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Friday, June 28, 2013

What can you do at Kanha?

What can you do at Kanha?

Kanha National Park is spread over 2000 Sq. Kms including core and buffer forest area. One of the best managed Tiger reserves of India, it is visited by tourists from all over the world to enjoy wildlife safari, spot tiger and other free roaming animals in their natural habitat. With most of the hotels at Kanha and tour operators, selling tiger safari packages people tend to miss that this one of the most beautiful forests of central India has so much more to offer.

Visiting Kanha tiger reserve only to see the big cat is, I personally feel, the biggest blunder any tourist can make. But, due to dearth of information about other activities and attractions around Kanha I will certainly say it is not the tourists fault since the accommodation providers, wildlife tour operators as well as tourism department does not provide detailed information.  Most tour packages for Kanha National Park only have tiger safari options. Here I present a list of activities and attractions which most of the resorts at Kanha and wildlife lodges at Kanha will be able to help you with.

Tiger Safari: Certainly the most famous activity for this world famous national park. It is conducted in two parts morning and noon wherein tourists visit the core area in 4 x 4 Gypsy vehicles. Safaris are conducted on designated zones and roads with a guide provided by the forest department.

Elephant Safari: A very good way to see the dense forest where your safari Gypsy cannot take you due to lack of roads is on elephant back. But, I personally am against this since we need the elephants for patrolling and not joy rides so best avoided as there are other better ways of exploring the forest like – on foot.

Jungle Walk: Tiger reserve management has made few pathways in the buffer area of tiger reserve where you can take a walk with help of a guide which is made available on payment of a small amount at the Khatia / Mukki entry gate. I will suggest – sacrifice a safari for it and you will never regret your decision. Here you will be able to enjoy the forest more, see those small things which we normally miss sitting on a safari vehicle and certainly be able to appreciate the bio-diversity in much better way. Guide fees of 200/- has to be paid at the ticket counter including which the total cost comes to around 750/- per group of 6 people.

Bird Watching: Kanha forest has more than 280 bird species which can be seen inside and outside the core area. Different species of birds choose different type of forests from open to scrub to dense or grass land. Every season has its own advantage like in winters many migratory birds visit this area but some locals one migrate to further southern region and come back in summers. Near water body or around it is the best area to see birds. You can visit the core area to see those flying wonders that prefer dense forests and take walks in the buffer area to appreciate ones which do not hesitate of humans. Check list of birds in Kanha is available and can be purchased at local store or downloaded from

Wildlife Photography: One beautiful photograph can change heart of so many making them fall in love with nature and wildlife converting them in to conservationists. Today wildlife nature photography as a hobby is catching up very fast amongst our younger generation and why not, it is one of the best ways to appreciate our natural heritage and wildlife. When at Kanha you can take wildlife safari in the core forest as well as walks in the buffer area to do photography. Here I would certainly request that always keep photography ethics in mind and do not ever force your guide or driver in any way to break any rule just to take one unusual photograph. 

MPCA visit: Medicinal Plantation Conservation Area (MPCA) located near village Boda Chhapri, in buffer of Kanha Tiger Reserve is one place you should visit to see the diverse plant species found in Kanha landscape. Here you will be able to observe some of those rare herbs which are used in traditional medicines and are even raw material for modern medicine. Ask your accommodation provider in Kanha to arrange a local Vaidya or Ojha who will be able to describe in detail about all trees and herbs you see and tell about its medicinal properties. This costs around Indian Rupees 750/- to 1000/- per group of 6 people.  

Tribal village visit: Plan to visit one of those Baiga villages around Kanha to see how the actual guardians of central Indian forests used to live. Baiga tribal are one of the oldest inhabitants of our forests and understand the local biodiversity as the back of their palm. One of the most famous of them was Late Manglu Baiga about whom we hear stories that how he has helped officers earn their Doctorate degrees but he himself always remained what he was from the first day, a true nature warrior and lover of Kanha’s vast natural heritage. Although modern world and influx of tourists has certainly changed their life style to certain extent but visiting a Baiga village has its own appeal.

