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Thread: What Ails Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve?

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    Default What Ails Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve?

    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. Letís 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.
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    Default Tigress Growls at the intrusive watch tower

    The Jhurhura tigress growls looking at the intrusive watch tower set up by the Bandhavgarh Park Authorities.
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    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 these days. (In the past at least one tiger was killed due to overdose during tranuisisation).

    I heard some cynics say that this lame tigress is easily located and it helps in the tiger show. This might not be the intention of the Park Authorities, but it certainly helps in the infamous tiger show.

    Firefighting preparedness:
    The firefighting preparedness of the park authorities is primitive. It is limited to creating firelines in the park. The park earns huge revenue from tourism. So I don’t understand why money can’t be spent on fire fighting equipment and training the staff. Obviously resource is not a constraint. There was a huge fire on 6th April night in the badhani area. In the morning at about 5.30 am when we had lined up infront of the main gate, the fire was still not controlled, and we found a vehicle carrying trainees entering the Park to help in firefighting efforts. The delay in mobilising staff was surprising.

    I had seen this area burnt the previous year as well. It is surprising that the park management is not focused on fire fighting. We should learn a thing or two from the firefighting methodologies adopted by the US Park authorities.

    Please shoot a protest email or letters to the following:

    Dr Manmohan Singh
    Prime Minister of India
    manmohan@sansad.nic.in
    pmosb@pmo.nic.in

    Shri Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister of MP
    cm@mp.nic.in
    cm@valbh.mp.nic.in

    The Secretary, MoEF,
    Government of India,
    Ministry of Environment & Forests,
    Paryavaran Bhavan,
    CGO Complex,
    Lodi Road, ND-110003
    email: envisect@nic.in

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    Default "Tiger Show"

    The use of elephants and the torture that tigers are subjected to during "tiger shows" pains me beyond words. If we seriously involve ourselves in intorspective thinking, we will realise how much we take tigers of Bandhavgarh for granted! How much interference can we subject these animals to? Neither is it ethical nor humane to subject animals to such mindless torture just for the sake of our viewing pleasure. I feel that tourists are to blame for the aggressive show that the tourism dept and the forest dept put on at our disposal. We tend to think that sighting a tiger is much more important than the tiger's own welfare. Is it not enough to enjoy the habitat and the forest? Is it not enough already that tigers in Bandhavgarh give more sightings than anyone could wish for in any other NP in India? But apparently, it isn't. People keep asking for more. People don't even realise that elephants too hate doing this dirty job of approaching an agitated and nervous tiger everyday.

    When I was in Kanha in Dec 2005 (my first ever trip of this nature) I took an elephant ride not knowing what to expect. The elephant was made to approach a tigress sleeping peacefully amidst tall grass. Not only did the tigress get disturbed by our presence but she bore the interference patiently. But the mahout kept egging the elephant on to get closer and closer and we were already just about 10 ft away from the tiger. When the tiger saw us approaching, she gave a tiny snarl but it had a terrible effect on the elephant. She jumped in fright and we held on tightly to the howdah. This incident has disturbed me a lot ever since and I realised what a truly nasty feeling the elephants must carry everyday when they approach tigers, while both of them just about tolerate each other.

    Isn't the onus on tourists to decide whether they want to subject animals to such endless pain for a few WOW moments? I decided not to take a "Tiger Show" ever.

    Also it is so disturbing to know that the govt allows such intense human activity so close to the park and when accidents happen, with tigers accidentally killing humans, the tigers have to face the brunt!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gowri S View Post
    Also it is so disturbing to know that the govt allows such intense human activity so close to the park and when accidents happen, with tigers accidentally killing humans, the tigers have to face the brunt!
    Gowri,
    I have seen tourists scolding the jeep drivers and asking him to move ahead in search of other tigers, as they want to see all the tigers in the Park. They feel they have paid for seeing all the tigers.

