“THE BEAUTIFUL BEAST” – ALMOST EXTINCT

1411. That is the number of tigers still alive in India. This is just the official number. According to Environment & Forest Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh, this number is exaggerated, the actual number being about 1000 and diminishing every day. These tigers are being poached & their skin is being sold. This is not a problem only in India but in other Asian countries like China & Malaysia as well. If this goes on this “beautiful beast” will soon disappear from the face of the earth.

The tiger, being the national animal of India, and also is worshipped in some states in India. There was a recent issue where a tiger was poached by one of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh for INR 1 Lakh, a place where it was worshipped.

The tiger can be trailed in many National Parks of India like Ranthambhore National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park, Jim Corbett National Park, The Sunderbans of Kolkata, etc. These parks are open a certain part of the year & the rest of the year they are closed for tiger counting which is becoming lesser by the day.

If you want to trail this elusive striped jungle cat, then you can follow a trail through the National Parks of India. You can start from the north of India with the Jim Corbett Park, which is in the recently formed state of Uttarakhand. Named in honor of the legendary hunter-turned- conservationist, best known for hunting man-eating tigers and leopards, this National Park extends over an area of more than 500 sq kms in the Himalayan foothills. Other than the tiger, the other animals found in Corbett include, the elephant, chital, sambar, nilgai, gharial, King Cobra, muntjac, wild boar, hedgehog, common musk shrew, flying fox, Indian Pangolin, and nearly 600 species of birds.

Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Tourism activity is only allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its splendid landscape and the diverse wildlife. The Jim Corbett National Park is a heaven for the adventure seeker and wildlife adventure lovers. Corbett National Park is India’s first national park which comprises 520.8 km2. area of hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grass lands and large lake. The elevation ranges from 1,300 feet to 4,000 feet. Winter nights in Corbett national park are cold but the days are bright and sunny. It rains from July to September. You can enjoy one of the tiger safaris here & get a chance to see the beautiful Bengal Tiger along with the other species of the different animals residing here. Corbett National Park is situated about 300 kms from New Delhi, which is the nearest airport & about 55 kms from Ramnagar, which is the nearest railway station. You can start from New Delhi / Ramnagar & hire a vehicle to Jim Corbett National Park. Mostly the vehicles that take you for a safari are either a Jeep or a Canter. A jeep usually is a 06 seater one & a canter seats about 20 passengers.

From Jim Corbett National Park, you can return back to Delhi and take a train to Sawai Madhopur to visit the Ranthambhore National Park. The Ranthambhore National Park is considered as one of the famous and former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur and today the terrain is major wildlife tourist attraction spot that has pulled the attention of many wildlife photographers and lovers in this destination.

Ranthambhore National Park is spread over an area of 1,334 sq km along with its nearby sanctuaries like – the Mansingh Sanctuary and the Kaila Devi Sanctuary. The park is one of the best locations in India to see the majestic predators in its natural habitat. The tigers can be easily spotted even during the day time busy at their ordinary quest- hunting and taking proper care of their young ones. The park is one of India’s Project Tiger reserves

A good time to visit Ranthambore National park is in November and May when the nature of the dry deciduous forests makes sightings common. There are lodges & resorts close to the park where one can stay while their visit to the Park. Here to one can enjoy the different safaris for tiger sightings as well as other fauna like leopard, nilgai, dhole, wild boar, sambar, hyena, sloth bear and chital. It is also home to wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles. Ranthambore is also the site for one of the largest banyan trees in India.

In 2005, there were 26 tigers living in Ranthambhore. This was significantly lower than the recorded tiger population of the reserve in 1982, which then stood at 44. This saddens the heart to see that the numbers are quickly reducing due to poaching. The authorities have become stricter now. In 2005, the Rajasthan and the Indian government set up high powered committees to look into the state of Ranthambhore and to suggest measures to improve the situation. This put the spotlight back on Ranthambore and the tiger crisis in India and since then the forest and the police department intensified the protection around the tiger reserve. Since then there have been no reports of poaching from around Ranthambore and a large number of tiger cubs were born between the summer of 2005 and the summer of 2006.

From Ranthambhore you can go onward to the Bandhavgarh National Park by catching a train via Agra to Umaria. Bandhavgarh National Park is spread at Vindhya Hills in Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh National Park consists of a core area of 105 sq km and a buffer area of approximately 400 sq km of topography varies between steep ridges, undulating, forest and open meadows. The density of the Tiger population at Bandhavgarh is the highest known in India. Bandhavgarh National Park was the former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa and at present is a famous natural hub for White Tigers. White Tigers, now a major attraction around the world’s zoos, were first discovered in Rewa, not far from here.

Other than the tigers the wildlife here includes gaur (Indian bison), sloth bear, leopard, porcupine, wild boar, sambhar and spotted deer, among others. The ideal season for tiger spotting is from November to June.

From Bandhavgarh, visit the Kanha National Park which is located in the same state of Madhya Pradesh. Kanha National park is located in Banjar and Halon valleys in the Mandla / Balaghat districts. It is spread more than 940 sq km in a horse shoe shaped valley bound by the spurs of the Mekal range the park presents a varies topography.

Kanha national park is more famous for its wildlife; the natural beauty of its landscape is just as fascinating. One of the best locations to enjoy that bounty is Bammi Dadar, also known as the sunset point. The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel “Jungle Book.

Kanha also shelters one of the largest populations of the tigers in the country (131 tigers as on June 2006). Some of the other larger animal species found in the park are sloth bear, leopard, striped hyena, spotted dear, wild boar, jungle cat, jackal and a variety of monkeys. Over 200 spices of birds have been spotted in the park.

Though India had a large population of tigers, the number is speedily decreasing everyday due to poaching of its precious skin. It is sad to see that parks like Jim Corbett are now used for entertainment like weddings, bike races & rain dances. Also some tribals in Arunachal Pradesh kill the same tigers they worship for money. Is this what mankind is turning to?

Before this beautiful, graceful & magnificent beast disappears from the face to the earth soon, its time WE DO SOMETHING.

SAVE THE TIGER NOW!!

Written by Bindi Doshi

Referral: www.ranthamborenationalpark.com

Photos Courtesy: Mr. Anish Shah – Travel Enthusiast