Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hyper Loop Vs. Dead Loop of Traffic!





“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”… Paulo Coelho.

No need to introduce Paulo Coelho, the Noble prize writer, probably the most famed in our era (2000) & it’s his above quote from The Alchemist which I remembered when I started reading the news about one such dream Hyper-loop! And looking at the way we the common men has been shown the dreams by our rulers (read govt), I felt like modifying Coelho’s quote a bit (keeping due respect to him), “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve & that is seeing another dream”! Well, I am not saying this sarcastically, no that’s not something which a hard core Nagpurian can do, though it comes easily to a Punekar (and let me tell that’s a good quality if used effectively), and I really mean it! As when its city development, well this aspect covers many things, right from affordable housing to twenty four hours water supply to public transport to good pot holes-less roads & many such, our rulers loves to show that they are really doing something great for the citizens. And then on this front showing dreams is very important as unless you show us dreams, how we will vote you! 

If you see the recent dreams on the front of public transport, then earlier there was BRTS (we all know what has happened to it), then there was Monorails, then there was HCMTR (high capacity mass transport route), then there was River transport (that was real funny) & then lastly it was Metro. Indeed Metro is very much real as work has been started though its viability & affordability is being questioned & since the day of announcement it’s in lime light for good & bad reasons. The work of Metro is going on two routes & many more routes are in planning as well the destinations keeps on changing, yet at least some work is on finally. Though if someone can remember, let’s try to recollect first date of the dream showed to us named Metro i.e. announcement date! I am sure it’s nearly ten years back & now this year the work has started & looking at speed with which we complete our public works (engineering college fly over or karve nagar fly over or empire estate fly over in PCMC are few legendary names in this list) then the target of Metro completion date is a big question mark. Especially when the Metro route from river bed is in controversy & so is the Metro terminal at west end of the city i.e. on paud road. Well, good thing is govt is keen on implementing Metro & doing every possible effort (even to bend the policies of bio diversity park) to make Metro a reality & seems is ready to pay the cost on front of biodiversity/ environment damage to the city. But then the fight between developments vs. environment was, is & will be always on, just like in super hero movies fight of good & bad is always on. With due respect our own definitions of good & bad, keeps on changing is a bitter fact. As the very govt who doesn’t take any decision about BDP on hills can make exception for Metro & allow construction on hills as well the nature lovers (environmentalist is so much over used term as well its taboo for many) don’t want any construction on hills, along river as well in green belts but don’t have any solution to protect these spaces from encroachments & turns blind eye on existing slums or illegal constructions which like a cancer killing every open space in the city! I don’t say that govt is not on fault & its job of the nature lovers to stop such encroachment but then to provide a logical win-win solution to achieve the wanted outcome on conservation of biodiversity front is also a part of so called nature love. Instead to demand ban entire construction or don’t give any TDR for any such BDP can’t be the solution is also a fact, especially looking at the history of city’s growth! 

The newly formed PMRDA has taken lead in hyper-loop development which will connect Pune & New Mumbai (as of now). Won’t take reader’s time about giving technical details about hyper-loop as that’s available on internet,  yet one thing is till today nowhere in the world  this technology has come in commercial functioning & even up to 2021, only a ten kilometer trial track will come in existence & then fate of the entire project will be decided. Also financial feasibility is something the govt will look in & agreed with growing population of our country & increase in numbers of vehicles (private of course) no roads will be enough  to carry the traffic is what we are witnessing in & around our Pune city. And one more thing, I am not in opposition of hyper-loop or any other new technology which is being used for the growth yet I have few points to put forward in this aspect. We proudly build express-way to connect Pune to Mumbai & for last nearly eighteen years after this expressway has come in operation look at its utility, indeed the time has saved for the length of the expressway which is some eighty of kilometers but what is happening before & after both ends of expressway? It takes nearly an hour or more time to reach to start of the expressway from Pune side & same is the case when you enter in Mumbai & travelling towards any destination in Mumbai. The length of expressway hardly takes any time to cover but issue is with city traffic. And then look at the accidents happened on expressway & lives it has taken in these eighteen years which clearly indicates the negligence of authorities on the safety aspect of such means of transportation! Then we are looking at the numbers of commuters travelling between Pune & Mumbai & working out need or viability for technology like hyper-loop but why not there have been efforts to use the existing expressway or railway more effectively?  Won’t it be in much lesser spending as well the hyper-loop will take at least six to seven years to come in existence after its successful trial run, what till then? Why can’t we arrange to run more numbers of public transport vehicles on the express way as well increase numbers of trains when we acknowledge the potential for the traffic on this route?

