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Arpit | Field Naturalist

Wildlife Safaris - 3 days ago


T2’s Sub-Adult Cubs

Safaris in tiger reserve are always unexpected. As you start your drive expectations are on peak, but in the end you are in wild and no one has control over sightings and after spending few hours if there are no movements of any big cats, you get little disappointed but you still enjoy the drive as there are lot many things to observe from Birds to Butterflies but in the end everyone wish to see our majestic animal to complete their dream. 

Today our guest experienced their first tiger in the wild, but most exciting for them was not one but to see two young sub-adults (T2’s subadult cubs) playing in the fields when they were on their way back to exit point (#kolaracore). This is why, we should never loose hope till you reach your exit gate and should enjoy the forest at fullest.

Picture credit: #TanviAgarwal #SvasaraGuest

Blog credit: #ArpitParekh #FieldNaturalist #Svasara #Tadoba

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Anusua | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 2 weeks ago


Indian Paper Wasp

Ropalidia is a relatively large genus in the subfamily Polistinae, containing some 136 species distributed in tropical Africa, southern Asia, Australia and Okinawa. R. marginata colonies are frequently built on eaves and windows of undisturbed buildings and other manmade structures, and occasionally on leaves and branches of some species of shrubs or trees in urban habitats.

The species shows two forms of nest building tactics, one being Independent founding and the other Swarm founding.

The one in the picture shows a typical example of an Independent founding nest. These nests are simple, unenveloped combs that are normally suspended by a narrow pedicel. Queens initiate new colonies either singly or in small groups, i.e. independently and the Queen use overt physical dominance to control or influence their nestmates. The Indian Paper wasps protect their nests against ants by rubbing the nest pedicel with an ant-repellent substance secreted by the van der Vecht’s gland present on the 6th gastral sternum of the wasp.

They face constant predation by Vespa tropica, The Greater Banded Hornet, whose workers almost systematically search for Ropalidia nests in the most likely places and prey upon the brood.

So go ahead and look out for these mesmerising little ones in your garden or windows.

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Anusua | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 4 weeks ago


Giant Wood Spider Webs

Araneid spiders belonging to genus Nephila, also known as the orb-weaving spiders, are well known for the huge webs the adult females construct.

Post-monsoons, forest in Central India seems so mesmerising with soothing greenery around, very much unlike what it looks like otherwise throughout the year. The first safari surprised me not because of the superb Maya sighting but because of the huge webs the females of the Giant Wood Spider weave. I found them hanging all over the forest, in every direction, even when I looked up to spot a bird.

The adult females of most species are large and build strong webs of silk of considerable size. Research suggests that orb-weaving spiders can alter the web structure and composition in response to prey variation.

The genus exhibit bright colours and recently these bright colouration is considered to be important in predator-prey visual interactions, aiding in foraging success by providing attractive visual signals to prey.

Pic Credit: Giant Wood Spider – female, Anusua, Naturalist at Svasara Jungle Lodge, Tadoba

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Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 10 months ago


New Buffer Gates at Tadoba

The tiger numbers have been witnessing a rise in Tadoba and in their search for more areas they often settle in the buffer areas of the reserve. For this reason, buffers have played a crucial role in conservation of Tadoba’s biodiversity. Some examples of tigers that have made buffers their home include the oldest tiger of Tadoba – Waghdoh, Madhuri, Junabai, Jharni etc.

Opening buffers for tourism has many benefits. Local disturbances to the forest reduces because of planned tourism. Alizanza and Kolara Buffer for this reason has experienced such success. These additional zones also reduce tourist pressure on limited routes in core. And, because the forest is contiguous, tourists have been generally happy sighting the same animals. In some instances, blue bull sighting in fact is higher in buffer compared to core.

Buffer tourism is great for the local economy as well as additional guides and gypsy operators get an opportunity to reap in the benefits of wildlife tourism. This is always a positive contribution reducing the risk of alternative money-making avenues like poaching, illegal tree / bamboo cutting etc.

So next time you are planning a trip to Tadoba, do consider opting for a buffer zone safari too. Not only will you experience a different part of the reserve and contribute to forest conservation, but you will also positively touch the lives of additional locals from Tadoba’s adjoining villages.