    The question is who will teach or tame the unruly tourists. They way our tourism industry is run in India I don't find much hope.

    I was waiting for the same tigress and cubs to appear in the afternoon, hoping against hope as some tourists had already occupied the hut/watchtower. The driver of Kings Lodge opened a multi-coloured beach umbrella to protect its precious foreign clients from the sun.

    Mahouts tell the tourists that they can take the elephant much closer to the tiger. In the past I have been told not to fear as the elephant can go much closure. I had refused. If the purpose of tiger show is to sight a tiger, then the elephant can be kept at a respectable distance. The Park authorities ensure that tiger show is conducted as they earn money. It is unfortunate.

    Accidents do happen. People have fallen from the elephants, but the tigers have been restrained.

    Last year there was a tragic incident. A few persons had illegally entered the Park and came face to face with the the grown up male cub of the Sidhababa tigress. They fled but one woman was caught by the inquisitive cub and was killed. The cub then eat a bit of flesh from the woman's body. The Park Authorities wanted to declare this cub as a maneater. However, they huge protests from the drivers, guards, hotel owners and tourists prevented the Park Authorities. After about six months of this incident, a person was killed by a tiger in the buffer zone, about 30 kilometers from this area. It seems a tiger had killed a cow and the man tried to prevent the tiger by beating him up with a stick. Obviously, such stupidity meant instant death. The Park Authorities promptly declared that the cub of Sidhababa tigress was the culprit, declared him to be a maneater and sent him to Bhopal Zoo. Nobody realises that if this tiger is actually a maneater, then many more persons would have been killed.

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    I had gone to Bandhavgarh around christmas in 2007 and thought it has been over touristed - me being a part of that too - and something should be done to restrict the number of vehicles that enter the park every day. They could easily auction off the tickets and earn as well as keep the number in check.
    I was shocked to find temporary licence given to vendors to sell tea, maggi, samosa etc right inside the park. It was like any other picnic spot.
    And during the wait for the tiger, I realised what a circus they have made this whole thing of tiger sighting into.
    My experience with tiger show wasn't so dreadful. We were taken to a place where two tigers were resting after a kill. We saw them from a distance of around 200 feet. I don't think either the tigers or the elephants were too bothered about the whole thing.
    On balance - I would love to go back to Bandhavgarh but during a less touristy season and I wouldn't care if I didn't get to see a tiger during the trip. The Bandhavgarh landscape, the chitals, sambars and peacocks (not to speak of the Seshasayee idol) are good enough reason for me to want to go back to Bandhavgarh.
    Sudipto

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    It's really disturbing reading this.
    For a few dollars more we are ready to go to any inhuman extreme. Foreign tourists take advantage of our greed by demanding more than they except or will allow in their own country.
    I would propose the reserves have a restriction on number of visitors permitted every year. Further more make the entry free so high that most can't afford it. After all this heritage is priceless yet we are selling it for a few paltry dollars.

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    I read this thread today and cannot help but add to what has been mentioned here.

    I recently came back from there. Noticed the hut like structure present. Just heard from Harshad that it

    has been taken down....woohoo ! The Director has been transferred too !!

    Must have been a result of this structure that I didn't sight a single tiger in that area for almost 6-7

    days. Glad it was removed.

    2ndly, the chaos that tourists created in the Sidhbaba area was overwhelming. Everyone wanted to see a

    Tiger (for the first time, most likely) and was parked near the temple, one late morning. I was coming back

    from the other side and noticed about 40 jeeps waiting there...in groups..blocking the road completely, 3

    jeeps in each row. The sheer noise levels created by the tourists/their children was louder than the

    Cicadas that chirp throughout the jungles. It was SO SO...commercial that I dropped my cameras and picked

    up a videocamera to record this amazing chaos where tourists were shouting at each other, moving from jeep

    to jeep...jumping on seats. All this was happening when the Sidhbaba female (apparantly limping these days)

    was not even visible !!!!
    Once she showed her head from the grass....all hell broke loose ! Tourists went crazy....the Tigress

    ignored us all with her best behavior. It really was a lesson in moral science especially since she didn't

    go to school ever. But, nobody cared to see her, all they wanted was a shot in their lovely mobile cameras.