Then one more aspect is with so many NGO’s as well media shouting all the time to increase safety measures on expressway why can’t we provide very basic things like strong barricading all along the length of express way as well dividing opposite lanes? Because most of the accidents are due to over speeding vehicles losing control & banging on other vehicles or entering in opposite lanes! The signage, speed guns, enough patrolling as well road conditions like thing follows later which is part of the measure needed to be taken to reduce the number of accidents on the expressway. Also equally important is ever ongoing awareness drive about safe driving among the expressway users, which is totally missing. Looking at history, our approach towards safety in transportation has been always a matter of concern, may it be road ways, railways or even air ways! In a country where over million people dies in various accidents in all modes of communication this makes me doubt our ability (not engineering but attitude) to build something so high-level technology where safety aspects also will be required to be taken care with equal precision. And this is what my main concern about technology like hyper-loop is; as if we can’t make a basic road like expressway safe then what assurance we can give for safe travel with speed of some thousand kilometers per hour type technology! At the same time keeping this track safe will also be a real challenge as look what happens to our railways or even expressway where anybody (including stray animal) can walk on the track causing serious damage to the commuters’ lives.

And I really appreciate PMRDA’s proactive role on hyper-loop front yet on the very same day when all new paper’s front page was covering hyper-loop news, on some inside page there was a news which goes un-noticed & that was about Hinjewadi (a suburb of Pmc-PCMC which is in PMRDA jurisdiction) residents who has filed petition for “Livable Infrastructure”! Its Hinjewadi which boasts world class IT companies head quarters in & around this region & thus it has become fastest growing locality where people from all over country are coming to settle down. And it this area which has no civic infrastructure, traffic congestion as well poor road network & road conditions is one of the biggest concerns. Its pity that the region which hosts world class companies’ workplaces & generates maximum revenue for the govt (I am considering all agencies PMRDA, PMC, PCMC, Urban Development) residents of such locality has to file petition for their basic needs & every such agency which is taking pride for making the dreams like Metro or Hyper-loop true turns blind eye towards this reality which the residents are living everyday & not dreaming! It’s said that the Metro will be costing some 11,000.00 crore rupees of which work has started already as well the entire costing of hyper-loop project is estimated to be around 3,00,000.00 crores of rupees (pardon me for the figure, as its too big even to write). On the top of it this very govt (not current but past & present govt is what I meant) is & was promising about airport for last nearly ten years yet the debate about even finalizing location & its acquisition is on. 

This is what makes me frustrated, I am not against any new technology & sure no sane person will be but any new technology is tried when existing resources are exhausted & tried or it’s followed on parallel basis of other possible options. What sucks with our system is we are busy in just diverting common mans mind from the existing problems by showing him new dreams, this has to be stopped! What has been done to solve city’s traffic problems as if the govt is so sensitive about traffic on Pune-Mumbai route then whose responsibility it is to look what’s happening to traffic on all major roads of Pune city itself? If we are ready to spend thousands of crores rupees for some hyper-loop then why we can’t spend just some hundred crores of these rupees for making every single road in & around Pune & its suburbs, in good condition first? Also why there is so much delay in making existing public transport system to function at fullest & support the same by funding for its needs like, busses, depot lands as well bus stops type infra? Rather this govt cant even give a full time able officer to PMPML (PMT, Pune’s public transport co.), I am saying this with due respect to every officer in the system as when Mr. Tukarm Munde, chief of PMT has been transferred before completing his tenure, on this when asked Hon Chief Minister replied, Nashik (where Mr. Munde has been transferred) also deserves able officer! I have lots of respect for our CM for his maturity & wisdom, but sometimes even wise men lose the track! Because Mr. CM, do you mean that there are just few capable officers are remaining in your system & if so then do you think Pune’s public transport as well traffic management doesn’t need any able officer now or you don’t have one such to be appointed here as this directly, means you don’t care about Pune & PCMC’s traffic or public transport, which is gravest situation in entire State? Agreed, there are issues like farmers suicides but look at the direct & indirect deaths happening on roads of Pune region, the figures are equally important as that of suicides of the farmers, is all I wanted to put forward!

