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Old 7th October 2011, 17:43   #1
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Default Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Dear all

Season 2011-2012 of my explorations in Pench and Tadoba tiger reserves are about to begin and here I am back on the forum to file my live reports as I go about documenting the health and numbers of our national animal from these 2 premier central indian Tiger reserves.

I wish to thank all my friends, team-BHP members, supporters, well-wishers and everybody else who visited Pench and Tadoba with me in the last season and helped us in our monitoring and documentation of the big cats and other species in these 2 reserves.

My opening post is also an announcement that Wildcats Foundation (my NGO) will be involved in Phase-IV tiger monitoring at Pench and Tadoba and I extend a warm invitation to all the members of Team-BHP to join me for this ambitious year long Tiger census activity.

My first post is also a call to interested individuals to come forward and help us kick-start this activity in Pench and Tadoba.

Let us first try to sum up the present state of Tiger conservation in India with the help of these mute toons.

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I am sure all of you will be able to understand the issues raised by these toons and all of you must have, at some point of time given a serious thought to the dwindling tiger numbers of our country.

Let me now present my take on this issue :

Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-news_8516.jpg

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In March 2011, the celebrated Wildlife biologist, Dr. Ullhas Karanth wrote the following:

"The result of the national tiger estimation exercise conducted over the past couple of years has been released on 28-3-2011. It reports an increase in adult tiger numbers to 1636 (1706 including Sunderbans), up from the previous estimate of 1411 tigers in 2007. This is an increase of 16% compounded over 4 years, suggesting that the previous decline of tigers has been reversed. However, since full details are not yet available as to how these tiger numbers have been arrived at, it is not possible to give an expert opinion about the new numbers. However, since various threats faced by tigers do not appear to have diminished in last four years, it is difficult to explain the claimed reversal of the decline of tigers.

The time has now come to switch from these once in four year national estimation (termed Phases 1 to 3) and focus intensive monitoring of tiger source populations by individuals so that we can track the fate of individual tigers, and estimate survival and recruitment rates to gauge how each of these populations is faring. If we do not shift to such focused, intensive monitoring approaches, we are at serious risk of losing more and more key populations even while we celebrate supposed ‘increases’ from these national counts.

However, to achieve such progress, government must give up its present monopoly over tiger monitoring and bring in outside expertise and resources in order to ensure greater reliability, transparency and credibility in monitoring the fate of our national animal. I hope this long delayed Phase 4 of tiger counting will happen before it is too late."


In May 2011, Govt of India pased an unanimous resolution and announced Phase IV plan of Tiger Conservation at a workshop on 'Best Management Practices in Tiger Conservation'.

Phase IV of the All India Tiger Estimation exercise will begin the process of intensive, annual monitoring of important 'source' populations of tigers by independent observers at various Tiger reserves.

Members of Wildcats Foundation will be involved in this activity at Pench and Tadoba Tiger reserves.

Call for volunteers for the first phase of our monitoring plan:
Members of Wildcats Foundation (a watchdog NGO monitoring Tiger numbers in central India) will be visiting Pench and Tadoba from 26-30 October during the Diwali vacations to monitor Tiger numbers in these 2 tiger reserves. The plan is to do 10-11 drives in the core zones of both the reserves open for tourism and estimate Tiger numbers and check on the health of the Tigers observed over the last few years and look for growth / decline in Tiger numbers. Since an activity of this magnitude and importance requires a lot of volunteers, we are looking for interested individuals to join us in these monitoring drives. Interested members can look to be a part of all the drives or for a few drives in this duration.

Our monitoring will continue over the entire year. This is a call to the common man (the team-bhp members) to contribute to this exercise and a great chance to get involved in monitoring the health and numbers of our national animal.

The tentative itinerary is as follows :
26 october reach Pench / Tadoba early morning.
26 october (wednesday) morning safari in Pench and Tadoba.
evening safari in Tadoba.
27 october (thursday) morning+evening safaris in Pench and Tadoba.
28 october (friday) morning+evening safaris in Pench and Tadoba.
29 october (saturday) morning+evening safaris in Pench and Tadoba.
30 october (sunday) morning+evening safaris in Pench and Tadoba.
30 october late evening / 31 october early morning - departure back to Nagpur / respective bases.

