Madhya Pradesh has a varied topography but almost one third is forested. The forest types include dry thorn forests; tropical moist deciduous forests and tropical evergreen forests. The area of reserve [reserved for eventual logging] forest is 58,733 km; protected forest constitutes an area of about 35,586 sq km and unclassified forest area is around 900 sq km. There is no doubt that the natural splendor of Madhya Pradesh includes a wide spectrum of wildlife inhabiting this land ranging from tigers and leopards to antelopes and gazelles, other mammals and reptiles and an abundance of bird life.
Of the two bio-geographic zones, the semi arid zone has two subdivisions - Malwa plateau and fragmented wetlands. Madhav National Park and about 9 of the total of 25 wildlife sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh are located in this zone. The second zone, the Deccan Peninsula includes both the Vindhya and the Satpura hill ranges. Popular tiger reserves like Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Satpura, Panna, the three National Parks and a score of wildlife sanctuaries are located in this zone.
Madhya Pradesh has an effective protected area network of about 10,860 sq km and boasts of one national park and 25 sanctuaries. These reserves continue to harbor their original resident and migrant species. The mission of national parks and sanctuaries is to establish a network of protected areas representative of the country`s important and unique features and to conserve and manage them in such a manner that they will be preserved for all time in their natural state.
The wild life conservation initiatives launched by the state have received a major impetus by the inclusion of forest dwellers to ensure the survival of forests and wildlife embodied in the launch of the Project Tiger in the early seventies. The application of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), formation of the Madhya Pradesh Tiger Foundation to secure help and support from NGO`s and general public` at large, conservation of critically endangered species besides the tiger [like Barasingha (swamp deer) and Gharial (mugger crocodile)] are some of the major landmarks in the state of Madhya Pradesh`s success in wildlife conservation.
The forests were nurtured carefully by the royal families to preserve the Tiger`s habitats for hunting. Old wildlife classics estimate a population of around 40,000 tigers in the 1940`s. By the year 1970, the population of tigers in India perilously declined to about 2000 individuals as the result of the loss of hunting preserves and widespread habitat destruction. The tiger was close to being annihilated.
Project Tiger was launched in 1973 because of the threat to the tiger. The objective was to ensure the maintenance of a viable population of the tiger in India and to preserve for all times, such areas as part of our national heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of future generations, which had the added bonus opf preserving many areas for other wildlife too. The Project Tiger Directorate provides assistance for scientific management, protection, communication, habitat improvement, water and soil conservation, research, infrastructure etc.
Kanha in Mandhya Pradesh was among the first nine reserves designated. Panna, Bandhavgarh, Pench and Pachmarhi are later inclusions. 1999 estimates are of a population of 709 tigers (235 in tiger reserves, 143 in protected areas and 331 tigers in general forest areas) in Madhya Pradesh (19% of India`s and 17% of World`s tiger population). The state, therefore, is rightly called the Tiger State.
Flora and Fauna
The state of Madhya Pradesh encompasses a breathtaking wilderness along with extensive flora and fauna and rich biodiversity. There are countless variety of plants and animals in a state of interdependence. There are more than 1000 species of flowering plants, ferns, orchids, aromatic and medicinal plants. More than half of the forests of the state lie in the eastern region and are tropical.
Teak and Sal are the two chief species of trees found in the state and constitute about 20% of the total forest area. Tendu leaf tree found in abundance in Madhya Pradesh is also a good source of income for villagers. The grasslands along the plateaux and the streams in the valleys are good during the monsoon season but fade away during the hot months of summer.
The fauna wealth of the Madhya Pradesh is equally rich and diverse. Inhabitants include species of cat, antelopes, gazelles and dog family, many other species of mammals and reptiles as well as birds. Crocodiles and gharyal inhabit the rivers and lakes. The heavily forested regions and marshes and wetlands create a natural habitat for birds and support a wide variety of birdlife.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi and check into your Hotel. You are then free till 1 P.M. next day, to enable you to sample some of Delhi 's avian and historical sights, or to just relax and recover after your flight. Our Tour escort will help you & accompany you.
Target Species: Typical birds of the city include Black Kite, Laughing and Spotted Doves, Ring-necked Parakeet, Little Swifts, Little Green Bee-eater, Black Drongo, and a variety of shrikes, mynas, bulbuls and babblers. The pretty little Five-striped Palm Squirrel may be seen everywhere. Overnight: The Park Hotel
Day 2: We leave Delhi for Umariya by Super Fast in 2nd AC Train. Overnight: Sleeper Train.
