

A male spotted deer

A Shikra staring at us

A Blackbuck looking at us

The afternoon safari to Devalia, a segregated portion of the Gir forest  and the next morning safari were more eventful wherein we sighted many predators and the king of the jungle too. The lions do not view a human as a threat and hence it is possible to observe them from close range. As we commenced our evening safari, we came across two lazy lions.

As we stopped to observe them they made some lazy movements…

.not the least concerned of our presence…..

We came across these spotted owls as we moved ahead…

As we probed further, we came across few foxes scavenging for food…

…and as we were midway our safari, we noticed some movement and the guide apprised us that there was a lioness with her cubs in the scrubs. Observe the picture below and sight them for yourselves…

 

As we stopped to observe them, the elder cubs inqusitevely moved towards us….

as we continued, we came across langurs, blackbucks, bluebull, wild boars, chitals, a lazy lion and more…..

Oriental Thick Knee

…Vulture…

During our visit to Gir we stayed at Saavaj resort which we found to be neatly laid out. The accomodation was of independent cottage type and well furnished with modern amenities. The resort also has a swimming pool….

..the bill of fare for each meal was delicious and served in their aesthetically done up dining hall..

The resort also organises the traditional folk dance of Hapsi (negro) people every evening for its guests at the resort.

Habshi or negro are the words used (not pejoratively) by the locals for Siddis- the people of African origin, sprinkled in Junagadh district of Gujarat. Dark skin, curlicues of hair, snub nose and thick lips, the Siddis are unmistakably African. Yet they are as much Gujarati as the next fellow. They speaks Gujarati and broken Hindi with the local accent and share the same mannerism and general demeanor. “ They say our ancestors were brought here as slaves from Africa more than 500 years ago”.

We also visited Somnath Temple which is about 43 kms to the south west of Sasan Gir.

We ponderd over our visit as the sunset at Gir.

Next morning (17 December 2014) we were on our way to Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary, more about it in my next blog…

Tigers of Tadoba

Tigers of Tadoba

The jungle beckoned and we were off again as, the call of the jungle is irresistible. This time we headed towards central India, so flew to Nagpur and then Travelled by road for another 102 kms to reach the Tadoba Tiger Reserve. It is a part of the Tadoba – Moharli – Kolsa Tiger range spread over 650 sq kms of area. We had a comfortable 2 ½ hour journey from Nagpur and reached the Tadoba Tiger King Resort – about 500 metre from the Kolara gate of the sanctuary. It was a small, new setup with about 5 – 6 comfortable semi cottages. (We took this trip towards end of June 2014).

The staff, at the resort, was ready with a hot and tasty lunch so, we had a quick bite and freshened up as we were keen to be off on our first foray into the sanctuary. We went in an open converted gypsy owned by the resort and were accompanied by a forest dept guide. Though it was hot, the breeze in the open jeep, neutralized its bite. As we entered the Tiger reserve I was hit by the difference in the flora and fauna of this particular forest. It is a predominantly bamboo forest interspersed with gnarled old trees with inter twining twisted vines. I really wondered how animals and especially the Tiger could live in these forests as the bamboo clumps were thin and scanty. They looked more like clumps of delicate, thin, undernourished thickets of cane.

A very apt sign board at the entrance to the park

But, what a diversity of birds! They were like a feast to our senses, flitting from one side to the other. Their different calls were like soothing background music. We saw the golden Oriole, the Asian paradise flycatcher, the Indian pita,  the Serpent eagle and the Peacock which kept popping out of the bushes off and on.

Black hooded Golden Oriole

The Indian Pitta, this bird has nine colours

Oriental Magpie

Rufus Treepie

Rose Ringed Parrot

Serpent Eagle

The Indian Roller

The Tadoba Tiger Reserve has a vide variety of avians but difficult to photograph as you cannot get off the vehicle in the forest.

Then we started spotting animals like the spotted deer, Sāmbhar, gaur and the wild boar.

Spotted Deer also called Chital

Sambhar

Gaur

Wild Boar

We went to the first two water holes but, no sign of a tiger. However, at one of the water holes we saw a large common mongoose.

Common Mongoose

Our guide was a young boy full of jungle lore. He told us about a tigress who had littered recently and had moved its week old cubs to a safer place. She had been caught on camera carrying her cubs in her mouth. When we were nearing the Tadoba Lake – a large water body – we saw a jeep standing ahead. BY now we were experienced enough to realize that they had sighted something. Our driver cut the engine, to avoid disturbing the animal. My heart had already started thumping in anticipation.

