A Place as beautiful as its name!
On 21st February, our HyTiCoS (Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society) team (Venkat, Bharath and Swetha) visited Malani as a part of our corridor survey. Malani, is a small place in Sirpur range, Kagaznagar division. It comprises of two villages Chenna Malini and Pedda Malini and the forest around them. The word Malani means someone who loves tending to nature. Malani is a very beautiful place with hills covered with forests dominated by Bamboo and large patches of dry deciduous trees. These hills fall on the borders of Telangana and Maharashtra. As they are a part of the Deccan plateau, it has black rocks with rich black soil. The yellow dried bamboo leaves with the dark black of the rocks, makes the landscape a unique one.
After our work in the two villages was done, we climbed the Malani hills. HyTiCoS has been studying the movement of tigers in these areas for the last few months. We placed camera traps on one of the Malani hills and were able to confirm the presence of a tiger in that location (through the picture that was captured by the camera trap). We started climbing the hills late in the morning when the sun was almost high up in the sky. This made the trek up the hill sweaty and a little tiresome. Once we reached the top we were so consumed by the beauty of the hills and the dried grasslands that we forgot all about our fatigue.
We copied the images from the camera traps and continued to explore the forest around. Bharat mentioned that the camera trap images also revealed the presence of a Leopard and Wild boars in that area. As the pictures of the leopard and the tiger were just a few days old, we knew that they were somewhere around us, watching us. It was a great feel to know that we were sharing this forest with these big cats.
As we continued trekking, we saw the hoof marks and pellets of Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Spotted Deer. Some of the hoof marks of the Sambar deer appeared to be fresh, which indicated that the Sambar deer might have run hearing our footsteps.
We then, went down the hill into a plain field. This place was covered by hills all around and had an abandoned village (Metandhani) with over grown fields. We saw that there were a group of men sitting in one of the broken and abandoned huts. Their presence and the way they were staring at us made us uncomfortable. They did not seem like villagers and as usual your mind jumps to the worst scenario. We thought they could be illegal teak smugglers as this was a known area for teak smuggling. It was a very secluded place with no cell reception and the shortest distance we had to run to get help was not less than 4 kms. The forest guard who was accompanying us went to enquire and to our relief it was the Maharashtra Forest Department. They were a group of 12 men who were camping to keep a check on the smuggling activity. We had almost crossed the border of Telangana and entered Maharashtra. As we made our introductions and explained to them about the tiger movement, they confessed to us that they were also a bit worried to see us and breathed a sigh of relief to know that we were along with the Forest department. They offered to make us some herbal tea while we went to see a stream nearby.
At the stream, there was a pleasant chill and it felt very refreshing. The stream was covered with bamboo which provided sufficient shade to ensure that the water did not dry up. It was a perfect habitat to find frogs. We saw a few species of Zackirana, Paddy field frog (Limnonectes) and a few unidientified frogs. We also saw a good diversity in Fish (Pisces).
We went back to enjoy the tea and the peace of this isolated place. We had quite an adventure for the day and decided it was time for us to head back into our State.
Note to myself- rem to add pics of-
We have also taken photographs of forest calotes, unidentified lizard and common skink.