111 Sq Kms of pristine forest, North East of Kanha Tiger Reserve, a mini satellite core of Kanha – Phen Wildlife Sanctuary, is in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. A nature lovers’ paradise, it is best for bird watchers and ones who love forest. With Sal, Teak, Saja, Aonla, Tendu, Jamun, Bel, Bamboo and Bargad it has more than 800 known species of flora. Mammals and bird life abound, we can spot more than 200 bird species along with Hyena, Fox, Sloth bear, Gaur, Leopard, Wild Dog, Jungle Cat and Blue Bull and other wildlife. A few very lucky ones even spot a Tiger – the King of Indian forests.
“Bamhani Dadar used to be like this when we used to visit in October” exclaimed Kalim bhai. At places our 4x4 Gypsy could not be seen under tall grass in the beautiful meadows. “Yes, it reminds us of 20 years back, when Kanha had less tourist influx and most of it was open for tourism.” Kamal added. Ravi our guide provided by forest department had excellent knowledge of local fauna which was a treat and increased our knowledge.
“We should come back between mid-November till mid-February for bird watching, to spot migratory birds” I add. Due to very few tourists visiting the sanctuary animals here are very cautious of any sound or sight of humans. Sir, ‘Tendua’ (Leopard) exclaimed Ravi, the rosettes could be seen clearly. Walking through dense foliage it climbed up a tree, away from our prying eyes. Sloth bear pugmarks could be seen at many places. We were lucky enough to spot Jungle Cat, Blue Bull, Gaur, Wild Boar and Spotted deer amongst others.
Kanha national park management has worked hard on restoration of forest. Villages from inside were relocated making the forest inviolate - void of human interference. Old school building of one time human settlement is being used by forest department for management purpose which has saved a lot of money on developing fresh setup, a move worth commendation.
Madhya Pradesh Tourism is starting a wildlife lodge near the entry gate, till than the only option is to live nearby at any resort in Kanha. We were carrying our own jungle hamper and thank our stars for it. Since still very few tourists visit Phen the infrastructure is not well developed and it does not have a cafeteria. Hopefully soon Phen Sanctuary will set a leading example on Responsible wildlife Eco-Tourism in India.
If you love nature just do not contemplate, plan your tour and enjoy wilderness – undisturbed and pristine.