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Old 10th April 2020, 20:43   #16
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Default Re: Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve

What a co-incidence that a couple of days ago I was browsing the web seeing places near Bandhavgarh and came across Khajuraho, Pawai Water Falls and Panna National Park. Thanks for sharing this gem of a place through your travelogue Rated a deserving 5*

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Originally Posted by Trojan View Post
Making new trails spoils the entire ecosystem around as multiple vehicles start using it.
Completely agree !!

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Originally Posted by Trojan View Post
The river here is one which we need to cross once in a while, due to the extended rains this year, it still has plenty of water, the depth of which is visible once the vehicle wades through it. The ground below is soft and slushy coupled with smooth roundish rocks, which make traction a difficult task.

Added to the fact that my Scorpio is a 2WD was an element which needed to be factored carefully, getting stuck would mean a definite recovery which is OK but in order to get to recovery, it would need us to walk to a point where we would get mobile reception.

The odds in my favor were
- I knew my car well
- I had driven on this river bed before

This gave me enough confidence to go for it and the Scorpio performed flawlessly, albeit with a little hesitation towards the end where the rocks were too slippery.
Do you mean to say that we can drive your own 4x4 at Panna National Park ?
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Old 11th April 2020, 10:59   #17
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Default Re: Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ-got-BHP View Post
What a co-incidence that a couple of days ago I was browsing the web seeing places near Bandhavgarh and came across Khajuraho, Pawai Water Falls and Panna National Park. Thanks for sharing this gem of a place through your travelogue Rated a deserving 5* [/b]
Thank you I will add more details on how to get there via road, rail and air. Though I must say that by road will give the max pleasure.


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Originally Posted by AJ-got-BHP View Post
Do you mean to say that we can drive your own 4x4 at Panna National Park ?
Yes certain areas within the buffer are open for private vehicles albeit not for general sightseeing but for transit. My place is located 25kms inside the buffer and hence we and those who are visiting us are allowed to use the forest road, there are 2 forest check-posts one would need to cross and one is liable to be checked by the Forest department.

In order to experience the full glory of the forests, one needs to purchase a ticket and book a Gypsy, and an authorized guide will accompany you.

I will be listing down some common queries which will prove helpful for all travelers.

Cheers,
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Old 30th April 2020, 00:26   #18
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Default How does one reach Panna Tiger Reserve

Panna Tiger Reserve

Panna Tiger Reserve is located in Northern Madhya Pradesh and 25kms from the world famous Khajuraho Temples

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Getting there

By Air

1. Khajuraho:
Distance by Road - 25km
Time for travel - 40mins

With such close proximity to Khajuraho which has both an Airport as well as a Railway Station, it becomes the nearest city. Panna has neither an airport nor any railroad.
There are no non-stop/direct flights and it will be a connecting flight from any of the major airports (Delhi, Lucknow, Agra, Varanasi)

2. Kanpur
Distance by Road - 250kms
Time for Travel - 4/5 hrs

Kanpur would be the second closest airport and with better connectivity with the rest of our country.

3. Jabalpur
Distance by Road - 250kms
Time for Travel - 5.5hrs
Jabalpur is another alternative with better connectivity


Railways

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-2.-train.jpg

Nearest Railheads

1. Khajuraho
Distance - 25kms
Time to Travel - 40mins


There are daily trains from Bhopal, New Delhi, Udaipur, Allahabad, Kanpur & Lucknow which travel towards Khajuraho

2. Satna
Distance - 90kms
Time to travel - 2.5hrs


One of the most famous and important railheads has fabulous connectivity from almost all parts of India (there are over 25 trains from Mumbai/Pune alone).
This is the preferred route for most travelers arriving from cities other than Delhi

3. Jhansi
Distance - 180 kms
Time to travel - 5hrs

Good alternative for travelers in case the mainstream stations are booked. Rajdhani Express has a stop at this city of immense historical importance.

4. Jabalpur
Distance - 5.5 hrs

Another alternative purely due to the number of trains arriving here with some highly convenient timings

e.g. Garibrath from Mumbai CST
Departure Mumbai at 1400 (Tue, Thu, Sat)
Arrival Jabalpur at 0500 (Next Day)
This helps in arrival at your preferred resort by 11am, and saves a lot of daylight hours.