Header Image Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/tadoba-to-open-5-new-gates-in-buffer-to-boost-ecotourism/articleshow/67763293.cms

Buffer Zone Photographs from our Archive:

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Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 1 year ago


A Guest’s first tiger and dhole sighting!

The guest came a little unexpectedly and we were a little perplexed, as there were no safaris available. After interacting with her, we gathered that she is a solo traveller and comes to India every year; but has not seen a tiger ever and she has no idea about the way safari bookings etc. work. After some discussions, we informed her that we would be able to arrange one core and two buffer safaris. She promptly said yes! And further discussions led to the revelation that I have met her in Majuli, Assam two years back. A bit more pressure on me to assure her of a good experience in Tadoba, and the jungle has always helped me in these situations.

 

First AM safari, we missed a tiger early in the morning! But, a little later the Junabai female and her three cubs appeared from the bush, checked the tree along with the mother and then disappeared back in the woods. In the afternoon, there were no clues about them, so we decided to check the other parts of the buffer and got lucky with a sighting of another tigress; this one belonged to the Devdoh clan. Next morning, we entered the core with the intention to look for wild dogs, as she has never seen them but heard a lot about them. While having breakfast at the Khatoda gate, we got the good news of wild dogs and for her sheer delight, we managed to sight a pack of six dholes. The 85-year old lady was all smiles and I was thanking mother nature for all the blessings.

Dorothy Knott loves India and her smile, her happiness gave a good kick for me!

Pic & Text Courtesy: Rishin Basu Roy, Svasara Naturalist

Header Image, Edit Courtesy: Anjan Lal, Svasara Guest

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 1 year ago


First Safari, New Season

While I was in Kolkata for 3 months (during my monsoon break), one fine night I got electrifying news! T7, our very own Choti Tara Tigress had given birth. In her last two litters, she had two cubs each, but this time, news was that she had amazingly delivered three cubs. So now getting back to Tadoba, to the enchanting Central Indian Dry Deciduous Forest suddenly became a matter of urgency for me. These three months, not only Choti Tara, but also other tigers like Matkasur (T54), Maya (T12), her two cubs, and Choti Tara’s two sub adult cubs always remained in my thoughts.

 

So, on 1st October 2018, with the memories of my favourite tigers, I proceeded with excitement for my first safari post monsoons at Tadoba National Park. I was accompanying guests from Kolkata. When we reached the Kolara Gate early morning, a small Gate Opening Ceremony for the new season was happening. We received a very warm welcome from the guides and from the park rangers, a red rose and a piece of little sweet was given to us as they were celebrating the Forest Week also. And then, we heard the unmistakable metallic sound; the gate of Tadoba National Park had opened for the season of 2018-2019.

 

This time Monsoons was generous in the region and as soon as we entered inside the park, after moving couple of meters we saw the beautiful result of bountiful rain. In Hollywood, they use the red carpet but here Mother Nature used a dark green carpet to welcome us, which was absolutely stunning. The smell of the wild green and dew on the zelen (Bosnian word for Green) texture totally enthralled me. On the way, we once again passed by the historical “Gond Pillars” standing tall! Slowly, through the rustic road we reached the spot where, just a few years back, was the Jamni Village. At Jamni, we saw a couple of busy eating Langurs on treetops and a few running Spotted Deer in the meadows.

 

We started moving towards the Jamni Chowk (intersection), and took a right turn towards Pandharpauni. Just few meters down on that road, we suddenly noticed few jeeps standing in a line pointing at something. We couldn’t understand first but then spotted, a Bengal Tiger, our very own dominant male tiger, Matkasur T54. Soon he vanished inside the tall green grass. Position wise, our jeep was the last one so we could barely manage to get a glimpse. Everyone on board, hence, was a little bit crestfallen. Our guide told me “let’s wait here, he can come out again”. After waiting there for seven to eight minutes, we decided to move forward.