Yoga and Meditation: Today’s demanding life sucks out all life juice from our mind and body. Just sit back and relax under any tree enjoying the beautiful natural heritage around, listening to the music of nature, reading a book, making a painting or sketch. Believe me even though resorts in Kanha do not offer it but this is one of the best activity and least harmful for our forests. If a group of people are planning they can take a Yoga or spiritual guru along and take full advantage of calm atmosphere of Kanha.

Rejuvenation and wellness: Peaceful and relaxing atmosphere around Kanha is one of the best places to rejuvenate and re-energize your mind and body. Hotels in Kanha can arrange massage for guests which along with jungle walks, swimming and simple food can help a lot. Although we do not have specialized spa and wellness resorts at Kanha but facility for same can be arranged by many.

Star gazing: ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are’ – we all have heard of this beautiful poem sometimes or other. In cities we do not see those twinkles due to lighting all around, pollution and Television. At Kanha you can sit out with all lights shut off and see the stars and constellations, remembering those good old times when you were young and so fascinated by those diamonds in the sky and lady on the moon.

Kanha national park is in Mandla district with its head quarters just 45 Kms from Khatia. Interested people can see Fort and Palace of Gond kings, some old temples or take a dip in holy river Narmada. There are a few souvenir shops in Kanha where you can purchase items made by local tribal and villagers for your loved and dear ones.  

Before I forget, one activity which I like the most when at Kanha, forget all your work, just give time to your other half and try to understand him / her better. Take a stroll with her / him while birds singing in the background provide perfect musical romantic mood and trees ideal ambience.

Come Celebrate Nature Celebrate Life

Monday, June 17, 2013

Barking Deer - Kakad

Barking Deer – India Muntjac

So known for its bark like alarm call, Barking Deer or Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak), is short brownish deer species with tusk like upper canine teeth’s. Its alarm calls are a very reliable indicator of presence of any predator. Indian Muntjac is most wide spread of total 11 species of Muntjacs found in Asia.

Barking Deer or Indian Muntjac
(taken from


Barking Deer are very distinctive with their tusk like canine teeth which is used to defend itself. It has wide coloration range with Dark brown to yellowish or grey brown on dorsal, white on ventral side and slightly darker brown face. They have very short antlers of around 2 to 3 inches. They are around 20 – 25 inches tall and 40 – 55 inches long with male of the species bit taller than the females. Their weight ranges between 20 – 30 Kgs. Male Barking Deer have their separate territory and can be very aggressive against intrusion. They have a life span of 25 to 30 years.

Distribution and habitat

The Barking Deer can be seen in tropical and subtropical deciduous forests, grasslands, savannas, and scrub forests from sea level up to an altitude of 9600 feet in Himalayas. It is found in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, etc. It is most densely located in Southeast Asia with Indian population estimated to be more than 1,30,000. Scrub forests and hilly tracts around forests and national park like Kanha, Corbett and Bandhavgarh are  good places to observe them where they can be spotted feeding at the edge of the forest or in abandoned clearings.


Ecology, Behavior and Food

Indian Muntjac prefers hilly areas with water in the vicinity. Omnivores in food habits they eat  grasses, prickly bushes, leaves, bark, twigs, fruit, seeds, tender shoots, eggs and small warm-blooded animals. They have also been seen eating on dead animals at times. Normally seen alone they have also been seen in groups of 3 – 5. A very cautious and shy animal which can be seen by the way it moves, one step at a time, ready to run away with slight hint of danger. Author has seen one Barking deer approaching almost 10 – 12 feet of where he was sitting motionless until his presence was given away by cloth movement due to sudden wind.

They prefer dense forest area to open grass land and can often be spotted on the fringe forests. Males mark their territory and defend it from other male which often leads to fighting.  They leave scent markers by rubbing their pre-orbital glands (located just below the eyes) on the ground and on trees and scraping the bark of trees with their lower incisors. I have often seen them visiting water holes in the evening for a quich sip.


Indian Muntjac does not have any specific breeding period. Female gives birth to a single fawn after a gestation period of 6 – 7 months. They chose a dense patch of forest for safety from predators. Young leaves the mother in 5 to 6 months to make its own territory.


Habitat destruction and poaching for its meat and hide are major problem behind its decline in population. Barking deer is killed by farmers when it raids the agriculture fields adjoining dense forest.


