Saturday, 28 May 2016

My 5 must visit International National Park Destinations

1. Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Game Reserve, KwaZulu Natal Province,  South Africa :

This is a favourite destination of mine because of the large number of White Rhinos and Black Rhinos in the Reserve.

The 960 square KM Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Game Reserve is 280 Kms from Durban.

Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Reserve is the largest protected area in the KwaZulu - Natal Province in South Africa.

It is a "union of two reserves" -- Hluhluwe and Umfolozi. Both of these reserves were established in 1895, when the Zulu Kingdom was conquered by the British.

The Habitat in Hluhluwe is more hilly with a predominance of savannah grassland.

Umfolozi is carved out of two large valleys of the Black and White Umfolozi River and it is a thinly forested grassland.

Amalgamation of the two reserves took place in 1989 nearly 100 years after their notification by a corridor which is less rugged and more open.

The White or Square lipped Rhino that lives in this reserve numbers more than 1,000. In this reserve there is also a population of the much more elusive and endangered Black or Hooked - lipped Rhino that is largely a browser.

Finally, the Reserve is totally fenced, devoid of human settlements and has a 250 Square KM wilderness area where no development is allowed and to which the only access is on foot.

2. Aberdare National Park Kenya :

This is an East African Game Reserve situated in Kenya. It is 160 Kms north of Nairobi.

Elephants can be seen at a dried up lake bed in their dozens. Elephants need salt and other minerals that they do not find in their regular diet of grass and fruits.

A Saltlick is usually a dried up lakebed that contains all kinds of nutrients that elephants need.

One can see female elephants with their calves, bull elephants squabbling with each other and juvenile elephants interacting with each other within the herd.

Apart from elephants; baboons, buffaloes, various kinds of antelope, and hyenas can also be seen at Aberdare National Park.

3. Ngorongoro National Park, Tanzania :

This is a Unique Wildlife Destination.

The Ngorongoro Crater which is part of Ngorongoro National Park is a dormant volcano. It was a tall mountain before it exploded and collapsed two million years ago.

It is home to 35,000 Mammals and Birds.

Ngorongoro National Park is situated on the edge of the mighty "Serengeti" in Tanzania in East Africa. The Mammals that live here do not take part in the annual migration that one normally sees.

The 500 Metre drive down to the floor of the crater takes one to one of the most spectacular savannah grasslands.

A large population of the highly endangered black rhinoceros shares the crater floor with an equally powerful big cat carnivore -- the formidable black maned lions of Ngorongoro.

The Ngorongoro Crater is home to the world's most ferocious lions. These magnificent, black maned lions are powerfully built and look more formidable than their cousins on the Serengeti Plains.

There are at least 65 Lions in this small area - the highest density of Predators found anywhere in the world.

The Savannah Elephants at Ngorongoro are definitely worth a mention. They easily bear some of the hugest tusks seen anywhere in Africa. There are at least 20,000 of them at Ngorongoro. Huge Solitary Males can be seen in plenty.

One can also spot at Ngorongoro the classic 75-80 MPH dash of a magnificent cheetah as it chases a fleet -footed Thomson's Gazelle.

Finally, Ngorongoro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great destination for wildlife lovers that has managed to remain unspoilt by human infiltration.

4. Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Chandrapur District, Maharashtra India :

Tadoba Tiger Reserve is located in Chandrapur district in Eastern Maharashtra. It is 160 Kms from Nagpur.

It is without a doubt a best kept secret of India.

Although, it was designated as a "Reserve" in 1955 it was not heard of until recently.

Tadoba Tiger Reserve is 626 square kilometres long and consists of dense teak and bamboo forests and a river which flows through it. Apart from Tigers, this Reserve is home to leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, hyenas, and bison.

Tadoba Tiger Reserve has 70 plus magnificent Tigers. It is teeming with all kinds of wildlife. Sambar Stags can be seen locked in combat under jamun trees while tiger cubs can be seen frolicking in the water in the serene Telia Lake.

At the Devdoh Forest Range and Moharli Forest Range, one can see Breeding Tigresses in all their beauty and glory.

The Birth of 26 Tiger Cubs from 2010 till today proves that Tadoba Tiger Reserve has rich wildlife habitat and is the perfect breeding place for Tigers.

Tadoba Tiger Reserve was recently in the news for better wild cat conservation and also because its tigers will be radio collared soon to understand their behaviour.

5. Ivindo National Park, Gabon :

Ivindo protects Langoue Bai and spectacular Kongou and Mingouli Falls on the Ivindo River.

