Call of the wild

Wildlife Tourism

Call of the wild

Pristine forests, water resources, varied landscapes and an undisturbed environment are the ingredients of an ecosystem. Together they make a fine combination to create an ideal home for wildlife to thrive.

When such an ecosystem is also supplemented with a large water body, nature can only reign supreme. The Bhadra reservoir  and the adjoining forests near Lakkavalli in Chikmagalur district are fine examples of this phenomenon. 

A dam built across the Bhadra river decades  ago for the purpose of irrigation not only ensured a perennial water supply to vast tracts of agricultural fields, but also created a huge water body abutting the rich forests of the Malnad mountains. This water body became a regular water hole for the wildlife in the jungles of the Bhadra region.

Part of Project Tiger

This wildlife area was recognised as the Jagara Valley Wildlife Sanctuary as early as 1951. With a larger area coming under its boundaries, it was renamed the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary by 1974. Much later, it was included in the network of Project Tiger in 1998.

With a spread of 451 sq.kms, Bhadra is the fourth tiger reserve in the state. As the big cat is at the apex of nature’s food chain, this status only means that the forest is a healthy one. One that is teeming with rich wildlife.

The adjoining  reservoir also adds up an equally rich aquatic fauna and an exotic bird life that breed on the many small islands in the lake.  In fact, one of these islets has been the undisputed territory for thousands of river terns which migrate here  in the summer months.

Rich flora, fauna

One cannot but help gush  over the rich flora in the region apart from a variety of birds, butterflies and insects that abound in huge numbers. The views overlooking the vast reservoir with its blue waters and forested islands are simply indescribable. The sea of tranquility here absorbs one for endless hours.

As we took the evening jeep safari into the forest, a crested serpent eagle greeted us first. Driving deeper into the jungle on a rough track we anxiously expected to sight big game. The population of the gaur, which at one time dominated the sanctuary, got pruned to a large extent after an epidemic in 1989.

Though the sanctuary boasts of more than 50 tigers and about 250 elephants, the forest is so dense and dark that the chances of sighting them are minimal. The spotted deer, the peacocks and langurs are the ones that are easily spotted by visitors and so did we. One rare bird that aroused interest was the bluewinged parakeet or the Malabar parakeet.

Taking a boat ride soon after dawn to the famed River Tern island was a meaningful experience indeed. The sight of large flocks of birds flitting around with their high pitched orchestra was amazing. While the young chicks waited patiently with gaped mouths, the parents flew far distances to catch tiny fish and took care to wash them just before feeding them.

In the middle of this frenzy of activity we could also notice a docile Pratincole and a couple of  spot-billed ducks. At the Bhadra reservoir, one can also indulge in a few water sport activities. Riding on kayaks and canoes into the deep waters and pedal boating are some of them.

The  boat safari in the evening was another fulfilling experience. If sighting three well-built gaurs was thrilling enough, a herd of elephants emerged from the forest in clear view. It was in many months, remarked Sadhvi, the naturalist who was with us,  that an elephant herd of this size had been sighted so well. As we sailed back, the silhouette of a few cormorants perched artistically on a leafless tree against a heavenly twilight filled our memories.

Getting there

Lakkavalli is 275 kms from Bangalore via the NH4 and NH 206 and can be reached by a deviation to left after Tarikere. Buses and trains reach Shimoga, Birur or Tarikere from where  local buses are available. Season: Can be visited anytime. For wildlife, October to May is ideal.

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