Lo and behold! What do we see? A huge, male tiger sitting, in the water; at the edge of the lake

Wow! What a magnificent animal. He was relaxed and totally oblivious of the audience; rather it seemed, as if it was playing to the gallery. Posing, in all possible postures. Soon the number of jeeps increased manifold and there were almost about 50 people admiring it. The entire atmosphere was electrifying, what with children exclaiming aloud, photographers clicking and each person trying to get a better view.

According to the guide, the tiger was named Gabbar and was ten year old. After about half an hour Mr. Gabbar decided to get up and started walking along the edge of the lake – which was parallel to the track. The jeeps kept rolling along and we had the pleasure of his company, alongside, for another 30 mins. He was very leisurely in his stroll, making numerous stops – to either rest or mark his territory.

A herd of Chitals (above)  alarmed at seeing the Tiger in close vicinity.

We ultimately left him to his own devices when the track veered away from the lakeside. We were thrilled to bits and pieces and Oh! So thrilled! We went back to the resort totally content. After enjoying an early dinner, in the lawn we decided to call it a day.

Next morning we were fresh and ready, well in time, to revisit the lovely and serene forest. The first thing we heard was the barking deer, which – according to the guide – indicated that there was tiger movement. We slowed down and waited but to no avail. Suddenly the guide spotted a sloth bear about 200 meters ahead. We saw it ambling across the track but, couldn’t reach it in time to capture it on celluloid, or see it form close quarters. It is a very shy animal and its sighting is very rare. We had to satisfy ourselves with the thought that we had at least seen it. After that we saw a juvenile monitor lizard, sambhar, spotted deer, a ruddy mongoose – a rare variety, the Indian pita, the Oriental honey buzzard, langoors – frolicking, and the Kingfisher.

Monitor Lizard

Ruddy Mongoose

 

Oriental Honey Buzzard

Kingfisher

At the second water hole, we saw a pack of 6 wild dogs, from a distance. Later, as we moved towards the next water hole, we saw them from close quarters as they crossed the track – right ahead of us. They stopped and lounged around on the other side of the track and Prashant managed to get some super snaps of them. However the Tiger eluded us this morning and we went back without even a glimpse of one. I, as usual was down in the dumps due to this – I think I am getting a little obsessed with them.

Anxiously waiting for the afternoon safari, I even lost my appetite. I felt as if I was on hot bricks waiting for the clock to tick and 3pm to arrive( this is a feeling you will understand only when you see it from close quarters and fall in love with the animal).

We were off, at the dot of three, hoping to be luckier this time round. I can’t even describe the feeling one has of wanting to see the tiger again and again. It is like a fever running through your body because; each sinew of its body is poetry in action. This time we saw the tigress, P2 – the one who had just had two cubs. We saw her resting near the Tadoba Lake.

She seemed to be enjoying the early evening breeze. We enjoyed her presence for forty five minutes but, she didn’t oblige us by getting up. We left her to herself and went further into the jungle. We spotted a milky white tree, which we were told was called the ghost tree. It is said to change its colour thrice in a year – from milky white to onion pink to pale green.

Then we saw langoors frolicking around with tiny new born babies – Oh! How cute they looked.

This evening we had the company of a young couple from Nagpur who had been unable to book an independent safari. When they requested us we couldn’t find it in our heart to refuse. They were so enthusiastic and fun to be with that we felt really happy that we had agreed to take them along with us. The evening was cool and relaxing in the serene, peaceful environment. We retired early to be up on time the next morning.

It was bright and sunny the next day, however the morning breeze kept it nice and cool. The young couple joined us again for the morning safari and we started with the anticipation that we would see the regal animal again. The guide felt that we needed to go to the Moharli Range as some tiger activity had been reported there. On the way we saw a serpent eagle – from close quarters, the honey buzzard, the Indian pita, the white bellied Kingfisher and a monitor lizard – with a prey in its mouth. We went to two water holes but saw no activity. We then decided to go to Telia Lake – a large water body. When we reached the Telia Lake we saw two or three jeeps parked there as they had heard the call – the tiger was on the move. We waited for about 15 mins but nothing happened so, we decided to go back and try Tadoba Lake again. However just as the driver started the jeep, a tigress was seen emerging from the forest 100 meters away.

We were told she was a young 2 ½ year old who had just broken away from her mother’s pack and established her own. She walked out leisurely and came down to the water’s edge, where she sat for some time. Then she got up and went back into the jungle. The photographers off course, had gone viral, as she made such a beautiful subject. After enjoying her company for more than 45 mins we returned fully satisfied.