By Road

Ex-Pune / Mumbai
1200 Kms,
18-20hrs , Road Conditions, Excellent 4 lane until Bhopal, 2 lanes post that

- Nasik - Dhule - Indore - Bhopal - Sanchi - Vidisha - Sagar - Damoh - Amanganj - Panna
This is my regular route while driving to Panna, I usually travel non-stop after leaving home at 4am and reach the camp by 10-11pm

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-expune-roadtrain.jpg

Ex-Delhi
After taking the Yamuna Expressway usually I take the Agra - Gwalior - Jhansi route, takes around 8-9 hrs from Agra.


Ex-Lucknow
Distance - 300kms
Time - 7/8hrs
There are 2 routes one via Ajaygarh, Banda, Naraini and the other through Mahoba, Kanpur etc. Avoid the Banda - Naraini route.

Ex-Nagpur
Distance - 500kms
Time - 10hrs
I prefer to drive through the State Highways on this route, very picturesque and if one has the luxury of time should always take the longer route through the different wildlife sanctuaries dotting this forested landscape.

So, there I have tried listing down all possible options for travel - most of which I have personally done and hence in a position to explain if needed.

While driving through MP, the vastness of the state really hits you, open farmlands as far as the eye can see, a little before Sanchi, one would cross the Tropic of Cancer and post Vidisha & Sagar it gets more and more remote.

In my drives I do take breaks and also stop for a couple of hours at petrol stations or villages for taking much needed naps, I have done this umpteen times with family and solo too. In my experience, rural India is much safer than our cities.


Cheers,
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Old 4th May 2020, 18:27   #19
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Default A dead Bull, 2 Leopards and a Hyena

I spend a lot of time alone at the camp, these times I thoroughly enjoy learning about the ways of the jungle folk.
Tracking animals, following alarm calls and try to capture moments if conditions are apt.
But among all this I also long to be able to share these experiences with family too, so that they can also at first hand experience the thrill.

But again there are no assured lunches, but I do take them out for long walks explaining to them and allowing their senses to develop to get accustomed to the jungle.

On one such occasion, we were planning to go for our evening walk. After reaching the gate, we had an option of either taking a right or a left, both of which are on the forest road and go through dense undergrowth, the difference being the one on the right would take us to the village and the one on the left would go deeper inside the forest.

I decided to take the left route.

We must have walked around 500mtrs when I got a call from my naturalist and there was an urgency in his voice asking me which side did I take them for a walk.
I replied that I took them to the left, and then he exclaimed,

Sir... the leopard is sitting on the road to the village!

The statement had its desired effect!

I ran...

...towards the gate!


The idea was to get the Scorpio out soon enough so that we could go there.

My family on the other hand just ran along with me albeit with fear!

But fate had other plans.
I was disappointed on having missed the opportunity, but my cook wasn't. He was returning from the village on his motorbike and had to stop right in his tracks upon seeing the cat.

Leopards are quite lenient with villagers and hardly react upon seeing them. He nonchalantly sauntered away from him.
And the villagers are least bothered to see them or to take pics and they keep seeing them on a regular basis, while we who are chasing them hardly sight any.

In the pursuit of cats, one is likely to experience their presence more than sighting them. This extremely thrilling and satisfying sport is a treat for the people who wish to understand leopards and their behavior.
Upon the near miss in the evening, we went about our evening activities and spent some good time in the Machan.

The next morning, at 10am as we were about to have our breakfast, the first alarm call came.

Khok... Khok....Khokorrrr, the alarm call of a Langur,
Unmistakable call of the Jungle and marked the definite presence of a Leopard.

At this time of the day, I wondered?
The call was coming from the gate, and I went to the gate to check where was the call coming from. Since the call seemed to come from close proximity, I did not take anyone else along with me.

But nothing would have prepared me to what I saw next...



