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Happenings in Kanha

In central India, the barasingha has disappeared from all but Kanha National Park. From an estimated three thousand in the early fifties, within a decade, less than a hundred survived. In 1970 the number touched an all time low of 66. Concerted efforts at saving this species have led to the count crossing the five hundred mark. This species of Barasingha known as Cervus duvauceli branderi is found only in Kanha National Park and no where else in the world, and is named after Dunbar-Brander who was a forest officer in the region in the early 1900s.

Dr. George Schaller, wildlife behaviorist, world famous author and conservationist, was the first person to conduct a comprehensive scientific research on tigers, and the place he chose for doing his research was Kanha National Park. The result of his work was the book - The Deer and the Tiger, A Study of Wildlife in India (1967).

Once a tiger cub chased a tracker who managed to scramble up a tree. The cub kept charging at the tree trying to get at him. Even as this drama was being enacted, there was a tiger call. The tracker was startled to see a large tigress with two more cubs. He thought his end had come. Instead, the mother was calling to the cub. When the little one persisted in charging the tree, ignoring the mother's repeated calls, the tigress came to the tree where the tracker was sitting and gave a louder call, as if admonishing the cub. The little fellow then obeyed his mother and quietly followed her, who led all the cubs out of the area. The tracker then took the opportunity to slide down the tree and escape. (H.S.Panwar in his book Kanha National Park: A Handbook)

In 1976 there was an outbreak of rinderpest which lead to the deaths of 52 gaur, 8 sambar and 35 chital.

The Bedi brothers had shot the wildlife movie "Saving the Tiger" in Kanha. Belinda Wright and Sranley Breeden had shot part of the movie "Land of the Tiger" in Kanha - this was a movie made for National Geographic.Wildlife cinematographer Chip Houseman spent more than two years making a movie called " Tigers of Kanha," which was aired as a National Geographic Television Special in 1999 . During his tenure with the tigers of Kanha, he developed a strong passion for their conservation. He had planned to return to India to learn what steps could be taken to ensure the tiger's survival in the wild, but his untimely death in an airplane crash cut short his dreams.

 Forest Rangers Hamil Singh Patavi and Sahadev in January 2004 were given bravery awards by WWF for their commitment to conservation. One day while on patrol in Kanha National Park, Hamil Singh was pounced on by a tiger cub. He fell down to the ground bleeding profusely. Sahadev who was with Hamil quickly picked him up and put him on his cycle, all the while shouting at the cub. In the meanwhile the tiger cub was joined by another, and both the cubs growling followed them for nearly 200 metres. The cubs got distracted when Sahadev threw Hamil's bloodstained trousers on the ground, enabling the human duo to escape.

WWF is working to create a corridor between Kanha National Park and Achankamar Wildlife Sanctuary, some 60 km away so that the tigers of Kanha have space to move. This is necessary to maintain long-term genetic viability.

The task is easier said than done - some 28,000 people in 55 villages live along the Kanha-Achankamar corridor. Together with local partners WWF is working in seven villages closest to the corridor to help reduce people's dependency on the forest.

In March 2005, ten wild dogs were found dead in the buffer zone of Kanha. Cause of death is not known.