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Old 10th March 2012, 10:10   #1
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Default In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bhaisa

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This may not be a glamorous journey, but a simple Dec 2010 year-end travel in some place where calmness and nature rules till now [a premium in all the known places in a year-end holiday time], and the important objective was to see some of the very few remaining [a total of only 7 or so left] wild buffaloes, i.e., Von Bhaisa, of Central India. Sitanadi and Udanti forests are very much disturbed then and also now and travel should be with caution


A self-drive journey to absolutely lesser known forests of Chhattisgarh - in search of the state animal - Wild Buffalo aka Jungly/Von Bhaisa/Bubalus bubalis


Chhattisgarh, though located in Central India, still has regions which are of the most unexplored areas of this country - with amazing natural diversity, unexplored forests, caves, handicrafts and paintings, waterfalls and when one combines that with some absolutely friendly people with a unique cultural tradition.

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With 12% share of India’s forests, Chhattisgarh’s 3 National Parks and 11 Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks are a major attraction. It has several virgin attractions in protected areas such as Kanger Valley National Park, Barnawapara, Sitanadi, Udanti and Achanakmar Sanctuaries. The endangered Wild Buffalo (Bubalis bubalis) and the even more endangered Hill Myna (Graculis religiosa peninsularis) are the State Animal and State Bird respectively.
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There is much more to India’s wildlife than the widely-talked-about flagship species like the tiger, the rhino or the elephant. While conservation efforts dedicated to these flagships trickles down benefits to other species that share their habitat, certain species require more than just these indirect interventions for survival.

The wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis arnee) population of Central India is one such example whose local existence is gravely threatened. Once found in abundance across northeast India extending to northern and central India, the species now has its last bastions in some pockets in northeast India and Chhattisgarh state.

The State animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Buffalo
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We still fondly remember our fantastic drive-travel to the tribal lands of Southern Orissa and interior Southern Chhattisgarh, and seeing the full flowing Chitrakote falls. - > Interior Chhattisgarh-Sourthern Orissa-> Tribes-Falls-Forests (Safari Dicor VTT-TMT 2-yr Grand OT[Interior Chhattisgarh/Orissa-Tribals,Falls&Forest])


With the 2010 year-end coming up, and as usual with my work situation precluding any booking to a known touristy place - not that we wanted to go - I went pouring through maps and articles for a finding place, a place that will be reachable in around 14-15 hours of overnight driving, but also a place where very less people go - a place where you don't need booking even during the 25th Dec to 1st of Jan holiday weekend! Orissa has been one of my favourite remote-travel state, but that we have almost covered from the tribal lands to the amazing white sand-blue turquoise waterfall, the source of river Jonk, in the middle of an unknown forest.



So, our options started from the less travelled Jharkhand areas to Northern Bihar lands to looking out for some less known place in Andhra Pradesh. But then also crossed my mind was a booklet that I got at the Toursim Fair in Chhattisgarh about Udanti and Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary, but then when searched that place once a favourite travel place for people from Raipur, is now absolutely out of bounds for tourists, place that is an absolutely "liberated area" as we know in the media.


A few phone calls to the forest department of Sitanadi and Udanti we got the clear cut message of these places being out of bound for travel people, even during day time. Sitanadi was absolutely out of bounds, we can visit the wild buffalo centre in Udanti but stay options were not there and the last tourist to the only forest house was around 2-3 years ago.



So a tentative place decided [!] and looking out for an intermediate place along the journey, the option of going to another lesser known forest [not for people of Raipur] of Barnawapara on NH6 highway - made the perfect in between forest stop while going to Udanti.

Over the next 3-4 days, surely the travel itinerary came into shape - again a travel which required over 12-15 hours overnight drive through highways through unfamiliar terrain, the odd stop in dead of the night at tea shop, the stay in desolate forest rest houses, and ultimately a place where no one goes nowadays and seeing the wild buffalo as it is today in this age of tiger awareness.


