Pench Tiger Reserve by Sahyadri Explorers
A guide to

Pench Tiger Reserve



Introduction

Pench Tiger Reserve is named after the Pench River, which flows from north to south through the Reserve. The Reserve is located in the southern reaches of the Satpura hill range in the Seoni and Chhindwara districts in the Madhya Pradesh State of India. The terrain is undulating, with most of the area covered by small hills, steeply sloping on the sides.

The Reserve is situated in an area that holds a significant place in the natural history of the Central India. The description of its natural beauty, richness in flora and fauna has appeared in numerous wildlife books dating back to the 17th century. Books written in the 19th and early 20th century by famous naturalists like Captain J. Forsyth and Rudyard Kipling�s Jungle Book explicitly present the detailed panorama of nature�s abundance in this tract.

An extensive forest belt extends in three directions, north, east and south, covering forest tracts of Seoni, Balaghat and Nagpur districts. The contiguous forest on the southern side in the Maharashtra state of India, initially notified as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru National Park has been recently included in the Project Tiger network by the same name as this Reserve. A dam was constructed on the Pench river on the southeastern boundary of the Reserve.

The area is crisscrossed by numerous seasonal streams and nullahs. The Pench river flowing through the central line of the Reserve is dry by the April-end but a number of water pools locally known as dohs are found, which serve as waterholes for wild animals. A few perennial springs also exist in this area. However, the water sources are not suitably distributed, hence large area remains unutilised by the wild animals. The Pench reservoir at the center of the Reserve is the only major water source during pinch period.

As the prey concentration is high along the Pench river, tigers usually inhabit this belt. Leopards, though, generally operate in the peripheral areas but are occasionally seen in the deep forests also. Jungle cats are commonly seen. Leopard cats, small Indian civets and palm civets are common but seen rarely.

Wild dogs are commonly seen in packs of up to 15, near Chhedia, Jamtara, Bodanala and Pyorthadi areas of the Reserve. Wild boar is ubiquitous. Sloth bear occupy hilly, rocky out crops and favour mahul bel infested forest. Chinkara is present in very small numbers and is found in open areas around Turia, Telia, and Dudhgaon villages. Jackals are seen occasionally near Tekadi, Alikatta and Chhindimatta villages



Conservation History

Pench Tiger Reserve was created in 1992, becoming the 19th Reserve in the Project Tiger network. The core zone of the Reserve, Pench National Park was created in 1983. This was carved out of the Pench Sanctuary created in 1977 with an area of 449.39 sq. km. The area of the Park is 292.85 sq. km., which is divided almost equally in two districts - 145.36 sq. km. in Seoni and 147.28 sq. km. in Chhindwara. The area in Seoni is all Reserve Forest whereas the area in Chhindwara includes 138.24 sq. km. Reserve forests, 6.26 sq. km. Protected Forests and 2.78 sq. km. revenue land. The buffer zone, 465 sq. km., comprises 333.05 sq. km. of R.F., 102.36 sq. km. of P.F. and 29.59 sq. km. of revenue land. The total area of the reserve is 757.86 sq. km.

Archaeological Richness: None noticeable

Forest Types

South Indian Tropical Moist Deciduous (slightly moist)    -3BC1c
Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Teak Bearing Forests -5AC 1b(iv)
Southern Dry Mixed Deciduous Forest -5AC 3


Main Flora

Teak and its associates moyan, mahua, mokha, skiras, tendu, bija, achar, garari, aonla, bhaman, ghont, baranga, amaltas, kihamali, khair, bhirra, palas. Bamboo occurs sparsely, restricted to some valleys.

Main Fauna

Mammals: Tiger, leopard, jungle cat, leopard cat, striped hyaena, wild dog, wolf, common mongoose, sloth bear, pangolin, spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, nilgai, wild pig and gaur etc.

Reptiles: Freshwater crocodile, Indian chameleon, common krait, Indian rock python, cobra, Indian flap shell turtle, peninsular black turtle etc.

