Call of the 'WILD'- Pench & Kanha Tiger reserve

Tripoto
22nd May 2014

Birds at the National Park

Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress
Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress

Jackal

Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress

Deer

Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress

Neelgai

Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress

Barasingha

Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress

Monkeys

Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress

Langurs

Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress
Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress
Photo of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nerdy Adventuress

DAY 1- Pench Tiger Reserve7:00 AM

Sitting in the open gypsy, we are all straining our ears to hear the call of the deer and monkeys while our guide figures out which way the Tiger is headed. A low growl breaks the silence and we quickly look around.

False alarm. That was our stomach growling with hunger!

We have all been up since 5:00 AM to come for this safari and here I was hungry, sleepy and cold! All I wanted then was some hot food, warm blanket and my bed. I really don’t like visiting Wildlife reserves and cursed myself for my present plight...

Back in 98’, my dad got home from office and said, “I have something to show you”. Soon emerged a pair of BIG eyes...REALLY BIG EYES with a really tiny tail. I looked at it curiously and it was a monkey going through momentary shock. But it was then; I was educated about the Slow Loris! For 2 years, I stayed in the middle of Rangapahar Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagaland where wild animals and reptiles sighting was quite a common sight. Probably because of this I really did not have knack or desire to go out of my way to see wildlife. After my 2 years in Nagaland, I never went to a wildlife sanctuary. No, it’s not like I don’t like wild animals because I watch a lot of Nat Geo and Animal Planet. But I always thought it was silly to go to a wildlife sanctuary to see animals when you can see it better on TV or the zoo. And then if you go there and end up without seeing any wildlife (monkeys don’t count), it just upsets you.

But here I was, on my way to two Tiger Reserve, Pench and Kanha, which I was only kind-of-excited about.

A few hours’ drive from Nagpur is Pench Tiger Reserve in Seoni district. This Reserve or Mowgli Land, as the park is famously called is the original setting of Rudyard Kipling's most famous work, The Jungle Book. The Jungle Book and its character Mowgli is based on Pench National Park. So as soon as you enter the Seoni area, you will see familiar names like Bagheera resort, Mowgli Jungle homes etc. Amazingly many places described in this book are actual locations in Seoni district, like the Waingunga river with its gorge where Sher Khan was killed, Kanhiwara village and the Seoni hills.

We spent the evening at Jungle Homes where we are told that we need to be at the Turia gate of Pench by 6:00 AM at least, to finish the formalities. That means we would be leaving at 5:45 AM max which means by 5:30 AM, I got to be out of my room, which means I need to be up by 5:00 AM at the max! Wake up at 5:00 AM in the cold just to see a bunch of Tigers.

Not happening. Skeptically I decided to give it just one shot.

5:30 AM

After layering myself warm, I groggily made it out of my room. In the dark I could see the open gypsy waiting for us. It was more open than I had expected and wondered how would this be of any protection against any animal attack?

It was a bit was too early in the morning to think, anything anyways.

Soon we were at Turia gate of Pench, waiting our turn to get in.

6:30AM

The sun is just about rising and we drive around and park ourselves on the trail waiting for the guide to figure out the path of the Tiger.

We spend the next hour or so listening to the ‘call of the wild’, basically listening to the bark of chitals and monkeys to figure out the location of the Tiger.

7:30AM

By now I am not only hungry, sleepy and cold but impatient too. Suddenly, everyone jumps in excitement. There is something beyond the high grass in the midst of the thick trees.

We crawl our gypsy a little ahead and then we see a spotted orange creature. Ok that wasn’t a Tiger but a beautiful Leopard crossing the trail ahead of us! I had never seen a wild predator this beautiful so up close and just to watch it for those few seconds was really exciting.

We followed it for a while till we lost it in the thick jungle again.By now, I was awake in all senses and had forgotten all about the hunger or cold.We just had a Leopard sighting, which is way rarer than even a Tiger sighting!

8:30 AM

To say the least, we were very pleased. Now we drove around with a sense of satisfaction and watched the birds, deer, and langurs at peace. Soon we stopped for our packed breakfast, soaked up more of the warm sun and drove around the reserve in search of the Tiger.

10:00 AM

By now we had bumped into the occasional Bisons grazing, wild Boars chilling in the sun and the little Jackal warily making its way while all the Tigers evaded us. As we drove around the untamed jungle with the cool wind blowing through our hair and warm sun touching our skin and the varied animals grazing in the wild, I started to actually enjoy the moment.

11:00 AM

Back to where we started and my perspective on safaris in the wild, I admit, had changed. I didn't get to see the stripes but I saw spots and also many birds and wild animals.

Now I was looking forward for my safari at the next Tiger Reserve, Kanha which is about a 4 hour drive from Pench.

DAY 2- Kanha National Park6:30 AM

This reserve is way bigger than Pench with a larger number of Tiger population and hence receives more number of visitors. For this early in the morning, I was quite surprised to see the rush to go in. But entry to these parks is quite regulated with everyone awaiting their turns.This time I was determined to see the Tiger.

8:30 AM

For two hours we drove around the park only to catch a glimpse of the Barasingha pack waiting to catch the rays or Neelgais roaming aimlessly but no Tiger sighting.

Apart from being the veritable wildlife reserve, this jungle is also a haven for bird spotters. Replete with migratory birds such as Malabar pied hornbill, Indian pitta, Osprey and some of the endangered species of Vulture species, these reserves also house plenty of local Peacocks and Kingfishers.

10:00 AM

Post breakfast, still no sighting and all we got so far was some Tiger poop and tracks. We even tried different paths and every time we crossed a gypsy full of people, they would beam and tell us about how they JUST sighted a Tiger. This was really disappointing!

We decided to take one last run before heading back.

As we trudged along slowly, we saw a bunch of gypsies parked near the stream crossing and looking at the rocks beyond. As we joined them they pointed towards a tree and hissed, “Tiger sitting under the tree..” We craned our necks to get a good look.

Beyond the stream, and the rocks, amidst the tall grass there were stripes, probably doing its business while we strained our necks to get a clear sighting! Soon it finished its business and walked off.

Just like that, it was over.

Well in the end I did see a Tiger, probably not exactly how I had imaged it to be. But I guess this is why it is called the 'Wild'. You cannot predict a sighting with absolute surety. I in my whole "want" of catching a Tiger sighting, nearly missed noticing many more beautiful birds and animals. And in retrospect, I got to experience more wildlife than I had even bargained for. The excitement of hoping to catch a sighting is quite addictive but apart from this, I also learnt to appreciate the forest, which was so serene and the landscape so beautiful.

So probably next time I am on a safari again, I will hope to catch a Deer or Monkey sighting, so that I would end up seeing a Tiger or a Leopard maybe!

1 Comment(s)
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Photo of Abhinandan S
Abhinandan S
I would like to know, how's the route from pench to jabalpur. We would be travelling later this year just after diwali
Mon 09 29 14, 04:01 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·