Langoue Bai, the hidden clearing discovered by eminent wildlife conservationist and ecologist ---- Mike Fay has concentrations of Forest Elephants that one can only dream of.

It is a gathering place for hundreds of Forest Elephants that likely had never encountered humans.

A rare clearing in a sea of Forest, the mile long "Langoue Bai" was carved out by Forest Elephants digging in the mud.

The pristine Equatorial Rain Forest surrounding Langoue Bai in the upper Ivindo River harbors big tusked Forest Elephants like never seen before.

Early Observations by Conservationists at Lagoue Bai indicate that Forest Elephants drawn to the Forest Clearing for succulent vegetation, water, and salt make some sort of seasonal migration away.

They disappear when the rains end.

Where have they gone ?? Our guess according to conservationists is that they come here during the dry season to the marshy, provident, flatlands of the Upper Djidji River.

It might be the last unprobed hideout of "Gabon's Biggest Tuskers".


Monday, 23 May 2016

Who is snuffing out our rosettes ??

Project Spotted Leopard :

Its Need and Importance

Introduction :

I am a Lover of all 'Leopards' specially spotted leopards who are facing an unprecedented crisis of epidemic proportions as a result of rampant poaching, loss of habitat, loss of fringe forests, buffer zones, and loss of prey upon which they heavily rely.

It is an established fact now in 2016 that spotted leopards are being decimated like nobody's business in India to feed a thriving and illegal market in South - East Asia.

This majestic wild carnivore with its rosettes is a prince among all 'Big Cats' and is also a royal denizen of reserved and unprotected forests in India.

We, in India need to jumpstart ''Project Spotted Leopard''  in a big way and create suitable leopard reserves with immediate effect in the same way as Project Tiger was started in 1973 and Project Elephant in 1992 respectively.

In this respect, it would also be wise to start a foundation  to save leopards at the central level and state level which should be aptly called 'Save the Leopard Foundation' which should be an integral part of Project Spotted Leopard.

The Spotted Indian Leopard and Leopardess who are found in a variety of Indian Jungles are a vital cog in the forest ecosystem found all over India.

Facts about Spotted Leopards :

Spotted Leopards in Forests which stretch from Uttarakhand to Karnataka and from Kerala to Assam and to Orissa in the east help control the burgeoning population of wild boar and Nilgai or Blue Bull which would otherwise lay waste to Potato and other fields of a large number of farmers that are situated not far from unprotected forests.

This would otherwise result in enormous damage to all farmers.

In my humble opinion, spotted leopards found in unprotected forests in India are as regal, as beautiful, as agile, and as intelligent as the Royal Bengal Tiger.

It is sad and distressing that spotted leopards are treated as 'Outcasts' by a large number of Wildlife Lovers specially when this beautiful Big Cat with wondrous rosettes on its golden skin should be given the same protection as the Royal Bengal Tiger in Tiger Reserves all over the country.

The Rosettes on the skin of a spotted leopard distinguish it in a myriad of ways from other Big Cats and makes it regal in more ways than one. It is truly a remarkable big cat that has survived the ravages of time and man and has adapted to humanity in the 21st Century whether it is life near a tribal village or near a town.

Project Spotted Leopard -- A Possible Reality :

Sometime back in August or September 2009, a leading Hindustan Times Correspondent by the name of Brajendra Parashar had stated in an article called 'A Menace called Nilgai' that it was his contention that Nilgai or Blue Bulls were destroying farmers precious fields in Western Uttar Pradesh because of the lack of carnivores to prey on these blue bulls and thus help in controlling their increasing population.

Hence, it would be an excellent idea to jumpstart 'Project Spotted Leopard' in this geographical area as it would be a prey rich habitat for full grown adult leopards who could get sufficient prey for their daily or weekly needs.

I bet there are still a large number of full grown adult leopards left in unprotected forests of Western Uttar Pradesh that can be tranquilised and introduced to this area which is abundant with Blue Bulls.

In my humble opinion, a Leopard Reserve should be immediately started in Western Uttar Pradesh without wasting any more time.

If this experiment proves to be an immense success, it can be replicated in other states in India where wild ungulate herbivores are available in plenty and where fields of farmers are at risk of being destroyed.

Saving the Spotted Indian Leopard is essential :

Leopard Reserves have to be created now as if there is no tomorrow. We need to save the spotted leopard on a 'War Footing' starting from today.