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Journey times and dates:


Dec 23, 2010: From Kolkata, night start at 8 pm - reaching Barnawapara Forest around late evening. A whole lot of time was spent stuck in the night on the Cuttack-Sambalpur road due to truck traffic jam and fog.

Dec 24-25: Barnawapara Forest, Chhattisgarh

Dec 26 , 27 - Udanti-Sitanadi Forest, Chhattisgarh

Dec 28, start at 4 pm after lunch for a 1200 km journey back home to Kolkata reaching home at around 7 pm, a journey time of 27 hours. Again got stuck on NH42 of Orissa due to fog and truck jam, a blessing in disguise, as we all dozed off for a quick nap of 1 hour, inside the Safari VTT itself.


So, we [wife, 5-year-old son, and me] and my good friend, Deba was the original team. Deba had accompanied me in some of our travels but soon enough we got three more passengers to be on this travel - my wife's office colleague who never travels long distance in cars due to being nauseous and who remarkably held it up all together [!] and my younger brother's wife with her 3-year-old son - as my brother was on an office trip.

With no bookings done and with places as hazy as the overnight fog that we encountered, I was worried - the responsibility is much more - the new members were all forewarned - a long, overnight drive in a car, no bookings and all info about the places we were headed was hazy as the highway fog that had us stuck - but as the trip ended, I have nothing but praise for them as they took all and everything in their stride - all have earned "the Wanderers" badge!!


TheWanderers.in Chhattisgarh forest travel - the wonderful ladies and the children trip members!.
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Over the next few posts, will be bringing up the travel that we did along with the info about these forests - Barnawapara and Sitanadi-Udanti Forests, not to forget the absolutely friendly people of Chhattisgarh as we asked our way through the different state highways and places.




One more highlight picture, as I continue the trip log on the next post.



And with no tourists or anyone out here in Udanti for the last 2 years or so, nature is undisturbed. Exotic bracket fungi along an enchanting forest stream
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And of course, the travel transport: Safari Dicor LX 2.2 VTT-TMT [The Magnificent Tourer [TMT]

Lost in a forest at night, somewhere in interior Chhattisgarh
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contd...

Last edited by adc : 10th March 2012 at 22:31.
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Old 10th March 2012, 10:11   #2
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

The Journey

It was on 23rd Dec, 2010, that we left Kolkata after around 8 pm, though we had planned to leave about a couple of hours earlier - the delay as we all finished up our office work and picked up the remaining team across Kolkata, and done that we were looking forward to the big overnight trip to Barnawapara at distance of around 950 km from home.


Day 0, 1: Overnight drive from Kolkata to Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, around 950 km from Kolkata via Choudwar, Orissa. [NH6-NH60-NH5-NH42-NH6]. The direct road NH6 via Lodhashuli and Ushakothi is not exactly safe at night if I may say so mildly!
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After a quick dinner at Kolaghat, West Bengal, Safari Dicor VTT-TMT made up good time, the best roads again being the NH6 highway and the beautiful concrete NH60 as we entered Orissa, in good time. But then as luck would have it around 3 am, was stuck on the NH42, which connects Cuttack and Sambalpur. Now this road, the single-laned NH42, has become the lifeline of traffic of Orissa, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal as the NH6 road is absolutely deserted at night due to law and order problems. So traffic even at night is huge, with overnight Orissa buses and trucks and if one can compare it is similar to the NH34 night Kolkata-Siliguri traffic.

And with late night winter fog, we were stuck over there for a good 3 hours on NH42 and still quite distance far from Sambalpur, our intended target by early morning.

Early morning near Dhenkanal-Anugul, Orissa, we were still around 4 hours from Sambalpur, but then NH42 is beautiful road, other than the night traffic. It goes through quite a few forest tracts in between the towns.


Early morning between Dhenkanal and Anugul, Orissa, NH42. Night traffic and fog had set us back by 3 hrs or so.
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But then as we crossed a dhaba, in the middle of the forest, some distance before Sambalpur --- we had to stop. A eatery stop in the middle of a forest tract along a desolate highway. Plus we had some breakfast with the food that we carried and some great highway tea.



