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Sayan | Svasara Guest

Wildlife Safaris - 4 months ago


This Day (12th April), That Year (2012)

#GuestBlog #SayanRoyChowdhury

This day, that year. Exactly 10 years back, 12th April 2012.. The day I was introduced to #svasarajunglelodge on my second trip to #TATR.

To put a few things in perspective; #Maya was still a sub adult sharing the #panderpauni territory with her siblings and mother. Areas like katezahri, ambathira and vasant bandhara were open to tourists. There was no 20% restriction. Ainbodi road had two way traffic. Private vehicles were allowed (thank God they have been banned). Most importantly Kolkata-Nagpur flight fares have doubled.

In other words, a lot has changed but some things remain constant for e.g. the same level of excitement to visit Tadoba and the hospitality and warmth of #svasarateam which makes me plan the next trip even before the current one ends. 

In the past I have confessed that #svasara is my second home. This remains the same even after ten years and for that I would like to sincerely thank every member of team svasara, past and present and more specifically #BhautikRDesai #ChiragJRoy #JigneshPatel #MeghnathGhosh #NanditaDas #PrasunMajumdar #RanjitMandal #RatikaSRamchandran #RishinBRoy #SanjayRamchandran #SwarnaChakrabarty. Jignesh and Chirag were the OG naturalists of svasara. Chirag, sad not to have you around. RIP brother. 

There’s no other place I would want to stay while in Tadoba. 

Not to mention, the lovely guests I’ve met in svasara over the years.. #PatanjaliSomayaji #SatishPradhan #MiteshGada #NirajWanikar #PujaParikh #LionelFalcao #JaydeepDoshi #AnindSaraf #ShankarIyer #AishwaryaSridhar #SwethakumaRangaraoBobbili #AmitMamgain and a whole lot more. In other words, thank you #teamsvasara for making every trip memorable for the past 10 years.. as always look fwd to more.. 

P.S. sorry for the quality of the images posted. The same are from the trip ten years back clicked with what I thought was a great camera at that point of time. But now I understand the reality of the picture quality.

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Chirag Roy

Wildlife Safaris - 6 months ago


Rare Moment at Tadoba

The honey badger (Mellivora capensis), also known as the ratel, is a species of mustelid native to AfricaSouthwest Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent. They are basically nocturnal and very secretive, making it one of the most difficult animals to spot.

It was the morning of 28th of February, I was on a usual game drive with my  guests heading back towards the lodge without a tiger in the bag! Understandably the mood in the car is a little low, though I kept the guests engaged by spotting birds on the way.

Out of the blue, comes a honey badger out of its hole and straight on the side of the road. Now at this point, I must mention that I am working in Tadoba National Park for last 4 years, spending almost 9 hrs in the forest every day, and never had a sighting of a Ratel before. Shocked and out of words I grabbed the driver by his collar, which instinctively made him push the brakes hard. The car did stop, but with a lot of noise, and I thought the golden opportunity of seeing the animal up close is gone forever…. but what happened next shocked us all… the badger instead of running away from the vehicle, walked towards it in a very calm manner. My guide Sanjay, sitting in the front seat, confused  about the identity of this queer animal kept turning the pages of his field guide. My guest who had already encountered a honey badger once before in Africa, was also amazed by seeing the confidence of this creature in close proximity to humans. 

We waited there for the next ten minutes, seeing the animal as it foraged for food in the termite mounds. Three more safari cars which were waiting at a distance, unaware of the sighting, got suspicious seeing the activity in our car, started coming towards us, the badger looked around, sniffed the air and gracefully walked away from our sight… by the time the other jeeps reached, it was all over …

Photo Credit (Honey Badger): Svasara Guest, Ms. Anne Woodhouse, UK

Original Blog by Chirag J. Roy, re-posted in his fond memory on his 34th Birthday on 29th January, 2022.

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 8 months ago


Oriental Spiny Orb-Weaver Spider

Oriental Spiny Orb-Weaver Spider (Gastercantha geminata), Spiny orb-weavers is a common name for Gasteracantha, a genus of spiders. They are also commonly called Spiny-backed orb-weavers, due to the prominent spines on their abdomen.

Spiny Orb-Weaver spiders can reach sizes of up to 30mm in diameter (measured from spike to spike). Although their shell is shaped like a crab shell with spikes, it is not to be confused with a crab spider. Genus name Gasteracantha derives from the Greek words “gaster,” meaning “belly,” and “acantha,” meaning “thorn.”

Orb-weaver spiders are known for their nets, the spiral wheel-shaped webs that are so often spotted hanging from garden shrubs or between the branches of trees. However, with more than 2,800 species within more than 160 genera worldwide, orb-weavers are the third largest family of spiders

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 8 months ago


Nectaring

Not all butterflies are flower-visitors. Only the more evolved species and the ones in which the mouth-parts are represented by a long, thin proboscis adapted for feeding on liquid diet pay their visits to flowers. 

