- Sujay Jamkhandi
Experience serenity in the smallest tiger reserve of India
In India, when we talk about wildlife, places like Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, Bandipur, Tadoba, Corbett and few others spring up to the mind. These places are really amazing locations to spend time with nature and wildlife and are blessed with varying habitats, flora and fauna adding a unique charm to every forest in their own way. Over a period time these places have become quite commercialized and are major contributors to the wildlife or eco-tourism industry.
Located right in the middle of India, Nagpur can possibly be called as the “Tiger capital of India” as it acts as a connectivity hub to multiple tiger reserves of India such as Kanha, Pench, Tadoba, Nagzira, Bandhavgarh and others. Yet, located at just 65 kms from Nagpur is a tiger reserve that is very less frequented by wildlife enthusiasts – Bor Tiger Reserve.
History and the establishment
The guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change specifies that a minimum of 800-1,000 sq km of area is required to provide the required ecological supports for tiger survival. Bor has an area of just around 130 sq. kms. Due to having a relatively small area, the Maharashtra Forest Department had earlier deemed it to be too small to be declared as a tiger reserve. The National Tiger Conservation Authority however bent its own guidelines and declared Bor as a Tiger Reserve on 7 July 2014.
One of the key reasons for it being established as a tiger reserve was due to it being centrally located around other tiger reserves, thus forming a wildlife corridor for the movement of the animals. It was thus notified as a tiger reserve with an aim to strengthen the conservation efforts of the national animal. The Bor Tiger Reserve was established as the 47th tiger reserve in India and the 6th Tiger Reserve of Maharashtra.
Bor today forms a corridor with other tiger habitats such as –
Pench Tiger Reserve in the Northeast
Nagzira Navegaon Tiger Reserve in the East
Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary and Tadoba – Andhari Tiger Reserve in the Southeast
Melghat Tiger Reserve in the West
Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve in the northwest
Image Source https://wardha.gov.in/en/tourist-place/bordharan/
The state government has since approved a 661 sq km buffer area, which will enable the reserve to meet the Guidelines of NTCA. Further, the Bor Tiger Reserve and some adjacent protected areas are proposed to be merged with Pench Tiger Reserve as a Satellite core area, to more than double the area and allow ideal habitat for tigers dispersing from the source area of Pench.
Meet the local celebrity
Female tigers on an average deliver a litter of 3-4 cubs approximately once every 2 years and overall 12-14 cubs during lifespan. Breaking this pattern however is the resident dominant tigress – Katrina, a celebrity tigress now, who is breaking barriers and has given birth to 13 cubs over the last 4 years. A tigress in prime, is she survives through to the average lifespan of the tiger, she is likely to break the current record of Collarwali, a popular tigress from Pench tiger reserve who has given birth to 27 cubs till date.
As you may have guessed, she was named after Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif because the local guides felt she had similar beautiful eyes and very graceful face. She has been sighted regularly in the reserve and is a popular tigress to photograph for many wildlife photographers today.
Here is a snap of my sighting of the tigress Katrina who also happens to be my first big cat sighting in the wild 🙂
The local celebrity tigress – Katrina
There are couple of options for stay near the tiger reserve – The government owned MTDC resort and the Bor Wildlife Sanctuary Interpretation Centre and tourism complex operated by the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra Limited
You can book the accommodation through the below official websites –
Bor Eco Tourism Complex – http://www.fdcm.nic.in/Bor-Resort.aspx
MTDC Resort – https://mtdcrrs.maharashtratourism.gov.in/Account/Login.aspx. Note: You need to create an account to make a booking
My Stay Experience
The MTDC resort oversees the Bor Dam providing a good landscape view of the forest. However, my personal recommendation is to stay at the Interpretation Centre and Tourism complex. The facility is located close to the forest entry gate. Women from the neighboring village stay at the property during the day time to prepare food for the guests and return back to their homes after the dinner is served. I have stayed at the tourism complex every time I have visited this place and have always been happy with the food and the hospitality provided. Located close to the Bordharan safari gate, you can often hear the alarm calls or movements of animals during the night which acts as a bit of thrill for the visitors. In fact, I have once just missed a tiger sighting by a few minutes right at the property gate. On hearing the alarm calls from the spotted deer one night, we headed out with our torches to the gate to try and see if anything was visible from there. The pitch darkness however made it quite difficult to track. The next day we set out for our morning safari and just 5 mins after our jeep left the property, a tigress crossed the road in front of the property gate. On another occasion, I had similarly heard strong alarm calls of the spotted deer along the property walls.
To reach the Bor Tiger Reserve, one can first reach Nagpur and then take the Nagpur-Wardha State Highway. At Seloo, turn north to reach Hingni. From Hingni you can directly reach the visitor center at Bor.
By Air: Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur, is about 60 kms away
By Railways: The nearest railhead, Wardha, is about 35 km away
By Road: The Hingni bus stand is about 5 km away. Buses arrive from and depart to Bor frequently here.
Experience the wildlife safari
There are two safari starting point in Bor, Bordharan safari gate and Adegaon safari gate. You can book the online tiger safari for Bor tiger reserve from the official Maharashtra tourism website. The reserve remains closed every Monday for Tourism. So plan your safari bookings accordingly. The exact safari timings depends on the season and typically are for a 3 hour duration, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Black Shouldered Kite
The Flora and Fauna
The reserve is predominantly a dry deciduous forest. Teak, ebony, bamboo are some of the abundant species of flora seen here.
Being a tiger reserve, Bor is of course famous for sighting the Bengal Tiger and currently houses about 16 of them. Apart from the tiger, the Indian leopard, bear, nilgai, sambar, chital, langurs, gaur are some of the predominant mammal species living here.
The reserve is also home to around 160 bird species which includes 10 migratory bird species and 9 species of endangered birds.
The reserve also houses Bor dam, is an earth fill dam on Bor River that cuts across the forest. The grasslands adjoining the river are a hotspot for sighting the mammals and birds.
A honey buzzard
The beautiful – Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Indian Roller – The state bird of Odisha, Karnataka and Telangana states in India
A langur enjoying nectar from a flower
Best time to visit
If sighting a big cat is your primary objective, then the peak summer months of April and May are the best time to visit the tiger reserve. Due to the soaring temperatures, the big cats often head towards the water sources to hydrate themselves and also to cool their bodies. This presents the best opportunity to see them. Do note that the peak summer temperatures hover above 40 degrees Celsius and thus if visiting during this period, you also need to also take appropriate precautions to protect yourself from the heat.
If you would like to enjoy the forest and not just aim at seeing the big cats, the winter season is ideal as it would be more pleasant and also chances of seeing few migratory birds are better.
I have made my bookings at Bor through my friend and safari guide – Mr. Manoj Lakhe who works as a guide and also operates safari vehicles in the tiger reserve. He is a very friendly and really knowledgeable person who will try his best to track and sight the mammals especially the big cats. Just a phone call and he will make all the arrangements needed – local travel from Nagpur, Safari booking, accommodation booking. He will provide you the booking receipts so you don’t have to worry about being misled on the cost or anything else. 🙂
If you wish to visit a lesser frequented forest, enjoy the abundant wildlife in Bor, you can call Manoj (+91 9923353631) and mention my name as a reference. He would be more than happy to manage your visit to the tiger reserve and make sure you have a memorable experience. 🙂
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