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Walking safari India


kittykat23uk
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Would any of you be interested in walking safari activities in India? Thus far the opportunity to do this in areas where big predators still exist are virtually non existant, however let's say there are indications that this may be changing. Don't really want to say more at this stage but it would be interesting to guage interest. :D

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You won't be able to walk in the heart of the Reserve forest in any of the parks. Maybe in lodges located in the peripheral zones with patches of buffer zone access where the cattle herders etc etc., go to.

 

I don't think the Indian Govt are progressive enough to promote walking safaris in the parks ........ heck! the Supreme court ruling is due shortly regarding regular safaris and their future.

 

God save the Tiger!!!!!

 

PS: Off topic - Is it a painful process to secure an Indian visa? just curious, because I've had hell on wheels dealing with African Consulates issuing visas............

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I get the impression that the walks would be in corridor habitat outside of the parks. I think there would be a long way to go before this sort of thing could be conducted to the level of safety/organisation that you would expect from an african walking safari.

 

As for Visa, I believe you have to get very specific photos done for them these days. The process is a bit drawn out but usually I don't have a problem provided I fill in everything correctly.

 

Regards

 

Jo

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That's good to know - I am surprised that the Indian consulate is even remotely efficient.

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On my Kenya walks I saw some zebra and giraffe from a distance, and once a rhino too close (thank god for trees) and another time a cobra also too close for my liking. Mostly though hoofstock from far away, we surprised a huge Eland once and he took off so fast I couldn't even get a photo. It is very nice to get out of the jeeps and walk around, but as for India, I am not sure what you would see as their hoofstock would flee quicker than Africa''s I would think, until they got use to people on foot. I don't imagine spotting tigers would be done on a walk as they would move away (much like most predators do when they hear man on foot)

It would be nice to walk around (in a more open area..i would not be up for a jungle walk with solid tree cover all around.) So I guess I would be up for it in between jeep rides and i would not expect to see much wildlife, but it would be a good chance for the guides to talk to you about other things.

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I have taken a walking Safari in the buffer zone at Ranthambore nothing encountered but we did find fresh Leopard & Hyena spore & some old tiger spore, this was in the time before all the new hotels.

 

I also have a customer who visits an area where there are Tigers & no restrictions. He won't tell me where but does offer to put me in touch with people if I want to visit.

I know this is no bold boast as I have seen his camera trap results.

 

We tend to think the only place for wildlife is in the parks & yet I have had some great experiences when bush camping out side of the parks in Africa.

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In a Corbett NP walking used to be permitted up until 1985 that year a British bird guide David Hunt was leading a tour group through the park. One day heading back to their lodge they came across tiger spoor, scratch marks on a tree and very fresh pug marks on the road indicating that there was probably a tiger very close by, after a while not being able to see the tiger they decided to carry on their way. However David Hunt then happened to see a spotted owlet a very common Indian bird but one that apparently he particularly wanted to photograph, despite the tiger he suggested that his group should carry on back to the lodge leaving him on his own in the jungle to photograph the owlet. When they left he walked off in to the jungle to find the bird, this proved to be a very unwise decision, while photographing the owlet he was confronted by the tiger he turned to photograph the tiger which then attacked and killed him. After this tragedy all walking was stopped in the park and except in certain designated areas tourists were told to stay in their vehicles at all times. I’ve no doubt that it is at least in part due to this one incident that there is very little walking allowed in most Indian parks. Quite what Mr Hunt was thinking when he decided to walk off in to the jungle on his own knowing there could be a tiger nearby I guess no one will ever really know.

 

There are however certainly some places where you can walk, I have on several occasions been on bird walks in Periyar NP/Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, as this is really the only way to see many of the forest birds endemic to this part of India. On each occasion this basically involved walking for several hours in the forest and in patches of open grassland in the area around the HQ at Aranya Niwas. From memory the first time I walked there we were accompanied by an armed ranger as Periyar is home to tigers, wild elephants and gaur amongst other animals. While we were just going on short walks in search of birds it is possible to go on much longer walks taking up a whole day or even several days camping overnight in the forest.

 

I can't link to the appropriate page but you can find the information on this website Periyar Tiger Reserve if you look for Periyar Tiger Trail.

 

From what I can ascertain these treks all take place within the designated tourism zone which I believe is part of Periyar’s buffer zone, the core area of the park is inviolate and no tourism takes place there at all. Periyar is not really a park for game driving so other then taking boat trips on the lake, walking (with an armed ranger) is really the best way to see park. To be able to walk in lots of other places and do the kind of walks that you can do in Africa would be great but really such walks would be for the most part restricted to buffer zones and clearly some parks/reserves don’t have proper buffer zones or if they do they may not be that suited to walking. After all it is the lack of proper buffer zones that has prompted the proposed ban on tiger tourism in the core area of the parks/reserves.

 

Having said that there is one park where you can walk

I also have a customer who visits an area where there are Tigers & no restrictions. He won't tell me where but does offer to put me in touch with people if I want to visit.

I know this is no bold boast as I have seen his camera trap results.

I believe this may be Satpura in M.P. certainly I’ve read a number of travel articles that suggest you can do proper walks in the park

 

I have taken a walking Safari in the buffer zone at Ranthambore nothing encountered but we did find fresh Leopard & Hyena spore & some old tiger spore, this was in the time before all the new hotels.