Such members include all species of Nymphalids, the majority of males of Lycaenids, Papilios, Pierids and Hesperiids. The flowers are exploited by the butterflies for nectar, the only source of carbohydrate for them. 

Baker and Baker (1973) showed that butterfly nectars tend to have sucrose dominance and are not very viscous. Further, the nitrogen requirement is fulfilled from the amino acids in nectar; therefore the butterfly nectars are normally rich in amino acids.

There is only one known instance of butterflies getting amino acids from pollen. The neotropical butterflies of the genus Heliconius collect pollen on their tongues, add nectar, and then drink the nectar that contains amino acids that have been leached out of the pollen (Gilbert 1972). Nectar may also satisfy the water requirement of butterflies. 

Pic & Post: #SwarnaChakrabarty #SvasaraNaturalist 

(A butterfly from the Hesperiidae Family , A DART (Telicota sp.) nectaring from the Hyptis suaveolens plant)

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 9 months ago


Butterfly Behaviours

Common Pierrot (Castalius rosimon) basking in the sun 🦋 ☀️ 

In the butterfly world, basking is the process of sun-bathing that helps increase temperature in the wing muscles to bring the insects in a physiological condition making them able to take off to their flight. 

Butterfly fly at their very best ecological conditionwhen the air temperature ranges from 24°C to 32°C. The reason for this is that they don‟t have to stop and warm their wings up. 

If the winds are cooler, many butterflies perch on flowers and leaves in the sun, usually laying them flat down and facing upward at the sun, so they can get the best exposure. When temperature rises butterflies seek shadey places.

Butterfly basking can be categorized into three types. These are lateral, dorsal and reflectance basking. Lateral basking occur when butterfly wings are folded and facing the sun. When the wings are fully open at 180° (or 90° with respect to the direct solar, radiation) the behaviour is called dorsal basking (Casey 1981). Dorsal basking is the most common type of basking. The third type basking is called reflectance. In this case, the wings are used to reflect the sun light to the butterfly‟s body rather than absorb it.

Pic & Post: Swarna Chakrabarty, Svasara Naturalist

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 10 months ago


State Butterfly of Maharashtra

Indian Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor polymnestor), is the state butterfly of Maharashtra. It’s a large swallowtail butterfly, member of the ” Papilionidae” (BIRDWING) family. This species is endemic to India and Sri Lanka. 

With a wingspan of 120–150 mm, it is the fourth largest butterfly of India. It is common and not thought to be threatened. It occurs throughout the year but more common in the monsoon and immediately after it. The butterfly is most common in heavy rainfall areas, such as evergreen forests. It is also common in deciduous forests and wooded urban areas, primarily due to the cultivation of its host plants, i.e. the Citrus species. This butterfly frequents forest paths and streams. The male is fond of sun and avoids the shade. The blue Mormon has been recorded as a pollinator of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). Blue Mormon is attracted to damp patch and has greater tolerance to other butterflies and humans while lapping up the mineral rich moisture.

In June 2015, the Blue Mormon was declared as the ‘State Butterfly’ of the state of Maharashtra and became the first state in India to have a ‘State Butterfly’.

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 1 year ago


Nature Walk at Dusk


During dusk nature walks at Svasara-Tadoba, one can look forward to spotting the tiny termite nest frog.

This frog belongs to the family named microhylidae (narrow mouthed frogs). Their size is quite small and they are endemic to India. Triangular disks are present on the fingers which is unique to this frog.

Rainy season is their breeding time and they breed in water inside dark cavities. Often spotted on termite mounds and also under the rocks, they are found in peninsular India and dry forest areas.

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Ranjit at Svasara-Tadoba

Wildlife Safaris - 1 year ago


A Surprise Sighting

After a 45-minute delayed entry into afternoon safari, by the time we entered the famed territory, where many a dramas have unfolded with the legendary tigress “Maya” we noticed cars scattered about, waiting for some action! We decided to hold on to our spot, as if required we could move forward but we couldn’t reverse or come back on the one way road. 


We heard the alarm call and there were few spotted deer busy grazing, looking towards the area from which the calls were coming. We were trying to figure out Maya Madam’s stage appearance, and 10-minutes into the scene to our complete astonishment, a female leopard just pops up gets the deer fawn amidst all the surprised deer and started walking with the fawn towards our car through the foliage and then with one swift climbed the tree with the trophy. The helpless mother deer stood there motionless. We realized we witnessed one of the raw part of nature and later on in the next few days this very leopardess made three more kill which probably signals she is about to go into labour. 


When we matched  the spots it seems that she was the star leopard sighted at the beginning of the season, kuhipat to navegaon road.