This call is for interested individuals to join us in this independent Tiger census. The dates of this activity has been kept coinciding with the diwali holidays so that interested individuals can join in as per their convenience.
A report of this activity is going to be submitted to the NTCA.
Join me and my merry band of volunteers as we embark on this ambitious project.

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh

This activity is going to be a lot of fun for all those who will get involved. here's what we documented in the year gone by. Many team-BHP members and others will remember some of these action shots which were shot in their company.

Some exceptional encounters from the year 2010-2011 :

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Last edited by abheekg : 7th October 2011 at 17:50.
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Old 7th October 2011, 19:14   #2
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Hi,

I am very much interested in helping you out. I am not a big wildlife expert or a tiger expert. But I definitely want to contribute in some way or the other.

Please let me know what I would need to do in order to help you out or be a part of this not just for now, but over an extended period of time. I will also send a PM for the same.

I think it is really great that you are doing this and I really appreciate your efforts.

All the best for your NGO.

Question: Is it just tiger census or are there any other activities that you do so as to improve the tiger numbers?
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Old 7th October 2011, 23:19   #3
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

This definitely seems interesting. This Oct-end would be difficult. But please do keep on posting your plans and schedule on this thread. Would love to participate in this activity, sometime over the year or worst case next Diwali.

Wanted to understand a few things better:

How does the NGO manage the financials for such a humongous task? Where would you and the other volunteers be staying in the above-mentioned period? What sort of photography equipments do you carry? Besides cameras and binoculars, what other things would be needed? How is the safety of the participants taken cared of? Which govt-departments are aligned and support this activity?

Finally, a great job by you and your NGO. Keep up the good work. Hope to work with you soon.

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Old 27th October 2011, 00:31   #4
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Dear All
We have seen a lot of action in both Pench and Tadoba from the time I made my first post on this thread (7 October) .

Tadoba reopened on 1 October and Pench on 16 October and withing weeks of reopening we have documented a lot of biodiversity in both parks including Tigers and leopards in both parks. I have also successfully trained another driver at Pench- Nagesh , who along with Bablu and Lallan will be my eyes , ears, hands and legs in the jungle. A lot of people reading my documentation last year will remember my exploits along with my right hand Bablu. Bablu still remains with me this year and gets elevated to being a manager of a lot of NGO activities at Pench apart from driving me and my friends and thinking ahead of Tigers.

In Tadoba, I have stationed 2 Gypsies this year - one each at Moharli and Kolara gates manned by Bheema and Raibhan ; and while Raibhan is a la-Bablu, the training of Bheema continues and he is picking up the ways and means of the jungle fast.

With my 3 Gypsies , I thus fulfil my dream of having a vehicle each at all the 3 jungle gates within 100-150 kms of Nagpur namely - Turia (Pench) , Moharli (Tadoba) , Kolara (Tadoba) .

Here are my vehicles - each of which I have painstakingly customised to my specifications and built one with the help of TBHP forum experts here.

Turia gate Pench Explorer

Remade and repainted - getting ready to get divine blessings from my mother
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Ready for some Kickass wildcat documentation
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Kolara gate Tadoba Explorer-I
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Moharli gate Tadoba Explorer-II
Watch out for the pics of this monster - It will be a copy of my Pench explorer

Here is a photo story of some amazing encounters with big cats and others that we have had in the 15 days so far:

I had a rollicking start to the new season (2011-2012) at Pench on 16 October. I was visiting Pench with a group of 15 like minded wildlife conservationists from across the country to kick start the Phase-IV of our Tiger monitoring activities at Pench. I did 3 game drive - 2 on sunday and one on monday morning. Apart from documenting Tiger movement around the park by noting indirect evidences like pugmarks and other signs, my entire team was fortunate to view the entire family of the famed Collarwali tigress who came out to greet me with her entire battery of 5 cubs during the Sunday evening drive.

This happy encounter with the high profile family meant that all the 5 cubs had survived the harsh monsoon season which puts a premature end to the life of many a tiger cub. We observed that the cubs had become healthy and their size was almost 2/3rd of the size of the mother Tigress, which indicated that the tigress was taking good care of them and feeding her regularly.

