After spending a few hours at Khajuraho, we headed towards Panna National park.. Time for more tigers, atleast hoping to sight a few!! :D Checked into the Panna Tiger Resort, which is located right next to river Ken [original name is Karnavati, which the British changed to Ken].. It is a beautiful property, with tents and rooms beyond the reception area. They have a restaurant on the top floor and a canopy area to chill in the evening, that faces the river. We switched rooms [moved to a much bigger room for the same rate, as we were three & needed an extra bed plus some space to walk around], to one that had a view of the river as we stepped out and settled in as our safari was only in the evening 3pm..
Soon, we had changed into safari gear [T-shirt, pants, cap/hat for the head, shawl for the neck and sweater/shrug to keep us warm].. Even though it was afternoon, it was cool and there were strong winds ... We reached the safari gate entrance and waited for the formalities to be completed and a guide to be assigned. And soon we were inside..
What is unique about Panna is that few years ago all the tigers here had been wiped out, thanks to poaching.. In 2009, a Tiger [T1] was brought here from Bandhavgarh..and then one more.. all this initiated by Field officer Sreenivasamurthy.. They then brought a male from pench.. but he ran away from here [nearly 450 KMs away]... The hunt began, and finally heard of a cow killed . The tiger must have run 60-80kms a night. He was brought back and kept in enclosure and now lives in Panna. Of the 40 odd tigers at Panna today, about 12 have collars, so the officials can track their movements and ensure they are protected. There is T141 [a tigress who has cubs], T152, and few others... The numbers have been assigned in this format, if the code name is T111- The tiger is from another park[translocated], first tiger first litter first born [Mom number, litter number, baby order number]
Each park is different - the landscape, the layout, and of course the way animals are tracked. Here too we did quite a bit of birding, while listening for calls and watching out for signs to tell us there were tigers around. But alas, that evening we saw none other than deer and the usual monkeys... We did spot quite a few exotic specie of Vultures, I even spotted few Indian grey hornbill and other birds which made it worthwhile.. The terrain here is very different from Corbett- some parts are open and dry, some with tall brown grass, while others are thick with trees and then some parts are green all over...
We decided to do a night safari, a very spur of the moment decision. Had about an hour to refresh before heading back on the road. This time though the area we drove into was different from the morning one. We were 3 of us plus a guide, another forest safari official and the driver.. It was pitch dark, jeep headlights and powerful torch was all we had and we scouted around for anything that flashed and was red [ animal's eyes].. Spotted quite a few Wild boar, Jungle hare, 2 Civets but nothing more.. It was exciting, and there were moments when we stopped the jeep, turned off all alights and just sat still. The sky above was gorgeous, lit up with stars, it was like a carpet with little drops of silver...
Wow, what an experience it was...
The next morning we were again out and ready for the Safari, and that morning proved quite lucky. Within minutes of entering the park we saw an animal hop across, knew it wasnt a hare/rabbit, and well, it was a Jungle cat.. Such a cutie, did not scurry away...We managed to stop and click a few shots of it drinking water and sitting around waiting for something to snack on... After about an hour inside, we heard from the tracking guys that there was a Tigress out on the prowl within a 3-5km radius... And then we saw a jeep drive ahead and stop. Pausing near them, we spotted the Tigress walking in the tall grass, she was well camouflaged and we could see her through the binocs. There was some movement in the grass indicating that she was walking along towards the thick portion of the forest. We watched her go and soon she disappeared into the thicket. It was then that the guide suggested we go see near the watering hole , as we drove along we saw fresh paw prints and heard animal calls as well. We waited for quite a well, until it was almost time to head out to the exit. As we drove down towards the exit gate, there was a open piece of land from where we got a full view of the water body below. We spotted another jeep and the guide called us over saying there was a tiger below.
Woah, it was an amazing sight to see- the Tiger stood near the water and within a few yards from her stood a Nilgai, both absolutely still. After a few minutes, the tiger began drinking water and the Nilgai slowly moved away, inching literally. We stood there staring at them for a while, but had to make a move as it was time to exit the Park. The parks are all fairly strict about timings and if you default, it might not reflect well on the guide or the driver...
Well, all in all I must say it was good run for me .. Two national parks, 4 tigers sighted apart from a zillion other birds and animals... As we left the park and made our way back to the room, the one thought on my mind was "I wonder what life must be like for these creatures, what they did all day and what they thought of us humans who came looking to spot them"... Oh well, it was time to pack and head to Orchcha...
Serpent crested eagle
Spot the tigress... there she goes.. ;o)
The Grey Indian Hornbill
Vultures- Red headed,Himalayan & Long billed
Bear claw marks on a tree..
A Sambar deer duo crossing to the other side...
The jungle cat
The jungle cat
Spot the tiger- Standing on extreme left and then there is a Nilgai on the right side..
Nilgai standing to eat leaves..
Online Booking for safaris - http://www.pannatigerreserve.in/