 

We then reached Ainbodi 1, where one of the Choti Tara’s sub adult cubs was out of the grassland, in clear view. Over here the driving skill of our driver accorded us a brilliant position. Several pictures were taken by the guests already, when we heard a sound of leaf crushing and heavy twig breaking and then the second tiger also came out from the bush. So the two striped brothers once again came in front of us, oh what joy! But who was the sound engineer? A huge Male Gaur was disturbed by the presence of those tigers. So he charged them and they came out of the bush. Everybody in my jeep thanked the Indian Gaur profusely. Sighting was for more than ten minutes, where we observed different tiger behaviors, one of which was also that one tiger was eating grass, a sign of an upset stomach.

 

Whenever I have encountered these two striped brothers something special has always happened. And true this time too, one of the sub adult cubs came towards our jeep and looked at us, as if saying  “Hi Everyone”. And actually, we were quite delighted with this special interaction. He then went back inside the bush again.

After this brilliant experience, we made our way towards Tadoba Lake. On way, we had a surprising rendezvous with two Indian Wild Dogs or Dholes. They were busy marking their territory. Because of the good rain this year, the lake was full with water. The old Indian Blackberry Trees on the shore, once again came in contact with the lake water. The vastness of the lake and calls of different birds mesmerized us. We spotted a big Marsh Crocodile. Then we moved towards Panchdhara and then on the tar road, reached Khatoda Gate for Breakfast. After having breakfast we decided to take the Kosaikanar road, in search of Choti Tara (T7). As soon as we reached Jamni Chowk again, we heard news from another jeep that Choti Tara crossed a couple of minutes ago. We had missed, but it was ok, this is the natural rule of the forest. Some times you are lucky and sometimes you are not.

 

From the core of my heart I wished Good Luck to Choti Tara T7 and her new cubs. Once again, a new battle will start. Surviving in this brutal world and competition of staying alive in a vast dry deciduous forest will be difficult. They have to be strong and face all challenges in their way. A challenge, where I hope they will prove themselves to be the fittest of all. With those last thoughts, along with the beautiful memories and experiences of our first safari, ending at 10 AM, we came back to the Lodge.

Pic Courtesy: Rishin Basu Roy, Naturalist at Svasara-Tadoba

 

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Bhautik | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 1 year ago


Giri’s Geckoella

The Giri’s Geckoella (Cyrtodactylus varadgirii) is a lizard endemic to India. It was discovered as recently as 2016 and was named after scientist Varad Giri. This lizard is a ground-dwelling lizard and found frequently on leaf litter on forest floors. They are nocturnal lizards; during the day can be found under wooden logs and rocks . They grow to a size of 6 centimetres in length. Widely distributed in India,  besides in forests they have also been found living in human-habituated urban landscapes.  The photographs featured as part of the blog have been taken at Svasara Jungle Lodge, Tadoba.

Blog Write-Up: #BhautikRDesai #SvasaraNaturalist

Pic Credits: #BhautikRDesai #PrasunMajumdar #SvasaraNaturalist

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 1 year ago


Tadoba’s very own Bagheera!

Very seldom does it happen that Tadoba fails to thrill the wildlife enthusiast, especially when they are expecting to see tigers! But what happens when you have already seen a beautiful family of tigers (Kuhani), then a sloth bear, and then driving towards Shivanjhari water hole, hoping to be even luckier and spot the other famed tiger family of Kolsa (Shivanjhari); you reach the spot to find not the striped feline but a spotted one, and that too BLACK? Thrill to the point infinity!!!!

 

So unexpected! That the Forest Guide, when first spotted the black creature, assumed it to be a Palm Civet, but Svasara’s accompanying naturalist with our guests from Belgium, instantly remarked, “cannot be a civet as the tail seems much longer than the body!” Swarna, our naturalist quickly grabbed his binoculars to zoom in (the waterhole is at a distance of about 20’ from where the jeep track is), and then what he experienced having spotted for the first time a melanistic Indian Leopard at Tadoba, is impossible to express in words………

 

We thank his presence of mind, to quickly request the guests to photograph this once in a lifetime sight! Although there have been prior discussions at Tadoba on the existence of a black panther in the Kolsa Zone, it has never been photographed till last evening.