The Highlight of the trip was a close encounter with a tigress, on the last evening safari. It started by seeing a white bellied kingfisher and then at the 2nd water hole we saw a full grown, male tiger snoozing in the water with an overhanging branch as its pillow.

We waited around for an hour hoping it would move but, all it did was lift its head, look around and then loll back. Spotted deer, a peacock, and even an egret tried to tantalize it by going close, then backing off but, to no avail as she seemed full and just not interested. All these antics made interesting viewing but, we had to leave as dusk was approaching and the Reserve gates are closed at 6.30 pm.

As we reversed and were on our way back our jeep suddenly came to a grinding halt as, a pack of wild dogs were crossing the path – the right of way being the animals’ prerogative. They crossed and came and sat within 5 yds of the jeeps, lolling and relaxing. After the avid photographers had had their fill we moved off as, we were already running late. Just as we were on the verge of leaving the forest – about 1 ½ kms from the reserve gates – the jeep ground to a halt again. The guide was going berserk pointing towards our right, I looked in that direction but saw nothing. Then hubby nudged me and told me to look next to the jeep, on his side and to my sheer amazement and shock I saw a young tigress sitting next to the track just a leap away.

It was just 2 yds away from Prashant’s side. The guide was trying to hurry the driver to drive away as, you are supposed to maintain a distance of at least 20 mtrs from an animal. However, no way was hubby dear going to give away an opportunity like that and he kept taking  candid shots of her as the vehicle kept moving. I just kept looking at her, with my heart in my mouth. On one side I was scared for Prashant as, one jump and he would have been sans an ear or his head. On the other hand it was fascinating looking into her beautiful eyes. Then I saw that she was puzzled and a bit scared seeing so many humans as, all the jeeps had ground to a halt. Slowly we started moving, in a bid to avoid scaring her into doing something. However, just as we moved she got up and slowly walked into the forest.

Boy! That is one encounter that we will never forget – being eyeball to eyeball with this beautiful animal, in its own environment. I have yet to overcome the thrill and fear we felt at that moment. We finished this trip on such a high note that the euphoria has still not died off. I sign off till the next time the call from the jungle comes.

Visiting Rajaji National Park

Visiting Rajaji National Park

This is a photo blog about our visit to Rajaji National Park. End of April 2016 we were at Rishikesh and having heard about this park we decided to go for a jeep safari which was arranged by the hotel we were staying in. This park got national park status in 2012. Apart from 50 odd mammals, the park is rich in avians. 300 odd species of birds have been reportedly sighted here and this was the main attraction for me to visit the park.

A local friend of mine who came to know about our plans discouraged us saying that you very rarely spot any thing in this park and that it would be a waste of time, but we were pleasantly surprised. A forest fire was raging in this area so we did not spot many birds but were lucky to share the day in the park with few mammals. Sharing the photos taken during the trip.

We entered the park through the Chilla gate. You need to register and pay the entrance fee here.

As we entered the park we were greeted by this dancing  peacock and our guide told us that this is a good omen and that we are sure to sight a tiger or a leopard, and sure enough as we proceeded further, we spotted a leopard though a bit far away. None the less our hearts were filled with joy viewing this beauty.

 

It turned out to be a female, on seeing us she got up and started walking along though maintaining a respectable distance.

 

Finally she gave us a last look and vanished into the thicket. The light was very harsh and not conducive to good photography, nonetheless we did manage few record shots.

As we moved further this pair of jungle fowl crossed our path.

Lack of water in this area was quite evident from dry shrubs and parched earth. The animals I was told were making do with man made water holes. I pondered how the elephants were making good.

This is the kind of jeep which you safari on. There is only one track and hence sighting of animals is pure luck and I obviously was in good luck this trip as just having moved few kilometers we sighted this beauty of a male Khalij Pheasant, a rare sighting indeed.

…..and then we spotted this Egyptian Vulture.

…and the spotted deers.

We came across few wild boars too….

The curious baby langur watching us…

We were lucky to spot this barking deer, a very shy animal.

As the morning safari was coming to an end we came across these Rose Ringed Parakeets near a puddle.

As you can see the morning safari was quite productive, but we missed the elephants which is supposed to be a sure sighting at this national park, so we decided to take the evening safari too.

The evening started with watching few sambars and spotted deers…

I found this band of langurs very amusing…..

This Crested Hawk Eagle was way up in the trees, barely managed to get a record shot.

….and then we heard the branches creaking and dust kicking…there it was a large herd of elephants crossing the road.

…..and then we started getting adventurous and while trying to take a close up shot almost missed getting trampled by this charging herd….

This was an interesting visit indeed..We are now back in Pune looking forward to another wildlife trip.