Wilderness Days - E15 A Jewel called Kanha

One of the brightest and most dazzling jewels adorning the wild wonders of India, Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh takes your breath away. It happens without fail every time you visit it. The first – and arguably the most exhaustive study till date – on a tiger’s behaviour was carried out by the noted American conservationist George Schaller in 1960, and the area he chose for his 11-month-long research was Kanha.

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      This is a story of the elusive man-eating tigers, whose reign of terror had spread far and wide. In this episode, we will take you close to the heart of the matter – the actual areas where the tigers have gone on an unprecedented killing spree, up-close footage of a major offensive launched for their capture and, of course, eyewitness accounts of a few lucky survivors. Not since the days of Jim Corbett have man-eating tigers gained so much attention as these ones. But there is an unexpected twist in the tale. 

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    Nothing comes quite close to the feeling of seeing an elephant charging at you. Chances are you might not survive — if you do, you’d remember to stay out of the animal’s way. By and large, elephants are the biggest and among the most peaceful animals of the jungle. You let them mind their business and they will not interfere in yours. The occasional news reports about elephants destroying crops in villages situated next to forests are quite true but, here again, we are equally to blame for the attacks.

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    Ranthambore Fort lies within the Ranthambore National Park, adjacent to the town of Sawai Madhopur. The park used to be the hunting grounds of the Maharajahs of Jaipur until the time of India's Independence. It is a formidable fort, having been a focal point of the historical developments in Rajasthan.

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    Here are some undisputed facts: B2 remains the only tiger in the world to have been documented, through photographs and videos, throughout the stretch of his life. First photographed when he was barely 15 days old - being taken away to safety by his mother Mohini – up until 14 years later, just a week before his death in November 2011. During his lifetime, B2 was the focus of at least five television documentaries made by international channels, and his death was prominently mentioned by the national media. Not many tigers – or for that matter, humans – enjoy this kind of attention.

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    Uttarakhand is a state that has a high prevalence of man–leopard conflict. The rate of human–animal conflict cases in Uttarakhand is the highest in the country. The seriousness of the menace can be gauged from the fact that leopards have killed over 600 people, and over 3,100 people have been injured in the last 17 years in the state.

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    It was sometime in 2004 when the roar of the tiger stopped reverberating altogether in Sariska, and the Indian government embarked on an ambitious plan. It was decided to relocate tigers from Ranthambore – another national park in Rajasthan – to Sariska. It was felt that since both Sariska and Ranthambore national parks shared a somewhat similar terrain, the tigers from the latter would accept their new home. In this episode, we find out about the stunning return of tigers to Sariska national park.

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    This episode is dedicated to the heroic struggle of a group of 54 trekkers to stay alive at a height of 19,500 feet. We show you rare footage of the happenings in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.

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    In this episode, we focus on the growing number of confrontations between humans and animals. Whether it’s the tiger, the elephant, or even the highly protected one-horned rhino, each one has suffered in these never-ending confrontations. Besides gripping footage, the special episode also carries viewpoints of some renowned experts.

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    Machli is considered to have been the most photographed tigress in the world. She was featured in a number of wildlife documentaries. Machali, born in 1996 or 1997, was the dominant cub in a litter of three females. She inherited her name from her mother, Machli I, who was named Machli because of a fish-shaped mark on her face.

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    An elephant is normally peaceful by nature and, left to itself, tends to mind its own business. However, at times, a musth elephant – a periodic condition among bull elephants with a continued draining of bodily fluids from its temple glands – poses a major threat to humans.

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    The Rehmankhera tiger, captured from the outskirts of Lucknow after having kept conservationists and locals on tenterhooks for several months, has now successfully spent a couple of years in the wild in the Dudhwa National Park.

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    The Rajasthan Government has decided to create a tiger corridor between its six different wildlife sanctuaries. Once the tiger corridor is created, tigers from one wildlife sanctuary can roam around freely in the other parks undisturbed. According to forest department officials, the area from Kota to Dhopur was considered a corridor for tigers in the past too. The animals used to roam freely between these areas. However, deforestation has changed the situation in recent times. Ranthambore has witnessed a rise in the number of tigers in recent years because of strong conservation efforts. The need to once again create and monitor the corridor has, therefore, become necessary. This will also ensure that human encroachment is avoided.