 

22nd May 2018, around 6 PM IST, Kolsa Range, Tadoba (Please note there was a camera screenshot shared earlier which mentioned Belgian time 13:52): Indeed a historical day here! And sooooo special for Svasara as it was our guests and naturalist who got to be the lucky ones to witness this sighting.

 

p.s. contrary to the media reports, their jeep was the sole jeep that witnessed this sighting. All sighting pictures published in this blog are taken by Guest Juliet Decaestecker and are the only veritable pictures of this sighting.

Group Photo: From Left to Right Praful Yerme (jeep driver), Shalik Yerme (forest guide), Jean Francois Aernouts, Kids Lina, Zia, and Ruby, Juliet Decaestecker (svasara guests) and Swarna Chakrabarty (svasara naturalist)

 

Sighting Pic Courtesy: #JulietDecaestecker #SvasaraGuest

 

 

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Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Wildlife Safaris - 2 years ago


Tiger & Sloth Bear Confrontation

It was a normal afternoon safari. After the excitement of the morning sighting of T-54 (Matkasur), the dominant male tiger of the tourism zone we were thinking about enjoying the forest. In the morning it was a relatively late move by the big male and when we started driving back to the exit gate where he secured a place near the waterhole under the shade of a big Jamun tree. One classic picture that depicts the arrival of summer in this forest! We decided to check his whereabouts in the afternoon and planned to explore the other parts of the forest later on. We climbed up the Jamunbodi road to reach the gallery view of  Jamunbodi. We reached, he was still lying down and the guest was expressing his disbelief about how lazy a tiger can be. Five hours! and he was still there… Then suddenly within five-minutes of our arrival he stood up, looked behind and started walking towards the back. I was telling the guest that it was a good decision that we decided to check on him.

Little did we know what was in store for us for the next half-an-hour. As soon as he went away from our view a long stress call of a sloth bear was heard. We got alert and decided to check. We were overwhelmed by the face-off sight of a mother sloth bear and a sub adult sloth bear with T-54. The desperate mother sloth bear came in between T54 and her sub adult. A royal rumble started. The sub adult left the place with  the agony of loosing its mother. We could hear the deep sounds coming from the back while the mamma bear showed us what it takes to be a mother and how desperate a mother can be to defend her offspring. T-54 tried his best to knock her down and there was moment of 5 minutes when we thought the mother had given up as she lay still in the trap of T-54. Then the magic started one or two ‘Jhatkas’ (sudden movements) ensured us the mother bear was not giving up and then she got herself free from the jaw and paw of T-54. With great disbelief we saw her giving a full aggressive  blow to T-54 and the unique design of the sloth bear hair allowed her to prevent T-54 from giving her a killer bite. With the evolutionary adaptive strategy the bear’s most vulnerable part of the body is its snout and the chest. She rolled into a fur ball and didn’t allow T-54 to access that part of her body. Then with a full thrush she gave a tight slap and went away from the T-54.

For this entire period of the show there was not a single sound from the jeeps around. Everyone was glued to the fighting duo and the air was filled with the sound of the Bear and the tiger. A sighting of a lifetime indeed which will remain etched in the memory of all the spectators who were there.

Blog Write-Up: #RishinBasuRoy #SvasaraNaturalist

Pic Credits: #PrasunMajumdar #SvasaraNaturalist

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Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 2 years ago


The Tussar Silk Moth

The silk that made India famous! The silk that created the trade route, the silk that generated revenue by creating employment. Silk that personifies Indian women and men. The creator of the raw material is the Tussar Silk Moth. Unlike the mulberry silk moth, tussar silk moth is not reared in captivity. Hence Tussar Silk is also known as wild silk or peace silk. This is because silk is only extracted from the cocoon once the adult moth emerges. I.e., the larvae are not killed inside the cocoon to obtain the silk.

Location: Svasara Jungle Lodge, Tadoba, Maharashtra, India

 

Credits: Text – Rishin, Svasara Naturalist, Photographs – Sanjay Ramachandran, Identification – Prasun, Svasara Naturalist, Sighting – Raju, Svasara Safari Driver & Tracker

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