deponti (deponti) wrote,

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Wildlife Resorts in general, and Kanha in particular, during the holiday season...

Kanha National Park is a fantastic place, which supports a very wide variety of wildlife apart from the TIGER and the BARASINGHA that it's famous for.

Kanha National Park sign

Here's the Kanha gate....

kanha gate sign 221207

Now for my whinge....

The problem with going to a wildlife resort in the holidays are manifold and it's getting even more difficult as the authorities resort to various measures to regulate the crowd, and yet allow visitors access.

Kanha Map 231207

We were supposed to go to Kanha after the INW meet at Pench (which was on the 7th, 8th and 9th December), reaching there on the 10th. How I wish we had gone then! Not thinking too much about the dates, when we had to cancel our plans, I rebooked for Dec. 21st to Dec 24th. Only much later did I realize that Id, Christmas, and the school holidays would all be right then!

The Muba resort where I had booked had told me that last year, from December 25th, entry to the forest, guide and vehicle fees were doubled, till Jan 5th. I felt quite happy that we had booked from Dec 21st to Dec 24th and were checking out early in the morning of Dec 25th.

So...guess on which date the authorities started the double rates this year?.... YES!

And this year, the Kanha park authorities instituted a couple of measures, which are probably necessary, given the huge number of vehicles entering the park during holidays. But what I cannot understand is, WHY so many vehicles (both public and private ones...either petrol vehicles or 4 X 4's) should be allowed into the park ....could not numbers be restricted, and prospective visitors told that the quota has been reached?

Just look at this photo...and this was NOT taken on a Sunday or Christmas Day...! At times I felt that there were more visitors in the park than wildlife.

too many vehicles in kanha 221207

Well, anyway, the measures are:

When the vehicles enter the park, they are allotted, on a random basis, a guide to accompany each one, and also a particular route. The random guide allotment ensures that everyone gets a fair chance at having a senior, experienced guide, and the route allotment ensures that too many vehicles do not go and crowd a place from where a tiger or a leopard sighting (alas, the other sightings do not seem so attractive) has been reported.

But the downside of this is that very often, the people most in need of a good guide/naturalist will get someone who is very inexperienced and/or incompetent. We got, once, a guide who hardly spoke eight words through the afternoon and evening, could not recognize the changeable hawk eagle or the fact that a pair were building a nest in a tree, and looked on benignly as I identified the birds and mammals...and finally admitted that he had been working as a tailor and had signed on as the demand for guides was so great. I am sure he would be excellent at id'ing the Velvet Blousebird or the Shorter, he didn't id the tailor bird for us, either...

Here are a crowd of guides, and "guides", at the Mukki gate of the park...

the crowd of guides and "guides" at Mukki Gate, Kanha

And the route allocation is very hard on people who have come long distances to take their chance at spotting a big cat. Taking one's luck is one thing, but being allotted a route where there is very little likelihood of a tiger sighting is quite another....particularly when these same people are paying double rates as well. So it's a double whammy for visitors.

We went for safaris on six occasions (three mornings and three afternoon/evenings) and on only two occasions did we get good guides, who gave us information not only about the big cats but also about the other animals, birds, trees and general statistics about the park I think that several "guides" are being pressed into service to meet the demand, without any experience or training...

Kanha not being very well-connected or near a large town, most visitors do undertake long journeys to get there, and it is sad that because of the overcrowding, they are actually given more of a charade of a forest safari than any real chance to see something and learn from a meaningful experience.

So the moral of the story is...if at all possible, do NOT visit Kanha (or for that matter, any wildlife park) in the high season; go just before the holiday times, if possible, or the weekdays following the holidays. We, who do not have an office to go to, or children's schools to think of, should have known better!

But we still managed to see an amazing variety of birds and mammals, and if this idiotic BSNL connection allows me to, pictures will follow...this entire afternoon, I have not been able to upload a single pic to Flickr and I am so frustrated that I was typing "flics to Pickr"....

But on the plus side, Kanha is almost totally plastic-free, there are a lot of guards to check that vehicles keep to the allocated routes and the speed limit, and gives the feeling of a well-administered park, so do visit it just before the "season" opens!

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