It is World Elephant Day today and I take this opportunity to showcase to beauty of these magnificent creatures of Mother Nature. They are symbolic from various aspects – be it culture, mythology, religion or just their sheer presence in our forests. The Asiatic Elephants are one of the many shining jewels of wild India.
It’s the end of June and most parks of India are on the verge of closure for monsoons. I started this month with elephants as the focus of my photography in Corbett National Park and then headed off to escort a gang of 3 photographers who were keen to shoot Vijaya (Kankati – the one eyed warrior queen of Bandhavgarh and one of my favorite tigers across forests of India) and her newly born litter of 3 cubs. While the assignment was challenging since the cubs were too small (two and half months old), the patience and perseverance displayed by our team was exemplary and helped us to move closer to our goal day by day.
Am pleased to share some highlights from June before I head off to the high altitude terrains of Ladakh in July with another gang of young enthusiastic photographers.
Published as the featured image of the month in Conservation India
The Sunderkhal village falls in the crucial Kosi river corridor linking Corbett Tiger Reserve to the Ramnagar Forest Division. This landscape constitutes prime tiger and elephant habitat. A population estimation exercise done jointly by the state forest department and WWF-India revealed no less than 13 individual tigers — including breeding tigresses. The All India Tiger Estimate 2010 indicated a density of 14 tigers / 100 sq km in Ramanagar forest division.
Here is a stray tusker being driven away by villagers using a fire fence in the periphery of the village.
Due to the severe fragmentation and human pressures, this corridor experiences severe human-wildlife conflict; in 2010-11, about six people were killed by a tiger, and a ‘man-eater’ was shot dead and then paraded by a jubilant crowd in Sunderkhal, an illegal encroachment established in the 1970s by the then Chief Minister ND Tewari on the Kosi river corridor. Sunderkhal village, along with a number of tourist resorts block the vital tiger and elephant corridor that leads to the Kosi river and the Ramnagar forests beyond — an issue that the state has failed to address. Not only do the tourist resorts physically block the corridor, they engage in many illegal activities including changing the river course, baiting tigers, playing loud music, night safaris etc.