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Old 30th April 2011, 09:05   #1
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Default Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-clipboard02.jpg
Katerniaghat wildlife sanctuary, October 2010. This was the best trip I have probably ever had. Its a forest bordering nepal on one side and the famous dudwa national park on the other.

Out of the world experience! Till I went, I kept feeling that I had not done full justice to the sabbatical from work that I was taking, u know - that nothing really spectacular was happening. All those feelings went away after this. This was accomplised due to a series of circumstances- my friend's K's dad was posted to that district, K's IAS exams got over the day before, and I was in delhi at that time - and the sanctuary officially opened for visitors on the day we went there.

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You know you are in for something special when 1) the forest guide mistakes one forest trail (the one leading to the forest dept. guest house) for another at 8 pm after ur around 40km inside a dense forest, 2) just after you unloaded your luggage and appreciated the built-in-1870 marker on the wall of the forest dept. guesthouse, the range officer (reserved forests are divided into ranges - range officers are called rangers) of that area remarks "sir, chai ke bad rest karenge ya night safari ke liye chalte hain".

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No one I know has been out on a night drive in a tiger and leopard infested protected forest. We get into the forest dept jeep. 2 forest guards with rifles get into the back- its prime poacher territory and is also infamous for human attacks by leopards- and the extra-powerfull headlights are switched on, after a minute of idling the rattling diesel engine of the 70's jeep, the fog lights which point at 45 degrees to the jeep are switched on, and then a special switch is checked- for the handheld searchlight. K and me are handed a torch by the ranger- the fog lights point into the bushes by the road and we are supposed to point the torch deeper into the forest- animal eyes light up when the light hits their eyes, that's the prime way to find animals at night. And we start.

Last edited by manolin : 30th April 2011 at 09:12.
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Old 30th April 2011, 10:27   #2
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Amazing start. The first picture looks like from an European fairy tale with Witches and Wizards.

Lots of questions in my mind regarding stay, approach and so on..but shall keep that to the end

Waiting for more
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Old 30th April 2011, 11:01   #3
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Katerniaghat reminds me of my Dudhwa trip -
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...onal-park.html (Dudhwa Tiger Reserve & National Park)

Am glued to this thread. Hmmmm.....night safari. It helps to have people in the right places...
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Old 30th April 2011, 14:22   #4
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Wow man that barrier looks from a different century, do you have pictures of animals and landscapes?
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Old 1st May 2011, 15:47   #5
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

@manolin: 31 hours since that last post and no update..

All are impatiently waiting....
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Old 1st May 2011, 15:51   #6
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

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Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
@manolin: 31 hours since that last post and no update..
All are impatiently waiting....
31hrs plus and no wildlife yet.
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Old 1st May 2011, 19:18   #7
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Well this is like a movie trail;
"They left in the night into the jungle, they had two guards armed, went into the leopard infested area, haven't returned since then, no news"

Come on man, you returned very safely months back and we all are eagerly waiting for the crisp wildlife pics from you. Visiting Katerniaghat through your eyes!
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Old 2nd May 2011, 01:25   #8
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Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-img_6740.jpg

The three nights we stayed, we went on that jeep drive everynight. 50kms of jungle in the night, everynight. And there is nothing more alive, no college rock concert, or victoria terminus station, than a forest from a machan at 10 in the night- when on one side from the machan there are wide fields of terai grasslands with the early winter fog settling in, and on the other side you have an impenitrable forests of sal and teak. Especially when by the torchlight you have noticed fresh pug marks leading near the machan.

I had a handy cam and an slr, but what device can do justice to that scene I don't know.

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We were basically taking part in the night patrolling that the forest dept. does everynight. Its their job to track tigers everyday, and since this is a wildlife sanctuary and not a national park, existing settlments are permitted to continue.

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While tigers don't give a damn about men and their woes, the leopards are crafty. Every week there are livestock killed, and every odd month a person who has strayed is attacked. This gives rise to intense man-animal conservation tangle which forest dept doesn't have to face in national parks.

You come back to your guesthouse and find a bowl of wood fired desi chicken curry on your table. The generator is switched on for 2 hours for dinner, to charge phones and to pour out your drinks, and then the bright light of lantern and double barred doors give you company.

I, one night, thought I would step out for a smoke in the clear wintery air- look at the stars. But my courage failed me when I opened the door. You can't remove the image of a leopard lurking in the edges of a house, waiting for that opportune moment. The range officer had recounted one incident from his earlier posting at dudwa where a leopard had sneaked into the verandah of a forest guesthouse when a minister was visiting. And if you are a reader of Corbett's vivid prose, the image of the Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag comes back just too fresh in these surroundings.

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-img_6703.jpg

Last edited by manolin : 2nd May 2011 at 01:29.
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Old 2nd May 2011, 02:11   #9
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Do u remember the smell of a zoo? A smell very similar to that alerted us to the presence of the tigress. That mixed with the smell of butchered flesh.


