Every jungle has a secret that the spirits reveal only to people who believe in it. Some visitors share it and some don’t. The land of Taru, now known as Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (Tadoba or TATR) is one such place which has secrets only few know.
To understand the secret it is important to know the history, topography and evolution of Tadoba as one of key tiger habitats in India.
Tadoba was once land of Taru. Legend mentions Taru a powerful village chief who was killed by tiger. Tiger became god of this land since that day. Villagers built temple dedicated to Taru to protect themselves from wild spirit. Located along Tadoba lake tribal’s in region still visit the temple to pay homage to Taru.
Taru land is land of history and natural heritage. Once ruled upon by Gond kings it is the land with dense forest of bamboo,teak, mahua and intermittent meadows. Located across Chimur hills in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra water bodies like Andhari river, Irai backwaters, Tadoba lake, Telia lake, Kolsa lake, Panderpauni ensure decent water supply for flora and fauna to survive. Dense undergrowth with patchy sections of meadows and abundance of prey make it ideal tiger habitat. This land supports not just tiger but also leopards and Indian wild dogs. If you are really lucky you might even see black leopard. Omnivores like bears, wild boars can be regularly sighted during safaris. Presence of water ensure lot of avian fauna can also be spotted. Did I forget to mention crocodiles alias mugger, can also be sighted sun bathing on banks of Tadoba lake. Highlight however remains the tiger.
TATR is divided into 3 main ranges. Tadoba range which houses Tadoba lake and meadows of Panderpauni along with other key water bodies. Other range is Moharli. This is most popular range due to close proximity of city of Chandrapur and has beautiful meadows along Irai back water. Telia lake a perennial water body is part of Moharli range. Tadoba came on world map when family of tigress Madhuri and her 4 cubs that lived along shores of Telia was extensively covered by Animal planet. Third and most underrated range is Kolsa. It is southern edge of forest. It is very dense and spotting tigers here is very difficult. Thus making Moharli and Tadoba range the most popular wildlife destinations.
You can enter the ranges from different gate. I will focus on Moharli and Tadoba since they are of interest to tourists. You can enter Moharli range from Moharli gate and Khutwanda gate. Tadoba range can be easily accessed from Kolara, Navegaon and Khutwanda gate. No matter which gate you take, area of jungle that you explore remains the same. Unfortunately tourists are allowed to access only 20% of protected forest. It is here where tourist are allowed to move in gypsy under strict guidelines.
Each zone has buffer areas too. Buffers are created to absorb spillover of wild animals. Buffers are supposed to create distance between core area of wildlife and intense human activities. For example: Moharli gate has Agrazari, Junona, Adegaon buffers. At Navegaon gate you can explore Alijhanja buffer,similarly Kolara gate has Madnapur buffer. Many new buffers have also started recently and few are in pipeline.
Buffers is a place where secret of Tadoba can be found. Tadoba is currently exploding with tiger population. Tiger is a territorial cat. What that means is young tiger need to drive out existing tigers or establish new territories outside protected areas. Whatever is case, tiger ends up living in buffer zone. So if you want to see tigers, buffer area is place to go. Core area also offers great sighting but buffers have thrill of own. It is here you see the new, the old and the unexpected. Oldest male of Tadoba can be seen in Mamla buffer from Moharli side which has recently opened . He is assumed to be more than 15 years of age. Also legendary tigress Madhuri can be sighted in buffer as her famed daughter Sonam drove her out of territory to rule Telia lake.
Buffers is not just about tigers. It is last abode for animals before coming in direct conflict humans. It about dense jungle, beautiful lakes, enchanting meadows teaming with wildlife that makes visiting buffers of Tadoba a must. Next time you plan visit to Taru land don’t miss out on buffer. Explore the buffer, after all it is in buffer that lies spirit of Taru!