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Thread: Forests of Chhattisgarh - in search of the state animal - Wild Bufallo a.k.a. Jungly/Von Bhaisa

  1. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaustubha View Post
    Where is the rest of the story?
    Soon enough, let me finish the Ladakh story first, it is long overdue, by this weekend the Ladakh should up, until I move out somewhere!

  2. #7

    Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary

    Barnawapara sanctuary is located around 90 km from Raipur, in the northern part of Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh. Mahasamund Railway Station (60 km) is the nearest railhead from the Barnawapara Sanctuary. The place is easily approachable through the PWD forest road, which connects Barnawapara with Raipur via Patewa and with Pithora on NH 6.

    The sanctuary though relatively small, covering an area of only 245 sq km, is known for its lush green vegetations and local ecosystem. It was established in 1976 under Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The topography of the region comprises of flat and hilly terrain with altitudes ranging between 265-400 mts. The name of the sanctuary is derived from Bar and Nawapara forest village.

    The flora of Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary chiefly comprises of tropical dry deciduous forest with Teak, Sal, Bamboo and Terminalia being the prominent trees. Other major plants found in the sanctuary include Semal, Mahua, Ber and Tendu. The rich and lush vegetation cover supports a wide variety of wildlife in the sanctuary.

    The major wildlife of the Barnawapara Sanctuary include Tigers [doubt if any are there now], Sloth Bear, Flying Squirrels, Jackals, Four-horned Antelopes, Leopards, Chinkara, Black Buck, Jungle Cat, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Monkey, Bison, Striped Hyena, Wild Dogs, Chital, Sambar, Nilgai, Gaur, Muntjac, Wild Boar, Cobra, Python to name a few.

    Being a small sanctuary with a lot number of leopards it is considered as “leopard’s paradise.”

    The sanctuary also has a sizable bird population with prominent being the Parrots, Bulbul, White-rumped Vultures, Green Avadavat, Lesser Kestrels, Peafowl, Wood Peckers, Racket-tailed Drongos, Egrets, and Herons to name few. Barnawapara wildlife sanctuary tour promises to be an exciting and rewarding experience for all wildlife enthusiasts, bird lovers and nature lovers.

    Now the best place to stay at Barnawapara, other than the few private sanctuaries - which are located outside, is the Chhattisgarh Tourism's Barnawapara Resort. However, just like our travels are, we had come all the way driving night and day without a booking and with a Rotarian gettogether being hosted there at the Barnawapara Resort - we ended up following the sign board of Jungle Paradise Resort.

    This resort had a fine location though. It was detached from the nearest village and located on the fringe of the Barnawapara forest. However we had difficult locating it and when we found two local people enjoying an afternoon chat by side of a village road.

    We took one of them with us and as always, as I have said before, in all our travels we have got one best support from the all the local population, whereever be it in India. He promptly went along and we dropped him back to his start point for a group photo with my friend, Deba.

    The drive through one of the villages to the Jungle Resort, which was located on the fringes of the Barnawapara Forest
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    The two locals [Here photographed with my friend, Deba] who helped us locating the resort. Fantastic friendly people we meet from the first day of our travel itself!
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    Chhattisgarh Tourism's Barnawapara resort, which is located inside the sanctuary was booked by Rotarians from Raipur for that day, hence we looked out for the private staying options.
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    Jungle Resort, Barnawapara Forest. This where we stayed for the next 2 nights. Beautiful location, just outside the forest but still away from the nearest village. Great friendly staff too!
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    As we had reached late afternoon and looking out for a place to stay took out our evening, we venture out tomorrow into the forest for the safari rounds.

    Early morning next day we ride towards the forest check gate.
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    Main watering holes that can be visited are Parsa Pani, Barna Pani, Mohada Talaab, Marer Talaab, 178 Gudagarh Talaab, Sun Suniya Pani, Rampur Tank, Bagmadi Talaab and Maharaji Nala.

    Source: Forests Forever: Travelogue by Cloud forest - a great travel article.

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  3. #8
    Some more random pictures of the Barnawapara Forest, Chhattisgarh

    And we move forward deep into the forest
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    Though the core forest area is out of bounds for safari
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    A gaur that we spotted and could click and a few more talabs visited
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    The Barnawapara Forest Eco-Cottage of Chhattisgarh Tourism, located inside the Sanctuary
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    An oddity: Ravan unfortunately has 9 heads over there! Would love to know the reason why.
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    Beautiful rural village house as we return back to the resort.
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    And back there the two kiddos enjoyed in their own devised activities.
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    Tomorrow early morning we leave for the unknown - 200 km away from Barnawapara we leave for Sitanadi-Udanti Sanctuary. But then no one goes over there nowadays as we travel deep into the disturbed areas. But then the purpose of the journey was for seeing the wild buffalo, the state animal of Chhattisgarh.


