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

Karnataka - The “BIG FIVE”!

“Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple” Wildlife Sanctuary (B R T), “Bandipur” National Park, “Nagarhole” and “Kabini” area of the Rajiv Gandhi National Park are four of my favorite wildlife destinations in Karnataka. These four areas are more or less contiguous and host a healthy population of wild animals. Add “Ranganthittu” Bird Sanctuary to the above and they make the “BIG FIVE”!

B R T, Bandipur, Kabini, Nagarhole and Ranganthittu - the "Big Five"

One way of roughly looking at these locations is to look at the back of your hand. With Mysore as the center, the Little finger would be leading to B R T via Nanjangud and Chamrajnagar. Next finger to Bandipur via Gundulpet, middle finger to Kabini via Heggadadevanakote, the next finger to Nagarhole via Hunsur and the base of the thumb would be Ranganthittu!

Driving to these destinations from Bangalore is easy. All five are situated in Karnataka. B R T, Bandipur, Kabini and Nagarhole are about 220+ kms from Bangalore. Bangalore to Mysore is an easy two-hour (135 kms) drive. Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary is situated near Mysore.

The “tourism zones” in these forests have numerous roads and one can easily spot Hanuman Langurs, Bonnet Macaques, Sambars, Spotted Deers, Gaurs, Wild Pigs, and Asian Elephants while driving on these roads.

Commonly found but difficult to spot are the Mouse Deer, Indian Muntjac, Four-horned Antelope, Sloth Bear, Wild Dog, Tiger, Common Leopard, Stripe-necked Mongoose, and Indian Giant Squirrel.

Forming part of the Western Ghats, over 400 species of birds have been recorded in this area.

It is no wonder that I grab every opportunity to visit this area as I have done for many years now. Over the past three decades I would have made hundreds of visits to these areas and would have driven multiple times on every motor-able road in these areas and then walked some! Many a story to tell …

The first three months of this year (2009) saw me making multiple visits to these five destinations – Nagarhole, Kabini, Bandipur and B R T and Ranganthittu.

“Jungle Lodges and Resorts" and “Karnataka Forest Department - Forest Rest Houses" accommodations are my favorite places of stay in these areas along with a couple of private properties owned by friends.

These are the visits I made during January, Fedruary and March 2009 ->

1. January 2nd to 6th – Ranganthittu, Nagarhole and Kabini
*With M N Jayakumar, Ajit Huilgol and V P Nurdeen.

2nd January – Bird photography at Ranganthittu by Boat, early morning. Panther sighting on main road en-route near Murkal at 1 pm. Tiger sighting and photography at "Kunthur Kere" at 3pm. Another tiger sighting near Peacock road at 5pm. Plenty of elephants. Night at Cauvery – FRH. Happy new year!

Ajit and Nurdeen shooting at Ranganthittu.

Tiger at “Kunthur Kere” in Nagarhole!

3rd January – Roaming in Nagarhole. Plenty of Elephants. Night at Cauvery – FRH.

A Malabar Giant Squirrel feeds on Bamboo Seeds! This Bamboo is known to flower once in Three Decades!!

4th January – Early morning drive to Kabini area. Boat round in Kabini River. Osprey photography. Brief stop at Tiger Tank - Plenty of Elephants. Evening drive to Balle area. Night at Sunkadakatte – FRH.

An "Osprey" catches a large fish at Kabini!

5th January – Early morning boat round in Kabini River. More Ospreys. More Elephants. Night at Sunkadakatte – FRH.

Tusker at Kabini.

6th January – Morning at Tiger Tank! More and More elephants!
Drive back to Bangalore via Ranganthittu – Otters!

View from "Tiger Tank" - Kabini!

Otter at Ranganthittu!

2. February 23rd to 26th – B R T, Ranganthittu and Karanji, Mysore.
*With Suzanne Huot and Giri Cavale

23rd February – Drive from Bangalore to B R T, Check into Jungle Lodges and Resorts, evening wildlife safari - Elephants.

24th February – Morning wildlife Safari. Rest of day drive to Jodigere area via Bedaguli for some breath-takings views - landscape photography!

Jodigere area - grassland, Shola and hills!

25th February – After morning wildlife safari, Drive to Ranganthittu Bird Santuary for evening boat round and Bird Photography. Night at Mysore.

A "Spot-billed Pelican" skims at Ranganthittu...

26th Morning – Morning at "Karanji Kere", Mysore – Bird Photography.

"Western Reef Egret" at Karanji Kere, Mysore - So far inland?

3. March – 18th to 22nd – Ranganthittu, N-Begur (Bandipur), Kabini, Nagarhole and B R T !! *With M N Jayakumar and Giri Cavale.

18th March – Early morning drive from Bangalore to Ranganthittu – Morning Bird Photography at Ranganthittu. Lunch at N-Begur-FRH. Meet with Dr. Raju. Boat round in Kabini River from Bandipur side. Plenty of Elephants. Large Muggers. Night at Sunkadakatte – FRH.

"Eurasian Spoonbill" at Ranganthittu - backlit!

Plenty of large "Muggers" at Kabini.

19th March – Morning Boat round in Kabini River. Roaming the forest. Brief stop at Tiger Tank.

Kabini - Backwaters!

Elephant uses ear to wipe its eye!

20th March - Morning Boat round at Kabini. White Stork! Drive to Nagarhole for evening round. Night at Nagarhole.

"White Stork" at Kabini.

Elephants at water- Kabini.

21st March – After morning round Tiger sighting and photography by MNJ and GC, long drive to BRT. Panther sighting and Photography in the evening!

Panther at B R T!

22nd March – Drive from BRT to Bangalore.

Did you Notice ? On this trip, WE DID THE ‘BIG FIVE” on the trot!

If you have not yet! please go to any of these "Big Five" places folks, you are sure to enjoy the wildlife around!

Vijay Cavale
March - 2009