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Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

INW Users Meet @ Mowgli’s Land!

INW Users Meet – December 7th to 9th, 2007

As a young boy, I most thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie “The Jungle Book”. Though a work of fiction, the wild animals portrayed in the story made a lasting impact on my young mind. I can never forget Mowgli the man-cub who was brought up by wolves and his interaction with the wild animals in the forest - Hathi (Elephant) Bagheera (Black Panther) Baloo (Sloth Bear) Kaa (Python) and Shere Khan (Tiger).

Joseph Rudyard Kipling who was awarded the first ever Nobel Prize for Literature In 1907, wrote these stories! He was born in Mumbai, India in 1865. Though Kipling had accrued much of his knowledge about the jungles in India through research and listening to others, it is now widely accepted that Pench is the place where Mowgli thrived among the wild animals. The place matches the story perfectly. An ideal location for the “INW Users Meet – December 7th to 9th, 2007” indeed!

India Nature Watch

India Nature Watch (INW) brings together nature lovers from all walks of life. The focus is to enjoy nature and wildlife in India. The interaction is largely web-based. However, once in a while an opportunity is made available for nature lovers to meet in person and interact.

This time "Pench Tiger Reserve" in Madhya Pradesh was the venue chosen for this informal meet. 33 nature lovers from various parts of India and abroad landed up at Pench for the meet. We stayed at a place called Karmajhiri in the Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh. Together we traveled through Mowgli’s land and had great fun watching and photographing wildlife there.

Safari

The morning Safari at Pench begins at 6.30 am and ends at 11 am. The evening Safari begins at 2.30 pm and ends at 5.30 pm. We had arranged 8 four wheelers for the 33 of us to roam the jungle on the 7th evening and the 8th morning and evening.

As the name of the reserve indicates, tiger is the main attraction here. Inside the forest every now and then, you will hear alarm calls of spotted deers, langurs and peafowls. These alarm calls invariably indicate the presence of a predator. You can also see the scratch marks that a tiger makes on a tree and see its pugmarks all along the forest road from inside your vehicle. Since many vehicles move on the forest road everyday in search of tigers, not all of them will be able to see a tiger. Only one of our eight vehicles came across a Tiger, once!

Sightings


A Tiger walks back on the road after a vehicle has passed!
Apart from the Tiger, Panther, Wild Dog and Sloth Bear that are the main attractions, this jungle hosts a number of other mammals. Very commonly seen mammals here include Rhesus Macaque, Hanuman Langur, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Nilgai, Gaur and Wild Pig.

Interaction

Mr. NS Dungariyal, Field Director - Pench Tiger Reserve, interacting with participants
We spent both the evenings interacting with fellow nature lovers. The first evening we spent getting to know each other better over dinner. Many were meeting in person for the first time though they had interacted on the net before. The second evening The Field Director at Pench and the Game Range Officer were kind enough to spend some time with us to share their thoughts. We had Dr. Shankar and his colleague from WII and Sarath and Harsha from Taj/CC Africa over. Some lively discussion and a bit of fun too followed as we came to the end of the meet.

We were able to squeeze in some time after brunch on the 8th to discuss a few image processing issues including color correction.

Many took the morning Safari on the 9th and left for home. A few stayed back for more fun!

These are the participants...

1. Ashok MS, Hyderabad. 2. Raju Kane, Mumbai. 3. James Williams, Bangalore.
4. Humphrey Tauro, Bangalore. 5. Fauzia, Bangalore. 6. Amrut S. Dhanwatay, Tadoba.
7. Aditya S. Dhanwatay, Tadoba. 8. Ranganath Badri, Dubai. 9. P. Kartik Kumar, Bangalore.
10. Sarita Kartik Kumar, Bangalore. 11. Vikram Potdar, Pune. 12. Amod Phadke, Pune.
13. Thillairasan Kumaresan, Krishnagiri. 14. Satish Pari, Chennai.
15. Dr.K.Muthunarayanan and his son Guru, Tuticorin. 16. Ganesh Nikade, Bangalore.
17. Raghu Nandan, Hyderabad. 18. Renjith Varma, Kanpur. 19. Arun Kumar, Chennai.
20. Karen Amstutz, USA. 21. Suresh Basavaraju, Mumbai. 22.Mahesh Devarajan, Bangalore.
23. Jaimon Jose, Bangalore. 24. Sandeep Desai, Pune. 25. Kaustubh Rishi, Indore.
26. Pradyum Mohan, Bangalore. 27. Kiran Dikshit, Bangalore. 28. Arjun Narayan, Bangalore.
29. Suhas Anand, Mumbai. 30. Ruthwik Bhat, California. 31. Sudhir Shivaram, Bangalore.
32. Vijay Cavale, Bangalore.

Thanks giving:

Very many thanks to all the forest department officials and staff who helped us during this meet. Specially, Mr. NS Dungariyal, Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve who interacted freely with us and shared his thoughts. Mr. Rajnish K. Singh, Game Range Officer, Pench Tiger Reserve for making our stay comfortable. Our own Vijay Mohan Raj for the background support though we missed his presence.

Thanks to all the guides and drivers from the Mowgli Pench Workers Society, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh for taking us into the forest and patiently helping us photograph wildlife.

Many thanks to Sarath and Harsha from Taj/CC Africa for making our visit memorable. Thanks to our guests from WII who added value to the meet by sharing their thoughts.

And above all thanks to Sudhir Shivaram, Rahul Rao, Sandeep Desai and all other volunteers and participants for making this event a memorable one.

More...

Sudhir, Karen and myself spent the 6th night at "Mowgli's Den", a nice resort outside the reserve. We had the good fortune of meeting with Harsha that night. Harsha gave us a "Welcome Drink!" and a sneak preview of the superb "Taj/ccAfrica" facility at Pench. To our surprise he came over to Mowgli's Den on the 7th morning and as Rahganath joined us from Dubai, took us on our first Safari into the Pench Tiger Reserve in the Taj/ccAfrica vehicle! All good things in life are for free - thanks a ton Harsha!!

Also, Amrut S. Dhanwatay and his son Aditya S. Dhanwatay drove down from Tadoba to participate in the meet. Tadoba is a tiger habitat almost the same distance as Pench form the Nagpur Airport. They are wonderful people who run "TIGER TRAILS" which they created to help nature lovers enjoy nature in absolute wilderness. Do pay them a visit if you are looking for a good time in the wild.

That's all Folks!

Ssshhh..don't move please!
Vijay Cavale
December, 2007