August 25, 2015

Season Round Up: Kanha

It has been a fantastic season for me and all tourists who have visited kanha. After doing almost 350 drives in this seeason, I would say this was a season full of cats. All four zones have been full of excitement and action, but Mukki was the zone which was in limelight throughout the season. From what I have experienced in the past 8 years, this was the best season by far in terms of Tiger sighting in Mukki.

Kanha zone had some up and down’s but it picked up nicely toward the end. Munna (the dominant male of the park) rocked Kisli heavily so you just can’t ask for more when it comes to an individual Tiger sighting. Sarhi zone has its own charm and sighting of big cats at sangam (confluence) were also very good. Overall this was a season full of Tiger sighting.

he Season started and ended both with a bang when Babathenga female was sighted on the first day, 16th of October, and Mahaveer female and Kingfisher male on the last, June 30th. Mukki zone was ruled by some females in past and we used to be dying to see a male Tiger in Mukki. But during this season there were 5 males altogether in Mukki. Umarpani was the dominant male of the zone who had a tough rival namely ‘the Kingfisher male’. In the last few years Mukki was dominated by ‘Thin stripes male’ who was probably the father of Babathenga female’s last litter, but he was thrown out by the combined effort of Umarpani male, Kingfisher and Bheema. He had ruled all over mukki zone for almost four years, starting from 2010.The charge was taken over by the remaining four males once Thin Stripes male left Mukki, i.e. the Umarpani male, Kingfisher, Bheema and Link 7 male. Link 7 male was the main attraction of this season, a true show stopper. I would say that he was the most photographed Tiger in kanha this season after Munna.

Umarpani male and Kingfisher males were engaged in a very serious fight on 3rd of Jan 2015 in Singarpur meadow, which was documented by tourists. If I say this was the lifetime sight for people who witnessed it, won’t be wrong. They kept on fighting for three more months and both sides sustained heavy damages, but kudos to the forest department who kept their eyes on and gave medical assistance from time to time to both Tigers. Nature has its own ways of balancing the things in the jungle, but I would thank the forest department who saved the life of both males.

When Umaarpani male and Kingfisher were busy chasing one another, how could Bheema and Link 7 miss the opportunity to show off? They also had a fight on 7th of Jan on chota chatta pather road. After this fight, Bheema had to leave the area and Link 7 male also suffered some injuries. After two months of disappearance though, Bheema made a comeback to Mukki. Meanwhile, Link 7 male who came from Kanha started covering more areas in mukki after he defeated Bheema. Subsequently he fought with Umarpani male and went in hibernation for a few days. Kingfisher on the other hand, had settled down on the main gate side of mukki. Bheema stationed at Babathenga area while Umarpani male and Link 7 male had captured the centre area of Mukki. There are also four females in Mukki. Chottimada aka BT female, who mated with Umarpani male in Dec 2014. Hopefully she is nursing small cubs now and will flourish in Mukki next season. Mahaveer female already had four cubs around one year old. Unfortunately two were killed by Kingfisher who tried to mate her. Chotimada’s daughter(Dhawajhandi female) who is now sharing territory with mother, also mated with Link 7 in May. Mahaveer’s daughter is also a beautiful tigress and was frequently sighted near Umarjhola talao and Kukri Pani area during the season.

Every zone has its high and low, so Kanha zone started off a little low this season. It has faced its oughest time over the years. But the beauty of the meadow still without a doubt takes your breath away. Kanha meadow is the most photogenic place in this reserve, especially when foggy. Your finger will never be tired pressing shutter button to capture the mesmerizing beauty of this place. Umarpani female and collared Tigress (Neelam) were the main attractions of the zone. Red-eye male was also sighted in Kanha zone from time to time, and the new Nak-katta showed himself occasionally as well. Collared female had been sighted with two tiny cubs near Kanha meadows just before the park closed, which was great news for Kanha itself.

Kisli zone was just as good as Mukki. Though good old Munna was still the hero of the zone for the length of the season, Kankatta stole everyone’s heart by his all-too-sudden-appearance nature. It feels totally out of this world whenever he came on road, so it’s you who had to give it up, not him. Jamun talao aka Budbudi female has three cubs who are around 14 months old, the family sighted regularly near jamun talao, sandukkhol road and near 4th KM. On some occassions Munna was sighted with Digdola female and three cubs which was a real joy for visitors. People who visit Kanha and plan to see Munna only, they never went back without loads of his pics, so Munna had again proved himself that ‘Munna never disappoints’. Toward the end of season he was sighted almost every day in Kisli and Sarhi zone. Munna is the undisputed legend of Kanha and is among the 10 top tigers of India. Thanks to his bold, fearless behaviour and regal and royal attitude, he has a strong fan base that pay visits to Kanha every year. “Munna toh munna hai” words truly justify this magnificent tiger!

Next season every zone of the park is going to rock undoubtedly. Mukki will remain to be the most rocking zone as Chottimada and her daughter both mated this season, so we are expecting both females will astound Mukki with cubs. Mahaveer female already has 2 cubs and we would most likely get to see three big tigers (Mahaveer with two cubs) all together. It’s going to be very interesting to see among the 4 current males, who is going to win the battle for survival and dominance. Collared female has two cubs and Umarpani female has also delivered, so Kanha zone will be an attraction for tourists as well. Kankatta has got himself a new rival in Chimta camp area who might try to take over. So all in all, the approaching season will be even more thrilling and full of action I’m sure.

Writer's Profile

Naren is a Naturalist with Chitvan Lodge, Kanha. He did 350 plus safaris at Kanha during last season & is well versed by tiger dynamics at Kanha.

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