Fishes: padhan, jhunda, sanbal, chalar, dadai, mahur, kunda, mrigal, rohu, calbasu and mahaseer etc.

Management

Sustained protection input of last 17 years has improved the habitat. Nilgai, barking deer and four-horned antelope are increasing.

Relocation of two forest villages, Alikatta and Chedia, from the core zone of the Reserve in 1992 and 1994 to Durgapur and Khairanj has resulted in the vacated areas now becoming grasslands and animals especially spotted deer frequent these places in large number. Pyorthadi meadow, created on the periphery of the reservoir, is a favoured refuge for many species of wild animals during the summer.

A good degree of efforts have been made to create water sources in various parts of the National Park. Due to poor water retention capacity of the soil, anicuts and tanks do not serve the purpose as these water-bodies usually get dry by the end of February. Few hand-pumps and artificial water holes have been created. This has given excellent results to serve as artificial water holes during the summer season, when the water is scarce. It has resulted in enhanced use of those habitats, which were not being utilised by animals earlier.

Protection/ Patrolling Squads:

One patrolling squad has been constituted.

Village Forest Protection Committees

Ninety-nine eco-development committees are striving to take up the additional work of forest protection.

Eco-development

World Bank funded India Eco-development project is in progress. The major components are improved management, village eco-development, and environment education and awareness. 30 Eco-development committees have been taken up for work in the year 1998-99.

Special Projects: A research project, sponsored by W.I.I. on bison is on.

Control of Buffer Since May 1995, the Pench Sanctuary in the buffer has been brought under the control of the Reserve management. The remaining areas of the buffer are under the management of South Seoni Territorial Divisions, and East Chhindwara and South Chhindwara Territorial Divisions.

Constraints

Staff: There were 24 vacancies as on 1.7.98 against the sanctioned strength of 47 guards.

Funds: Generally the funds are released late.

Infrastructure: Inadequate

Grazing: In the core area, grazing is common in the Chhindwara district, and near Turia and Khamrith villages in Seoni district. Grazing is very severe in most of the buffer areas.

Fire:

Fire is not common in the reserve.
Fire Incidences
Year Cases No. Area in Hectare
19921070
1993365
199416280.5
19952125
1996324
1997560
1998110


Poaching of Fauna and Flora

The only serious problem is of illicit fishing in the reservoir.

YearNo. of CasesPoaching (Wildlife)
19922Chital-1, Sambar-1
19931Sambar-2
19943Sambar-1, Chital-1
19955Tiger-2, Chital-2, Blue Bull-1, Sambar-3
19966Wildpig-4, Tiger-2
19971Chital-3, Blue Bull-1, Sambar-1
19982Tiger-1, Bison-2


Human Population: Presently there is no human population in the core. Growing populations pose a serious threat to the forest in the buffer areas.

Livestock Population: There is no livestock population in the core. Heavy populations of unproductive livestock cause suppression of seedlings and regeneration of plants in the buffer. In the last five years, livestock population has multiplied four times from 257 to 1030.

Criminals and Extremists Fishermen at the reservoir are indulging in criminal activities, threatening the staff engaged in patrolling. In 1997, fishermen attacked a patrolling party and injured 2 guards and 4 daily wage labourers.

Highways No state or national highway passes through the core area. National Highway No.7 passes along the border of the Pench Sanctuary in the buffer. A number of accidents of wild animals take place due to vehicles plying during the night.

Diseases Sporadic incidences of foot and mouth diseases, Haemorrhagic septicemia and black quarters are detected. Prophylactic immunization is undertaken with the help of the local Veterinary Department.

Encroachment: No encroachment reported.

Others

Weeds: In most of the areas in Chhindwara district which are open to grazing as well as some parts of Tikari and Ambari beats, the ground is devoid of grasses and regeneration. In Chhindwara area, the land is infested with Cassia tora and Xanthium strumarium while in Tikari, Chhedia, Alikatta and Ambari beats, Lantana camara has spread over large areas. Spread of Parthenium is tremendous in the submergence area in the recent past.

