Sunday, March 06, 2016

JLR nature walk at Bannerghatta: Nilgais, Bisons and more!

After the wildlife safari the previous evening, residents of Jungle Lodges Bannerghatta nature camp are also taken out on an early morning nature walk next day. Early morning walk in the forest gives different perspective than the afternoon safari. This time we were on foot, inside the herbivore section of the national park. Safari in a jeep/van creates lots of noise and scares birds and other animals as they might move away to safer distance. Walking on foot gives better prospective if we keep quiet.

Guests interested in nature walk assembled at 7 AM. Few binoculars were handed over to guests to take closer look. As soon as we came out, we were greeted by this animal at a distance-it has face of a cow but body of a horse- it is called the Nilgai.

We spotted few more from of Nilgais later in the walk. I think this was the first time I ever noticed Nilgais so close.

Further up the road, we spotted by a lake that had ducks

Next to that was an ant hill- made from mud, water and saliva- these are pretty strong and are often constructed closer to water sources (so if you see an anthill, there is high probability of having water source nearby. If you make any damages (small ones) to it like cutting off the top part, overnight the residents-worker moths will fix it.

Next came our best encounter of the day- the bisons or the Indian gaurs. We spotted a family of Gaurs less than 100 meters from the road in which we were walking. A mighty male Gaur was walking slowly behind the bush trying not to reveal its presence, while a female was rubbing its neck against the tree ferociously. Take a look at the pictures first, we'll continue the conversation after that.

Last time I had seen gaurs from close quarters was 5 years ago at Valparai. [details in this post]. Like how we pet a cow, I was so tempted to go close and scrub the neck of the gaur. But then, moving any close could have triggered their alarm and if they charge, our lives were at risk. We were told that Gaurs do not prefer physical assault- they intimidate the enemy by their sheer size and prefer to avoid a combat. Despite their sheer size, tigers occasionally manage to hunt them- by isolating them from the crowd and inflicting injuries all over the body through repeated attacks. 

They saw us and we saw them. Thankfully they didn't feel any danger from our presence as they were probably used to forest staff and other humans (All animals in the sanctuary are fed regularly by forest department as natural food inside the forest is not always adequate)

We saw another male gaur a little distance away

 Our guide also told us about important flora as and when we cross one.

Deers crossing the road
They were crossing the road comfortably and suddenly sensed our approach, so they stopped to assess the danger. I guess they concluded that it is enough to get out of our way and there is no need to panic and run for life, as they continued their walk after a moment.
We went to the feeding area (feeding was not in progress)- we were told how foot and mouth disease affected many animals and efforts taken to cure it. The Bannerghatta sanctuary has lots of water-bodies and many of them have lotus, lilly and other flowers. A few are known to host crocodiles.

Above: A fruit loved by elephants and gaurs
Below: A lone man walking in forest road
The enclosure also has a few staff quarters where forest watcher, his family and other critical staff stay. See the tree house in below picture.
The nature walk experience is unique to residents of JLR- regular zoo visitors can't enjoy this. I am glad I spent a night at JLR Bannerghatta nature camp and got to witness Bisons and nilgais up close. My stay was courtesy


Yogi Saraswat said...

Great nature tour !!

Ami said...

Nicely captured. That Gaur looks really scary.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Ami and Yogi

divsi said...

Walking safaris are the best. No noise and no engines to scare off animals. Looks like a great natural reserve! :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes. Thanks Divsi

Bushra Muzaffar said...

That's nice of the resort people to have provided you with binoculars. The bison rubbing and scraping the tree is an activity recognized as sign-post marking or territory marking as i had once seen on National Geographic Channel. Well captured through your lens.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Bushra