NH42 after crossing Anugul, Orissa
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After Anugul, this one and only dhaba some distance before Sambalpur, made us stop for some early morning tea and snacks
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A pure truck stop in the middle of a forest track, beats KFCs and Macs anyday!
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Safari VTT-TMT, a truck among the trucks, got some rest itself
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Crossing Sambalpur to catch up with NH6 again, Vedanta alumina it has to be!!
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And finally on the highway to Barnawapara some 100 km before Raipur.
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It was late afternoon, we started scanning the boards of the only two private places to stay in Barnawapara besides the Chhattisgarh govt. tourist house.
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contd...

Last edited by adc : 10th March 2012 at 18:17.
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Old 10th March 2012, 10:13   #3
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary

Barnawapara sanctuary is located around 90 km from Raipur, in the northern part of Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh. Mahasamund Railway Station (60 km) is the nearest railhead from the Barnawapara Sanctuary. The place is easily approachable through the PWD forest road, which connects Barnawapara with Raipur via Patewa and with Pithora on NH 6.


The sanctuary though relatively small, covering an area of only 245 sq km, is known for its lush green vegetation and local ecosystem. It was established in 1976 under Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The topography of the region comprises of flat and hilly terrain with altitudes ranging between 265-400 mts. The name of the sanctuary is derived from Bar and Nawapara forest village.

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The flora of Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary chiefly comprises of tropical dry deciduous forest with Teak, Sal, Bamboo and Terminalia being the prominent trees. Other major plants found in the sanctuary include Semal, Mahua, Ber and Tendu. The rich and lush vegetation cover supports a wide variety of wildlife in the sanctuary.

The major wildlife of the Barnawapara Sanctuary include Sloth Bear, Flying Squirrels, Jackals, Four-horned Antelopes, Leopards, Chinkara, Black Buck, Jungle Cat, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Monkey, Bison, Striped Hyena, Wild Dogs, Chital, Sambar, Nilgai, Gaur, Muntjac, Wild Boar, Cobra, Python to name a few.

Being a small sanctuary with a lot number of leopards it is considered as “leopard’s paradise.”

The sanctuary also has a sizable bird population with prominent being the Parrots, Bulbul, White-rumped Vultures, Green Avadavat, Lesser Kestrels, Peafowl, Wood Peckers, Racket-tailed Drongos, Egrets, and Herons to name few. Barnawapara wildlife sanctuary tour promises to be an exciting and rewarding experience for all wildlife enthusiasts, bird lovers and nature lovers.

Now the best place to stay at Barnawapara, other than the few private sanctuaries - which are located outside, is the Chhattisgarh Tourism's Barnawapara Resort. However, just like our travels are, we had come all the way driving night and day without a booking and with a Rotarian gettogether being hosted there at the Barnawapara Resort - we ended up following the sign board of Jungle Paradise Resort.

This resort had a fine location though. It was detached from the nearest village and located on the fringe of the Barnawapara forest. However we had difficult locating it and when we found two local people enjoying an afternoon chat by side of a village road.

We took one of them with us and as always, as I have said before, in all our travels we have got one best support from the all the local population, wherever be it in India. He promptly went along and we dropped him back to his start point for a group photo with my friend, Deba.


The drive through one of the villages to the Jungle Resort, which was located on the fringes of the Barnawapara Forest
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The two locals [Here photographed with my friend, Deba] who helped us locating a place of stay. Fantastic friendly people we meet from the first day of our travel itself!
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Chhattisgarh Tourism's Barnawapara resort, which is located inside the sanctuary was booked by Rotarians from Raipur for that day, hence we looked out for the private staying options.
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Jungle Resort, Barnawapara Forest. This where we stayed for the next 2 nights. A budget hotel kind of but beautiful location, just outside the forest but still away from the nearest village. Great friendly staff too!
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As we had reached late afternoon and looking out for a place to stay took out our evening, we venture out tomorrow into the forest for the safari rounds.