The Langur was sitting bang opposite our gate and looking inside the property. It was clear, the source and reason of the Langurs alarm was inside the property, adjoining our camp is a natural nullah which is full during the monsoons and is a preferred way of commute for the denizens.

The leopard was most likely in this nullah, I concurred, and due to the constant alarms of the Langur which brought me out, its movement was arrested.
The alarms went on for a good 45mins and then it was gone. I even placed our cameras there to capture the movement when it would decide to leave, but nope, nothing.
The leopard was gone without giving us even a glimpse, that is the level of stealth it operates at.

A few days later, a feral Bull was killed right next to our fence and it became the epicenter of some unbelievable activity.

The first visitor

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-dscf0384.jpg

the second visitor

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-fml-leopard.jpg

and the third

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-leopard.jpg

I have only attached the pictures of the main carnivores at the scene, there were a few others too namely the Jackal, Wild Boar and even a Porcupine.

But none of them made any attempt to eat from the kill - as yet. The larger and more accomplished hunters get to eat first and then the rest is left for the smaller ones - and especially for Jackals, Foxes and Wild Boars they would not let go of such an opportunity in the day as well and they know that very well.

So why take the risk.


Cheers!
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Old 4th August 2020, 13:42   #20
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Default Re: A Forest Gurkha

So for the last 2.5 months we are living at the Camp, apart from the isolation and peace it offered, it was also a great opportunity and a testing ground for our recently acquired Gurkha.

I have been putting it through the paces in the forest areas and boy there are challenges and more for the vehicle on a daily basis and has the Gurkha performed? If you ask me then it certainly has, driving through slush pits, buffalo wallows, cultivated fields (of necessity and not recreation), river crossings, slippery stony ghats with hair pin bends aplomb.

The Gurkha has literally digested it all without breaking a sweat.
I must say I am damn impressed and this is one helluva understated beast.

I am also penning down a detailed ownership review, but thought it might be good to share a short insight of our experiences in the last 2 months.

Hope you like it!

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Old 27th August 2020, 15:14   #21
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Default Re: Our Wild Neighbor - Leopard

Leopard, the very word springs about a feeling of awe and mystery, hardly any other animal comes close to creating this feeling.
The very nature of this cat is so deeply embedded in mystery that quickly compounds into an unknown fear, like the elongating shadows which slowly merge into darkness, the slight rustle of a bush, breaking of a twig and then the piercing call of a denizen pinned to death by this master of stealth.

For the last 3 months, I have been tracking this Male Leopard who lives in the vicinity of our camp. We have had many many encounters with him on the forest track, so much so that now I can say that he recognizes us and as a result of the same also indulges us with great shots.

As we drove towards the village, crossing the now extremely dense forest, reaching the spot of our multiple encounters, we understood something was different, there was utter chaos ...I stopped the car, Langurs had gone berserk on the Peepal tree, something sent a bunch of Peacocks squawking into the undergrowth and then we saw a lone Nilgai (female) calling out in utter alarm. For those lucky few who have had the opportunity to spend some time in the forests must have realized how rare this is.

For the rest, here goes, Nilgais are extremely quiet and rarely emit any kind of sound unless when cornered by clear and imminent danger and in the area where we were at, could mean only one thing - a Leopard.
And it was only 6pm with plenty of daylight left, the sheer audacity of a fringe area resident was clear, he was used to being out and about in daylight and/or he was very hungry which prompted him to come out at this hour.

Either way we felt we were lucky and waited with baited breath for 30mins and then nothing happened.
The sheer patience of a leopard can wear even the stoutest of personalities or put them to the test.
Already well versed with this behavior, I wasn't disappointed, in fact it brought me hope with the knowledge that he was back in the area and the chances of seeing him were brighter than ever before.
The evening was uneventful and again the next evening we were back in our search but now armed with some potent information.

Info
The Leopard had made a kill - a sub-adult calf at 7am, putting this together I knew that the odds were in our favor. With a kill made so late, it was impossible for the Leopard to drag it to the depths of the forest and also with being the suspicious cats that he was, it wont leave the carcass alone even, which meant he would be around.