Day 3: Bandhavgarh National Park. You will reach Umaryia early in the morning [c. 6.00am] and then drive to Bandhavgarh National Park (34km) - a 30-minute drive - & then check in to our Lodge. Our tour guide will give an orientation on Birds before you leave for your first excursion. Once the hunting grounds of the erstwhile Maharajas of Rewa BTR came into limelight with the chance discovery of the white tiger nearby.
This dry Sal forest and the steep mountainous tract is an amazing conglomeration of rocky hills interspersed with valleys of several huge grassy meadows and rivers, dense patches of evergreen forest, a number of small lakes, marshes and pools. The resident bird population is high, thanks to the year round flowering and fruiting of trees. Migratory birds, ranging from Warblers to Steppe Eagles visit the park in winter.
The main rivers are Charanganga, Umrar and Johilla the lifeline of this fragile ecosystem. The forests are Mixed, Sal, and Bamboo dominates the slopes. Avi-Fauna abounds here and approximately 250 species of birds have been recorded so far. We intend to have an evening Excursion along the main water bodies by jeep and on foot wherever possible - Bhadrashilla Lake, Gadpuri Tank - a large reservoir close to Gadpuri village in the park.
Target Species: White-necked Stork, Comb Duck, flocks of Lesser Whistling Teals, Cotton Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Teal and Oriental Darter. Riparian vegetation along streams and marshes are rich in bird life and Lesser Adjutant Stork, Black Ibis, White Ibis, Painted Storks can be seen, In the small areas of marshland, the banks of rivers and streams one expects to see Wagtails, Sandpipers, Grey Francolin, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, Eurasian Thick-knee, the huge Stork-billed Kingfisher, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Blyth's Reed Warbler etc. Overnight: Nature Heritage Jungle Lodge
Day 4: Bandhavgarh Fort. Today we will take a full day trip to Bandhavgarh Fort by Jeep and by foot wherever allowed. This is a 2000 year old fort and is an amazing birding destination. Kabir Chaura on the way to the fort almost invariably has Vultures, Blue Rock Thrushes and Crag Martins. We will eventually climb up to the Bandhavgarh Fort where the rocky escarpments are home to Jungle Bush Quail, wintering Sulphur-bellied Warblers and Peregrine Falcons (Shaheen) of the resident race.
The forest around the fort is the breeding ground for the Malabar Pied Hornbill and the Common Grey Hornbill in summer. In and around one can be rewarded by the sight of now rare King Vulture, White-backed Vulture and the Long-billed Vulture - the steep rocky cliffs provide excellent breeding sites for these scavengers.
Target Species: King Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Blue Rock Thrushe, Crag Martins, Jungle Bush Quail, Sulphur-bellied Warblers, Peregrine, Alexandrine Parakeets, Barred Jungle Owlet & Spotted Owlets. The supporting cast includes Sunbirds, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia the forest-dwelling Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Tickell's Thrush and Common Rosefinch.
Overnight: Nature Heritage Jungle Lodge
Day 5: Bandhavgarh National Park. This morning we will be exploring of the forest by Jeep for the amazing variety of avifauna that thrive here. The Sal forest harbors some great birds. Where there are patches of evergreen forest, such as along the perennial streams or at the base of the fort, we should get superb views of the attractive Orange-headed Thrush, as well as the impressive Malabar Pied Hornbill (here at the northern limits of its range). The drier areas support Sandgrouse, & buntings. The large, grassy meadows hold Lapwings & Pipits. We should also encounter one or two of the less common or more difficult to find birds of the area.
Target Species: Paradise Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Great Tit, [very different from the European equivalent] White-naped Woodpecker, Red and Painted Spurfowl, Sirkeer Malkoha, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Orange-headed Thrush, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Painted Sandgrouse, Crested Bunting, Plain-backed Thrushes, Ultramarine and Grey-headed Flycatchers, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Paddyfield & Blyth's Pipits, Painted Francolin, Mottled Wood Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Small Minivet (Little Minivet), White-bellied Minivet, Long-tailed Minivet, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Striated (or Little) Heron, Purple Heron, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Sarus Crane, Emerald Dove, Rufous Woodpecker, Puff-throated Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta and Pale-billed Flowerpecker.
In the evening we will be taking a trip around the park in a jeep. The dry Sal forest and clumps of bamboo that dominate the park hold a wide variety of interesting species.