Early morning next day we ride towards the forest check gate.
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Main watering holes that can be visited are Parsa Pani, Barna Pani, Mohada Talaab, Marer Talaab, 178 Gudagarh Talaab, Sun Suniya Pani, Rampur Tank, Bagmadi Talaab and Maharaji Nala.

Source: Forests Forever: Travelogue by Cloud forest - a great travel article.
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contd..

Last edited by adc : 11th March 2012 at 00:49.
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Old 10th March 2012, 10:15   #4
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Some more random pictures of the Barnawapara Forest, Chhattisgarh


And we move forward deep into the forest
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Though the core forest area is out of bounds for safari
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A gaur that we spotted at a distance and could click and a few more talabs visited
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The Barnawapara Forest Eco-Cottage of Chhattisgarh Tourism, located inside the Sanctuary
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An oddity: Ravan unfortunately has 9 heads over there! Would love to know the reason why.
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Beautiful rural village house as we return back to the resort.
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And back there the two kiddos enjoyed in their own devised activities.
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Tomorrow early morning we leave for the unknown - 200 km away from Barnawapara we leave for Sitanadi-Udanti Sanctuary. But then no one goes over there nowadays as we travel deep into the disturbed areas. But then the purpose of the journey was for seeing the wild buffalo, the state animal of Chhattisgarh.


contd...

Last edited by adc : 10th March 2012 at 19:01.
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Old 10th March 2012, 10:16   #5
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Now, as said, the main purpose not only the travel to this remote land, but also to get an real time update on the very much endangered wild buffalo.

Now lets go through few articles as to why wild buffalo is much more endangered than the tiger.

Quote:
There is much more to India’s wildlife than the widely-talked-about flagship species like the tiger, the rhino or the elephant. While conservation efforts dedicated to these flagships trickles down benefits to other species that share their habitat, certain species require more than just these indirect interventions for survival.

The wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis arnee) population of Central India is one such example whose local existence is gravely threatened. Once found in abundance across northeast India extending to northern and central India, the species now has its last bastions in some pockets in northeast India and Chhattisgarh state.


A Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) survey estimated not more than 50 individuals in three sub-populations in Indravati National Park, Pamed and Udanti Wildlife Sanctuaries in Chhattisgarh. A thorough count was conducted only in Udanti, as the other two protected areas faced political disturbances. The survey established that only seven wild buffaloes remained in Udanti in mid-2010 and that only one of them was female.



In addition to the critically low population, wild buffaloes in Udanti also face threats in the form of extreme competition for resources from livestock, conflicts and habitat degeneration among others.
The wild buffalo is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. With less than 4000 individuals estimated to be remaining in the wild, the species is also classified as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



The Udanti Wild Buffalo Recovery Project aims to stabilise the wild buffalo population in Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary, Chhattisgarh by implementing a number of ex situ and in situ interventions.
A joint venture with the Forest Department, the project began with the evaluation of the number of wild buffaloes in four wildlife sanctuaries – Udanti, Pamed, Sitanadi and Bhairamgarh – and a national park – Indravati - in Chhattisgarh. The survey revealed that no buffaloes remained in Sitanadi and Bhairamgarh WLS. Indravati NP had a relatively large population of about 30 individuals and Pamed WLS had 5-8 buffaloes, but no conservation initiatives could be undertaken in these protected areas because of the security situation.



In Udanti WLS, systematic observations established that only seven individuals, including a male calf, remained. The urgency for intervention was emphasised by the fact that the population comprised a lone female.



Source: Udanti Wild Buffalo Recovery Project
Repeating what I had written out in the first post:

"A few phone calls to the forest department of Sitanadi and Udanti we got the clear cut message of these places being out of bound for travel people, even during day time. Sitanadi was absolutely out of bounds, we can visit the wild buffalo centre in Udanti but stay options were not there and the last tourist to the only forest house was around 2-3 years ago."


Our journey started breakfast for the 200 km, at Taurenga / Indagaon tourist eco huts deep inside Chhattisgarh. We had no bookings - Since no one goes over there - no bookings are even done and as said we were discouraged to come even due to the ultra-left disturbances, it is acute over in these places.