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    The Dudhwa National Park is a national park in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is located on the Indo-Nepal border in the Lakhimpur Kheri District and has a buffer of reserved forest areas on the northern and southern sides. It represents one of the few remaining examples of a highly diverse and productive ecosystem, supporting a large number of endangered species, obligate species of tall wet grasslands, and species of restricted distribution. The area was established in 1958 as a wildlife sanctuary for swamp deer. Thanks to the efforts of Billy Arjan Singh, the area was notified as a national park in January 1977.

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    Over the centuries, elephants have created distinct routes for themselves. And in many parts of India, the routes now are blocked or totally cut off. It has happened because of one or several reasons — mushrooming of towns, illegal felling of trees, and manifold increase in traffic passing through forest routes.

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    One of the brightest and most dazzling jewels adorning the wild wonders of India, Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh takes your breath away. It happens without fail every time you visit it. The first – and arguably the most exhaustive study till date – on a tiger’s behaviour was carried out by the noted American conservationist George Schaller in 1960, and the area he chose for his 11-month-long research was Kanha.

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    As the title suggests, in this episode we will talk of the celebrity tigers of India – tigers that are known for their special appeal and have had huge fan following.

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    Spread over 625 sq. kilometres, Tadoba National Park has over 60 tigers. It's Maharashtra's first national park, set up in 1955. Once inside the park, the magic of Tadoba envelops you completely. For a newcomer, the first stopover here should be the beautiful Telia lake. Bison, or gaur as it's commonly known, is another specialty of Tadoba.

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    We continue our journey through Tadoba National Park. As the popularity of the park increases and the population of tigers in the park increases, so do the threats of poaching. However, the tribals living in and around the park share a special bond with the tigers in the region. How are the government and park officials, together with locals from the area, fighting to protect this park, its tigers, and all other endangered animals?

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    It's the raging Brahmaputra that comes into spate every year during monsoon – from June to October. That is when it spills its banks and wantonly floods Kaziranga National Park, engulfing everything, and every living being, in its deathly grip. The Middle Brahmaputra Valley is, in fact, one of the rainiest places on earth, and when it rains, it is not unusual for the Brahmaputra to flood the entire park for 5 to 10 days at a stretch. During this period, the entire wildlife of Kaziranga is at the mercy of the mighty river. As the flood water invades the very interiors of the national park, the animals flee for their lives.

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    Many years ago, Jim Corbett had rid the forests of Uttarakhand of man-eating tigers and is still remembered by the locals for his immense conservation work with tigers. In this episode, we are on a journey to understand why man-eating tigers still thrive in the Sunderkhal area of Uttarakhand and how this issue can possibly be resolved in the long run. Till the government, conservationists, and locals can come to an understanding on the solution, the problem persists.

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    Watch the amazing relationship of humans with blackbucks, and how the local community’s love for this wild herbivore has provided the animal the ground to grow even in the desert.

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    Murali Dhar Parashar is an Indian wildlife photographer and painter. A graduate of Rajasthan School of Art, Parashar is often considered Ranthambhore's first son. Born and raised in the towns flanking the forests of the Ranthambhore National Park, Parashar's earliest memories involve treks through the forests to catch glimpses of the elusive tiger. His passion for Ranthambhore and all its inhabitants – quadruped, biped, and stationary – inspired him to start the Ranthambhore School of Art and Wildlife Conservation Society in 1982.

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    During the monsoon, there is a breakdown in communication and infrastructure and there is a greater prevalence of disease. Poachers strike during the monsoon season, taking advantage of bad communication networks and general hardships. This further increases the hardships for the staff. Forests and national parks become vulnerable to attack by poachers.

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    E24 - Against All Odds
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    A first-hand account of how three motherless cubs were successfully trained to survive in the wild. Story of the three cubs of Patur, Madhya Pradesh, who lost their mother. Watch how the Forest Department opened up a school to teach the cubs the ways of the wild.

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    E25 - Against All Odds – Part II
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    We continue the story of the three motherless cubs in Patur, Madhya Pradesh, and how they were protected as they grew up and were trained in the ways of the wild by many from the forest department I the best way they could think of – by keeping them in the forest, their home.

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