Collarwali also looked healthy and as confident as ever - which is very very good for the future of her cubs. Prey is bountiful in Pench and tiger protection is good and it is getting reflected in the way these 5 cubs are growing up.

Big bang theory revisted at Pench reopening. Collarwali brings out 4 of her 5 cubs to greet me on reopening.
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-img_7972.jpg

Collarwali Tigress and cubs on the move - a habitat shot (with Ashwin Gharote on the Wildcats Pench explorer in the foreground)
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-dsc_0408praveen-inw.jpg

After spending about 15 minutes with our group, the Tigress proceeded to herd her cubs away from us. This photo was shot by Praveen Rao from the other Jeep in our group.

The first sighting of the cubs after the monsoon break began with the sighting of the female cub we have named gauri - one of the bolder female cubs.
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-img_7815.jpg

As soon as collarwali called out for her cubs, one by one they started popping out like puppets from the dense lantana bushes. We all marvelled at the sight and thought came to our mind that how well the tigress had trained her cubs to remain hidden while she was gone. Its was NGC stuff happening in front of our eyes -- tigress calling out and the cubs instantly responding !!

She's a great mother and a superb teacher - thats Collarwali tigress for you.

Herding her cubs in a tight huddle, the Tigress bids me goodbye and proceeds to escort her battery to another area as other jeeps appear on the scene.
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-img_8033.jpg

Collarwali looks back at me while retreating
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While going away, she looked back at me as if saying that "I will be back for more and all of you keep up the good work of spreading awareness and conserving my tribe"

I have started to imagine that I share a strong emotional connection with this Tigress , the way she keeps giving me these frequent appearances and I think she looks up to me and to everybody who is associated to me including my followers on fb, IM , Tbhp and oher forums to be strong crusaders for saving her tribe.

Happy faces after the encounter
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-dsc_0432praveen.jpg

The above encounter happened at Pench during my first 3 drives on 16-17 October.

Elsewhere in Tadoba, park reopened with a flurry of Tiger and leopard sightings at almost all the places where we were expecting sightings to happen. TBHP member Subrat Seet has already written about his experience when he visited Tadoba on 6-7 October in this thread here http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post2543095 (Beginning of a Brand New Season at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve with Grand Sightings)

What Subrat missed was duly documented by Wildcats member Indraneel sir and others. Posting the pics of their encounters here with their permission.

Territorial Scent
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Appointment with a bear
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My Cubs are Waiting
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Angry response
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An amazing morning in Tadoba
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A very similar morning in Pench
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The ghost in flesh
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Now again, continuing with my story from Pench , after my 3 drives on 16-17 october , I visited for one drive each on 19 (wednesday), 20(thursday) and 21(friday) October. Then I visited for another 4 drives - 22 October evening to 24 October morning. In my 3 drives that I did in the middle of the week, I did not have any big cat sighting but I noted a lot of indirect evidences of big cat movement in the park by noting pugmarks and interpreting movement trends. I also noted tiger roars on 2 consecutive days from one particular area and saw pugmarks of 3 tigers together from the same area in the third drive.

Discussing my findings with the guides and drivers, I came to the conclusion that this was probably the Badi maa family (with 2 cubs) whose indirect evidence we were recording in our 3-4 game drives. I then decided to dedicate my 4 drives over the weekend (22-24oct) after the same family and did not encounter anything in the first 3 drives but finally my patience and planning paid off in my last drive and I had an amazing encounter with Badi maa and her two cubs who gave me a very close appearance.

Along the way of searching for Badi maa, I also encountered a leopard and another unidentified Tigress in the evening drive of Sunday.

In the encounter with Badi maa, we observed that she is keeping fantastic health and looked huge. One of her cubs , the male came to say hello to me. We observed that this male cub is very bold and he is growing into a very big and majestic Tiger. At 13 months old, he already has the looks of a future king !! By the way, I am looking for a name befitting the future stature of this Male Tiger.