High time our rulers should understand that showing dreams is good way to earn power through voting machines but finally it’s your actions & attitude what you do with your power, is what decides fate of that power, just do mind this fact & accept my best wishes for dream named Hyper-Loop!

Sanjay Deshpande 

-- 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Forest, Teacher of Patience!









“A forest is a living thing like a human body...each part dependent on all the other parts. A forest needs its birds, its beaver...all its animals and plants. The forest gives shelter to the birds, but they repay the debt with the insects they eat, the droppings they leave, the seeds they carry off to plant elsewhere. The beaver builds dams for himself, but the dams keep water on the land, and although the beaver cut trees to use and to eat, their ponds provide water for the trees during the hot, dry months....Listen, and you can hear the forest breath.”  Louis L'Amour.

Louis Dearborn L'Amour was an American novelist and short story writer. His books consisted primarily of Western novels; however, he also wrote historical fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, as well as poetry and short-story collections. I am fan of Western movies & the dry arid terrain it portrays & yet it’s the original residents of those plateau i.e. Red Indians who were very close to forests which is direct form of nature. And that’s why no western story teller can keep away from nature & L’Amur is also no exception to this rule. His above quote tells the story of life cycle in forest in least of words & yes how I love to live them by being in forest!

“We tracked her till here, it was toiling full day safari & we went through that route at least 5 times & seen her pug marks all along on the dusty route, could feel her presence around, yet it needed that timing & luck on our side to capture & then you see a tigress sitting on road & resting after a tiered long walk! Friends, in forest we all are eager to see a tiger & I am not exception, but the real thrill or excitement is in looking for these pug marks on dusty road, alert ears trying to catch alarm calls of sambhar, langoor, spotted dear even that of peacock or barking dear & eyes scanning green around for those yellow black stripes & suddenly while you are chasing the pug marks fresh on the road ahead, there she is, sitting right on the road, looking straight in your eyes, telling you, I will show myself only when I feel, that's what a tiger is in the forest!”

And that’s how the Bandhavgarh magic unfolds in front of your eyes rather all your senses! This is how my encounter with tiger in Bandhavgarh was & the trip has started! The first thing you notice in Bandhavgarh is not the towering massive cliffs of Badhavgarh fort, visible from most part of the park but very existence of tigers & lots of them. You see pug marks, fresh on the thick dust over tire marks of gypsy’s, you can hear alarm calls of all the animals mentioned above & of birds like peacock too, its fall winter & ground is covered with teak wood’s fallen leafs & you can hear silent paws walking on them & the crackling sounds of leafs under those paws, you can inhale stench of kill here & there & the vulture wandering up in the sky confirms location of the kill & you know yes here is a forest where tigers roam in abundance! This is what MP tourism boasts off, Land of Tigers! Though let me warn you yet it takes your lucky day to sight even a tiger as in my last trip here, two years back in peak summer, it was like raining tigers all around us. So when I get an invite from my friend sunil yadav, “sir aap panna aa rahe ho to yah bhi aa jao” ie sir you are coming to Panna which is very near, then do drop in at Bandhavgarh”, I couldn’t stop myself to decline the invite. It just like a drunkard passing from a bar & gets dragged inside by the neon sign display of the bottle, somewhat similar. Many won’t like the analogy yet a diehard forester can understand what I meant about the invite from a nearby forest on way from where you are passing by!
Before I start with Bandhavgarh sharing, one a must to see place from Panna is vulture point; indeed many of those who visits forest  (mostly for tigers) won’t like to waste time in looking at vultures yet its not about just the vultures but the natures wonder in making of such places is also worth seeing. It’s a gorge & rocky cliff in shape of horse shoe deeps down nearly 400 fts & the surface has cracks/ fishers/ faults (in geology language). This has become a perfect breeding place for a bird which is used to heights as a vulture can fly even a mile high in sky & at this place it’s safe from every predator as well from human interference. You can see hundreds of Himalayan griffon vultures along with long billed vultures nesting & doing all the acrobatics in the sky above this gorge & you won’t notice how the time flies! It’s unfortunate that the magic big bird like vulture which is an important link of biodiversity chain in wilds, is taking its last breath & only in forests like Panna or Bandhavgarh can find its home. That’s why such forests are so important for not just wild life lovers for entire Earth’s future!

