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Kanha National Park
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Kanha National Park
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Tiger TrailOn Tiger's Trail
Kanha National Park located in the heart of India's Kipling country, in Madhya Pradesh, has open grasslands, dense deciduous forests, high plateaus and offers good wild life viewing.

Drive to the National Park in Jeeps along with your Naturalist. Kanha's sal and bamboo forests, rolling grasslands and meandering streams stretch over 940 sq. km in dramatic natural splendor. This is original Kipling country, of which he wrote so vividly in his Jungle book.

The Tiger Reserve was created in 1974 under Project Tiger. The park is the only habitat of the rare hard ground Barasingha ( Cervus Duvaceli Branderi)or the twelve horned antelope.

Driving on beyond the greases bob an array of heads - it is a herd of Bara singha, scion of the swamp deer family that has adapted itself to the hard ground grasslands of the area and now thrives only at Kanha. Hearing the faintest sounds of the vehicle they raise their heads, halt grazing for a moment, then feed sporadically till perhaps a while after we pass.

We see pug marks on the mud, but no other trails of the tiger who may have passed here a little before.

We return to the huts as darkness descends and a cool breeze moves through the nearby Sal groove. Evening Orientation talk on Wildlife at Kanha National Park.

The cicadas are singing in the trees, stinging the air with their constant, sharp call. A summer sun breaks through yawns in the forests, there is an expectancy of sighting animals at close quarters, at every turn of the path that seems to mysteriously, yet gently, meander through the jungle.

Kanha's beautiful forestsKanha's beautiful forests, interspersed with sprawling meadows dotted with occasional water holes and cut by streams after the monsoons, which are overlooked by grassy plateaus - making Kanha a reserve that haunts the mind to visit it again. The Sal trees with a fresh coat of green leaves cover the forest floor and may crackle underfoot telling of a passing animal.

In the early morning stillness, it is time to head towards the Kisli barrier. You may tell yourself a hundred times that you are here to savor the sounds and sights of an untouched forest but a sighting of the big cat seems the ultimate yardstick to judge the success of the trip. Much earlier the tiger tracking elephants he left to locate the cat either in Kanha, Kisli or Mukki ranges.

We head on for the Kanha barrier to register our names for an elephant ride in case a tiger is spotted. A cold breeze stings our ears and cuts through our clothing. Lofty sal trees, on either side of narrow bath snaking through the forest, only admit fine strands of sunshine. A jackal melts into the quiet, cool undergrowth as, in the silence of the forest, we spot a solitary sambar and occasional cheetal.

Between pockets of forest, beams of sunlight briefly warm us. A spiders' web catches the brilliant sunshine, that shimmers its mesh of gossamer threads. At the Kanha barrier, a hot grass of tea warms the insides and we pass time taking in the models, skeletons, information snippets at the Visitor's Centre awaiting the message of a tiger sighting.

An hour passes, the sun climbs the sky a brain fever bird commences its crescendo calls, but there is no news of the sighting. Anxious not to loose anymore time we decide on a short drive. We spot some deer and a solitary gaur while in the distance a tiger tracking elephant

As they head the grasses towards a beaten path, we catch up with them to hear that a tiger has been spotted in the Kisli range! A mad dash reaches us to the Kisli barrier to obtain yet another token for tiger sighting in this range. Then, with token in hand another dash reaches us to the site. From here it is onward on elephant back. Off beaten forest path to spot the elusive tiger.

Elephants SwayingTwo elephants swaying with hopeful visitors vanish through the trees as a third pachyderm is already keeping vigil on the elusive cat. After an interminable wait, an elephant returns with smiling tourist. Yes! They have seen the tiger and its kill, but it seems to have had its fill and might move on!

The next elephant load says the tiger, having quenched his thirst at a waterhole, is sprawled on a rock that, being in the sun, would soon prompt him to move on! Not very encouraging. By the time it is our turn, the tiger has melted into the rocky, grassy hill.

So near yet so far. Nevertheless, our mahout urges the elephant up the hill, conveying commands only with his feet, prodding the animals neck. The pachyderm ponderously climbs the rocky terrain, breaking protruding, thorny stalks and munching a few grasses occasionally. In the stillness, the sound of the dried leaves crackling and stalks snapping magnify manifold. Where is the tiger?

In tune with the signs and sounds of the forest, the mahout exhorts the elephant in a particular direction.

And suddenly he quietly points ahead. In golden stalks of grass in the sun dappled shade, a series of black stripes ripple in a tawny form. It is the king of the jungle resting in shade.

Our eyes are glued and we inwardly thank our luck as the elephant circles him. But the tiger decides to move. The mahout tries to thwart his movement, to confine him to the area so that the others, making their way up, can also get a glimpse of this majestic Cat. But the tiger is irked and roars furiously, and the elephant backs a step and trumpets.

[cont...]