As we landed over there, the authorities were so surprised to see a whole group of ladies, children and we two guys [Deba and me] land over there and ask for some accommodation - told them that we are just travellers and just that we have come to see all the way from Kolkata to see the few wild buffaloes that still remain over here in Central India.

Again some of the most helpful forest people took us to the Taurenga eco tourist hut and it was quite a relief that we had found some place to stay or else we would have to go back to Raipur itself another 5-6 hours back.

Barnawapara WLS to Sitanadi WLS [Taurenga Eco tourist hut] - approx 200 km
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Beautiful Chhattisgarh state highways, though desolate
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Domestic buffaloes these are but!!!
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The most surprised yet most helpful forest officials led us to the Taurenga forest rest house
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Towards Taurenga

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And soon we reach Taurenga tourist hut's gates
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It was this article in Tehelka - How to kill a Buffalo that did spawn the idea about this travel - to see the Von Bhaisa a.k.a Wild Buffalo

Yet, at last count, there were just seven wild buffalos here. Was this the end of the road for the animal? Have we, in our infinite indifference, caused the extinction of yet another magnificent mammal, the progenitor of the ubiquitous domestic water buffalo


There is a information centre at Koiba, a few km distance from Taurenga. With zero tourists for the last 2-3 years, everything is in lock down. The caretaker, who lives in a nearby village, is surprised to see us and opens up the eco centre for us to see.



At the wild buffalo information centre, Udanti WLS
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And the official vital stats of the Von Bhaisa
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And some info about the flora
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Udanti WLS map
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Inside the information centre.
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We take a look around the centre. Half done cottages now covered by wild growth that overlooked a stream. Udanti and Sitanadi used to have a number of tourists before the Naxalite problems some 3 years or so back.
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We then walk down to the small river/stream by side of the information centre. We leave our footprints on the sand, it has been some 2-3 years since the last tourists. In this photo, complete team except me can be seen including our maid-cook of Taurenga. She has not been over here till now!

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Some exotic bracket fungi - fantastic colours.
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contd...

Last edited by adc : 10th March 2012 at 19:36.
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Old 10th March 2012, 10:18   #6
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Quote:
Udanti Sanctuary

Located in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh, Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary is a small but an important wildlife sanctuary in the region. Established in 1983 under Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the sanctuary covers an area of approximately 232 sq km. the topography of the sanctuary comprises of broken mass of land traversed by innumerable hill ranges intercepted by stripes of plains. The beautiful sanctuary derives its name from the Udanti River flowing from the west to east covering major part of the sanctuary. Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its population of the endangered Wild Buffaloes. For their survival and growth many steps have been taken by the forest department officials. A large number of man-made tanks have been constructed all across the width and length of the sanctuary. On Udanti Wildlife Tour you can see this amazing animal among a wide variety of animals and birds.


Flora and Fauna - Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary

The flora in Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary chiefly comprises of Tropical Dry Peninsular Sal forests and Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Mixed Forests. Major flora in the sanctuary comprises of Teak, Sal, Salai, Bamboo, Mahul, Semal, Mahua, Aonwla, Tendu, Harra and Ber among others. The wildlife found in Udanti Sanctuary include Wild Buffalos, Panthers, Tigers, Chital, Four-horned Antelopes, Chinkara, Black Buck, Sambar, Nilgai, Jungle cat, Barking Deer, Sloth bear, Gaur, Wild dog, Porcupine, Monkey, Jackals, Bison, Striped Hyena, Fox, Cobras, Pythons etc. The sanctuary also has a sizable population of birds with prominent being the Parrots, Bulbul, Peafowl, Racket-tailed Drongos, Egrets, Heron, Magpie robin, Lesser whistling Teal, Pintail, Rollers and Herons to name few. A visit to Udanti sanctuary promises to be an exciting and unforgettable experience for all wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers and nature lover


We now head towards the wild buffalo conservation breeding centre in Udanti WLS, Chhattisgarh, where the lone female is being kept [Read more about this here - Udanti-wild-buffalo-recovery-project



At the gate
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Soon the less frequented forest road soon turns to a single track
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and then cross a river on the way to the conservation centre.
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Quote:
Through the Central India Wild Buffalo Conservation Project, the state’s Forest Department and WTI are working to conserve the species and facilitate its recovery in Udanti. In addition to the planned breeding programme of the lone female, the project monitors all the buffaloes individually. Habitat improvement activities are also carried out in the range of the buffaloes. The project also facilitates provision of relief to farmers who incur losses due to crop damage by the buffaloes.