    Ah, bliss !!!

    Thirdly, I have begun hating those tiger shows, now that I have read about and seen what the animals go

    through. Admittedly, I only do them as a last resort when I cannot spot a Tiger and time is running out for

    me. Proudly, I can say, in this last trip to Bandhavgarh, I did zero tiger shows and feel relieved in some

    ways. They should be banned altogether........

    The only time I did it last was in Kanha, that too just for my cousin who wa accompanying me for the first

    time. The female tigress was sitting in thick bamboo undergrowth....panting like crazy....she clearly

    needed water. However, the mahouts and rangers didn't give a damn. They were sending tourist after tourist

    for 3-4 hours. We thought we were the last to ride the elephant which I had boarded reluctantly. Once I

    took a first glimpse of her, I put down my cameras and pitied her hapless situation, tears filled my eyes.

    The mahout asked me " sahib, photo kyu nahi nikal rahe aap". I responded only with a stare.....

    All these things that are being done for extra $/ Rs ....make me cringe. After this recent experience at

    Bandhavgarh and Kanha, I don't feel like visiting these places again, especially Bandhavgarh, which really

    has become a glorified zoo, a modern circus with chicken wire fences that run miles and miles...and you run

    a rat race to catch a tiger for yourself. If I do visit them, I will most likely focus on the lesser

    attended animals and try to showcase their beauty (I have tried it this time).

    Oh well, enough with my rant.....

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    So just out of curiosity, what is the situation in Ranthambore? I know that the vehicles have to follow particular routes there. Does this prevent vehicles from crowding together?

    Apana

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    Default disgusting

    I also went through this experience in kanha this may. We heard a sambar deer belling(alarm call) near one of the artifically created saucers near the end of one way road.we waited for the tiger to come out of the bushes to quench his thirst. after a while elephants came to that location and after permission from the forest department the tiger show began and we were litteraly driven out from the location where we were patiently waiting for the tiger to appear for more than a hour. after that the road was blocked from both the sides. We were told that if you want to get a glimpse of the tiger go and get the ticket for the tiger show. which we declined. after say 20 minutes or so one group who had enjoyed the tiger show told us that the tigeress(it was a tigress)was sitting on the road.
    I dont understand one thing when the tiger is visible directly from the gypsy why the elephant ride has to continue ? now i have to make a complaint about this. please suggest me a proper channel where atleast my complaint can be taken into notice.

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    Nishad,
    You can always send an email to the Chief Minister of MP, Member Secretary National Tiger Conservation Authority, MoEF Secretary and PMO. The ids were mentioned earlier. The field director of Kanha has been shifted recently.

    Our effort has worked. A number of our members had written emails. The field director of Bandhavgarh has been shifted. People can't sit in the hut (erected at Rajbehera to serve as a watch tower) and disturb the tigers any more.

    We should always continue to raise our voice.

    Apana,
    It is also bad in Ranthambhore. They also allot routes there and they they too converge in a place where tiger is sighted. To make the matters worse Ranthambhore allows canters.