So off we went with the Gurkha and waited, and just as unexpected as it had subsided yesterday, without warning, without a single alarm call (for it was 6pm and plenty of daylight) out stepped this magnificent cat, larger than any other I have come across.
He seemed surprised and I took it for a compliment for I had aced his movement to the T and here he was looking back at me.

But now it was his turn to throw a surprise and surprise he did by doing something extremely un-leopard like, he walked up to the car and stood barely 5 feet from my window (driver side) to look at me.

This was not expected, at that moment I didn't whether to just look back at him or take a picture or video. I fumbled around for my phone for my telephoto would be useless at such close quarters.
Then he walked up to a raised embankment and gave us the splendid opportunity to capture this...



Enjoy with full screen and audio.

Excuse the camera shake, manual focus and whatnot with trying to adjust the camera handheld with the engine running and one foot on the clutch and the other on the brake, finally towards the later part of the shot, I moved it to neutral and could relax a bit with the hand brake in position.
I didn't switch off the engine or try anything which would possibly spook the Leopard and lest he walked back into the forest.

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-psx_20200827_144439.jpg
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Old 10th November 2020, 12:57   #22
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Default Re: Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve

Sloth Bears are unable to scratch their backs themselves and make use of trees and other objects to relieve them of the itch.

This Sunday a passing Bear stopped by at our gate for a much needed scratch, we would have no idea about the same if not for these.

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-sloth-bear-fur.jpeg

The fur and skin of the Bear is super tough, so while being careful so as not to hurt itself, the barbed wire itself does not pose a major threat to it in any manner.
Heck it would also be quite difficult for it to reach through the thick fur.
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Old 29th January 2021, 10:02   #23
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Default Re: Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve - Leopard attack

The fringe areas around most of our National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserves are a hotbed of activity.
Chief occupation being mostly farming, which by itself is hard work and dotted with possibilities; add to it the proximity of the forest and you have just added a new dimension to it.
Come night time and the time belongs to the denizens of the forest, for they will come to have a share of the produce and a drink from the well.

Nilgais or Blue Bulls are the most prevalent and will enter the fields. But that's not it, there are always cases of Leopards entering villages in search of an easy meal such as dogs, goats & cattle.

Here is one such incident of an attack, now this fellow over the years has lost all his cows to similar incidents.

This was his only cow left and one with a month old calf, death of the cow at this time would signal the curtains for the calf too.

Here's what happened.



I placed my trap cameras at this field for the next few days with no visit by the Leopard. He did not want to take his chances again, Leopards are a master of stealth and will avoid confrontation as much as possible.
Since these forests have plenty of cattle walking around the forests too, he made a meal of a semi grown cow barely 500mtrs from this farm.

BR
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Old 10th June 2021, 11:58   #24
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Default Days in the Wild : 33

Hello after a long time!

9-June-2021
Days in the Wild : 33

Today we completed 33 days living at our secluded abode in the jungle : Bear Valley Camp
There are so many friends, family and contacts who follow our travails closely, and connect with us often wishing that they could trade places and enjoy this solitude.

So we thought of sharing an additional glimpse of the life on the other side, the wild side of India. Read on.

While life is peaceful and full of adventure there are also downsides of living in an extremely remote area.
At present we don't have stable electricity for the last 4 days. It comes once in a while (30-40mins) or with extremely poor voltage (130-150V).

Needless to say in our days of WFH and E-Schooling power, electricity and internet form the backbone of urban survival and connect.
While we do have all sorts of back-up (solar inverters, diesel generators) yesterday evening we found ourselves without any form of power available for us.
All the systems were exhausted, this time of the year this region gets Summer Storms which cause havoc with the power grids and cables and turnaround time is not that great with limited staff and harsh environment (41-42° degrees Celsius minimum)

We were literally staring at the dark and wondering how are we possibly going to sleep tonight with no fans working. (Forget AC)
Incidentally the forest cools down quickly and sunset onwards it is actually quite pleasant.

So we thought of doing something different and letting the children experience something no longer possible in cities and most places.
Sleeping under the stars.
With a consistent breeze blowing we setup the Khatiyas on the porch in front of the tent and set about with Star Gazing.
I remember this clearly from my own experience as a kid while visiting our village back in the 80s.

