Sharp at 3:00 pm, as the gates at Kisali opened for the long awaited evening safari, we rushed inside the famed jungles of Kanha. We were headed to the thick Saal forests to look for none other than a tiger, but before we could move even 100 meter, our nature guide nudged us to look towards our left. Keeping our fingers tight on camera, we looked that way to notice an Indian Roller bird sitting atop a stone. It was looking towards us, perhaps as a watchdog to the jungle or may be it was welcoming us at our first foray into fantastic and huge Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Though we were expecting to sight a tiger on priority, the beauty and welcoming gesture of the bird forced us to stop and shoot, pictures. We did that in following pics.
Indian Roller atop an Antler
Though the hunt for tigers continued to dominate our quest and ears(jungle calls of sambhars and deer and langurs on sighting a tiger themselves are unmistakably audible and can shoot your adrenaline level at once), the birds of Kanha kept on attracting us and by their sheer beauty, forced us to pause our hunt for tigers and to give them attention and love they deserved. It was a great experience actually to see these lovely birds including our own national bird, peacock sitting atop a tree log.
Black Shouldered Kite
Vulture and Nest
Racket Tailed Black Drango
White Crested Hawk Eagle
We continued to enjoy these jungle beauties and though we sighted a tigress in the fourth day of our chase, these images have left me and my friends spell bound. Kanha is a truly a bird watcher’s paradise. Thanks Kanha.
Bird Asking to Follow Instruction
(All the Pics are personal property/copyright of the author and can not be used without prior permission.)
Author at Kanha
Clut. Clut. Clut. The sound was too close. What it was? From where it was? I felt lazy to interrupt my afternoon nap and to step outside to check out the issue on that April 13′ afternoon. Having arrived at Kanha from Jabalpur and after some delicious forest rest house cooked lunch, I was a having a lovely ‘afternoon siesta’ at the FRH(forest rest house) Kanha National park. Kanha National Park, set up in 1955 is spread over 940 sq kms of district Mandala and Balaghat and is the biggest one in central India. It habitats a rich variety of fauna including Royal Bengal Tiger.
It was our first day there and we had just napped, post lunch. We wanted to be recharged quickly before the start of the evening jungle safari. But the sound was getting clearer and perhaps closer to us. It appeared as few sticks or poles were being banged against each other. I came outside to have a look myself. The FRH Kanha built towards the end of British Raj, is a beautiful building with a vast and expansive court yard in front. Interestingly, there was no boundary wall or even a fence to separate or distinguish the FRH courtyard or lawn from the vast natural forest, just outside. It was like being in the jungle itself with no barrier between man and the beast. It may be arguable though, the beast was on which side! The forest in front, with a huge grass land called as chaur was slightly pale yellow as the grass had dried up substantially. There were very few trees to interrupt the view. As the grass was not so high I could see a good distance. There was certainly nothing just outside the room. Then I realized that at some distance two huge shining black animals were in locked horns and pushing each other to extreme. I looked at them more carefully and asked the forest guard what that was? He told me that they were the wild bisons called as Gaur locally, the largest extant bovine animal on planet and that they were aplenty at Kanha.
The Raging Bisons
The battle between them was clearly visible and watchable. I called out my kids and wife too, to join me. It continued unabated and perhaps these animals did not care a damn about our presence from the so called safety of the rest house. The weight of each of them was no less than 800 to 1000 kg. The length of the animal was also impressive at more than 3 meters. The horns of them were also substantially large and chiseled. It was a thrill therefore to watch these two heavy male bisons challenging each other with full ferocity in this early summer afternoon. The basics were clear here. One had to lose and that too badly!. Then the loser had to surrender and literally beg for its life. No middle path or no mercy in the animal kingdom. Only victory or only defeat. But who had to lose and who not, had to be decided by the battle on the ground only. They had chosen the venue though to much of our dismay. The heavier one who could create more momentum of brute force was in the advantage. Now gradually as the fight continued, the theater of action was shifting closer to the guest house. We were initially enjoying, but now we had some fear factor too due to proximity to the ring!. The locking of the horns and subsequent pushing of other was throwing some dust upwards too. The vision was though clear.
The Loser Bison!
The moment of decision came soon. The one bison who had dug his heels properly and whose skin was shining and glistening black charged one last time with all force he could gather. The other one though not an easy thing to push, surrendered to the biology of youth and the physics of huge brute momentum force, thus generated. The impact of the last push was visible clearly in form of an injury visible to my camera at a good distance. The blood leaked from it and the poor bison decided to suffer a quick retreat. Now, interestingly the winner decided to chase the vanquished one. He chased it with ferocity and the poor bison ran for its life. It vanished with in no time in deep forest. Now the victorious one bereft of a target to be mauled, found out a termite hill near by and with all ferocity pierced its horns in it. He wanted to show that he meant business. It offered no resistance. I Clicked from a safe distance. To the bison, it was a satisfactory achievement and the crumbling earth of the termite hill perhaps would have polished his horns a bit more!
Destroying the Termite Hill
What a scene it was and so close to us on very first day of arrival. We were thrilled and though the evening safari gave us the views of the tiger too, this was one great live encounter to watch. We just then recalled the catch line of MP tourism ad, “M P Gazab Hai!”. True.