Coming back to Bandhavgarh, best part was it was nearly fifty percent less cold than Panna, a boon for me. The drive from Panna to Bandhavgarh is like mostly through buffer of the forest as it’s this belt of nearly 200 km which was actually a corridor for wild animals few decades back. Recently I read that forest or say green cover of our country has been increased by 1% & that’s great achievement as on one side our population is ever increasing & naturally we need more land to accommodate needs of this population. So the forests are the worst hit to give way for land for human needs & on such background is forest cover has increased that’s really a welcome news. And MP plays vital role when its forest land as over 75,00sq km which makes nearly 10% of the forest cover of entire country is in MP. And in that also 50% is in Umariya, Katni, Mandla, Panna, Seoni districts which hosts tiger belt ie Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh & Panna! May  be hardly a century back all these forests were connected & animals like tigers were free to roam all around but under the name of development as well human needs we cut down the corridors & all that of these wonderful forests has been left is in pockets. Yet while travelling to Panna from Jablapur as well from Panna to Bandhavgarh & way back Jabalpur I once again realized the way Forest God has been happy with this belt of MP. Though the roads travel most of the time through forests its price is being paid by the animals like civet, jackals, hyenas & many as they don’t get training in wilds how to cross a State High Way & for this mistake of theirs poor fellows gets victims of road kills. I saw two jackals, one civet & a languor got killed by some speeding vehicle in just my two travels between these places, so imagine how many wild animals must be losing their lives in entire year on these roads, for no fault of theirs! Why can’t we train our every citizen that while travelling through forests look out for the animals crossing, thought there are enough sign boards along these roads making drivers aware about animal crossing & safety but what we lack is a system which will take notice of offence & punish the culprit. In a country where nearly over hundred thousand human beings loss their lives in road accidents, who cares for loss of animal life, is the saddest part in wild life conservation! We can think of enough under passes on every road going through forest area & then fence all along both sides of the roads, this may seems crazy idea but to conserve wild life we need crazy ideas is a fact!

Bandhavgarh as usual cat & mouse game about tiger sighting as I agree forest is lot more than tiger yet I must admit frankly I was keen to see some tigers & let me tell you this is something even full day safari cant assure you. Because its a huge forest divided in three zones, Magdhi, Tala, Khatouli & then there is buffer zone, making it like you are in tiny dingi in an entire ocean to explore! Well I did take a full day safari & even after spending strait eleven hours in forest, yet I saw just two tigers (tigress if specific) that too in last hour of the safari. But to follow the alarm calls & track the pug marks, nothing bits that thrill; just like in our child-hood we used to play the hide & seek game, here its tiger which is hiding (not actually) & you are supposed to locate it by all these signs! Interestingly while we were waiting at a water hole where a male female tiger couple has been seen earlier I could click a barking dear clearly which was bonus as its very very shy dear to capture clear. It took almost twenty minutes to come to water hole & actually drink water, so must scared it was & shy of our presence, though we have kept absolute silence & enough distance from the water hole. But real drama happened later as we were so engrossed in looking at barking dears cautious moves that we forgot how much time has been passed & it was well past 4.30 pm, which is general time of tiger’s movements. So we decided to go down the road where water hole was situated & as we left behind the water hole which was on a turn we saw fresh pug marks of a tigress down the road & even signs of her sitting on the road. We have just missed her, this is what forest is. Agreed it teaches you patience & lots of it but it teaches you one more thing, in life it’s all about luck & timing, & this principle is applicable in our normal city life also. Everything has to be timed perfectly, may it be acknowledging somebody’s efforts or to reach at school gathering of your son for his performance, all is about timing!

