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New Safari Season at Kanha

We are already in the First week of November & most of the National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries are already open except Dhikala zone of Corbett National Park which is scheduled to open around 15th November. Sighting reports from most prominent parks of India have been good so far, especially Ranthambore, Kanha & Bandhavgarh.

For me, the season started at Kanha National Park. Like Ranthambore, Kanha also had less rain than expected and the impact is quite visible. Banjar River which flows at a close distance from National Park is negotiable even by motorbikes something which is normally not possible till the end of January /early February.

During my first drive at Khapa Zone in Kanha, we did see pug marks in plenty across the riverbed. This is the area of a female with sub-adult cubs adjacent to our camp in Kanha. On multiple occasions, I have heard about sightings of this family around the riverbed, on the road leading towards camp, especially around late evening but have not had the privilege of seeing them yet. As I understand, the cubs are fully grown up now and are likely to disperse soon. The mother has been sighted on multiple occasions since then, a few days earlier she was sighted continuously for 3 days.

Link 7 male Kanha

First sighting of Season

The next day morning while admiring the post-monsoon view meadows of Mukki zone we saw track marks of a male tiger on the road leading towards the Chital fire line. As we were looking for more signs, a herd of alert spotted deer following something at a distance gave it away…a tiger walking on the road ahead of us …a male tiger, couldn’t have asked for more :). As he stood still for a while, we decided to take Duke’s Road to reach the other end of the road as we had anticipated him to cross towards the fire line…usual movement pattern in this patch. By the time we reached the other end of the road, he decided to sit for a while before making his next move. A glance through binoculars converted guess into fact- it was indeed him. My friend Chota Munna aka Link 7 male.

It is indeed a great coincidence that he was the first tiger I saw during my first-ever drive at Kanha &

Link 7 male Kanha

              Chota Munna aka link 7 male

somehow do end up seeing him at least once during my trip ever since.  Son of the legendary tiger -Munna, this young tiger is not ready to give up on his new land. A big gash on his nose perhaps from a fight with another tiger confirms the ongoing struggle for control of land and ladies to mate with. He and his competitor Umarpani male have had several altercations since last summer, only time will tell if they learn to co-exist or if one would get better than the other. Whatever the outcome could be but I am sure that Link 7 is in no mood to give it all up yet that too easily. After spending a few minutes with us he decided to walk away towards the fire line as expected and disappeared into the green thicket surrounded by early morning mist.

 

The other star Family of Mukki zone – Mahaveer female and her cubs continue to live up to their name and my next drive was about meeting two young members of this family. Having missed them a day before by a few seconds as the family slipped away for an afternoon siesta; luck was on my side the following morning. After an initial dry run and early breakfast, we decided to head back to the same area where we were expecting the family to be. There were pug marks all along the safari tracks, some of them fresh indicating that perhaps some members of the family had walked a few minutes back. The Jungle was silent with no indication of the presence of big cats whatsoever. With almost 1.30 hours still to go for the safari to end, we decided to wait hoping we might get something. In Kanha most of the time sightings do happen suddenly without an alarm call so it is natural to wait and expect things to unfold on their own. And suddenly a male spotted deer came running out of the bushes, however, he was still unsure and kept looking in the same direction. He surely was suspicious but unsure of, as he stood his ground watching the thick undergrowth. Something emerged like a bullet and the chase was on even before we realized what had just happened. The inexperienced young female cub missed it by a few meters and frustration was visible. Her brother decided to stay put at the edge of the thick cover perhaps watching it from a safe distance. After catching up on her breath the cub headed back to where she came from leaving us behind to tell the story of our chance encounter. Trying to put the entire sequence of images in the form of a slide show.

Mukki zone continues to top Sighting charts at Kanha with recent sightings of Dhawajhandi female with 4 cubs. More on this new addition to the Kanha family soon….

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