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Stone Pelting on Tiger Cubs :Kanha Pench Corridor Becomes Conflict Zone

 Two tiger cubs- less than 6 month old- escaped the fury of a 5000 strong mob in a village located in Kanha-Pench corridor . Villagers tried to kill them by pelting stones when the cubs had reached a water body to quench their thirst. This issue  has highlighted again the plight of the fragmented tiger corridors. It also reminds the urgency to restore their sanctity. People Shouted Kill the Cubs Kill the Cubs  Wildlife is most vulnerable during summer, due to scarcity of resources. Water is the key limited resource inside jungles . Special monitoring ofwater holes should be carried out all along the corridors, to effectively deter such incidents, poaching of herbivores and poisoning of tigers and othercarnivores. In the scorching summer, the two cubs also reached a nearby waterbody . In the adjacent forest , the villagers were plucking tendu leaves- a minor forest produce  to  roll beedi , a thin cigarette or mini-cigar filled with tobacco flake and commonly wrapped in a tendu leaf. Th

Bird Festival Begins in Bhigwan


Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary (BBS) has come alive in a riot of colours. Thousands of resident and migratory birds have flocked the backwaters of the Ujani dam built downstream of river Bhima. For years, flamboyance of flamingos has been attracting a large number of tourists . The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread and largest species of the flamingo family. It is found in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and in southern Europe. As the birds stand on the pink lanky legs,  wildlife photographers click in frenzy to  catch the  best of the moves made by  them. Local guides call flamingo the “tiger” of Bhigwan as most of the people come here especially for this bird.

Charm of B&W : Black Headed Ibis 

Vying for the attention of the tourists, there are over 300 species of birds - both residents and migratory- in Bhigwan. Winter beckons birds' migration  to the backwaters of the dam as they  chirp, cheep , sing, shriek hoot and make all sorts of noise. More birds fly down in November and their  numbers go to thousands in December  onwards . 

There are black headed Ibis, painted storks , osprey, wooly  necked stork  ,red necked ibis .The  list goes on. The black-headed ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus) is a species of wading bird of the ibis family Threskiornithidae which includes 34 species of large wading birds. The species is a widespread breeding bird in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar. It is a very versatile  bird being able to use a large variety of natural and man-made habitats. Including freshwater and salt-water marshes, lakes and ponds, as also rice fields and even open sewage gutters, ornithologists said.

Eurasian: Born Wih a Golden-tip Spoon  

Another beautiful bird from the family of Threskiornithidae is the eurasian or common spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) , easily identified by its large, spoon-like bill . It is also a wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family  . The breeding bird is all white except for its dark legs, black bill with a yellow tip, and a yellow breast patch like a pelican. It has a crest in the breeding season.

Mesmerising Painted Stork 

The painted stork ( Mycteria leucocephala) is recognised by its riot of colours. It is a large wader in the stork family and  found in the wetlands of the plains of tropical Asia south of the Himalayas in the Indian subcontinent and extending into Southeast Asia. Their distinctive pink tertial feathers of the adults give them their name.

Bharatpur of Maharashtra

As Bhigwan becomes a hotbed of migratory birds,  it is often referred to as the “Bharatpur of Maharashtra”.  About 100 kms from the bustling metro of Pune, Bhigwan is at one end of the huge Yashwant Sagar reservoir, forming the backwaters of the Ujani dam. Spread across 357 square kms , the backwater has several designated bird-watching points where one can hire a boat. These can be accessed through the villages of Diksal and Kumbhargaon, both within 10 km of Bhigwan. A boat safari on the backwater is the best way to see the wetland birds.

December to March is when migratory bird numbers peak. However, growing human activities, unchecked cultivation, cattle grazing and mindless tourism activities have  also had their effect on the  sanctuary. A study says their combined effect increased the stress on the breeding and nesting of River Tern, a local migratory bird that visits Bhigwan annually during the summer months.

The Lord of Sky

Bhigwan also hosts the peregrine falcon, fastest  on the planet. With its formidable talons, it is a powerful and fastest predator. Akshay Gaware, a local guide, naturalist and photographer said  Bhigwan is  bird watchers' paradise . "This is the festival created by nature  and we must all work to protect the winged  visitors  reaching the waters of Bhigwan".  

Images Courtesy: Akshay Gaware and Milin Karandikar  


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