A virtual tour of the enthralling landscape of Pench National Park and the diverse inhabitants from the fabled forests of 'The Jungle Book'
Varun Thakkar | Tanya Tiwari Thakkar
Collarwali is the unofficial mascot of Pench National Park, a prolific breeder and a fierce mother who successfully raised litter after litter and contributed to the tiger population in the country. She is seen here with a cub from her litter of 2019.
Nestled in the southern fringes of the Satpura Range, dissected by the meandering Pench river which gives it its name, the Pench National Park is a pristine wildlife habitat that falls within the territorial limits of two states – Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The park was established in 1975 and subsequently declared as the Kanha-Pench Tiger Conservation Unit under Project Tiger in 1992. The park extends well over 758sq.km. Pench is a unique montage of undulating topography, small hills, valleys, large water bodies and islands amid the woods. Pench’s enthralling landscape and its diverse wildlife is what inspired Sir Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book.
The land supports a mosaic of dry deciduous and moist deciduous forests. Teak (Tectona grandis) is the dominant species in the forest. Saaj (Terminalia elliptica), Mahua (Madhuca longifolia), Bhootya (Sterculia urens), Lendia (Lagerstroemia parviflora) and Dhaora (Anogeissus latifolia) are some of the other trees in the region. Wide stretches of scrubland and patches of bamboo add a unique charm to the place.
The meandering Pench river and the infinite lush carpets of grass create a haven for herbivores that accumulate in great numbers. The park is home to around 39 species of mammals, 210+ migrant and resident birds and about 30 species of reptiles. Apart from iconic species like the Dhole, Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard and Indian Grey Wolf, the area is also known for large herds of Indian Gaur, Chital, Nilgai, Sambar and Indian Wild Boar. One can also spot animals such as Sloth Bear, Chousingha, Striped Hyena, Small Indian Civet, Bengal Monitor, Rusty-spotted Cat, Ruddy Mongoose and Indian Rock Python.
Pench is equally a haven for birdwatchers with its large population of avifaunal species. It is very common to spot critically endangered species like the Long-billed Vulture and White-rumped Vulture. Other species of birds that can be seen and photographed here are Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Crested Treeswift, Osprey, Sirkeer Malkoha, Grey Nightjar, Brown Fish Owl, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle and Malabar Pied Hornbill. Migratory birds such as Indian Pitta, Taiga Flycatcher, Jacobin Cuckoo, Ruddy Shelduck and Bar-headed Goose make an annual stop here.
Scroll down to see some of these charismatic individuals in the glorious landscape of Pench.
Friday, 16 April, 2021
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Varun Thakkar is a businessman from Nagpur. His hometown’s serendipitous proximity to tiger reserves, sanctuaries and forests resulted in him making the transition from tourist to award-winning photographer. He won two awards at the Nature inFocus Awards, 2015. He believes that wildlife photography is not only about making a good image or owning great equipment; a deep understanding of the subject’s behaviour is equally important. He posts as @varunthakkar156 on Instagram.
Tanya Tiwari Thakkar is an advocate by profession and works at the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jabalpur. Tanya loves to escape to the jungle now and then and she shares her experiences from her wild sojourns through her words and images. She posts as @aynat_t on Instagram.