Pic Credits: Ranjit Mandal

10th Feb 2021, PM Safari, Kolara Core, Tadoba 

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Ratika at Svasara-Tadoba

Wildlife Safaris - 2 years ago


In Awe of Nature

In Awe of Nature

What can Eagles Teach Us?

{Blog 2 of Series, What can Animals Teach Us; Read Blog 1 Here.}

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Central India is an ancient forest, and one of the oldest protected natural reserves in the country. Although famous for the sightings of the Royal Bengal Tiger, the park is home to more than 200 species of birds as well. Amongst the birds of prey, eagles are a sight that always leaves one fascinated with their display of power and precision. If you have ever gotten the opportunity to observe them in action, you will truly relate to the below lessons we could learn from them about Life!

Focus, Focus, Focus

The importance of “focus” is evident across a wide spectrum of self-improvement books, TED talks, mentoring sessions etc. In nature, eagles are an excellent example of what focus and determination helps to accomplish. With the ability to focus on something as far as five kilometres, once an eagle identifies its prey, it does not move its focus away till it is able to get to it. Our eye vision might not be as sharp like the eagles’, but our mental visions can be and if we let our vision (goal-clarity) guide us with a strong focus on one goal at a time, we can achieve all our goals.

Love the Storm

When clouds gather, other birds might take refuge in trees, but eagles use the storm’s wind to lift higher, and glide while giving its wings rest. Can we try seeking meaning in the storms of life? It is often said, if challenges are embraced, they can help one achieve greater heights, they can push us to become stronger, they can propel us to explore the purpose of our being. Love the storm, to get to the rainbow beyond!

Keep Good Company

Eagles fly with only eagles, and together they soar high altitudes. This is a reminder of how important the role of the people we spend time with is. We should flock to positive-minded people, and people we would like to mirror in our lives. Sort of alluding also to the benefits of creating your own “tribe”.  

Be Fearless

Eagles never surrender to the size or strength of its prey. It always puts up a brave fight to win or to defend its territory. When confronted with troubles, instead of giving up, let us strive to face it with all our might. There is another unique characteristic of eagle, when compared to other birds of prey like the hawks etc. They never look back before striking the prey – which accords them with the name – kings or monarchs of sky!

From the Naturalists’ Desk: The Eagles with Recorded Sightings at Tadoba

  1. Crested Serpent Eagle (resident) Spilornis cheela
  2. Grey-Headed Fish Eagle (resident) Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus
  3. Short-Toed Snake Eagle (resident ) Circaetus gallicus
  4. Crested Hawk-Eagle (resident) Nisaetus cirrhatus cirrhatus
  5. Bonelli’s Eagle (resident) Aquila fasciata
  6. Booted Eagle (migrant) Hieraaetus pennatus
  7. Indian Spotted Eagle (resident) Clanga hastata
  8. Greater Spotted Eagle (resident) Aquila clanga
  9. Black Eagle (resident) Ictinaetus malaiensis

Research/Fact Checks/Identification Acknowledgements to Naturalists: Anusua PalArpit Parekh, Jignesh Patel, Prasun MajumdarRishin Basu Roy, & Swarna Chakrabarty

Illustrations: Austin Tu (6 yrs), Devina S. Ramchandran (5 yrs), Esha Sinha (10 yrs), & Nandika Sinha (11 yrs)

Pictures: Bhautik R. Desai, Mayank P. Sinha, Ranjit Mandal, Sanjay Ramchandran, & Sayan Roy Chowdhury

References 

Book: Animal Teachings, Dawn Brunke

Blog: 7 Powerful Life Lessons from the Eagle, Carla Ibanzo

E-Article: The Biggest Eagles in the World – Top 10

E-Article: Why Eagles are the Kings of the Sky?

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Ratika at Svasara-Tadoba

Wildlife Safaris - 2 years ago


In Awe of Nature

What can Spiders Teach Us?

{Blog 1 of Series, What can Animals Teach Us}

Entering the pristine mystical forest of Tadoba after seven long months was pure bliss. The green serenity, the smell of wet earth, the fresh air was an instant dose of rejuvenation for one’s soul.

When the jungle has not had too many visitors for so long, its denizens have had the freedom and space to take over all parts of the reserve. One cannot, hence, miss observing (or avoiding) the encounter with the giant wood spiders & their large orbicular webs as one meander through the virgin tracts.

Arachnophobia (Fear of Spiders) is one of the most common phobias that people experience. A genuine fear, especially if one has had an unpleasant acquaintance with them or because one has been exposed to only their eerie anecdotes.  

This blog is an attempt to share a positive narrative about Spiders, one amongst millions of our co-existing inhabitants. Spiders have been on Earth far longer than us (longer than the now extinct dinosaurs). Pondering upon their long evolution history, their depiction in mythological fables, authors’ inspirations and their kind love for them not only teaches us so much about them, but there are lurking life lessons for us to learn from them too.