    Ranthambhore is also bad as it is included in the tourist Circuits. People go for half a day to Bharatpur, then Ranthambhore, Jaipur, Mount Abu etc. You will find tourists soaked in liberal doses of perfumes, packed in the canters (those buses) howling, squealing and what not. God has blessed the Tiger with poor sense of smell, else they would have been really tortured.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

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    Yes, ranthambhore has a large share of the 1/2 a day visitor to the park enroute to other places in rajasthan.The Forest department officials are completely immersed in in giving guided tours to VIP/ Relatives.In my recent trip there in Zone-4, a group of 7 Gypseys converged around Machli feeding on a Chital carcass in a location that was off road and hence should be strictly out of bounds to the visitor. there was a pair of DMs, A police car with relatives of the SP, jeeps with Relatives of the forest officials in full view of our jeeps stranded on the track. Due to the obvious popularity of zone 4, due to the very visitor friendly machli and the very visible Berda Cubs, there is a huge demand for allocation of this route and touts and agents have a field day in assuring visitors a conformed zone-4 and hence hefty commissions.
    To be fair to the FD, the online safari booking system, coupled with the preferance to the visitor over the tout at the booking window is an obvious plus point in ensuring more equitable wildlife viewing in the park.
    BTW..i dont think the canter is such a bad idea, agreed that it is a noisy cankerous device, but each canter ferries 30 people which when compared to jeeps which technically should ferry 6 people but because of the Rs 400/- per seat charge, often i see, a single or two people on the jeep instead of six. So that makes for a very large footprint when compared to a 30 people canter (which is always full). Only 4 jeeps are allowed per route (meaning 24 people at the max...usually its 15 people), and 3 canters (meaning 90 people). I suppose some channel for the "aam junta" has to be left in the scheme of things.
    Last edited by Dipankar Mazumdar; 04-06-2009 at 08:20 AM.

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    By all means let's regulate the number of Gypsys but I don't think we should create a situation where photographers and enthusiasts are inconvenienced.

    Apana

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    Thumbs down

    I echo all your sentiments here. The case is bad in kanha,bandhavgarh and ranthambore. I had visited Kanha twice and ranthambore once and have decided not to visit these places again. Too much of tourism interests and less of animal conservation thoughts. Infact even in corbett its not all that great. Although its better than many other parks there are still flaws in the management there.

    About 400mts from Dhikala is a watch tower which is usually open for visitors to use.I was aghast when a guide told us that its just 400mts, you can even walk but we refused saying that its just not correct to "walk" especially when in tiger perifery when the park officially states no walking. But to our dismay we could see some tourists walk to the watch tower while we were in our jeep and these guys were talking loudly and making a racket.

    This is the case with Dudhwa also. I will share an incident that happened in Dudhwa and i am ashamed that i was party to that. We were a group of 15 boys in our college days and a friend's father was the Principal Chief Conservator of UP then. Non-Vegetarian food was freshly prepared in the FRH kitchen for US. Though i am a veg. i could not convince the others or the management to change their attitude. At about 2.30 am we could see a leopard near the kitchen walls. There is nothing that can be done. Infact it still happens as of today for VIPs. Atleast in places like corbett non-veg is not allowed but there still are many NPs where these norms are overruled.

    The list is endless..............

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    Default Deforestation

    I have been to bandavgarh and have seen lot of land around the main gate deforested for the upcoming lodges and resorts.I am sure lot many forests face the same issue. Can tourism benefit Wildlife or forest in the long run ?

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    Neil,
    I am afraid, the short answer to your question is NO. The way tourism is run doesn't benefit wildlife. Most of the times they claim to have conservation as a priority, which is not.

    Concrete structures are erected in prime forest lands without giving a thought about the consequences. Migratory corridors are cut off. Roads are created and road kills follow. To support the resorts, people move in and stay around the place. In short, foundation for a township is laid.

    There is no instance of our tour operators increasing the forest cover in a place. Even very high profile tour operators like Taj-CC Africa has only gone to established places like Bandhavgarh, Corbett etc.

    You would have seen hundreds of plastic bottles lying outside bandhavgarh. Tourists consume mineral water and throw the bottles outside. Tala (near the bandhvgarh gate) was a hamlet of about 6 families. Now it is a mini town. The buffer zone is mostly devoid of trees. With more and more people coming to support the tourism industry, there is more biotic pressures. It is an unfortunate situation.

    Sabyasachi

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