  4. #9
    Bah!bah!gr8t pictures from the best landscape photographer.specially pic 007 and pic011.what's your next planning to move out.

  5. #10
    Now, as said, the main purpose not only the travel to this remote land, but also to get an real time update on the very much endangered wild buffalo.

    Now lets go through few articles as to why wild buffalo is much more endangered than the tiger.

    There is much more to India’s wildlife than the widely-talked-about flagship species like the tiger, the rhino or the elephant. While conservation efforts dedicated to these flagships trickles down benefits to other species that share their habitat, certain species require more than just these indirect interventions for survival.

    The wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis arnee) population of Central India is one such example whose local existence is gravely threatened. Once found in abundance across northeast India extending to northern and central India, the species now has its last bastions in some pockets in northeast India and Chhattisgarh state.

    A Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) survey estimated not more than 50 individuals in three sub-populations in Indravati National Park, Pamed and Udanti Wildlife Sanctuaries in Chhattisgarh. A thorough count was conducted only in Udanti, as the other two protected areas faced political disturbances. The survey established that only seven wild buffaloes remained in Udanti in mid-2010 and that only one of them was female.

    In addition to the critically low population, wild buffaloes in Udanti also face threats in the form of extreme competition for resources from livestock, conflicts and habitat degeneration among others.
    The wild buffalo is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. With less than 4000 individuals estimated to be remaining in the wild, the species is also classified as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    The Udanti Wild Buffalo Recovery Project aims to stabilise the wild buffalo population in Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary, Chhattisgarh by implementing a number of ex situ and in situ interventions.
    A joint venture with the Forest Department, the project began with the evaluation of the number of wild buffaloes in four wildlife sanctuaries – Udanti, Pamed, Sitanadi and Bhairamgarh – and a national park – Indravati - in Chhattisgarh. The survey revealed that no buffaloes remained in Sitanadi and Bhairamgarh WLS. Indravati NP had a relatively large population of about 30 individuals and Pamed WLS had 5-8 buffaloes, but no conservation initiatives could be undertaken in these protected areas because of the security situation.

    In Udanti WLS, systematic observations established that only seven individuals, including a male calf, remained. The urgency for intervention was emphasised by the fact that the population comprised a lone female.

    Source: Udanti Wild Buffalo Recovery Project
    Repeating what I had written out in the first post:

    "A few phone calls to the forest department of Sitanadi and Udanti we got the clear cut message of these places being out of bound for travel people, even during day time. Sitanadi was absolutely out of bounds, we can visit the wild buffalo centre in Udanti but stay options were not there and the last tourist to the only forest house was around 2-3 years ago."

    Our journey started breakfast for the 200 km, at Taurenga / Indagaon tourist eco huts deep inside Chhattisgarh. We had no bookings - Since no one goes over there - no bookings are even done and as said we were discouraged to come even due to the ultra-left disturbances, it is acute over in these places.

    As we landed over there, the authorities were so surprised to see a whole group of ladies, children and we two guys [Deba and me] land over there and ask for some accommodation - told them that we are just travellers and just that we have come to see all the way from Kolkata to see the few wild buffaloes that still remain over here in Central India.

    Again some of the most helpful forest people took us to the Taurenga eco tourist hut and it was quite a relief that we had found some place to stay or else we would have to go back to Raipur itself another 5-6 hours back.

    Barnawapara WLS to Sitanadi WLS [Taurenga Eco tourist hut] - approx 200 km
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    Beautiful Chhattisgarh state highways, though desolate
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    Domestic buffaloes these are but!!!
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    The most surprised yet most helpful forest officials led us to the Taurenga forest rest house
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    Towards Taurenga
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    And soon we reach Taurenga tourist hut's gates
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    It was this article in Tehelka - How to kill a Buffalo that did spawn the idea about this travel - to see the Von Bhaisa a.k.a Wild Buffalo

    Yet, at last count, there were just seven wild buffalos here. Was this the end of the road for the animal? Have we, in our infinite indifference, caused the extinction of yet another magnificent mammal, the progenitor of the ubiquitous domestic water buffalo
    There is a information centre at Koiba, a few km distance from Taurenga. With zero tourists for the last 2-3 years, everything is in lock down. The caretaker, who lives in a nearby village, is surprised to see us and opens up the eco centre for us to see.

    At the wild buffalo information centre, Udanti WLS

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    And the official vital stats of the Von Bhaisa

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    And some info about the flora
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    Udanti WLS map

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    Inside the information centre.

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    We take a look around the centre. Half done cottages now covered by wild growth that overlooked a stream. Udanti and Sitanadi used to have a number of tourists before the Naxalite problems some 3 years or so back.
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    We then walk down to the small river/stream by side of the information centre. We leave our footprints on the sand, it has been some 2-3 years since the last tourists. In this photo, complete team except me can be seen including our maid-cook of Taurenga. She has not been over here till now!

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    Some exotic bracket fungi - fantastic colours.
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