Below are just a few of them.

Focus on Mastery & Self-Approval

Spiders have been subjected to so much virulence all their lives, yet they have survived not seeking anyone’s approval or flattery. They have recognized their own mastery and chosen to weave life with dexterity, purpose, & beauty! For all the times when we are devoid of recognition and seek external appreciation, let us remember the humble spider that does not seek anyone else’s praise for moving on in life.

Perseverance leads to Great Works

Remember the Incy-Wincy spider nursery song? Or have you ever gotten tired cleaning up the cobwebs just to find a brand new one in its place moments later? As much as some of us might despise spiders and discriminate against them, the continued efforts on part of the spiders (without any assistance) to rebuild despite the recurring difficulty and trouble, is a lesson of perseverance, grit, & resilience for us.

Be Patient, Gratification is not always instant

Once the spider has worked hard spinning its web, casting it as big as possible, it then patiently waits for the “fruits” of its labour. It has faith on its hard work, and knows it is just a matter of time, when it can enjoy the reward. Similarly, when we have an objective in mind, we should put our best efforts, and remind ourselves that work comes before the result. Many of our lives’ aspirations might experience delayed gratification. Patience is key.

Small can be Significant

Svasara’s logo depicts the Tree of Life, illustrating everything on the planet is interdependent. And spider, no matter how small is a perfect example of nature’s inter-connectedness. Spiders are endemic to almost all continents and without them the balance in the ecosystems would be disrupted. As predators, they help in controlling insect populations (including flies & mosquitoes!) and as prey, they are an important source of food for birds, lizards etc.

From The Naturalists’ Desk: The Common Spiders seen in Tadoba

  1. Giant Wood Spider
  2. Black Wood Spider
  3. Wolf Spider
  4. Crab Spider
  5. Lynx Spider
  6. Jumping Spider
  7. Signature Spider 
  8. Fishing Spider
  9. Daddy Long-Legs Spider
  10. Spitting Spider

Research/Fact Checks/Identification Acknowledgements to Naturalists: Arpit Parekh, Imran Khan, & Jignesh Patel

Illustrations: Devina S. Ramchandran (5 yrs) & Esha Sinha (10 yrs)

Pictures: Sanjay Ramchandran

References & Further Reading/Viewing Recommendations (Book list is especially compiled for young readers):

Book: Animal Teachings, Dawn Brunke

Book: Spiders, Gail Gibbons

Book / YouTube – Read Aloud: I’m Trying to Love Spiders, Bethany Barton

Book / YouTube – Read Aloud: Be Nice to Spiders!, Margaret Bloy Graham

Book / YouTube – Read Aloud: Diary of a Spider, Doreen Cronin

Book / You Tube – Read Aloud: Are you a Spider, Judy Allen

Magazine / YouTube – Read Aloud: National Geographic Readers: Spiders, Laura Marsh

Blog: 10 Lessons from a Spider about Achieving Your Dreams, Arvind Devalia

Blog: Five Spiritual Lessons Spiders can Teach Us,  Nikki Harper

Blog: 6 Lessons from a Simple Spider, Neil

Blog: Four Life Lessons we can all learn from Spiders, Dr. Audrey

Blog: The Importance of Spiders to an Ecosystem, Nicholas DeMarino

PDF: Handbook Indian Spiders, B.K. Tikader

About this Blog & Author

My love for animals (first initiated through love for dogs) started from my childhood. My first ambition (which I recall being around age 11 years) was to work for World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Assuming, I must have thought that would give me an opportunity to be in situations where I would get the time to spend with different animals and that I would be able to take care of them when the need arose.

Fast forwarding to today, grateful that thanks to my uncle (bade papa) who shared a common love with me for wildlife (although he was fixated with tigers…), and our family’s hospitality business background we ventured into the beautiful world of low impact eco-tourism / wildlife-tourism.

Svasara, our family owned jungle lodge has given me so much joy to be able to do what I always dreamt of doing – be amidst nature & around so many beautiful creatures!

One of the best parts about owning a jungle lodge is the endless knowledge and appreciation one gains through interactions with passionate naturalists who I feel our true custodians of nature, and on their shoulders lies this big responsibility of being advocates of wildlife conservation. Each of our resident and visiting naturalists have taught me so much and my respect for Mother Earth and every living creature has only grown deeper through my interactions with them.

This blog, is dedicated to my daughter (and every child who has the inherent and unbiased curiosity, love, & fascination about the natural world around us) and my naturalist team. I hope through my writings I am able to (in a few of you) inculcate a deeper appreciation for nature, respect for all living creatures, and embed the idea that all of us can co-exist in our beautiful planet.

p.s. All views are personal. Thank you for reading.

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