Just prior to my visit there was unrest at Bandhavgarh park following some friction between park management, i.e. forest dept & gypsy drivers along with guides. And all the gypsy drivers & guides were on strike for nearly four days causing chaos in safaris. I have been at many tiger parks & this aspect of bonding between forest dept & gypsy drivers as well guides which actually are link between tourist & the forests is very vital but unfortunately very few field directors have understood this relations importance from the angle of forest conservation is a bitter fact! Agreed there has to be discipline while you move through the forest but let’s don’t forget the hefty revenues coming via charges forest dept is charging per safari & then after paying such charges tourists does demands tiger sighting which is a constant pressure on the gypsy driver & the guide! We need to balance both things i.e. park discipline & desire of the tourists. This can be achieved by regular dialogue between senior park management & guides, which many a times doesn’t happens due to ego of senior officers (is what guides thinks) resulting clashes of this type which isn’t in interest of tourists in the end!

As I mentioned earlier while forest cover all over India has increased unfortunately Maharashtra & especially our Pune district is following opposite trend. Tree/ Forest cover has been decreased by nearly 26 sq kms in only Pune district in last one year & this is very dangerous sign as agreed we may be having most Industries, IT parks, Real Estate growth & Smart City tag too, but high time at what cost we are achieving all this development! No one denies importance of growth but when I look at miles & miles spread forests between Bandhavgarh to Panna & compare the same with our baron lands which are mostly covered with slums, our polluted rivers & dry hills, I wonder where we are heading under the name of growth? Whose job is it to plant few big trees if we are building few apartments & see those trees are growing too? It’s my job, this is why one should take out some time & visit forests like Banadhavgarh as this realization about my responsibility towards forests is what I get back along. And yes I get along patience & lots of it too as to cut a tree need few minutes but to plant one & make it survive needs lots of patience & efforts as well dedication, same which is needed to sight a tiger in the forest & then luck does follows is what I have experienced, as nature always rewards you when you try to be with it! 



Before I conclude, was able to see moon’s eclipse at Bandhavgarh & let me share nothing better than to walk under moon lit sky on full moon day on the roads around forest, as some experiences you have to just live by yourself than trying to explain them, is all I can say & I am lucky being able to live them! 


-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U-Tube link below..



Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
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Friday, February 9, 2018

Panna, Language of Wilderness!






“A great whispering noise began to rise in the woods on either side of the tracks, as if the forest had just noticed we were there and was commenting on it.”… Stephen King.

Stephen Edwin King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television series, and comic books. Well, I too am a fan of King & his thrillers & though his above quote is from one such thriller The Body which doesn’t dealt with forests yet his these lines I have lived many times & my recent trip to Panna forest in MP wasn’t exception!

It was freezing winter morning & sun has just to break through the horizon when we entered at our first safari in Panna. Let me tell frankly I hate to be in MP forests in winters (with all due respect to my love for wilderness) as I don’t like cold & it’s very cold at this time in forests there! As well tiger sighting was not something Panna is famous for yet & though we don’t visit forests for tigers yet who doesn’t like bonus? And when within ten minutes we came across a tracking vehicle as Panna's half population of the tigers is collared, we just followed it for some distance & then our guide RP Omre decided to depend on nature's tracking i.e. alarm calls! Leaving all the vehicles we took another route way round & in few minutes we heard monkeys & spotted dear alarm calls & were sure about presence of tiger yet couldn’t believed our luck when three beautiful tigress (mother & 2 her sub adult female cubs) walked in one by one from the nearby grass & gave us ramp walk, drinking water on way before vanishing again in thickset around, leaving behind alarm calls & mesmerized faces of us i.e. foresters! Here is first set of the captured moments! The trip has started with a bang for the foresters (group of few like minded friends sharing same affection for forest)!!