At the conservation centre. The fence separates the centre from the forest. Fresh grass is given for the wild buffaloes. The lone female and its cub stays over there itself. The other male wild buffaloes may turn up at those feeding times from inside the deep forest. And when the male or males show up, no one would like get caught on the other side of the fence!

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Sweeping horns of a young male. These group much bigger than that when fully grown.
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After some time came out from the deep forest, another young male. This one was aggressive. Seeing unfamiliar faces in us, he was cautious
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A wild buffalo is as aggressive as it can be like any other wild big games. The stance says it all.
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Kalia is now the clear and present danger of the forests. He does have history of giving a hard knock to quite a few humans
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Immense good work is being done at this centre. Wild buffalo conservation does not have that glamour quotient as that of tiger - as such it remains out of news for all of us. Recently, October 2011, a new cub was born over there bringing the population to 9, a small yet significant step in bring back the wild buffalo population in Central India. Do read more about it here


Endangered wild buffalo population count reaches nine in Udanti and here Buffalo baby brings new hope for India's wild buffalo

I had known that interiors of Udanti and Sitanadi WLS has been out of bounds for travellers due to Maoist disturbances, to the point that when I had called the authorities over telephone, they had discouraged me to come. Anyway since we are here, after visiting the conservation centre headed off towards the core area of the Udanti forest. Had heard that the river Udanti that flows through it has one of the most crystal clear waters not to speak of 2 magnificent forest waterfalls namely Deodhara and Godena.

However since we had arrived and knowing that no tourists have been here for the last 2-3 years, the situation was much more bleak than I had imagined. No one [forget tourists, forest officials themselves too] dares to go into the core areas. These are liberated areas now!


As we came up to this gate, we soon realized that this is the maximum people are allowed to go. Only the local villagers living deep within the forest venture inside. As we talked with some the officials we were absolutely in no uncertain terms told about the situation in the core areas. I still remember the incident when I and Deba, my friend, first went to talk with the forest official at this gate. And then when the ladies and the children came out of the Safari, they never imagined that families have come till here - one of them said, "yehan to koi nehi aate aur aap log to pura family le ke eeha aaye gaye!!

This gate the maximum one could go till
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So that done we headed back to our Taurenga FRH for the night with a plan to visit Sitanadi forest the next day.

A bit of the Taurenga FRH. Previously, before the Naxalite activities, this had been a great tourist spot with hordes of tourists coming from Raipur and travellers all over India. Even it was a great favourite rest house for all Chief Ministers.


This is the old FRH since British times
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Though now totally in a dilapidated condition
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And this is new FRH next to the old one. But now with almost no tourists out here for last 2-3 years, it is slowly and slowly going to state of disuse.
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And just to note that since there were no tourists for the last 3 years, there is no register book as such. In fact the forest officials said that we were guests and took no room rent from us, even us insisting. Their only word was that we had come from such a long way when nothing is happening over here tourist wise, that itself made them happy! What can we say, we were just overwhelmed!!




contd...

Last edited by adc : 11th March 2012 at 00:37.
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Old 10th March 2012, 10:20   #7
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Quote:
Sitanadi Sanctuary

Located in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh, Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most famous and important wildlife sanctuaries in central India. Established in 1974 under Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the sanctuary covers an area of approximately 556 sq km, comprising of highly undulating and hilly terrain with altitudes ranging between 327-736 mts. The beautiful sanctuary derives its name from the Sitanadi River that originates in the middle of sanctuary and joins Mahanadi River near Deokhut. Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary is known for its lush green flora and rich and unique and diverse fauna and has great potential to emerge as one of the finest wildlife destinations in central India.


