< < Go Back
image description

Bandhavgarh Season Round Up 2021

The 2020 -21 season will always be remembered for a year of great hope and even greater disappointment. The Energy levels were very high in anticipation of the new season, and constructively we started to hear bad news. Mysteriously we lost Solo and her cubs before the park opened or the new season, the elephants found two sets of dead cubs in Bhitri and Umrah, Bhitri herself was found dead (on account of a snake bite) and finally before the park closed we lost another matriarch in Banbehi.

Bandhavgarh also saw one of the largest forest fires, across large parts of Khitauli and Magdhi and timely support from all concerned helped to get the fire in control.

The Pandemic had its say in our lives, and the forest had its share of ups and downs. From a tourism perspective it was a year where uncertainty, lockdowns led a tough year for the guides, drivers and hotels who pinned great hope on the season. Swift administration and mandated vaccination led to the second half being open for tourism.

As always let me revisit the predictions made during the season round up last year (2020-21) and assess what we got right and wrong.
Predictions (2020-21)
Last year, these were my Top 5 predictions,
  1. The season will start slow – sluggish before it starts to open up by Feburary. Solo cubs will light up Magdhi while rest of the park catches up.
  2. I do see restrictive movement from Spotty and she will be wary to show up early with her litter both on account of history, mental state and the males. Expect her to show up regularly from Feburary – June 2021.
  3. I do expect new litters from Dotty, Kajri / Bhitri and some surprises from Dhabadol.
  4. I do expect a new Male to show up – R1 or R2 or R3 – surprise for sure!!
  5. Magdhi will run the first half and Khitauli and Tala the second half of the season.
Overall, this is a season “In Transition,” we should see a lot of new starts in the next two years as the park rebuilds itself.

Outcome of the above
  • The season was “ In Transition,” the untimely deaths of Solo and cubs, Banbehi and Bhitri left a void across areas within the park – new females & males emerged especially in Khitauli --- clearly a transition season.
  • The season started slowly, especially with the long breaks due to the Pandemic for most of the first half. Magdhi continued to lead in the first half with action. Khitauli and Tala did come up slowly in the second half of the season.
  • Spotty as predicted was not so frequent in the first half but we did see her more often from January with her cubs, however very restricted appearances from her.
  • Dotty & Dhabhadol showed up with exciting news and lit up parts of the park in Magdhi.
  • New males slowly showed up, namely Bajrang, Chota Bheem and some of them into Tala as well – very interesting movements – but the R1,R2 & R3 tigers did not show up. The new entrant was the Jhamol male – near Salinda and surprised all of us with his bold and aggressive nature. We did see D1 & D2 move between Dhamonkar and periphery of Magdhi. Overall, Males are looking to establish their territories.
  • Prediction on the solo cubs went wrong – as they died even before the park opened – had they been alive it would have been an exciting time for Bandhavgarh.
Season Highlights - Let us now look back, and retrace the steps across the zones.
  • Tala as always was quiet all through the season, occasionally Spotty and her cubs showed up near Jhumri Taliya and retracted back into the hills after a kill or two, the cubs were bold and were often seen on the road or beside soaking up the attention from an otherwise quiet zone. Towards the end of the season, 7D or Chakradhara male was also seen around in the Patparhah area of the park. Apart from this family, tourists occasionally saw Kajri crossing the road in and around Chua. The promise of the Chakradhara family and their elusive posture continued. The Zone has a long way to transition before we see the past glory.
  • Magdhi, despite the loss in Solo’s family, bounced back quickly. Dotty’s new litter as expected showed up in the Jan- Feb timeframe and the excitement was back in the park, tourism almost overnight got an uplift in the park with everybody looking out for this wonderful family. They continued to entertain till the last day in the park. Giving them company, was the Jhamol male – who curiously was found ever so often with the dotty family, and at times Mahaman male so close that it de-bunked every Tiger behavior theory we have come to learn. The Jhamol male also has earned a reputation of charging on vehicles that it makes him a character in years to come.
  • Elsewhere another family, namely the Dhabhadol family started to do some amazing things, one of which was reminiscent of Ranthambhore tiger charge across the lake to make a sambhar kill, we saw the Dhabhadhol female make a startling charge across the Dhabhadol area across the grass & into the water to make a kill. (If you missed this, search it on the web), a piece of action you cannot miss from the last season.
  • I got lucky too, I chanced upon Sukhi Patiha’s daughter from an earlier litter who was seen near Mardhari and now has established herself in the Umrah & Kada Paani area slowing taking over a large part of Solo’s territory. We think she must her to have littered recently and do expect her to show off her little ones in the next season.
  • Our very own, favourite Bhamera Jr decided to enjoy top-notch luxury at Samode Safari lodge, he also got himself a private balcony and some much-needed rest as he is nursing some serious injuries from run-ins with Bheem, Chota Bheerm and Bajrang. We will be lucky to see him next season, and if we do, we would have recovered for the good.
  • Khitauli, had an interesting season, the big males decided to take a stroll into Tala to find new territory. While for many its just a behavior, for us it is a hope of a new start in the Chakradhara areas should they establish themselves there and we hope to see a far more tourist friendly litter. Elsewhere in Khitauli, the beautiful Tara had her second litter and was always criss crossing towards the buffer and the zone. We also chanced upon a new female, extraordinarily strong, stocky and big built in Chota Bheem area, many who have seen her, recognize her from the buffer, she was very elusive, and we hardly got a chance to get her picture, she is found in the Nigah Nallah area, but is not the Nigah nallah female. Watch out for he this season. With the elephants growing in numbers, and the Tigers getting bold, we should expect a lot more action from this zone in the coming season.
  • The brightest moment for us was to find the “lost” Solo female cub, now in her prime she has established territory in Dhamonkar. Being the only ones to have seen her in over 10 months and for the first time since we lost Solo was a divine moment. These stories are what makes Bandhavgarh so beautiful. D1, D2 (old dotty male cubs from the first litter) now established themselves firmly in Dhamonkar and as time goes by, we do expect them to play a key role in the tourism zones.
Now to the Top 5 predictions for 2021-22 Season.
  1. Magdhi will rock in the coming season – Dotty cubs, Dhabhadhol family, Mardari cubs and the interplay between Mahaman male and Jhamol male. Expect a lot to happen in this zone.
  2. My prediction in Tala, is you will see more domination from Spotty and her cubs as they start to establish additional territory across Tala, with so much of space and opportunity we will see something new. I also do think we will see a new Spotty litter soon with D7 or Chakradhara male this season by April / May 2022.
  3. I hope Bheem or Bajrang establish themselves in Tala, and if that happens this could well be a start of riches in the Chakradhara area, Siddh baba area of the park. If not, then some strange dynamics across with the Chakradhara family is expected to play out in this area.
  4. Elephants, will continue to create more territory in the park, do expect them to grow in numbers and get more aggressive and these could have some serious impact in behavior, territories, and tourism in the park.
  5. I do expect new litters from Kajri, Spotty, Dhabhdhol and Mahaman this season and those could well define the season.
The season continues in transition – so there will be impressive days and some nothing days, but the days when there is action Bandhavgarh will ROCK. See you in the Park!! Cheers, Best of Luck!


< < Go Back
Call Whatsapp