Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol.1 Issue IV

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol.1 Issue IV

What Ails Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve?

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve with its more than 2 tigers per sq. km area of its tourism zone is a prime attraction for photographers and tourists alike. I spend at least two weeks in this park every year. However, this year I came back with some painful experiences.

The Tala range of this Park which was popular with tourists and photographers has been divided into three zones. It was said that this will help in restricting people to the popular Tala zone and push people into the other ranges. From this year, 45 tourist vehicles are allowed into the Tala Zone and 73 into the Magdi zone. I found that only a few vehicles go to the Magdi and Khitouli zones. The area available to the 45 tourist vehicles in the Tala zone has shrunk and results in more crowding when there is a sighting. Earlier, when vehicles used to crowd in the Sidhababa or Chakradhara grasslands, one could move ahead into the Rajbehera and Sehra areas in search of other tigers. However, this year, Sehra is in a different zone. So one has to be restricted into these areas and increase the traffic jam.

Park Authorities blinded by Tourism Focus:

The focus of the park management is primarily on tourism. Tourists will flock if the health of the Park is good and can stop coming once they know that the Park is in decline.

The Bandhavgarh Park management has undertaken lot of construction work around the Park, primarily road building and watch towers. Unfortunately, not much of thought has gone behind it. Let’s look at the case of the watchtower erected in Rajbehera.

A thatch hut kind of structure has been set up in the hill overlooking the Rajbehera dam. Previous year, I had seen the Jhurjhura female leaving her small cubs in this hill and going for hunt. She has drastically reduced her visits to the area since the construction of this hut on her path. I saw her once with her cubs in that area and she growled looking at the thatch hut before crossing it. Of course, the thatch hut was unoccupied at that time. I hope better sense prevails and the Park management would dismantle the structure soon.

Road building:
Most of the days I could find at least 50 workers in the Park engaged in either constructing humps/speed breakers on the road or busy in other construction work. I have seen the tigers getting disturbed and leaving the streams where they normally cool off during summer.

Tiger Show:
In Bandhavgarh, elephants are engaged to carry tourists from their jeep to a tiger resting on a dense bush. I had earlier no reservations in watching a tiger from top of an elephant. The Park authorities charge Rs. 100/- per tourist for each such short tiger show lasting a few minutes. Unfortunately, greed has overtaken the park authorities and they have started interfering in the movement of the tiger. When the sun gets hotter, the tiger moves from the grassland to a cooler place. However, the elephants are engaged to block its path and tourists are ferried to the spot. This process lasts for more than an hour till the last tourist has seen the tiger. I found the limping Siddhababa tigress in the grassland one morning. When she tried to cross the road and move into a cave at around 8.50 in the morning the elephants were engaged to push her back to the grassland. The poor tigress was baking in the hot summer sun till 9.30 am and tourists were being shown the tigress. The park authorities have no right to restrain a tiger or any other animal. I hope all of us can raise our voice to stop such abominable practices.

The Sidhababa tigress is limping since the last three months. She has injured her hind leg. If this would have been a park in Africa, then this tigress would have been tranquilised and the wound checked. Recently, the park authorities have tranquilised and relocated a tigress to Panna and one to Bhopal zoo, so I think tranqulising is not an issue. Ofcourse, this lame tigress is easily located and it helps in the tiger show.

For more details check the following link and please shoot a protest email or letter to the Secy. MoEF and to the Prime Ministers office.

IndiaWilds forums updates:
IndiaWilds has successfully completed four months. There are more articles, photographs, opinions and comments and users as well. Here’s a small sample to tickle your taste buds.

An image of a jungle cat by Kiran Ghadge:

A B&W image by Vikram Gupchup

A paradise flycatcher by Kiran Ghadge

The Last Hurrah: A Cloud and Light Image by Ranbir Mahapatra

Fine Art by Nature

Who’s Who:
The Who’s who section is warming up with new members posting about themselves. I would request all the members to introduce themselves with their photograph. This will help us recognise each other in the field as well. The link to this forum is as follows:

Photography Tips and Equipment Discussions:
The photography and photo equipment tips page is increasingly becoming more robust. Let me know in case you need tips on any specific topic. The link to this section is as follows:

One needs to log in to access the above section.

Look forward to your suggestions and your support in saving the last tracts of wilderness in this country.
Sabyasachi Patra

(This newsletter was circulated in April 2009)

Sabyasachi Patra
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