Spotted Leopards have lived in India for more than 1000 years or more. Yet their continued existence is query today because their natural prey has been decimated like young spotted deer, young barking deer, wild pig, etc.

Moreover, Fringe Forests where leopards used to live have been cut down completely and turned into farms or even worse mines.

Conclusion :

Spotted Leopards in Indian Forests are starving today because of Man's Greed. They are confused and have nowhere to go.

Let us extend a helping hand to spotted leopards away from organised poachers and illegal fur traders and help them to live as they are known namely as the 'Prince of Carnivores'.

References and Credits :

1. Thirsty Leopard Cub run over on Highway
     Saturday, Times of India - March 20, 2010.

2. Leopards are new tigers for poachers
    Hindustan Times, Friday June 11, 2010.

3. 69 Leopards die in 8 weeks this year
    Sunday Times of India March 1, 2009.

4. Hunt for Poacher of 6 Leopards in 12 hours
    Times of India Tuesday, January 8, 2008.

5. 27 Leopard Skins seized in 45 days By Avijit Ghosh
    Times of India Friday September 12, 2008.


Sunday, 22 May 2016

Dedication of this Blog

This Wildlife Blog is dedicated to my Mother Mrs Lena D'sa, now deceased who was an avid wildlife lover specially of wild mammals and of Birds to a certain extent.

My Mother taught me the ABC's of wildlife conservation at a young age.

Way back in 2014, My Mother told me to start a Wildlife Blog to promote conservation of Forest Elephants that are found in Tropical Rain Forests in Central Africa and of Savannah Bush Elephants that are found in Savannah Grasslands in East Africa as well as in Southern Africa.

In Addition to all this, she told me to write about Dolphin Conservation regarding various species of Dolphins that live in fresh water rivers and that also live in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean.

She loved Bottlenose Dolphins, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, and Long Snouted Spinner Dolphins in more ways than one.

From the age of 5, My Mother taught me to appreciate Bird Calls of various kinds.

She specially loved the chirping and beauty of Sun Birds and Parrots.

My Mother was not "Internet Savvy" but she had wisdom beyond her ears.

I am so grateful to my Mother for teaching me to appreciate Wild Denizens of various kinds.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

In Memory of my Mother

Today, My Mother Mrs Lena D'sa  passed away peacefully at the age of 77.

She was a passionate wildlife lover and took active interest in Elephant Conservation in Africa and in Asia specially in the countries of Botswana and Kenya.

She also took an active interest in Dolphin Conservation wherever Dolphins are found.

She bought me two books one on Tiger Conservation and one on Elephant Conservation written by Valmik Thapar and Gill Davies respectively.

The Books are called "Tiger the Ultimate Guide" and "Spirit of the Elephant" respectively.

She knew that Elephant Conservation and Tiger Conservation was very close to my heart.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


Introduction :

Chobe National Park is the "Jewel" of Botswana in Southern Africa.

Chobe National Park is best known for its spectacular elephant sightings -- the population is estimated at more than 70,000 elephants today.

Chobe National Park is said to have the highest concentration of elephants in Africa. Concentration of elephants is very high throughout Chobe.

You are sure of one thing in Chobe -- just a brief drive along any of the roads in Chobe  reveals a torn branch, a trumpeting call-- all unmistakable signs that this is "Elephant Paradise".

At Chobe, you can get so close to elephants that you can hear their deep rumblings as they communicate with each other over miles of savannah grasslands.

Because of a large population of 70,000 "Loxodonta Africana" is plentiful and abundant and because of extremely tight restrictions on poaching remarkably tolerant of "Wildlife Tourists".

Elephants living at Chobe are "Kalahari Bush Elephants", the largest in size of all elephant subspecies.

In the dry season, these elephants sojourn in the mighty Chobe River and Linyanti River areas taking advantage of the permanent water in the area; by the end of the dry season the area looks stripped of all nutrients, dry, and very desolate.

When the rains come, the elephants start moving south on a 200 kilometre migration path to the southern reaches of the park.

Now, that it has rained there are lush pools of water in the bush and they can graze on trees and grasses lush from the summer rain.

Once these pools start drying up, these magnificent elephants once again make their way to the permanent waters of the Chobe River.

A sight not to be missed while visiting Chobe National Park is "Hundreds of African Bush Elephants" swimming across the mighty Chobe River from one end to the other.

Conclusion :

Let us do our utmost in supporting the Government of the Republic of Botswana against 'organized poacher gangs' and keep Chobe National Park -- An Elephant Paradise for years and decades to come.