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One has to give it to those forest department guys- they got down from the jeep and trudged down aparting of the bushes, checking and finding blood and pug marks- by the torch light- all the while aware that a 10 feet long incredible predator is in close vicinity. And then we started following the smell up and down the road - probably the only time I have felt exposed sitting in a jeep, even when there are 2 loaded rifles at the back. We found pug marks ahead, where the tiger had crossed over to the other side, probably seconds ahead of us. But that's the beauty of the terai region- the 11ft high grass doesn't allow men to see men in broad daylight, forget seeing the master of the jungle in the middle of the night.

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-img_6873.jpg

The kill was on the banks of a canal, one of the many irrigating upper Uttar Pradesh, originating from the Ghagra river (which ends up joining the Ganges).

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-img_6798.jpg

These canals are regulated by small barrages/sluice gates and there was one such structure 50 ft away from the spot. While checking for any leopards which might be sitting on it, the group trooped up the gates to get a wider look at the area, and then we waited for 40 min for the tiger to come and collect back its kill; periodically sweeping the banks of the canals with our search lights. In that tense silence the weirdest thing happened; a guy on a cycle comes up the path of the tiger, singing away a local song.

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-img_6806.jpg

A forest guard. He comes up to the ranger, informs him that a tiger is around, and then cycles away in that pitch blackness to his guardpost. These chowkis are spread every 4-5 kms in the forest, and these guards hold duty over them through the night. Crazy. If worli seaface house was at stake, I still won't even set foot in that chowki at that time.

Standing on that barrage then in pin drop silence, watching intenly for someone who can see and hear better than you- a moon reflecting convoluted through the fog in the waters of the canals- surreal or so real.
Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-img_6869.jpg
(after a 25 sec exposure)


I wish I had more people to share these moments with, or naah, maybe this was ordained to be a special moment for each of us standing there.

A week back I had seen a tigress in Ranthambore; a month later I saw a tigress in Kanha; the year before at this time I had been in Corbett. But the rawness of a forest touched me here in Katerniaghat more than at any of those celebrated places.

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-img_6884.jpg

Good night. I doubt this opportunity will repeat itself, for me at least, and hence sharing my thoughts.

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-img_6710.jpg

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Unfortunately the rest of my snaps are fairly repetitive. I wish I had the expertise. But the images and those nights are clear in my head, alive, everytime I am away from sodium powered streetlights.

Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary-trains.jpg

Last edited by manolin : 2nd May 2011 at 02:12.
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Old 2nd May 2011, 02:44   #10
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

your description borders on poetry, though some of the pictures could be better.
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Old 3rd May 2011, 19:30   #11
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Amazing start. The first picture looks like from an European fairy tale with Witches and Wizards.

Lots of questions in my mind regarding stay, approach and so on..but shall keep that to the end

Waiting for more
Katerniaghat Wildlife Santuary is on the India Nepal border. The easiest way to get there is to fly to Lucknow, and hire car to go Katerniaghat via Bahraich. The closest big town on the way is also Bahraich and it has some ok hotels. From lucknow barhraich is around 2 1/2 hours away, and Katerniaghat would be roughly 3 hours away from Bahraich.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Katerniaghat reminds me of my Dudhwa trip -
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...onal-park.html (Dudhwa Tiger Reserve & National Park)

Am glued to this thread. Hmmmm.....night safari. It helps to have people in the right places...
True true but I too young to really have many.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vina View Post
Wow man that barrier looks from a different century, do you have pictures of animals and landscapes?
I have some landscape pics. Will load them later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
@manolin: 31 hours since that last post and no update..

All are impatiently waiting....
Planning a Sariska trip in your footsteps. stuck in that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fazalaliadil View Post
31hrs plus and no wildlife yet.
Quote:
Originally Posted by justwheels View Post
Well this is like a movie trail;
"They left in the night into the jungle, they had two guards armed, went into the leopard infested area, haven't returned since then, no news"

Come on man, you returned very safely months back and we all are eagerly waiting for the crisp wildlife pics from you. Visiting Katerniaghat through your eyes!
hehe

Quote:
Originally Posted by vina View Post
your description borders on poetry, though some of the pictures could be better.
hehe. I have to hone my photography skills. Hope to learn here.
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Old 4th May 2011, 01:14   #12
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Your narrative is gripping and gives a beautiful feel of the jungle. Wish you had written more about the experiences on the 'rawness of the forest', as you put it
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Old 4th May 2011, 01:39   #13
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A riveting story. Rated 5 stars.
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Old 8th May 2011, 21:15   #14
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Default Re: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary

Very well written. The opening pic set the pace for what was to come. But a few pics of the tiger would have done more justice to the writeup.
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