The entire family crossed the road behind the Explorer giving our group a fantastic opportunity of photographing them adequately for over 10 mins. Badimaa is the famous tigress of the BBC documentary Spy in the Jungle.

Now let the pics speak for themselves.

Bold male cub of Badi maa comes to check me. Help me name this guy.
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-img_9195edit.jpg

Big-mom (Badi maa) interacting with yet unnamed cub
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-img_9235.jpg

Sizzling sunday evening at Pench. Leopard resting at Pyorthadi.
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-img_5946.jpg

Leopard in Pyorthadi - a habitat shot
Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves-img_5946lep.jpg

I have done 10 drives in Pench so far - 10 very planned and focussed drives and have documented 10 tigers in photos directly and seen the indirect evidence of 2 new cubs. My 8 safaris have not yielded me any visuals but were the reason why I could document fantastic action in the remaining 2.

The moral of the story is evident : The action continues for the one who does systematic planning and who is patient enough to wait.

This year we will see a lot of images from Indraneel sir on this thread who has kindly consented to help me with my documentation of Tadoba. This year will also see me posting less frequently - probably once in every 15-20 days with a summary of action like this report from both the parks.

My dear friends, we have a big task in front of us. Simply liking these pics on these forums is not going to help in any way to save our national animal. We all have to be proactive.

Join me and my band of crusaders to begin Phase-IV of Tiger monitoring at Pench and Tadoba. To understand what is phase 4 read this NTCA gears up for tiger census-IV - The Times of India

Of interest is this statement : "This time, census will be conducted by respective states' chief wildlife wardens who have been asked to seek help from NGOs."

Call/message/mail me for details.
Watch out for more.

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh
+919960332228
dr.abheek@gmail.com
Abheek Ghosh | Facebook

Last edited by abheekg : 27th October 2011 at 01:01. Reason: to add text.
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Old 27th October 2011, 14:27   #5
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

After seeing all your updates on FB, I was just wondering why you didnt start a TL here and here it is! Thanks for the fabulous tour of Pench and TATR, Abheek. After a lull due to monsoons (closure of parks in MP), I was getting a bit curious to see what Badi Maa and the cubs were upto. Glad to see them fine and frolicking!

Please do keep us updated about the proceeds.
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Old 27th October 2011, 23:25   #6
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

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Originally Posted by ExtremeTorque View Post
After seeing all your updates on FB, I was just wondering why you didnt start a TL here and here it is! Thanks for the fabulous tour of Pench and TATR, Abheek. After a lull due to monsoons (closure of parks in MP), I was getting a bit curious to see what Badi Maa and the cubs were upto. Glad to see them fine and frolicking!

Please do keep us updated about the proceeds.
Thank you Arun. Glad you enjoyed the tour.
Stay tuned for more. After documenting Collarwali and Badi maa with their respective cubs, I am turning my attention towards a Tigress whom I have never seen so far - the Pat dev tigress with 2 cubs. I am visiting Pench again tomorrow evening onwards for 6 drives to go in search of this Tigeress and see if she's in good health.
Wish me luck.

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh
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Old 17th November 2011, 14:52   #7
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Doctor,

It is terrific experience that we get when we go through your wildlife travels and focus that you have to support the good cause.

I think its been a while since you had a post here. Is there something coming up from your recent visits? waiting eagerly for it.

I just got my membership approved and hence the first few tasks on hand - Appreciate the true wildlife lover in you.

Hope to be part of your wildlife journey's and doing my bit to help and educate people about the beauty of these animals.
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Old 18th November 2011, 16:23   #8
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Great initiative. I would love to be a part of it. Please post your plans for the coming months.

I wanted to help these beautiful creatures in someway or the other.
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Old 19th November 2011, 17:12   #9
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Dear friends,
Thanks for your support.
I am extensively touring these days apart from my work at the hospital and as a result not getting time to update this thread here. A lot of data is being generated by a big bunch of our volunteers who are actively helping us with this activity. as I have already mentioned, this is an activity which is running the entire year and all you have to do to be a part of this is to notify me the dates when you can be free to go to pench and / or tadoba to take part in the monitoring.

We have ongoing activities in Tadoba and Pench almost every week.