Target Species: Oriental (or Crested) Honey Buzzard, Shikra, White-eyed Buzzard, Bonelli's Eagle, Common Kestrel, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Indian Scops Owl, Brown-headed & Coppersmith Barbets, Brown-capped Pygmy & Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers, White-naped Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback, Blue-winged Leafbird, Common Woodshrike, Large Cuckooshrike, Grey-breasted Prinia, Greenish Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Ashy & White-bellied Drongos, Oriental White-eye, Thick-billed Flowerpecker & etc. Overnight: Nature Heritage Jungle Lodge
Day 6: Bandhavgarh National Park to Kanha National Park. We leave Bandhavgarh National Park after breakfast for Kanha National Park , which we should reach by midday, and check into the resort, freshen up then lunch in our Multi-cuisine restaurant. After Lunch we will make our first visit into Kanha NP. Kanha's reputation as a prime tiger habitat overshadows all other aspects of this magnificent paradise. Keen bird watchers know how rich Kanha is as a bird habitat.
Varied vegetation of Sal and Mixed forests, Bamboo, grasslands, altitude variation and numerous rivers and water bodies make this 1945 sq. km reserve a diverse habitat immensely suitable to avifauna and offers immense scope to study the forest birds apart from a rich variety of water birds that thrive on numerous lakes and rivers of this magnificent ecosystem.
The main river systems are Halon, Banzar, and Sulkum tributaries of Narmada River. Nestled in Maikal hill of the Satpura Range this Central Indian Highland has approximately 260 bird species. Most of the bird species at Kanha Tiger Reserve are resident and local migratory, but substantial numbers of migratory birds make Kanha their home in winters. There will also be an evening excursion to water bodies by Jeep - Sravan Taal (Lake), followed by visit to Saundhar Tank and Bisanpura.
Target Species: One can expect to Cotton Teal, Garganey, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Whistling Teal and Spotbill Duck. Among other common sightings are Stints, Egrets, Cormorants and Jacanas with Purple Heron, White-necked storks, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Black Ibis and Black-winged Stilts to be seen near water bodies or streams near Kanha, Kisli and Mukki. Overnight: The Krishna Jungle Resort
Day 7: Kanha National Park. Forest Birds - We will take Morning and Evening excursions by Jeep in the reserve to see the amazing eco-niches - a result of a very varied topography.
Target Species: In the grasslands one expects to see Collared and Pied Bushchats, Larks, Black Francolin, Grey Francolin, Painted Sandgrouse and Red Munia (Avadavat). In the densely forested zones the numbers multiply. Kanha's major attractions are Indian Pitta, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Golden Oriole and Black-headed Oriole, Ashy and White-bellied Drongos, Indian Cuckoo, Sirkeer Cuckoo. More patience is required to sight a White-tailed Shama [an amazing songster], Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker and its cousins, Raptors - some of which are migrants and Paradise Flycatcher and Hair-crested Drongo.
Overnight: The Krishna Jungle Resort
Day 8: Kanha National Park. We will take a morning excursion by Jeep and see Warblers, Leafbirds, Babblers, Shrikes, the vocal Large Green Barbet the list is endless. A trip to the steep Bamni Dadar (Hill) holds few more surprises. Many species of Minivet can be seen on the groove at Parsa Tola and elsewhere. Vultures can be seen on the remains of carnivore kills. Hornbills nest in old-growth trees. Our evening will be spent on a trek on foot around the periphery of the reserve.
It helps to have a different perspective from the ground to see forest birds, mostly birds that favor being nearer to human habitation too. The canopy here is more mixed and large Ficus (Banyan, Peepal) trees are more commonly seen. This is an excellent habitat for an amazingly large number of birds of different species are common. Along the Nullahs (rivulets) and water bodies Kingfishers can be seen with ease. The resident raptors can be sighted hunting and nesting in magnificent, tall trees. Nocturnal birds including nightjars and several owl species.
Target Species: Green Barbet, Green-footed Pigeon, Pygmy Woodpecker, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Little Minivet, Scarlet Minivet & Long-tailed Minivet, White-backed, Long-billed, King & Egyptian vultures, Malabar Pied Hornbills & Grey Hornbills. Among the more difficult targets are Brown Fish Owl, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, & Bronze-winged Dove. In the evening we hope to see Large Cuckoo-shrike, Grey-breasted Prinia, Greenish Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatchers, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Oriental White-eye, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Purple Sunbird, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Chloropsis [leafbird], Drongos, Orioles & Shrikes, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Crested Honey Buzzard, Shikra and Common Kestrel, Collared Scops Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Indian Eagle Owl and Brown Fish Owl as well as nightjars.
Day 10: Departure. You will reach Delhi early in the morning & transfer to airport or to your hotel if you have booked extra nights to see the sights of the vibrant city if you do, be sure to take a trip to the barrage to see a wide variety of birds.
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