Experiences such as these remain embedded in our brains as fresh as today.
Many might think the first thing that somes to mind - what about safety?
Well inspite of living inside a forest, we have learnt and understood that animals prefer to stay away from human habitation and since we don't have any livestock there is no need for any Leopard to visit us. Other than this we have Tomy who was born in the jungle and is aware of all sights and sounds and makes us aware of any movement which we may have missed.

The kids were thrilled to bits and it was awesome to see the excitement of a night out in the wild under the open sky! Talking about the sky, of course we took some pics of the night sky, will share them, check out the pics - that's how the forest is in the dark!

All in all it will be a night to remember!

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-night-shot-1.jpeg

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-night-shot-2.jpeg

Last edited by Trojan : 10th June 2021 at 12:02.
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Old 10th June 2021, 17:01   #25
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Default Re: Our Wild Neighbor - Leopard



Enjoy with full screen and audio.

Excuse the camera shake, manual focus and whatnot with trying to adjust the camera handheld with the engine running and one foot on the clutch and the other on the brake, finally towards the later part of the shot, I moved it to neutral and could relax a bit with the hand brake in position.
I didn't switch off the engine or try anything which would possibly spook the Leopard and lest he walked back into the forest.

Attachment 2048352[/quote]


What an amazing experience! The leopard seems as interested in you as you in him!
Please keep writing about experiences. I'm enjoying the photographs and the narrative is really informative and engaging!

I drove the 2.2 Gurkha in 2019 and was impressed with its ability off-road. locked the diffs and drove over a fallen coconut tree trunk with no drama whatsoever. tried the same with my Fortuner and just ended up rotating the truck with my front wheel.
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Old 11th June 2021, 11:30   #26
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Default Re: Our Wild Neighbor - Leopard

Quote:
Originally Posted by ValuableRecluse View Post
Attachment 2048352


What an amazing experience! The leopard seems as interested in you as you in him!
Please keep writing about experiences. I'm enjoying the photographs and the narrative is really informative and engaging!

I drove the 2.2 Gurkha in 2019 and was impressed with its ability off-road. locked the diffs and drove over a fallen coconut tree trunk with no drama whatsoever. tried the same with my Fortuner and just ended up rotating the truck with my front wheel.

Thank you @ValuableRecluse! Yes we have run into each other so many times, that I would like to believe that he recognizes us and the vehicle the same way that we recognize him. Some more updates will be coming in soon.

The Gurkha is a true off-road vehicle and people must really experience it before writing off, but sadly in today's date marketing matters a lot.

Cheers,
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Old 22nd June 2021, 12:47   #27
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Default Days in the Wild : 44

21st-June-2021
Days in the Wild : 44

Today we completed 44 days of living in the wild at our Jungle Home.
With every few days there is a constant change and evolution which we need to keep pace with. So many things happened in the last few days, school reopened and so did the cities post the lockdown.
We also got our 2nd dose of Covaxin and thus completed our vaccination journey.

Many might think whether we have any sort of mobile connectivity so deep in the forest. Well we had our doubts too but we actually have fabulous connectivity from major providers which not only let us continue our work in peace but also the online classes for the kids.

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-study.jpeg

As we don't keep a TV here, keeping the children engaged in some activity or the other is a full time job, phones do chip in too, but luckily for us both have taken to wildlife and birding and are busy spotting and/or clicking pictures.

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-walk-woods.jpeg

Nowadays kids are also quite digitally inclined and the Microsoft Teams app was quickly mastered by both of them, learning tips and tricks which even most adults would take some time getting used to.
So there was the question of I want a background for my video and what to say, sometimes the power cuts help and they both got their very own unique and absolutely natural background. Check the pic 🙂

Life in the wild ...makes one see the bright side of things.

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-whatsapp-image-20210622-12.39.00-2.jpeg

As i type this, a pair of Mottled Wood Owls have perched on the Sagwan tree in the lawn and are hooting away, will share a pic soon.