As of today I have received help for the monitoring drives from not only a lot of my indian friends who follow my travels here and on some other forums but from the international community as well.

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh
dr.abheek@gmail.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravind84 View Post
Doctor,

It is terrific experience that we get when we go through your wildlife travels and focus that you have to support the good cause.

I think its been a while since you had a post here. Is there something coming up from your recent visits? waiting eagerly for it.

I just got my membership approved and hence the first few tasks on hand - Appreciate the true wildlife lover in you.

Hope to be part of your wildlife journey's and doing my bit to help and educate people about the beauty of these animals.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thamizha View Post
Great initiative. I would love to be a part of it. Please post your plans for the coming months.

I wanted to help these beautiful creatures in someway or the other.
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Old 21st November 2011, 13:05   #10
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Great Initiative Doc. Always love to read your posts here on T-BHP and would definately want to contribute in some way or the other. Keep them coming
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Old 7th December 2011, 15:08   #11
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Dear all
Pench Tigers and all the cubs are in good health however I am not visiting the park so often due to some differences of opinions with park officials.

An update which is not a very good news for Pench visitors is that now you can no longer get drivers and guides of your choice and you need to take Gypsies and the guides using the rotation system which has been recently activated by the forest department and the gypsy union.

With my current documentation drive in Pench almost over with the documentation of over 25 tigers in the tourism zone, I am now shifting my attention to documentation of Wildcats in some of the other lesser known high density protected areas in central India.

Some updates :
  • The 2 cubs of Baghin nala female have left the mother and the female is single and looking for a mate again.
  • The bold male cub of Badi maa has new name - Arnold
  • Among probable suitors to the Baghin nala female are the Joramunara male and the super male - The Rayyakasa male
  • New undocumented Tigers reported from the Karmajhari and Jamtara ranges.
  • The Collarwali family is giving regular auditions and visitors need atleast 6 drives to get lucky for something like this
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I will continue visiting Pench once in a while and will depend on photographs and videos from my other team mates and visitors to update this thread. I will again start exploring Pench MP extensively in the summer of 2012 when i hope that Baghinnala female will have littered again apart from the 6-7 month old Pat dev tigress cubs and the almost 2 year old Collarwali and Badi maa cubs.

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh
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Old 25th January 2012, 15:00   #12
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Last weekend was good. Visited the jungles (Tadoba morning drive) after a long time. Tiger count 4 in 1 drive. Pics will be up soon.

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh
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Old 25th January 2012, 15:19   #13
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

Quote:
Originally Posted by abheekg View Post
Last weekend was good. Visited the jungles (Tadoba morning drive) after a long time. Tiger count 4 in 1 drive. Pics will be up soon.
Doc - I was in Pench on 25/26 Dec 2011. We did 3 drives but no luck with tiger sighting. We saw most of the other inhabitants though, including some good sightings of jackals, Indian Gaur, Shikra, etc. And yes, the forest is very beautiful. Am planning to visit the less popular ranges next time around. Next on my list is Tadoba.

Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics earlier in this thread! Did hear a lot about collar-wali, baaghin-nala tigress, badi-maa from the forest guides during our drives - can not identify with them

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Old 25th January 2012, 16:01   #14
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

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Originally Posted by cool_dube View Post
Doc - I was in Pench on 25/26 Dec 2011. We did 3 drives but no luck with tiger sighting.
Rahul, same here. We missed out meeting in Pench. We didnot have Abheek with us hence the cats didnt come to see us.

Abheek,

Welcome back. We will try and be there in Oct for census. Please post your pictures of Tadoba soon.
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Old 25th January 2012, 21:49   #15
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Default Re: Season 2011-2012 : Independent Tiger monitoring at Pench & Tadoba Tiger reserves

This is bad news for people like me. No Bablu, no Safari...

A similar situation is emerging in Sariska too. On 15th Jan I had difficulty in getting Harisingh & Rajender.


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Originally Posted by abheekg View Post

An update which is not a very good news for Pench visitors is that now you can no longer get drivers and guides of your choice and you need to take Gypsies and the guides using the rotation system which has been recently activated by the forest department and the gypsy union.
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