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Season Round Up Bandhavgarh 2021-22

The 2021 -22 season remained a very mixed season from a sighting standpoint, Magdhi remained a season saver, Tala was a mixed bag, with a quiet first half and an exciting last couple of months & Khitauli were intermittent till summer and then it started to get exciting with regular sightings.

However, the one thing that remained consistent is “bad news” while the park is closed, every year for the last several years we have received news of an untimely death of a tiger, this time it was famous and loved “Spot-T’ or spotty. The forest department called out no territory fight but old age as a cause of the death. I continue to believe there are gaps in the assessment, 10 Years is not an age which is old for a tiger, and for sure not a tiger who is strong, and someone who has established prime territory and is active and not injured. What’s surprising is she was found in a territory she does not frequent, and found by trackers who generally don’t go into ravines. A lot of unanswered questions and the department will ensure that there is an official view which does not leave any room for doubts. But to be honest, this is a coverup.


Predictions (2020-21)

As always let me revisit the predictions made during the season round-up last year (2021-22) and assess what we got right and wrong.

Last year, these were my Top 5 predictions,

  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.
    Outcome – Easily, Magdhi was the saviour this season, Dotty cubs, and Dhabhadol cubs were the highlight of the season. We never saw a lot of the Mardhari female and her cubs, they were spotted, but sparingly.
  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 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.
    Outcome – The action was sporadic with Spotty and cubs, but we never saw a new litter from Spotty.
  3. I hope Bheem or Bajrang establish themselves in Tala, and if that happens this could well be the start of riches in the Chakradhara area, Siddh Baba area of the park. If not, then some strange dynamics across the Chakradhara family is expected to play out in this area.
    Outcome – Never happened, Bajrang choose to remain in Khitauli and also pushed chota bheem further inside Khitauli, Bheem was never seen the entire season.
  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 on behavior, territories, and tourism in the park.
    Outcome – They dominated like never before. They were everywhere and also started to charge quite often. They are now a dominant specie in the park.
  5. I do expect new litters from Kajri, Spotty, Dhabhdhol and Mahaman this season and those could well define the season.
    Outcome – Kajri, Mahaman have new litter, Spotty and Dhabhadol did not have a new litter. I still believe Dhabhadol may have a litter soon.

I continue to believe the park is “In Transition,” and we should see a lot of new starts in the next few years as the park rebuilds itself.

Let's look at the season highlights across the Zones:

  • Tala as always was quiet all through the season, Spotty cubs have now split from their mother, the first 6 months she spent time keeping the cubs away and on their own, and this led to cubs in different places, unfortunately, they were in the closed zones and showed up occasionally in damnar and Kuta areas. Kajri was the darling of the zone; she showed off her new litter and they were cute and bold. Chakradhara female and her daughter both have cubs but remained elusive and so did the area. Nothing else was exciting in the park
  • Magdhi, the show was all Dotty, Jhamole and cubs, they rocked, they entertained, and they were a lesson for unity. Jhamole surprised us every day with his antics, his commitment and loyalty to this family were unbelievable. The highlight was their run-ins in Charkwah and also the famous sukhi patiha territorial fight. If you get time, check it on youtube, I have also captured them as a photo series.
  • Khitauli was amazing in the 2nd half, Bajrang established the territory in kumbi kachar as you enter the park, and Chota Bheem established himself around Nigah nallah, Band taliya etc. Both are now dominant in their areas and courting a few tigresses. The highlight of this zone was Chota Bheem with is old litter all soaking in the sun one summer morning, turns into an Iconic picture. Tara delivered a new litter, and they are beautiful, yet very small. They will need to survive the rains. All in all, making this a very interesting summer. 
  • Dhamonkar was lit up by the female near the lake with her 2 cubs, and D1 is often seen in the season. Exciting times for them as they grow up and try and establish new territory.
  • Elsewhere in the park, a few had sightings of the Birhouli family in the Panpatta range and they had some amazing time with them by the nallah.

Now to the Top 5 predictions for the 2022-23 Season

  1. Sightings – Much of the sightings are likely to Magdhi and Khitauli, no different than the last season, Magdhi thru the year, and Khitauli from Jan, will see consistency. It’s well worth a try to the buffer for an off-safari or two just to check on any new litter or new surprises.
  2. Tara's litter if they survive will be interesting as they move between the buffer and the core, and so will Kajari as she moves between the core and buffer with her litter. I do see them stifled a bit in the narrow pathways, and the department will have to keep a close watch on them with the pressure from tourism.
  3. Tala overall may see a weak winter and if there will be an activity, expect intermittent sightings of the males, an odd chakradhara sighting. However, I do see activity post-March with a few more happenings with Banbehi bacchi, Chakradhara bachi and mom as well as some surprises in June.
  4. The males in 7D, Bajrang, and Chota Bheem own prime territory and often try to create more territory and move into newer areas.
  5. New litters – I do hope we see a new litter with Banbehi Bacchi and could be critical for the hope in Tala.
A lot of you will be curious to know if Tala can recover to its glory, perhaps not this season or next, as we need at least 3-4 established females with territory to build the glory back. At the moment we have 4 females, but 3 of them are very elusive so it's hardly an opportunity, also no sub-adult female looking to establish territory so unlikely to recover anytime soon.

Odd days will be great, most days will be empty. Cheers, Best of Luck! 


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