Why tiger sightings are increasing in Bandhavgarh?
When you want something, the whole universe conspires in order for you to achieve it – The Alchemist.
Bandhavgarh has had a glorious past in more than one way. The ruins and the ramparts of the Bandhavgarh fort have witnessed the sovereigns, the saints, the singers, and the slayers. For centuries immemorial, the 32 feet Vishnu statue in Yoganidra (yogic sleep) has seen these changing times remaining unperturbed, yet conscious, as if in total control of what is happening around. Similarly, the tiger has gone about his chores quite nonchalantly. He has intelligently adapted to these times of change. He is converting the unwanted pressures of the ever-increasing human and cattle population to his advantage and acclimatizing on the fly.
So, there are reasons that have pushed the ever-increasing tiger sightings to a new high, to list a few:
1. The stopping of the tiger safaris in Bandhavgarh on elephants back by the Supreme Court in 2012, pushed the safari drivers and naturalists, to track the tigers more aggressively. Prior to 2012, the elephants went out at 5 am in search of tigers, and then the message was wired at the park gate for all vehicles to converge at a certain point. The tourists would take turns on the backs of elephants to go and see tigers in the bush. This was easy for the naturalists as they were not searching the park more for many tigers. After the 2012 verdict, the naturalists were compelled to drive in the whole park and track tigers.
2. The Forest department opened tourism in the buffer zones surrounding the core zones. Once the tourists started to visit these zones, the unwanted activity in the zones reduced, and tigers got a clear passage to move around during the day as well, which they were doing mostly at night. So, the tigers got a more inviolate area to be at peace. The tigers are not averse to tiger safaris in Bandhavgarh as they understand that the tourist is not harming them at all. Yes, some of them could behave better and not get too excited about seeing his majesty.
3. Bandhavgarh first opened Gorhi gate, which was later shifted to Magdhi gate. This improved the tiger sightings in Tala zone considerably. Subsequently, Khitauli zone as a core zone was opened a few years down the line. This provided massive protection to the tigers in the area and they became bolder even during the day. This improved the tiger sightings in Magadhi zone.
4. The restriction and regulation of tourism in all the zones, i.e, core and buffer have also played a big role in increasing tiger sightings in Bandhavgarh. The tourism routes were fixed by the forest department in a way so that the routes cover the entire zone, and in case of tiger sightings, there isn’t much rush of vehicles. Thus fixing routes within the zones has forced the vehicles to take all possible routes and cover the entire zone.
5. As the number of safari permits is limited, and are booked online 120 days prior to the tiger safari date, this has prompted the consistent number of limited vehicles only going in. Earlier there used to be a major rush on weekends, and weekdays would be at times easy. So that meant more vehicles on weekends and lesser on weekdays, thus bringing in inconsistent tiger sightings. But with the number of vehicles reduced tiger safari permits are in high demand right through. This has also increased the tiger sightings, as it helps in understanding the tiger movement on a regular basis instead of more on weekends and less on weekdays.
6. Growing tourism over the last few years especially in the buffer zones has given more protection to the core zones in Bandhavgarh. After all, watched Tigers are watched over tigers. Tourism is an important conservation tool, and good tourism regulation is good for tiger sightings.
7. The arrival of Elephants from the neighboring state of Chattisgarh has provided more protection to the Bandhavgarh tiger reserve. With wild elephants in the park, the trespassers with malafide intentions are more careful and avoid entering the park on foot. This clearly benefits the tiger movement and they have grown bolder after the arrival of the elephants in the park.
8. Lastly, but importantly, the increased patrolling by the forest department, by census methods by camera traps has also helped in good tiger monitoring and sightings during tiger safaris in Bandhavgarh.