Wild Click Season-IV was an opportunity to
experience the virgin wilderness of Pench (MH). The jungle of Pench, also known
as the Kipling County, was made famous by Rudyard Kipling through his immortal
character - Mowgli. Tourism in Pench had been operational for years from the MP
side. The Maharashtra side has been thrown
open for tourism only 6 months back. Tourism is yet to pick up at Pench MH
despite its proximity to the city of Nagpur.
For wildlife lovers, it is an opportunity to experience a quiet and colourful forest
rich in flora that is yet to witness exodus of tourist.
The 60km drive through partial tolled
highway from Nagpur
to Pench generally takes about 90min. You leave the Nagpur-Jabbalpur highway at
Pawni and proceed to Sillari. After making an entry at the forest outpost, our
journey continued for 6 km through sparse human habitation till we reached the
Amaltas complex of forest department at Sillari village. A permit for park
visit is to be obtained from Amaltas complex.
The wild click is a live photo competition where
participants vie under similar conditions. All photographs were to be captured
in 5 safaris and one nature walk. The season-IV of wild click had the patronage
of Maharashtra Forest Deptt looking to promote the location as a potential
wildlife tourism center. 32 participants from various parts of India
congregated there for the event. It was too big a crowd there for the
facilities in place. Gypsys were called in from Pench MP.
The event was kicked off with the nature walk
along the Sillari Nature Trail emanating from backside of Amaltas. This area is
the territory of a leopard with cubs. The leopard had made a kill during the
event. The foul stench indicated that the carcass was in the near vicinity of
the campus. We were advised to walk the trail only with trained guides. We
never met the leopard, but nevertheless the walk around was thrilling because
of expectations. Routes for safaris were charted out carefully to give us a complete
experience of the park. We were covering different parts of the forest in each
safari. The forest turned out to be one of the most colourful I have been. Many
a times, it unfolded before us stunning landscapes. The forest being virgin had
seen very little footprint. In most areas animals and birds are not used to
human presence. They would generally run away on sight of gypsy, even the
langurs, that would generally block your
path in other parks. The team in all could spot several species of birds
including vultures, leopard, wild dogs, bisons, jackals, sambhar and spotted
deer. Count of these species was healthy to sustain a good forest eco-system. We
were appraised that the total tiger population of the reserve is around 26.
There were 11 gypsys with 4 participants in each who had done 5 safaris each
lasting about 4 hours. Yet none saw a tiger. This is an indication of how tough
sighting is. We did saw fresh pugmarks on final morning which proved presence
of tiger in the area. However the bottom-line is that tourist will come only if
a park provides decent chance of sighting tiger. I mean, one can not expect a
tourist spending 2500 rupees for a trip to come back again or give some good
word of mouth publicity, if he fails to asses a decent chance of seeing the big
cat. This is why Tadoba is such a hit last year. We also had a trip to the
adjoining Mahadeo Singh WLS, which is a part of Pench. That was a damp squib as
even deer were scarce to spot. One would be better off spending time in Sillari
than Mahadeo Singh.
A game drive is best experienced in an open
gypsy, not in an AC car. But the no of gypsy for park visit are too few and rickety.
Therefore private vehicle had to be allowed which always is a nuisance. We
could see a decent crowd on Sunday, mostly using their private car for visiting
the park. But the flow of tourist on weekdays was too low for local employment
to sustain. Tourism being nascent, the facilities at the park is limited. There
are three places for one to spend a night. The first one is a private resort
(Go-Flemmingo) located very close to the highway. This will not give you a feel
of jungle. Very close to the core area are the Amaltas complex of forest
department and a small MTDC resort. Amaltas is a facility with about 14 basic
rooms spaced around a large green compound. Room capacity of this facility is
being enhanced. The third facility is the Sillari Jungle Resort run by the MTDC
located some 100 mtr further is also not luxury class, but decent place with a
small swimming pool. We had stayed at both Amaltas and the MTDC.
The main park has another Achilles
heel. There exists a large colony of a
hydel power plant at Totladoh inside core area of the forest. Though a large
part of the colony is deserted, there still lives a decent population. Buses
run through this park to cater to this population. Buses were seen running even
after dark. The setting of the power plant deep inside the forest had
definitely left a deep scar on wildlife. Many scared animals might have
migrated to MP side of Pench. It will take some more time for the wound to
heal. I hope that facilities will improve with time and teething problems will
wither away. In the years to come, this beautiful park has potential to become
a hotspot. Next time you plan a trip to Tadoba or Nagzira, you can plan to
include Pench for a day.
Labels: National Park, pench, Travel, wildlife
posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 10:17 PM
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