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

Blackbuck National Park - Velavadar!

I remember many asking me, have you been to "Velavadar"? Now, I can happily say "yes"! and what a glorious time I had!

Blackbuck - Male, Velavadar, Gujarat. January, 2010.

On our two weeks journey in wild Gujarat, Kulashekara, Viswanath and myself drove from Jamnagar to Porbandar and then to Gir. From Gir we drove to Velavadar. After a smooth 6 hrs drive from Sasan, we reached Velavadar by 3 pm on the 22nd of January, 2010. We drove to Ahmedabad on the 24th morning, happy and contented! It is however easier to reach Velavadar from "Bhavnagar" which is about 70 kms, just over an hours drive. Bhavanagar has an airport. 

Blackbuck - Female

The first animal that we came across was of course the Blackbuck. In hundreds! In the two days we wandered in the "National Park", we came across several large groups of Blackbucks. They seemed happy with so much food around and nothing much to disturb them except the wolf! Blackbucks are "Antelopes" found mainly in India. They are fast and are known to reach speeds of up to 80 km/hr. The male bucks are a distinctive black and white and have long twisted horns, while females are fawn coloured with no horns.

Blackbuck - Male

Blackbuck - Female

Velavadar is a large piece of flat land with a lot of grass! Ideal for the Blackbucks and Nilgais (India's largest antelope). The Wolf is the main predator in the area. The Striped Hyena often steals a kill from the wolf. The Jackal roams about and is an opportunist. The Indian fox and the Jungle cat are also common in the area.

Nilgai - Male

I was excited to see a Jungle cat as soon as we drove into the main gate! It quickly disappeared into the grass. However, an hour later we were happily shooting a very confiding "Jungle Cat" at close distance from inside our vehicle! I had waited such a long time for this moment! We saw Jungle Cats on four occasions during our visit!

A "Jungle Cat" hunting during the day!

And then, a Striped Hyena had made a den quite close to our place of stay! The den housed four of its young and was just off the internal road. We saw the family sharing some very intimate moments on the two evenings we were there. The young rested inside the den during the day and would appear after 5 pm.

Striped Hyena

Striped Hyena - Family!

At one time, the mother started digging and soon emerged with a meal she must have hidden in the den! Though, the young were still suckling, they had grown big enough to eat meat! The striped hyena has a habit of feasting on the kills of other predators and is primarily a scavenger. It will readily consume carrion and the remains of kills of other predators. We witnessed this "hiding food" behavior with interest as earlier during the day we had seen wild pigs sniffing around the den!

Striped Hyena - Suckling!

Striped Hyena with food!

Here is all the action on video for your viewing pleasure ...

Velavadar - Blackbuck National Park! from Vijay Cavale on Vimeo.

We saw a lonely wolf resting in the open at noon on day two. It ran away on our approach.

Wolf - the main predator of Velavadar!

Though Velavadar is one of the largest roosting sites of "Harriers" in the world, we were able to see only a very small number of them this time...

Pallid Harrier - Male!

Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses...

Many thanks once again to "Yogendra Shah" for all the help. Special thanks to "Devesh Gadhvi". We were very happy to meet both of them at Velavadar. See you in "Thol"!

Vijay Cavale
January, 2010