Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Machali II fights T-6 for Sambar kill

Machali fights T6

Those who know Ranthambhore also know its famous lady - Machali (II). Machali has been the grandmother of Ranthambhore now and is still fighting. We all have heard of her fighting the crocodiles (when she reined the lakes), her told and untold countless fights with other tigers and her stories of grace, dominance and richness (Machali has earned about US $ 10 million per annum for the last 10 years for Ranthambhore's economy) she has been indeed a legend and an asset to Ranthambhore and its people.

On 14th June we were fortunate to see the ageless lady again fighting for her food. And yes she is not scared she means business.

Read on:

Our first sighting was of T-6 but it was at a distance ... at laambi ka nallah first pic below ...

T-6 at the laambi ka nalla he sat in the waters, (which is the area currently occupied by Machali) for a long time sniffing the air as if searching for something. We didnt know...

Soon we got to know that Machali is sleeping with the sambar kill on the top plateau. It was about 6 PM yet hot summer was like a furnace! Machali was sleeping about 40 feet from the kill, the sambar looked huge. She must have consumed about 10% of it, she must have been waiting for weather to get cooler before she would eat also, due to the loss of canines she must be waiting for the meat to decompose which would be easier to chew.

Machali and the sambar kill

Within 10 minutes of us coming up came the male T-6 sniffing the kill he must have walked more than a kilometer distance.

Machali went alert even before most of us and we could easily see her apprehension and her gauging the situation.

The young male walking towards the kill

As soon as the male came closer Machali steped back and sat at some 50 feet distance

The male started to eat the kill

T-6 giving some interesting looks

In a moment he left the kill and rushed towards Machali

Machali stood on two feet, claws open and pounced on T-6 before he could attack

We see Machali facing the camera

Cat wrestling there

T-6 soon got the control

His paws striking Machali on face

Machali falling on the ground

Machali hitting the male on the eyes with claws out

Male turning back
One last warning
Big roars before T-6 pulls back

T-6 back at Machali's kill - stealing the steal

Pictures © Divya and Dharmendra Khandal.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mis-Guided Guidelines?

The new guidelines about "Eco-tourism" need to be more than fancy mathematical formulae

Last week the Ministry of Environment & forest (MoEF) on their website published a draft before issuing of the final guidelines for Ecotourism in and around Protected Areas. It has asked people to come forward and make suggestions over the draft guidelines.

It is a fair and pleasant approach that the public is been involved in making such policies. These guidelines have mainly two objectives – provide alternative livelihood opportunities for the local communities and second having low impact tourism that protects ecological integrity of wilderness areas, secure wildlife values of the destinations and its surrounding areas.

The entire countries conservation and tourism circles have been brainstorming on this issue. Many people - some are against the guidelines while some are in favour of it. Some conservationist and tourism people were involved in the initial stage of the guideline drafting committee and they say that though they were there but their concerns were not involved in making of these guidelines. The debatable topic here is that those suggestions from the committee members were not accepted, will the suggestions invited from local people be accepted; or is it just a way to show concern by the government. Looking at the report a nonprofessional may be baffled as it has so many scientific terms and mathematical formulas. Use of eco-friendly words make it sound like a scientific paper. However, as you go into understanding the depth of it the scientific uncloaking will reveal otherwise, the eco-friendly make up starts to fizz, which I will be discussing shortly.

Here we would discuss the mathematical formula:


(Model Calculation, Example: Kanha Tiger Reserve)

(a) Physical Carrying Capacity (PCC): This is the “maximum number of visitors that

can physically fit into a defined space, over a particular time”. It is expressed as:

PCC = A X V/a X RF

Where, A = available area for public use

V/a = one visitor / M2

Rf = rotation factor (number of visits per day)

In order to measure the PCC to Kanha, the following criteria must be taken into


_ Only vehicular movements on forest roads are permitted

_ The “standing area” is not relevant, but “closeness” between vehicles is important

_ There is a required distance of at least 500 m (1/2 km.) between 2 vehicles to avoid

dust (2 vehicles / km.)

_ At least 3 ½ hours are needed for a single park excursion

_ The PA is open to tourists for 9 months in a year and 9 hours per day


_ Linear road lengths within the tourist zone are more relevant than area, and the total

lengths are:

Kanha 107.20 km.

Kisli 72.56 km.

Mukki 103 km.

Total 282.76 or 283 km.

Due to constant vehicular use, the entire road length of 283 km. is prone to

erosion, out of which around 90 km. is affected more

Rotation Factor (Rf) = Opening period

Average time of one visit

Physical Carrying Capacity (PCC) = 283 km. x 2 vehicles / km. x 2.6

= 1471.6 or 1472 visits / day

(b) Real Carrying Capacity (RCC): RCC is the maximum permissible number of visits to a site, once the “reductive factors” (corrective) derived from the particular characteristics of the site have been applied to the PCC. These “reductive factors” (corrective) are based on biophysical, environmental, ecological, social and management variables.