And lastly how can I miss my most epic sighting of the fabled Dhole or Indian Wild Dog, we have roamed the plateau regions where they have been usually found for over 4 years, not that they were sighted by others ...the last time they were seen in a viewable footage was in 2018 - life is good!

Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-dhole.jpeg
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Old 22nd June 2021, 13:28   #28
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Default Re: Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve

Its interesting to go through your updates here. Secretly, all other kids their age would be quite envious of them. They will never run out of things to talk about, make projects on, indulge in outdoor hobbies, eventually building up all sorts of extra curricular skills.

During our visit to Panna last year, we spotted these dogs as we were approaching Khajuraho. Didn't know what they were (Jackals or Foxes) then.

Quote:
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It was 7:30 by now and we were in complete darkness. This area is the UP-MP state border and the roads turned from below average to bad. We had the offline maps in the nav-unit and google to help guide us. The straight route from Panwari to Mahoba and from there to Malhara turned our to be the most intense. The route had no road signs, no milestones, no markings and no roads even at some places. With all the talk of spotting wildlife the coming day, it seemed like a sighting was around the corner. The average speed reduced further. Single track paved roads with no signs of human habitation lead us to Mahoba-Chatarpur road which was a short lived relief. 20 kms later we again were off road and in a little while at a point of no return. There were wild dogs and jackals roaming these tracks. I say tracks since the roads just had rubble laid on them long back for paving. Sections of concrete slabs required frequent changing of lanes. It was all kinds of unsafe road travel here. It was so bad that the maps were providing a better picture of the bends in the roads ahead. It took us almost an hour to cover 30-odd km.

Reaching the home stay at Khajuraho in 6 hrs was a big relief. The air had a little chill as there were some showers in this region earlier that day.
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Old 24th June 2021, 13:45   #29
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Default Re: Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trojan View Post
In the background you will hear the two nocturnal birds which are active in these forests, I will leave the identification to the reader.

https://Youtu.be/fTzW2o0bjCg
One of them is either an Indian Nightjar or a Large Tailed Nightjar. Couldn't quite place the other one. Any hints?
This was taken by me in 2013-2014.
Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve-7ff31e2d3df84b2ea6e42bea4f8c2657.jpeg
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trojan View Post
I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed narrating the same, in the coming days I will try to share a lot more of these stories and experiences plainly because they need to be told.

Cheers,
It has been a real pleasure going through this thread, and truth be told, I am a bit jealous as well.
I have had a love for the wild since I was in high school, and still try to keep the interest alive.
Have a plan of a road trip to the forests of MP from WB, once the situation is conducive. Of course, inspired by Samba and many other BHpians!
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Old 25th June 2021, 11:04   #30
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Default Re: Our Wild Classroom - Panna Tiger Reserve

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
They will never run out of things to talk about, make projects on, indulge in outdoor hobbies, eventually building up all sorts of extra curricular skills.

During our visit to Panna last year, we spotted these dogs as we were approaching Khajuraho. Didn't know what they were (Jackals or Foxes) then.
Thank you, we are focusing on life skills like understanding nature and its denizens, hopefully this will prove helpful enough.

Wow, are you sure you saw these, for there are absolutely no reports of them in the area you mention, but then again they travel great distances - believe me that is one rare sight, these fellas are very very skittish and hardly seen anywhere. The last available footage of decent quality was in 2018.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrödingersCar View Post
One of them is either an Indian Nightjar or a Large Tailed Nightjar. Couldn't quite place the other one. Any hints?

It has been a real pleasure going through this thread, and truth be told, I am a bit jealous as well.
I have had a love for the wild since I was in high school, and still try to keep the interest alive.
Have a plan of a road trip to the forests of MP from WB, once the situation is conducive. Of course, inspired by Samba and many other BHpians!
Great picture there, the other bird is the Savannah Nightjar, Panna has immense diversity in terms of Wildlife and in the same vicinity you can spot these 2 Night Jar species.

Roadtrip from Kolkata will be fun, do let me know if and whenever you make any plans. We drive non-stop from Pune usually, and this time it was a non-stop drive from Hyderabad.

Since we are in topic of identifying birds, here another video which has an interesting bird call, take a look!

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