The dead sambar lay rotting inside the core zone of the park. Careful inspection did not reveal any incision or wounds inflicted by the big cats. Obviously the deer had died of a natural cause. But what surprised me was the carcase which was untouched by the big cats as well as the opportunistic hunters like jackal, hyena or wild dogs.
The first question that came to my mind was how come the predators had not reached the dead animal yet? Are they thriving in sufficient numbers? My doubts were cleared by the hotel manager at Pench.
"No sir its just an instance, the predators thrive well in this nature preserve", he answered my question with utmost sincerity.
Well very soon I saw a tigress with four cubs, wild dogs but not the Indian Wolf. The latter inhabits the periphery which comprises of scrub and open area ideal for this endangered canid. The tiger sighting was a unique experience and my first at Pench Tiger Reserve.
The tigers in Pench are easily seen on jeep safaris and elephant rides. There are many guides available for game drives in the park, some are expert tiger trekkers.
The park lies in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra border in India about two hundred km from Jabalpur. Earlier known as Seoni Hills the area is also called Kipling Country since the Jungle Book is based upon the folklore of these forests.
The Pench jungles are mixed deciduous type with large number of fruiting trees. The habitat is home to Central Indian mammals, birds and reptiles. The floral richness is evident on very first visit. The preserve is much visited by tourists on tiger safari and birders.
Animals seen on wildlife safari are tiger, leopard, sloth bear, bison, spotted deer, barking deer, langur, wild boar, wild dog or dhole, sambar, rhesus macaque, Indian wolf etc.
There are a large number of birds to be seen and Pench promises to be a leading birding destination in Madhya Pradesh. Much survey has to be done in order to checklist birds of Pench. Professional birding guides are available for bird watching at the Pench Resorts.
The park can be reached from Nagpur airport which is about 80 km. Pench is about 200 km from Jabalpur airport and rail head. The accommodations are based Turia since most of the Pench hotels are situated here. At Karmajhiri, forest rest house and dormitory are available for a stay with prior reservation from the DFO office in Seoni.
The visiting season is from !6th October to June 31st whence the reserve is open. Those wishing to avoid heat should visit in the winters which extend up to February.