RCC = PCC – Cf1 – Cf2

---------------- Cfn,

Where Cf is a corrective factor expressed as a percentage. Thus, the formula for

calculating RCC is:

RCC = PCC x 100 – Cf1 x 100 – Cf2 x ……… 100 - Cfn

100 100

Corrective Factors are “site-specific”, and are expressed in percentage as below:

Cf = Ml x 100


Where: Cf = corrective factor

Ml = limiting magnitude of the variable

Mt = total magnitude of the variable

Road erosion: Here the susceptibility of the site is taken into account 14

Total road length = 283 km. (Mt)

Medium erosion sink = 50 km. (weighting factor: 2)

High erosion risk = 40 km. (weighting factor: 3)

Ml = 50 x 2 + 40 x 3 = 100 + 120 = 220 km.

Mt = 283 km.

Cfe = 220 x 100 = 77.8 or 78%



(ii) Disturbance to Wildlife: Here, species that are prone to disturbance owing to visitation are considered. The Central Indian barasingha, a highly endangered, endemic species found only in Kanha has a courtship period of about 1 month in winter, during which it is extremely sensitive to disturbance. Likewise, the peak courtship activity for spotted deer lasts for two months before the onset of regular monsoon. As far as tigers are concerned, newborns are seen between March and May and also during the rains; hence an average value of two months in a year can be considered as the matter phase.

Corrector Factor (Cf) = limiting months / year x 100

12 months / year

Corrective Factor for barasingha

Cf w1 = 1 x 100 = 11.1%



Corrective Factor for spotted deer

Cf w2 = 2 x 100 = 22.2%



Corrective Factor for tiger

Cf w2 = 2 x 100 = 22.2%



Overall corrective factor for disturbance of wildlife in Kanha National Park = Cf w =

Cf1 + Cf2 + Cf3

= 11.1 + 22.2 + 22.2 = 55.5 or 55%

(iii) Temporary Closing of Roads: For maintenance or other managerial reasons, visitation to certain roads may be temporary restricted within the Protected Area. The Corrective Factor in this regard is calculated as:

Cft = limiting weeks / year x 100

total weeks / year 15

In Kanha, an average value of 2 limiting weeks per year may be considered as the

“limiting weeks”, and thus the corrective factor works out to:

Cft = 2 weeks / year x 100 = 5.5%

36 weeks / year

Computation of RCC

RCC = 1472 x 100-78 x 100-55 x 100-5.5

---------- ---------- ----------

100 100 100

= 1472 (0.22 x 0.45 x 0.95)

= 138.4 or 138 visits / day

(c) Effective Permissible Carrying Capacity (ECC): ECC is the maximum number of

visitors that a site can sustain, given the management capacity (MC) available. ECC is obtained by multiplying the real carrying capacity (RCC) with the management capacity (MC). MC is defined as the sum of conditions that PA administration requires if it is to carry out its functions at the optimum level. Limitations in management like lack of staff and infrastructure limit the RCC.

For Kanha, owing to the paucity of staff the MC is around 30%. Hence, ECC = 138 x

0.30 = 41.4 or 40 vehicles / day.

Thus, the Effective Permissible Carrying Capacity on any single day is only 40 vehicles, which should be allowed entry as below:

(Forenoon) = 25 vehicles (inclusive of both entry points)

(Afternoon) = 15 vehicles (inclusive of both entry points)

During peak season (winter months), the staff strength may be increased (only 10%) by deploying “special duty” personnel; this would enhance the ECC to 55 vehicles per day.

Further, increase in the number of vehicles would lead to deleterious effects on the habitat.

The formula given above looks like some kind of specialized scientific work, but this formula is to be understood simply –

Description: there are three types of carrying capacity; Physical Carrying Capacity is the maximum number of vehicles, which can go inside the park. The second is the Real Carrying Capacity it is the number of vehicles that can be permitted, without disturbing the park’s wildlife and preventing the ecosystem from any erosion. The Effective Permissible Carrying Capacity is the maximum number of visitors that a site can sustain, given the park management capacity available.

How they calculated the different Carrying Capacities?

Physical Carrying capacity (PCC) – they said that the square kilometre area could not be applied to the Indian context, hence they measured a road length and recommended keeping 500 meters distance between two vehicles to avoid dust. Which means two cars can be permitted in 1 km, and there are two safaris in the day.

Hence, the total road length multiplied by 2 cars per km multiplied by two safaris is the total PCC. This is as simple as knowing how much water a bottle can hold.

What question arises from this calculation

  1. The main guidelines spoke about opening 15- 20% of the park area & then they came from area to road length to fit the formula. If we have contradictions in one single report then who will understand the report?
  2. What part of the road is taken for the calculation entire road of the reserve or just the one open for tourism?
  3. If the tourism area is taken then on what basis was the tourism zone opened?
  4. Keeping distance of 500 meters between two cars was calculated to avoid dust, but what if it is a wet forest where there is no dust and what if the tourist is ready to face the dust. Will this data fluctuate when there are no dusty days such as the rains or post rains? It is a very relative thing, which is considered.