Although barking deer is not in the endangered species list but in India its hunting is barred by law.



Monday, June 10, 2013

Checklist - Birds of Kanha

Check list of Birds - Kanha National Park

Here is a checklist of birds found in Kanha National Park and around. Bird watchers may be able to use and tick birds they see when visiting Kanha. If you want a copy you may get one from our resort in Kanha. I have not given scientific or local names here but common names only.

Gold mantled chloropsis
Jerdons Leaf Bird
Pied Starling
Jungle Myna
Spangled Drongo
White Bellied Drongo
Ashy Drongo
Black Drongo
Racket Tailed Drongo
Oriental Turtel Dove
White Rumped Shama
Yellow fronted Woodpecker
Brown Capped Pigmy Woodpecker
White Naped Woodpecker
Black rumped flameback
White Throated Flycatcher
Asian Borwn flycatcher
White Browed Flycatcher
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Verditor Flycatcher
Black Naped Monarch
Black Hooded Oriole
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Clamarous Reed Warbler
Hume's Warbler
Golden Oriole
Booted Warbler
Sulphur Bellied Warbler
Common Iora
Greenish Warbler
Common Chiff Chaff
White Eyed Buzzard
Ultramarine Flycatcher
Indian Pitta
White Eye
Brown Headed Barbet
Crimson Breasted Barbet
Bronze Winged Dove
Painted Snipe
Common Snipe
Indian Silver Bill
Red  Avadavat
White Rumped Munia
Zitting Cisticola
Red Rumped Swallows
Wire Tailed Swallows
Eurasian Cuckoo
Black Headed Munia
Crested Tree Swift
Common Baya
Plain martin
Grey Francolin
Painted Francolin
Tickell's Flycatcher
Thick Billed Flycatcher
Red Breasted Flycatcher
Magpie Robin
Brown Cheeked Fulvetta
Painted Spurfowl
Red Spurfowl
Red Jungle Fowl
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Pallas Fish Eagle
Crested Serpent Eagle
Eurasian Marsh Harrier
Crested Hawk Eagle
Long Billed Vulture
White Rumped Vulture
Egyptian Vulture
King Vulture
Eurasian Sparrow Hawk
Common Kestrel
Spotted Dove
Ring Dove
Laughing Dove
Mottled Wood Owl
Barred Jungle Owlet
Brown Fish Owl
Spotted Owlet
Tawny Eagle Owl
Indian Eagle Owl
Indian Scops Owl
Yellow Fronted Green Pigeon
Orange Breasted Green Pigeon
Indian Scimitar Babbler
Tawny Babbler
Jungle Babbler
Purple Sunbird
Scarlet Minivet
Long Tailed Minivet
Small minivet
Rufous Treepie
Eurasian Wigeon
Northern Pintail
Lesser Adjutant Stork
Wooly Necked Stork
Chestnut Shouldered Petronia
Rose Ringed Parakeet
Common Kingfisher
Plum Headed Parakeet
Alexandrine Parakeet
Pied Kingfisher
Stork Billed Kingfisher
White Throated Kingfisher
Common Stonechat
Common Tailor Bird
Pied Stonechat
White Ibis
Plain prinia
Brown Rock Chat
Jungle Prinia
Ashy Prinia
Yellow Eyed Babbler
Little Cormorant
Glossy Ibis
Indian Cormorant
Brahminy Starling
Rosy starling
Yellow Wattled Lapwing
Red Wattled Lapwing
Eurasian Thicknee
Rufous Tailed Lark
Tree Pipit
Olive Backed Pippit
Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch
Malabar Pied Hornbill
Common Grey Hornbill
Barn Swallows
Chestnut Tailed Starling
Brown Shrike
Bay Backed Shrike
Long Tailed Shrike
Indian Robin
Large Cuckoo Shrike
Common Hawk Cuckoo
Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher
Shirkeer Malkoha
Lesser Whistling teals

There is a possibility that some names have been mis-spelled or serial number has gone wrong please do not mind the same. Hotels at Kanha may be able to provide a check list if available or else you can get a copy from shop at Khatia entrance of Kanha Tiger Reserve or one at the museum / canteen in Kanha zone.