Sundeep Bhutoria

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

At the Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary


Wild deer at Tal Chappar
October 25, Jaipur: In the morning, I again went to the Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Migratory birds
I never realized that such a treasure trove was hidden just 10 kms away from my native place. I was quite ashamed of myself that I had visited so many wildlife sanctuaries but never thought of visiting close-to-home Tal Chappar ever.
In fact, I have many childhood memories of this place. 
Deer herd at Tal Chappar
I, however, had never thought or realized that Tal Chappar would one day develop into a Wildlife Sanctuary of India as it is today. 
This Sanctuary is famous today for many endangered species like the black bucks, chinkaras and other wild animals and rare birds.
The Tal Chhapar area was a game reservoir for the erstwhile Maharaja of Bikaner and was declared a reserved area for the protection of wild animals and birds in the year 1962. 
Hawk
The total area of Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is 719 hectare. If all goes well, Tal Chappar is set to evolve as one of India' latest wildlife sanctuaries.
I have vivid memories of my childhood days when we could see herds of deer running across the roads on which we travelled. 
This time I saw many signposts warning of deer in the area and also cautioning the motorists to drive carefully.
True to its name “Tal”, meaning flat land, Tal Chappar's terrain is flat tract and interspersed by shallow low lying areas. It has open grassland with scattered acacia and prosopis trees which give it an appearance of a typical savanna with tropical forests. It is a flat saline depression with a unique eco-system.
I took the staff of the Tal Chappar rest house by surprise when I booked a room during Diwali. It is a fact that most people spend Diwali at home instead of a sanctuary.
I went there with no expectations. The six-roomed privately run rest house was very spacious with a dining hall and a conference room. I knew about this rest house from late Mr V S Singh when it was under construction. At that time I had wondered if it was at all draw any tourists. I have been to many wildlife sanctuaries, except for Tal Chappar, which is close to my native place and about 35 kms from the famous Salasar Temple.
I met Mr Surat Singh Punia, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary. He is really the man behind making the place what it is today. He took us on a drive on his own and surprised us many times with his knowledge about the birds.
Among the other wild animals found in the sanctuary are chinkara, fox, jungle cats, rojra along with many resident and migratory birds. Tal Chappar falls in the path of the migratory birds which come to India from as far as Siberia in Russia. It is a bird lovers' paradise. The migratory birds pass this area from around September each year.
The commonly seen birds in the Sanctuary are harriers, eastern imperial eagle, tawny eagle, short-toed eagle, sparrows, peacocks, black ibis, demoiselle cranes which nest till March. Montague's and marsh harrier are more common, while pale harrier and hen harrier are found in lesser numbers.
On the other hand, skylark, crested larks, ring dove, brown dove and blue jay are seen throughout the year. Main grasses found in the area are sewan, doob, dhaman lampla, lana and mothiya etc. 
The area gives a lush green look during rainy season but again dries up during summer season.
As we toured Tal Chappar, we spotted a number of black bucks, deer, lizards and even poisonous cobras just an hour back. It was just an overnight stay which has aroused my interest. 
I shall surely be back soon to this green gateway of Thar.
I have to leave for Jaipur in a couple of hours as I have commitments to meet tomorrow.
ess bee

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