Real Carrying Capacity (RCC) –

RCC means the actual capacity of ecosystem, which, is without disturbing or least disturbing the wildlife, does not cause damage to ecosystem like erosion etc, and can tolerate the movement of vehicles.

RCC has calculated two types of disturbances one is the erosions of roads in the park and the other is disturbance to wildlife.

What question arises from this calculation

  1. They have classified two types of erosion - high and medium. On what basis were medium and high classified? In addition, how did they calculate that the medium is 100 km and high erosion is 120 km?
  2. They calculated the disturbance to wildlife in Kanha this part is the most perplexing part. In the whole of kanha they selected only three animals – the tiger, barasingha and the spotted deer, why was Sambar, leopards, dholes, sloth bear, guar, hyena, insects, birds, other cats, and other canids not included? They believe that just these three animals get disturbed during breeding time only.
What about other animals?

Effective permissible carrying capacity (ECC) -

This capacity is keeping in mind the management capacity available for the park. According to them just 30 % management capacity is available in Kanha and so they reduced the RCC by 30%.

What question arises from this calculation

  1. In a park like Ranthambhore department of tourism was managing this work; however, the forest department fought and asked to take up this tourism management work in their portfolio.

If the forest department is so short staffed and working on 30% of its capacity then they should not be doing the tourism management work in the first place.

  1. What is the ideal management capacity does there any such calculation exist, how much staff is required to manage said tourism?

Conclusion: they had to come out with a special figure, which they managed to achieve irrespective of the methodology of calculation.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day of the Jackal

kal) created a forum on days of the Jackal which motivated us to put up this photo article of the images we had .. .they show some interesting behaviors of the Jackals. Two incidences are in photo sequel where the jackal is shown scavenging - the way it is percieved A Scavenger, however there is an instance where 2 jackals killed a Sambar fawn in Sariska Tiger Reserve.

Golden jackals are strictly nocturnal in areas inhabited by humans, but may be partly diurnal

jackals play an important scavenging role by eating garbage and animal carrion around towns and villages.

Members of the same family also cooperate in sharing larger food items

Jackal in greens

The golden jackal raids crops such as pumpkin, cucumbers, corn, sugarcane and watermelon. Farmers use these kind of fencing from Sarees to protect crops from Jackals and other wild animals

Jackal Habitat

Jackals prefer arid short grasslands and steppe landscapes

This was 2006 in Sariska where Dharmendra sighted this male close to a water hole

At the water hole stood a Sambar family which had the mother a young male and a fawn, the jackal can be seen in the background watching them

Though the golden jackal is a capable hunter, it normally does not attack larger animals. The fawn had got confused and did not run out while the other sambar left, the Jackal and sambar fawn face to face

While the male tried grasping the fawn the female came from behind into the water

Alert female in the background while the male still trying to hold down the fawn. Cooperative hunting is a important feature of the Jackals survival kit

Fawn trying to escape

The male Jackal holding the Sambar on the neck

Female comes to help

Both trying to drown the Sambar in water

Male holding the Sambar kill while female walks out

Still holding the fawn

Fawn in the water and male Jackal watching

Eating the hard earned meal in water

Food finished show over now stop clicking me


Display behavior


Expressions : I

Expressions : II


strange jackals meet each other, most of the behavior expresses subordination, superiority, or eagerness to attack.

They behave in a manner similar to domesticated dogs and wolves

Submissive behavior shown by the defeated male


A "To be Mother" - Gestation period is about 2 months and litter size can vary from 1 to 9

Jackal pups come out of the den only after 2 weeks of birth, thats when weaning begins and external foods are bought to den by parents.

Male and female members of a golden jackal pair have important roles in maintaining their territory and in raising the young.

The basic social unit of the golden jackal is a mated pair or a mated pair and its young. Young males breed only after age of two, older litter often stays back near parents and they may form a family unit.

Food is transported from site to the den in their stomachs for later regurgitation to pups or lactating mothers

Hunting families hold territories of two to three square kilometers throughout the year

A male trying to keeps the crows away from a dead camel

Although they are opportunistic foragers their diet can vary due to season and habitat

When near human habitations, jackals will feed near landfills and cattle burial places

Having a feast tonight !

The camel got a new tail !

Fighting for food!

OK ... I am done, do you want a share too?


Road Kill : I

Road Kill : II

Road Kill : III


'Make his own road'

Jackal in Kuno forest - using ruins of the relocated villages

1. Foxes, Wolves & Wild Dogs of the world - David Alderton
2. Foraging & Habitat Use By Golden Jackals in the Bhal Region, Gujarat, India Ambika Aiyadurai WII document Conservation of Indian Wolf
3. Golden Jackal (2004) YV Jhala and P D Moehlman