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

Daroji Bear Sanctuary – 26th November 2008

I have at various times during my wanderings in the Indian forests come across “Sloth Bears”. The sighting would always be sudden and brief as the animal would dash for cover and disappear into the thick foliage. At Daroji the experience was completely different! We saw eight different sloth bears in about two hours and we did not have to move an inch!!

Up, close and Personal with bears at the Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Karnataka, India.

Below is the third leg report (26th November) of my two weeks in North Karnataka.

->Read First Leg Report
->Read Second Leg Report

Note - Visiting Hours...

About 350 kms from Bangalore, Daroji is a small village located in the Sandur taluk of Bellary district in Karnataka, India. 55.87 sq. km. of the nearby “Billikallu” reserve forest area was declared as the “Daroji Bear Sanctuary” in 1994 and is today a safe heaven for over a hundred sloth bears! This area is in the neighborhood of the famous “Hampi” village which is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, in the midst of the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara empire.

Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Karnataka, India.

On our drive back to Bangalore from Dandeli, Giri and myself decided to spend an evening with the bears. We left Dandeli on the 26th Morning and drove straight to Hospet via Dharwad and Hubli. At Hospet we met up with Abdul Samad a great nature lover. Samad lives in Hospet and is a teacher by profession. As a boy Samad would wander all over the area and has many stories to tell about the rich wildlife around Hospet. 

Abdul Samad

With Samad leading, we entered the Daroji Bear Sanctuary at 4 pm and two minutes later met up with our first bear! This awesome animal gave us some wonderful photo opportunities as it continued its wandering. 

First sighting!

Samad soon led us to a "location" and suggested that we remain quite. There was this rocky area in front of us scattered with boulders. Here, at noon everyday, a couple of Karnataka Forest Department staff rub a preparation made of “jaggery” on the boulders. Many bears in the area are attracted towards this preparation and begin to appear in the open as if by magic! They take turns at licking the jaggery off the boulders and then wander off in different directions. We sat and watched as seven bears appeared in the area and went about licking the boulders. It was a strange feeling to watch several free living wild bears out together in the open during daytime! Another unique experience in wild India for me!!

On Location with Bears!

The most common bear in India, Sloth Bears ( Melursus ursinus) are nocturnal and have a life span of about 25 years. They occupy home ranges that they seem happy to share with other sloth bears. Sloth bears are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods. They eat fruits, berries, termites, ants, bees, honey, and small vertebrates. Their long claws and hairless muzzle help them raid insect nests. The male sloth bear can grow up to a body length of 190cm and can weigh 140kgs! They are known to be quite ferocious in some forests of India. Sloth bears live in Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

See my necklace?

Bear scratches its back!

Bear reaches up for a good lick!

The sanctuary area abounds with other wildlife as well. A fine "Ruddy Mongoose" appeared on the rock and licked some of the jaggery as did several “Three-striped Palm Squirrels”. I was delighted to see a pair of “Painted Spurfowls” appear on the scene. The couple of hours we spent with the bears of Daroji will certainly remain etched in my memory for the rest of my life! It was time to go as the sun set behind us. I was amazed at the number of nightjars we came across as we drove back to Hospet. 

A Ruddy Mangoose licks Jaggery!

Notice the up-turned black-tipped tail!

A Painted Spurfowl, Male, scratches for a grain.

That night we had a comfortable stay at “Hotel Malligi” in Hospet. After thanking Samad over dinner, Giri and me bid him goodnight and retired for the day. What a Day! Breakfast at Dandali, and dinner at Daroji!

On the 27th morning we explored the vijayanagara ruins. Very inspiring and worth an independent visit I thought. 

Narashima - God with a Lion's head at Vijayanagara Ruins.

This Snake Charmer at Hampi had four Cobras!

Then the long drive back home to Bangalore, thus ending the “Third Leg” of my two-week long “North Karnataka Trip”. Phew!!

Vijay Cavale
November, 2008