I got the opportunity to meet a man who was once a hunter but now dedicated to conserve the wilderness in a small piece of land owned my his family. Although he is running a safari as tourism business but never deviates from his real objective not to hurt the plants and animals in anyway. Jagnath Wildlife Safari is the tourism destination I am talking about. It is a remote private Jungle land of the Songara family of Kaniwara in Jalore district of Rajasthan. The safari is being run by Ravindra Singh Chauhan who is the person I am referring to in the subheading.
It is one of the best locations one can visit to learn tools and techniques for flora and fauna study. I reached there to attend a field training organised by Ecology and Rural Development Society of Jodhpur on ‘Wildlife Biology-tools and techniques. It was a lifetime opportunity for me to visit such place and meet wonderful people from different streams with like mind. While wondering in big nature reserves we never even hear about such small conservation reserves which is being maintained with personal interest in conservation rather than tourism enterprise far beyond policy and polity.
History of Jagnath
These jungle lands were gift of the Royal Family of Marwar region seven generations ago to Songara family. They have naturally preserved a large amount of these lands (around 400 hectares). The total wildlife habitat is 180 square kilometre in area.
The wilderness campsite
Jagnath will remain a memorable stay and experience with its granite hills and variety of flora although sparse due to arid terrain but shows variety. The campsite is peaceful although interrupted by the blasts in nearby mines. But most noticeable thing is even the blast sound echoes among the hills surrounding the conserved area. Beautiful landscape filled with raves formed by sand dunes and hills which are extensions of the Aravalli. Some of the plants in the region belong to rare category and animal sighting is easy which shows how free the animals are wandering feeling safe.
Science lovers catch
For science lovers it is an opportunity to visit the ecotone-the junction of Thar Desert and Aravalli Hills. The effect of this junction can be witnessed by flora as well as fauna, as components of both the ecosystems are visible in the conservation area. This is the reason the small area harbours diversity of flora and fauna. In the Aravalli you will find mainly Anogeissus pendula and Bauhinia retusa. The sand dunes are nature library to study the diverse species of Acacia. For fauna experts you will find beautifully patterned praying mantis, camouflaged stick mantis and insect to the giant predator Leopard. Most sighted are Chinkaras and Bluebulls, but definitely sighting a Zerd is going to be tough here. Some other wild animals who have found shelter in this small land are Desert Fox, Porcupine, Desert and Jungle Cat, Hyena. In my experience I found favourite food of all kinds of animals in the area was Wild Plums (Zizyphus nummularia).
Nothing less for adventure lovers
It is must for every visitor to climb the Aravalli extensions to have a panoramic view of the area. Even nearby villagers and far off Jalore city is visible as bird’s eye view. Without climbing these rocks you will miss the real beauty of this place and views too. Enjoying a sunrise as well as a sunset cannot be possible without sitting on one of the hill tops.
First night in Jagnath must be a ‘lie down and watch up night’ to sooth your eyes with the clear sky embellished with constellations and if you are really lucky then you can sight meteors too. The night safari is also available which earns you sighting of nocturnal animals, must say all the animals here are nocturnal. Definitely don’t need to mention not to forget good cameras, good amount of batteries as well as memory cards and lots of concern for nature. Cameras to capture the moments, batteries will not let you down and miss any moment you wish to frame to kindle others and concern so that you can help in conservation by playing role of a true nature lover. Ravindra Singh Chouhan and his staff are conserving an important landscape and do take care that the visitors should also follow the dos and don’ts tourists must follow in nature reserve. Jagnath is in true sense an ecotourism destination in the must list of all nature travelers. I am thankful to Dr Sumit Dookia, Dr Amit Kotia, Ravindra Singh Chouhan and Dr Mamta Rawat from Ecology and Rural Development Society, Jodhpur for giving us such an opportunity. Thanks to all Mohit Verma, Azaad Ojha, Atul Gupta, Anurag Kushwaha, Mayank Bohra and Vigil Wilson for sharing pictures for this article.