Naturalist Training Program
Deeper into the Woods
It’s not just you preparing to witness the wilderness in the forests of Bandhavgarh as the park opens on 16th October. Pugdundee Safari’s naturalists, experienced and amateurs went through an intensive knowledge enhancing ‘Naturalist Training Program’. It’s our small step to make your Safari and stay withPugdundee count big. Religiously from past 12 years Pugdundee has been in fluxing shareable knowledge in its naturalists to create a measurably distinct experience for the guests.
There is not a ‘need’ unless one decides to take an extra mile for smiles. The irony is that trees don’t move but forest still changes! Our Naturalists are great forest enthusiasts, backing such enthusiasm by mentorship of people like Mr.Shekhar Kolipaka (renowned conservationist and author –Tracks and Signs) and Dr.Kunal Nikhil Bhopale(student BNHS) was indeed a thought of an agency driven by the motto of providing nothing less than the best safari experience, which comes from a naturalists who are way ahead of the pack.
I would like to divide the ways of sighting animals into two categories: ‘Sight on the Way’ or ‘Follow the Way’.
Quality of a good naturalist is that he can identify the animal from a distance by connecting links of- the habitat, time and behaviour (Interpreting Forests). Identifying animals when sighted or to track it by following trails, scanning forests and night safaris were all a part of training. How to identify a flying Hawk, hanging Bats, dancing Butterflies or prowling Cats in the dead of night? These were deeply discussed things and were put into practise through day and night safaris into the buffer zones of Satpura tiger reserve. Mr.Naresh Singh (Sr. Naturalist,Gudda) has been attending the training from past ten years but still rejoices it as a new experience every time. In contrast, Karan who has just joined our team of naturalists had never expected such training. In his words “I could not think beyond a common induction program which I have been through my four years of naturalist experience”. Forest imbibes in it an unknown secret at each step; our naturalists have more to tell.
Spotted: From a nature walk after lecture on Butterfly Families and species by Mr. Nikhil Bhopale
Skimmer name: Pied-paddy Skimmer(Male & Female)
Scientific name: Neurothemis Tullia
They call each other ‘Dai’ out of respect which is a local word for ‘elder brother’.
In photo above: Shukre Dai explaining forests to NTP’14 batch in the woods of Satpura
Spotted: Indian Eagle Owl and Sāmbhar Deer during night safari
Spotted: Indian Nightjar (juv.) picking up worms on road
Spotted: Crocodile (juv)in backwaters close to the lodge
Amidst Talks and Walks!
I realised, that these Naturalists eat, breathe and dream Wildlife. Such is the passion that the two hours of nature walks in morning never lasted for less than four hours. Reason? These never satiating brains of curiosity would stop at every new plant, every footmark, flower or butterfly which is new to them. A call of the Sloth bear would reroute them to bear trails otherwise Pug marks eventually became compass for the trails. Every year they meet once and spend some quality time with each other. Needless to say, Wilderness is the thing that gets them candid.
Each one has their stories and lessons from the previous year. Connecting with Pugdundee, where their calibre has got the right push these naturalists acknowledge that training has exponentially enhanced their skills and brushed up the concepts. This 1 week is also a reunion for naturalists and a great week of knowledge sharing! The senior, junior, new and old naturalists sit with each other and pool their knowledge for each-one to learn. One motivates the other and tags the new ones along.
They all compete to perform better than the other, that to be judged by the number of stories you can share. Kings lodge –Bandhavgarh took the tag last year. With spirits high and no connectivity until next year our naturalists have headed to their respective lodges with a bag full of mammals, butterflies, Flora and Fauna memories. Left at Satpura, arethe footmarks of 21 of these gems of naturalists, some leopard would quietly walk over them!
The park opens on 16th and the competition to improve and be nothing but the best would start! Countdown begins…
Courtesy : Vineeta Yadav