Articles

Kanha National Park: Tiger Safari Guide 2021

by Natue Safari India Tiger Safari and Wildlife Tours in India

Ever since the Supreme Court of India passed a judgment in 2011 to restrict tourism to only 20% of the total area of the National Parks, the Forest Department has regulated tourism in a planned manner. By closing down some of the areas, and opening the buffer zones has not only restricted the human imprint on the core areas of these national parks, but it has increased patrolling in the buffer areas as well.

At the onset, let us put things into clear perspective. Only if there is wildlife in these parks, will there be Wildlife Tourism. Hence, conservation of wildlife is more important than tourism itself. It has been our endeavour since the inception of our operations in the year 2000 that Tourism becomes a tool for conservation. By creating an economy for the local community thus by reducing the ever mounting pressures on the forest for bio-mass, Tourism has shown positive results in many parks. As a result, tourist numbers too have increased over the years in the parks of India, and this includes Kanha.

The categorization of zones in the National Parks is merely for us human beings. Tigers do not recognize the concept of Core or Buffer zones. For them, it is the areas which are abundant in prey and water that dictate their movement. People who are familiar with Kanha know that the buffer in Kanha unlike many buffer zones in the national parks as it is far less disturbed, relatively speaking. In fact, if you were not told that you were entering a buffer zone you probably wouldn’t know the difference, the habitat is as pristine as the core areas of the park.

The Supreme Court order also put an end to Tiger shows while on Elephant back. This was a very welcomed decision, as far as both Tigers and Elephants are concerned. Most of the Jeep wallahs on entering the forest would head directly to the areas where Tiger show was underway. This considerably reduced tracking Tigers on the road by Jeep wallahs, and the Tigers were hardly seen from the Jeeps by the tourists. Due to this very decision by The Supreme Court, the drivers had no option but to work hard, and track Tigers for their guests. Initially there was limited success, but now, over time, the decision has been a great boon for all wildlife and also the tourists visiting this park. The Tiger sightings are happening regularly now, with cases of guests seeing different tigers at the end of their safaris.


Tourism Zones

There are four tourism zones in which one can do safaris in Kanha, namely, Mukki Zone, Kisli Zone, Sarhi Zone, and Kanha Zone. While the first three are regular zones, the later, i.e. Kanha zone is termed as premium zone by the Forest department. There is a specific reason why Kanha zone was termed as the premium zone. Till about 4 years back the Tiger sightings in the Kanha zone, specially in the meadows was very good. But ever since the Tiger shows stopped, and the drivers were compelled to track Tigers the Tiger sightings improved in other zones as well. Then there has been a case of movement of a dominant male Tiger away from Kanha. The legendary Munna, a 13 year old male Tiger has shifted his territory outside Kanha zone partially, and no new male has yet taken over the vacated territory thus this has led to a reduction in Tiger sightings. Tiger sightings are very dynamic and can change quite radically. There’s an explanation for this within the website, under the ‘Tigers of Kanha’

Entry Gates

There are Three gates from where you can enter the forest. One is the Mukki gate, and it is best suited if you have booked the safaris in the Mukki zone. Second is the Khatia gate, it is best suited if you have booked your safaris in Kisli and Kanha zone. From this gate you can also enter the Sarhi zone. The third gate is Sarhi gate, from here you can enter Sarhi zone, Kisli and Kanha zone as well. There are good number of resorts of different budgets located near Mukki and Khatia gate. Sarhi gate is usually less frequented as there aren’t too many properties close to the gate yet.

Safari Vehicles

Jungle Safaris are conducted in two different types of vehicles, There’s one Jeep that has a carrying capacity of 6 Guest along with a forest guide and a driver. But we would highly recommend a maximum of 4 guests to a Jeep due to the comfort factor. The second type of vehicle is an open safari bus which seats 12 guests plus a guide and a driver. This vehicle also known as a canter was launched only 2 years back, and there is only one vehicle per Gate. To get an idea of the type of vehicle please click the link below. Both these type of vehicles are open from top, and there is no protection from sun, rain, or dust. You need to have proper head gear to keep yourself covered. Unexpected rains do come by once in a while, and usually there is no protection for the same.

Entry Permits

 

Very limited number of permits are available online to be booked 120 days prior to travel date. Anyone around the world can book the permits if the dates are certain. You need to input a recognized Photo Identity, i.e. a Passport, a Pancard, a Driving License, an Aadhar Card, or a Voter card. For Foreigners a Passport is compulsory. An important point to remember here is that you must carry the same original photo ID as the park official would request you to present it at the Gate of Entry. In absence of the original identity card, the forest department has the authority to decline your entry to the park. A deposit is also to be paid to book the safari. The entry permit is non amendable, nonadjustable once booked. If you wish to change names on the entry permit it is not legal. Hence be absolutely sure about the dates, and zones in which you wish to do the safari. It is always best to book the safaris, and the entry permits with the agent organising your tour or the hotel where you will be staying at.

Forest Guide/Jeep Driver

As of now, every resort/lodge has two Jeeps permitted to go inside the park. For extra Jeeps, there is a pool of Jeeps belonging to the local community which operates in a systematic roster. It’s unlikely that you’ll get the same Jeep twice during your stay unless the lodge has booked you their own vehicle. Similarly, the forest guides are mandatory to accompany you in the Jeep, and they also have a roster system. In most cases, the guides are also not repeated more than once in your safaris. The guides are the representatives of the Forest department in the vehicle, and they ensure the rules and regulations of the national park are followed by the tourists. They are mostly local, not very fluent in a foreign language, but very conversant with the wildlife of the area.

Having locals as guides is a very good idea, as it provides employment to the local community. Some resorts do have resident naturalists who accompany the guests on safaris. These naturalists have good communication skills, and they are also very knowledgeable of the local flora and fauna. You are best advised to speak as softly as possible. This helps the guide to focus on tracking wildlife, listening intently for any alarm calls or watching trails for any signs of pug marks.


 


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Created on Feb 28th 2021 23:15. Viewed 87 times.

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