Actually I hate winters of MP forests & especially Panna types where huge water bodies are present & Panna has been blessed with Ken River which flows right through middle of the park for most part of it. Yet Panna was long on my agenda to visit, for two reasons, one Ken River (karnavati) is known to be one of the cleanest rivers of our country & hilly terrain of Panna forest makes it best for leopards is what I have heard. Also my wild lifer friend has told me so much about biodiversity of Pnana that my curiosity bar has already raised pretty high making me able to overcome my hatred (sorry couldn’t find suitable word) against winter! Though Panna is one of the oldest district in MP & known to most of us by our Geography book reference regarding diamond mines, which are still there, right adjoing the park but no more that productive. Off late Panna has been in news, first for tigers absolution due to poaching of-course & then in 2009 MP forest dept took rejuvenization of tigers in the park. From Kanha & Bandhaavgarh pairs of tigers has been brought in & successfully relocated, so the park boasts now nearly thirty five plus tigers plus sub adult cubs & again regaining flow of wild life lovers. Though Panna forest has lot more to offer than just tigers & some eleven tigers have been collared to monitor them. A team of forest officials along with Wild Life Institute people monitors twenty four X seven ever collared tiger & let me tell you, it’s not easy job. As during our rounds in forest we came across many a times the tracking vehicle i.e. an antenna van with a tracking devise which give signals as per the location of the collared tigers & according to strong beep on the screen the tiger can be located to nearly in hundred meters radius. So, many tourist gypsy’s follows these tracking vehicles, in hope of tiger’s sighting but then nature is above any science as in a forest like Panna, even if a tiger is hardly few feet from you, yet it takes luck to sight the same & that’s real charm of tiger sighting!

Let’s not go in to the forest aq km area, trees, terrain & those type of things as that information is available on many websites, yet just in brief the Panna National park is some 650 sq km area means nearly 1.5 times of our Pune City (just to give idea of spread) but the figures won’t make you visualize the spread as this is just reserved park. Actually Panna is gifted with probably largest buffer area around the reserved forest because while I was travelling to & fro, from Panna, I realized there is no big town or factory or any such development within hundreds of kilometers of Panna forest. This is what makes Panna jewel of all the forest as it has capacity to absorb any numbers of tigers provided we acknowledge its potential. Though this detachment from the any so called development is curse also for Panna forest as this vast spread really makes it difficult to manage the tiger’s movement in & out of the park & which may be the reason why Panna tigers got disappeared in first place a decade back! As first the tigers does like to expand their territory & when they have vast land to explore they must have got out of park & second is with such a big forest around the main park, the entry of poachers really must be very easy & so must have been exit, after killing the tiger. And with no monitoring system in place, like the one right now, it must have been cake walk for the tigers, is what my logic is! Here is where tourism makes difference in tiger as well forest conservation, as it were tourists who realized that no tigers are being sighted in Panna & that’s how the entire system got woke-up & the full credits to forest department’s efforts to relocate specie like tiger & conserve it. As when we say tiger then it’s not just one specie but entire chain around it & that’s why a forest with tiger in it is a healthy forest as it has a complete life cycle within. But looking at the vast buffer spread around Panna forest I was really happy as it’s this forest we can use to accommodate the new tiger population provided the govt (read even Central Govt) supports MP Govt with funds to retain this buffer forest land & use it for building tiger’s habitat. The main hurdle is villages in this spread of buffer forests of Panna & the time it will take to shift these villages. Because till that time the man animal conflict will continue & outcome we all know death or defeat of the animals like tiger. A leopard is smart, it survives even keeping itself around the human habitat but tiger as being fearless walks & kills openly making it easy enemy for the humans!

Speaking about tigers & leopards, it was my one wish from forest to click a tiger with its reflection in water full frame & so many if’s are needed to come together for that i.e. sighting tiger in first place, near water body, the water should be still & the light & then tiger should look towards reflection & I can get clear steady shot! Well, forest always fulfils your wish, just bit patience & some luck! And Panna fulfilled, my wish with a beautiful tigress giving me the shot what I wanted with her reflection in water.

