Rangers Lodge, Best Homestay in Corbett Tiger Reserve

Imrans Jungle Home in Corbett

   Jun 18

The Ranger’s Lodge & Corbett in Monsoons

12 17 28 37 161-6180_IMG Great Indian Pitta IMG_1183 IMG_1476 IMG_1796 IMG_1952 IMG_7696 IMGP0764 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA stork billed kingfisher

In the last few months most of you have enjoyed your stay at The Ranger’s Lodge not because of just tiger darshan but for an experience beyond & more than tigers at The Ranger’s Lodge.  In fact, I too enjoyed your excitement and thrill that was always written all over on your return from the jungle. I must thank Anushree, daughter of Rajani Iyer for guiding the gypsy to a route, which fetched us all a great tigress sighting in the morning of 12th June and since then the park has been closed because of early onset of monsoons, not only in Corbett but the entire country got covered in a span of 48hrs.  It has caused a disaster in Uttarakhand especially Uttarkashi. Ramban has been worst affected.  I am sure you have all been watching the news where buildings have come collapsing into Ganges and Alaknanda—- and so on.

Next few months are going to be drastically different.  Rains in the hilly terrain of Corbett play havocs and leave hardly anything in the name of road network besides breeding of the herbivore species gets triggered at the onset of first few showers and consequently the park is closed for nearly four months till the new road network is created. But this period would also bring a major worry and concern for the park. Yes, Monsoons is the most vulnerable time for the park and this is the period when anti-social elements are bent upon damaging nature in various ways.  Tourism as an important conservation tool keeps check on illegal activities and without it the entrants with bad intentions go unchecked.

Closing the park has ecological significace, no doubt as it provides undisturbed period for the wildlife but limited presence of visitors in the vicinity also acts as deterrent to anti – social elements. The Jhirna tourism zone, next to The Ranger’s Lodge is now opened for the whole year.

The villagers are busy planting either paddy or soybean crops, as the extent of rains determine as to which of these two will be planted.  There are rutting calls of stags all over the forest.  There are biting insects and mosquitoes all around and especially in the dense vegetation forcing animals to take refuge in the open areas especially in the plantations and on the highways.  The sightings of the animals are great in the open areas during safaris but the visibility gets reduced in the forested areas, as the denseness in vegetation has increased manifold.  Most of the smaller birds are also breeding at this time and in a few weeks from now mother and chicks would be a common sight.  The Nullahs and other water courses cutting across the forest roads and highways are in full flow causing the spread of boulders, stones and soft mud on the roads and many a times flash floods are highly aggressive.  One should be prepared for road blockages and pulling the gypsies out (even the 4WD fails here!) of this rut.

The profuseness in the ground vegetation gives rise to a plethora of insects, also the biting ones, which in turn give opportunities to insectivorous birds to breed.  During the safaris the feel of the forest is deeper.  The sightings in the grasslands are better.  Also animals take refuge in Eucalyptus at this time since Eucalyptus does not allow ground vegetation to flourish hence no insect to bite the herbivores.

Monsoon is the time of festivities for almost all the ungulates found in Corbett such as deer, boars and antelopes, as their breeding gets triggered with first few showers of rains.  The rutting calls have already been on for few weeks and the males are busy displaying their smartness by getting their antlers garlanded with vegetation all around.  Except barking deer all other species are busy forming their harems.  The fighting males display their dominance with their antlers locked.  This is one of the commonest sights at this time.  Once the female is crossed by the dominant male then she gets separated from the harem and waits for the birth of a solitary fawn for 4-7 months.  Barking deer do not make harem, as they are monogamous.  The loud rutting by the males is heard from a distance.

Monsoon is also the time when the denseness in vegetation leads to the breeding of insects.  The biting insects always disturb the herbivores forcing them to take refuge in the open areas for their various biological activities.

Solitary elephant tuskers will start fighting for showing their dominance to protect a harem of females.  During the monsoons herds of elephants with dominant male in the centre will move together in search of fodder.  Jhirna tourism zone, which is open all the year round will have great sightings of elephant herds.  Solitary Makhanas also try to join the female herds but they are not welcomed.

Tigers have no fixed breeding time and they may breed anytime of the year depending upon the availability of prey and water.   There is enough cover for stalking for the two big cats but even they suffer from the biting insects & mosquitoes.  Plenty of water all around will keep them cool during sultry weather.  Because of denseness in vegetation and good water availability, tiger sightings go down but the walking safaris in the vicinity would definitely fetch better tiger sightings than jeep safaris.

The lushness in vegetation brings in loads of changes in the habitat structure and function thereby inducing many bird eggs to start hatching.  Quails, patridges, pheasants, raptors, owls, parakeets, barbets, etc. are seen with their chicks in the beginning of the season while many of the cuckoos are busy finding other bird nests to lay their eggs for raising their families and their calls go down in intensity.

This is also the time to look for new nests on the trees as well as ground.   Eurasian thick-knee, one of the most conspicuous birds on the ground, and Red wattled lapwing are busy diverting the attention of Jackals approaching towards their nest by putting a wing under one of its feet depicting altruistic behavior.

With the first few showers of rains, burrows of snakes get filled up with soft mud and the serpents come out and become active.  Maximum sightings of king Cobra and pythons occur at this time.  Already there have been few sightings of King Cobra in Jhirna tourism zone.

Overall speaking monsoon is the best time to visit Corbett for its unique vistas in terms of changes in vegetation and the activities of the animals associated with it.  I have always recommended more walking safaris, so come prepared for splashing water while wading through numerous monsoonal streams on the walking safaris.

Thanks and regards Imran Khan

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