Conflicts

Man-Animal
With the increase in animal population, crop depredation in the villages around the core is increasing. Effort is being made to control the damage under the India Eco-development Project. Occasionally, cases of cattle-lifting by tigers are reported, especially near Gumtara village, and regular livestock lifting by leopards near the periphery of the core area are reported.

Man-Forest
The people of Gumtara, Jamtara and Kokiwada are dependent on the forest for their daily needs i.e. fuel, fodder and non-timber forest produce resulting in hampering of regeneration of forest growth.

Action Points

Woody encroachment of grasslands by Palas, Lendia and Saja along with other weeds need treatment.

Early settlement of the fishing rights of 305 fishermen and regular patrolling of the reservoir with fast moving boats.

Unified control of the entire buffer zone.

Tourism

Pench is ideally situated for tourism, being only 12 km. away from Khawasa on N.H. 7 between Nagpur and Jabalpur. Khawasa is 81 km. from Nagpur and 193 km. from Jabalpur.
Year-wise Tourists

YearTourists
1991-921196
1992-933579
1993-94781
1994-95841
1995-96981
1996-97973
1997-98988


General Information

Area: 757.85 sq. km.
Core: 292.85 sq. km.
Buffer: 465.00 sq. km.
Longitude: 79007�45� E to 79022�30� E
Latitude: 21037�N to 21050�30� N
Altitude: 580-675 m. above msl.
Rainfall: 1397 mm.
Temperature:    Minimum: 30C ,Maximum: 470C
Seasons:
Summer: March to mid-June
Monsoon: mid-June to September
Winter: December to February


Census

Estimation of Animal Population

Species1990199119921993 1994 199519961997
Chital 1473 2630 3452 3908 6666 5547 6300 6800
Sambar 830 1395 1810 1843 2237 1752 1850 2221
Nilgai 256 673 817 867 1353 1272 1200 1384
Barking deer 283 317 369 488 512 281 280 334
Chausingha 59 118 128 190 199 63 80 177
Gaur 125 303 360 418 438 363 385 528
Chinkara NA 21 25 32 34 44 50 58
Leopard 11 13 17 15 15 11 16 32
Tiger 25 25 27 28 28 27 33 41




Our visit to Pench



It was the great experience in Pench. We started our journey from Nagpur on December 23, 2004 at 1000 hrs. We hired Tata Sumo jeep for this mission. Within one and half hour we reached to the place called Turia Gate(near to Avarghani). This place is about 12 km away from Nagpur-Jabalpur highway.

This is one of the entrance gates for tourists. Here Forest department has a check post. They use to check the vehicle and allot pass for watching jungle.

Here we have to follow some rules strictly.
  1. We can�t walk on the roads of forest.
  2. No horn
  3. Hunting is NOT allowed
  4. Night driving through forest is not allowed
  5. Use of polythin in forest is not allowed
  6. Use of Tape in jungle is not allowed
  7. Two wheelers are not allowed
  8. One guide is compulsory for one vehicle.

Apart from these rules the forest is open for tourists from morning 0600 hrs to 1100 hrs and then from 1430 hrs to 1730 hrs. Within this time limit you have to checkout once at one of the gates. You have to pay entrance fees as well as charges for using cameras. Forest remains close from 1st July to 30th September. The excellent facilities are available here. But you have to hire those. They are as follows..
  1. Tiger show facility
  2. Jungle track using open jeep (four wheel drive)
  3. Elephant tracking
  4. Night stay near to Jungle + Lunch and Dinner


If you have your own vehicle, it�s good. There are lots of traveling agencies which provides vehicles. You can hire it from Khavasa village. Apart from Forest Department some private resorts are also active in this area. They also provide you open jeeps(four wheel).

The most enjoyable part of this track is Tiger spotting. It is a more of less luck that you spots a Tiger. As Jungle area is vast and number of Tigers are less the probability of finding Tigers is quite less. Still there are some zones, which are well known to guides, where Tigers can be spot easily. Other animals are easy to spot in the Jungle.







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