Flora and Fauna - Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary

The flora in Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary chiefly comprises of moist peninsular Sal, Teak and Bamboo forests. Other major plants in the sanctuary include Semal, Mahua, Harra, Ber and Tendu. The rich and lush vegetation cover supports a wide variety of wildlife in the sanctuary. The major wildlife found in Sitanadi Sanctuary include Tigers, Leopards, Flying Squirrels, Jackals, Four-horned Antelopes, Chinkara, Black Buck, Jungle Cat, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Monkey, Bison, Striped Hyena, Sloth Bear, Wild Dogs, Chital, Sambar, Nilgai, Gaur, Muntjac, Wild Boar, Cobra, Python among many others. The sanctuary also has a sizable bird population with prominent being the Parrots, Bulbul, Peafowl, Pheasant, Crimson Breasted Barbet, Teetar, Tree Pie, Racket-tailed Drongos, Egrets, and Herons to name few. Sitanadi Sanctuary is also being prepared to develop it as an important tiger sanctuary in the region. A visit to Sitanadi sanctuary promises to be an exciting and unforgettable experience for all wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The sanctuary is at a distance of about 173 km from state capital Raipur which is also the nearest airport. Dhamtari Railway Station (95km) is the nearest railhead from Sitanadi Sanctuary. The place is easily approachable through the Raipur-Deobhog State Highway




Early morning we headed towards Sitanadi forest department at Nagri for taking permission for going into Sitanadi forest, taking the State Highway through some dense forests
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We were headed towards Nagri at the Forest Department for papers and permission
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And the Sitanadi Forest spread out on both sides of the State Highway.
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As we passed over this bridge, we stopped for...
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Zero tourists, deep forests, pristine nature. Golden yellow river bed sand, never seen anywhere!
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And we meet these local boys, just enjoying a winter morning sun. They have come over here from some nearby village just to while away some time. Simple minds and simple joys!
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And these great innocent smiles remind of this pic from Gurez, Bandipora, from our Zanksar-Kashmir (Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011) travel. Different places, different people - yet again, simple joys and simple minds
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As we reached and talked with the forest DFO, we were strictly told to go back. Sitanadi is definitely out of bounds due to severe conflict. As for staying, one could stay at some of the rest houses built in the small towns but as said no one can go into the forests nowadays.


So just these snaps of the rest house at Sankara near Nagri and some distance chart pic.
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So a return back to the Taurenga FRH of Udanti by the State Highway through the pristine forests again
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Back later on a bonfire and some local chitchat with the chowkidars, it was the last night of an unique travel.
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So next day after a pleasant winter sun breakfast and lunch, and some relaxation - one of them being this most uneven matched game in the world that saw two grownup men score goals against a couple of small kids
!....
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....
we left Taurenga FRH for a overnight direct drive to Kolkata of 1200 km journey, with a planned journey time of around 22 hours.
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We purposely left around afternoon, so that the overnight journey falls from around Sambalpur and also such that we enter Kolkata early morning. As dusk fell along the Chhattisgarh forest state highway towards NH6, all fell quiet reminiscing of all the good moments of the some great days spent.
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It was a non-eventful yet great overnight journey with a night dinner stop at a lonely dhaba on NH6 near Chhattisgarh-Orissa border. We though got stuck at around 3:30 am near Dhenkanal, Orissa, due to dense fog traffic jam, which in fact helped me to catch a short power-nap, and from there again a full speed run to Kolkata, reaching safely home at 7 am, taking a total of around 27 hours.


That's it then for this travel story that took place in December year end of 2010. This may not be a glamorous journey, but what satisfying it was. Just like other travel, we met some of the most friendly yet simple people in some distant lands, saw some pristine nature, went to a place in where calm, silence, and nature rules till now, and plus as always a great self-drive too. But most important was the objective success for which this travel was undertaken - to see some of the very few remaining wild buffaloes, i.e., Von Bhaisa, of Central India, the State Animal of Chhattisgarh.