Another was getting a clear shot of leopard, as I have seen leopards but never was able to get a clear frame shot of it. Panna trips, I was looking forward to meet leopard as the hilly terrain makes Panna a perfect habitat for the Ghost i.e. nick name of leopard in forests, just for its ability to vanish on the background of dry leafs & yellow grays of forest. At one morning safari we were having a stop at center point (spots in the forest created for rest rooms as well to take a tea break) & suddenly alarm call rang from down of a hill. We had a hunch as our guide has said that is territory of a female leopard & she has been seen in last few days along with her cubs regularly. So keeping our hot tea cups (a boon in bitter cold) away we rushed in gypsy & it started rolling towards the area from where alarm calls of spotted dears were coming. And just after a turn we saw a gypsy ahead & a female leopard walking on road in front of it. What happened next was an act of great gesture; the gypsy ahead gave us the way so we can click the snaps of the leopard as the tourists in that gypsy weren’t carrying any cameras! Those who are regular forest visitors can understand importance of this gesture as where most guides, tourists won’t move away from such sight here these people were giving us way to take clear shots! Such things makes forest trips more memorable & make you realize yes this is spirit of wilderness! Well, just following the spirit of gypsy ahead the leopard also got down from the track & came parallel to our gypsy & we could clearly see entire front & side profile of the gorgeous animal & with the ease it walked, ultimate grace! While looking at the camera I realized why Leopard is called as Ghost as it was so difficult to focus on the leopard because of the spots it carries & perfectly getting camouflaged in that dry forest background. The entire drama must have lasted for ten minutes & she vanished in the depth of forest but yet forest has helped me to tick one more wish in my list! 

And yes the highlight of the trip was sighting & clicking of a tiny animal Tree Shrew, endangered actually. While we were waiting for alarm calls our guide RP Omre sighted (and salute to him for being able to locate this size animal from a moving gypsy) this rarest animal which is size of a mouse but beautiful & is from the family of rodent. It's animals like Tree Shrew which makes a forest real rich in biodiversity but unfortunate that most tourists, even guides doesn’t understand their importance & neglects it. The forest as well tourism dept should made Tree Shrew like animals as forest ambassadors as there lies the success of awareness campaign of save forests like themes! Jan 18

Best part of Panna forest is the ken river & the stretch it flows through the entire park & forest dept has made provision for boat ride also. In summer if you are lucky you can even sight tiger or leopard also drinking water from the river. Though in winters lots of birding can be seen along the river & yes crocodiles, lots of them, in all poses welcome you during the boat ride. It’s the boon of no urban or industrial development on upstream of Ken River which has allowed it to remain clean & unpolluted water, making it one of the best habitats for thousands of species of birds, fish & it was heartening to see the flora & fauna around.

Just to mention, we have given small shoulder bag along with Salim Ali’s bird guide to all the guides of Panna forest & in a small cozy gate together they thanked us for the same & it was touching gesture! As well one more thing needs to be mentioned & that’s service of the staff at the place where we stayed i.e. Ken River Lodge as when you visit some place then the accommodation also counts very high to make your entire experience a pleasant one & on that scale Ken River Lodge’s team topped in my list till now, is all I can say! Well, something I must share before concluding, Panna forest offers you & no tourist should miss it & that is night safari. In forest there are hundreds of creatures like hyenas or civet (udmanjar) or sloth bear, porcupine etc which are night crawlers means these animals mostly moves only after sun set & obvious that you won’t get to see them in normal day safari where you have to come out of park before sun set.   In night safari which is in buffer zone i.e. forest area around the core/ reserved forests, it starts by 6pm in even & by 9.30 pm you are supposed to be back. And in this time you get to see all above mentioned creatures (provided you are lucky) & though its darkness so you can’t actually do much of photography but it’s in darkness you really feel the forest around. It’s in this darkness which I experienced in night safari at Panna which made me remember words of Stephen King that you can actually feel the forest is whispering about you, looking at you via thousand of unseen eyes & then you start really loving as well understanding the forest. As the forest has taught you to listen a new language, language of wilderness; it has given you a new vision, vision to see in the darkness & made you able to inhale a new fragrance, fragrance of nature. With this new identity I come back from Panna with a prayer in mind that dear God please preserve jewels like Panna & yes a sense of responsibility, I too have a part to play in that, however little it may be.
 -- 

some more forest moments you can see at link below..

https://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/albums/72157691445868901



Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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