Interesting, in the Times last Saturday there was a very depressing article entitled "Tourist ban may spell doom for the tiger"(I can’t post a link) expressing what I suspect most of us here fear which is that if tourism stops tigers will disappear. I certainly believe that the presence of tourists helps to deter poachers or at least makes it harder for them to operate. In the article respected conservationist Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch describes some of the parcels of land around Ranthambore that the Rajasthan government has now marked as buffer zone.

 

“This one here has a cement factory on its border and a number of illegal mines inside” he says “it is pure fantasy that tigers will ever live here and I can’t see tourists coming to see the goats”

 

If tourists wanting to visit tiger reserves are only allowed to visit places where there is almost zero chance of seeing tigers then obviously they won’t go.

 

We’ll have to wait and see what the court decides regarding the tourism ban but even if the ban doesn’t go ahead I can’t see that much will change as far as walking is concerned and based at least on this article walking in the buffer zone around Ranthambore doesn’t hold much appeal. Satpura on the other hand definitely does and looks like it should be an amazing place.

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Ah thanks for that insightful report Inyathi. I will have to ask about Satpura as a possibility for another trip. Let's hope today brings some good news!

Edited by kittykat23uk
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You always do wish after attacks the person had writen down why they did such things. Maybe he thought the tiger would flee if hearing a human, who kniows. Sad way to go.

So (not sure if this has been discussed elsewhere on S.T.) but for instance all my drives this past March were in the premium Tala Zone, this would still be ok if the tiger ban holds up? Are they (in Bandhavgarh) just keeping people out of the "core" and where exactly is that?

I can see the pros and cons, I do think the eyes of the tourist play a roll in keeping somethings legit and might have a hand in keeping away some poaching. Wuhat does this ban do for other parks, or rather are there areas that people drove around that will now be closed, or is the "core" areas of the parks used more so for camping/resorts? Thanks for any help you can give.

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So (not sure if this has been discussed elsewhere on S.T.) but for instance all my drives this past March were in the premium Tala Zone, this would still be ok if the tiger ban holds up? Are they (in Bandhavgarh) just keeping people out of the "core" and where exactly is that?

I can see the pros and cons, I do think the eyes of the tourist play a roll in keeping somethings legit and might have a hand in keeping away some poaching. Wuhat does this ban do for other parks, or rather are there areas that people drove around that will now be closed, or is the "core" areas of the parks used more so for camping/resorts? Thanks for any help you can give.

 

 

I have a little guide book to Bandavgarh but the map doesn’t show the buffer zone, however there are plenty of maps of the park on the web that do show the buffer zone here’s just one example map

 

While Tala Village next to the main gate is outside in the buffer zone, the actual Tala Zone is definitely within the core of the park so if the ban goes ahead it will no longer be possible to what you did on your recent safari or what I did some years ago. I don’t know exactly what else happens in the buffer zone but the section around Tala Village is where all the tourist lodges/resorts are and from memory I wouldn’t imagine this is good area to be looking for tigers. I really can't see tourists going to Bandavgarh anymore if they're not allowed in to the main park. :(

 

I don’t know what the situation is in the other parks I guess it all depends how much buffer zone there is and just what is going on in the buffer zones after all they’re hardly serving their proper purpose if there’s for example illegal mining going on as at Ranthambore

 

I think the original idea was that the core areas of the parks should be inviolate with no one allowed in except forest rangers.

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That is the fear that I have, that tourism will be allowed but restricted to less productive areas, routes may be changed so that certain areas are "off limits". If there were any evidence that disturbance by tourists was causing a decline in tiger numbers the this action may be justifiable. But I think a more sensible apprach would be just to have a flexible policy in place to make areas where tigers are denning off limits if required.

 

Tigers do occasionally leave the parks into the buffer zones. For example, here is an extract from my 2007 report:

 

"As we left the park we got word that a tiger had killed a cow in the village. We were soon tearing off around the village looking for the culprit. We stopped at one of the lodges and the guides hastily ushered us out of the vehicle and told us to follow them. Without thinking about it we did and were soon standing around waiting expectantly whilst some of the Indians were scrambling up onto buildings and a mahout attempted to flush the potentially aggravated 500lb stripy killing machine into the open. At which point, Mike asks, “Are we safe here?” A moment which Ian would later refer to as the “Wile E Coyote” moment (i.e. those moments in the Roadrunner cartoons when Coyote holds up the board with the words “Dear God, what am I doing?!” written on them). Mike informed us that he was going back to the gypsy and we sensibly decided to follow him after grabbing our guide and driver. We later found out that the Forest Department removed the kill and that the villager would be compensated for his loss. As for the tiger, who knows where it went!"

 

It was a very memorable experience, even though we didn't find old stripes...

Edited by kittykat23uk
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Have you ever been in Ranthambhore on festive occasions?

Worshipers walk around the base of the fort stopping to pray & to make offerings in areas where I have seen Tigers.

How about those giving thanks to their God for favours received as they pastorate themselves at every step, taking days to reach the Temple?

 

My first ever tiger was in a gully beside the approach road to the fort, not far from the gate & there were pilgrims going to the Temple at the fort stopping to look down on the Tiger as they passed on foot.

 

There are action groups set up at Banhavgarh & Ranthambhore with delegations highlighting the wealth the parks have bought to the area, with schools, welfare & the extra employment in farming, hotels, IT, transport & the such that our tourist dollar has paid for & the infrastructure we require.

Edited by nappa
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