Hope you all enjoyed the travelogue and thanks as always for going through it. So till next travel, ride, drive or trek , bye for now!!


End.

Last edited by adc : 11th March 2012 at 00:43.
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Old 11th March 2012, 14:35   #8
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Thread moved here from Assembly line. Thanks for sharing the travelogue with us.
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Old 11th March 2012, 15:41   #9
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Isnt there a threat of Naxals driving through remote forest roads around Chattisgarh?


Lovely place, inspiring pics!

--Ragul

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Old 11th March 2012, 16:28   #10
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

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Originally Posted by Ragul View Post
Isnt there a threat of Naxals driving through remote forest roads around Chattisgarh?


Lovely place, inspiring pics!

--Ragul
As written before, Sitanadi and Udanti forests are very much disturbed then and also now and travel should be with caution. The interior forests are "liberated" as said.

That said, as for any travel to a perceived disturbed or affected place, I do ask the local tea shops and drivers about the best info, rather than the general perception of a complete state being said as disturbed.

Last edited by adc : 11th March 2012 at 16:33.
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Old 11th March 2012, 17:58   #11
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Wonderful to find you back and actively posting again, with two travelogues running side-by-side. Was missing your travelogues and photos!

Has TMT overhaul been completed for this year's travels?
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Old 12th March 2012, 06:24   #12
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

adc sir, another wonderful travelogue. Thanks for sharing.
The forest of Udanti reminds me of the forests near my hometown in the interiors of Vidarbha region. The Teak, Sal, Bamboo and the Tendu trees give them a unique character.
Good to see that the Udanti/Sitanandi forest is untouched by tourists and in pristine condition. IMO its one of the positive outcome of the maoist movement in that area.
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Old 12th March 2012, 13:00   #13
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Wonderful to find you back and actively posting again, with two travelogues running side-by-side. Was missing your travelogues and photos!

Has TMT overhaul been completed for this year's travels?
Now thats worries me. It is at 80k km now and big costs will be coming up from suspension overhaul to timing belt and like. And not to speak about another installment of road tax of 40k and 10k around for insurance in October [there goes up in smoke the regular October travels ].

But right now it is in the best of its condition as it would be, a Safari without a fuss and a complaint.




Quote:
Originally Posted by C300 View Post
The forest of Udanti reminds me of the forests near my hometown in the interiors of Vidarbha region. The Teak, Sal, Bamboo and the Tendu trees give them a unique character.
Good to see that the Udanti/Sitanandi forest is untouched by tourists and in pristine condition. IMO its one of the positive outcome of the maoist movement in that area.
We actually did a tour of Vidharba forests of Nagzira, Melghat and Tadoba back in summer of May 2010. The moonlit night at Kolkas rest house of Melghat and night spent on machan is one of the fondest memory of that travel and of course abundant wildlife from tigers to even a leopard to wild boars and bears to wild dogs and bisons.


As for maoists, they are least bothered about wildlife population. They just need the forest cover. Tiger populations have all but vanished from the affected tiger reserves. This belt of Sitanadi-Udanti borders the Sunabeda forests of Orissa and thus has a huge strategic significance.

We went few years back to Sunabeda too and discovered the "secret beach" inside the forest (Safari Dicor LX VTT-TMT Xtreme Travel - Orissa's Unkown Forests: Debrigarh & Sunabeda). and soon after Sunabeda forest got into much turmoil and still is now, and no tourists are allowed inside.

Last edited by adc : 12th March 2012 at 13:07.
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Old 13th March 2012, 22:12   #14
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

Admire your spirit - all of you!! I've read your other travelogues two or three times. That's how travel ought to be
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Old 14th March 2012, 09:56   #15
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Default Re: In search of the State Animal of Chhattisgarh - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bh

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...timing belt...
...installment of road tax of 40k...
You don't need a timing belt now - you have a brand new engine. How many km has this one run?

Didn't realize road tax is that expensive in WB! Works out to 8k INR/year!
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