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  • Smayana Singh

Kabini, Nagarhole National Park

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

The Kabini, Nagarhole national park is a wildlife park located on the Kabini River, in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Spread over 55 acres of Forest Land, the forests of Nagarhole are covered in greenery and are surrounded by large water bodies. Even though the forest is only a four-hour drive from the city of Bangalore, it seems an entire world away. The forests of the Kabini Wildlife sanctuary are home to elephants, tigers, leopards and the prestigious black panther while the Kabini river is home to many more species such as crocodiles and over 350 species of birds. At the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary, one is given the option of heading into the forests on a jeep or seeing wildlife through a unique experience, a boat safari on the backwaters of the Kabini River.


Jeep safaris in the Kabini National Park are a new and exciting experience. With the stunning forests on either side of you, you explore the depths of the national park, seeing new birds and animals on every turn. From monkeys jumping on the tall trees to the tigers and leopards who roam the length of the forest, sitting in lakes and water holes in the summer or trying to catch some prey in the winters. Herds of elephants will greet you as you pass the tall, grand animals using their trunks to gather branches and leaves to eat or spray themselves with water in the hot summers. Even if you don't see one of the big cats, the forests of Kabini will be sure to leave you mesmerised with the alarm calls of deer and the song of birds which fill every inch of the dense forest. Jeep safaris, in the Kabini National Park, whether in the evening or morning are a memorable experience.

Photographs of The Indian Langur, The Asian Elephant and The Indian Roller

The Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis) is a colourful bird distributed across Asia from Iraq to the United Arab Emirates and the Indian Subcontinent. The Indian roller is also associated with Hindu legends, a reason why many Indian states have declared it as their state bird. A local Hindi name of this bird is Neelkanth which means "blue throat", and is associated with the deity Lord Shiva. The bird is often seen perched along wires and trees and is mainly found in open grasslands or scrub forest habitats. The Indian Roller is a solitary bird and perches, at a height 3-9 metres from the ground where they forage for ground insects. These birds make a variety of sounds such as a harsh crow-like sound to communicate with one another. The Indian Roller isn't facing any population threats at the moment, but as a result of traffic collisions, there has been a decline in the number of birds along roads in North India.

An Indian Roller perched along a wire in Jim Corbett National Park


While jeep safaris in the Kabini National Park are an exhilarating experience, something new which everyone must experience is a river safari on the backwaters of the Kabini River. The safari starts on a boat and on either side of the river, you can see the forests of the Nagarhole and Kabini National Park. On the river, you can witness the sight of many animals and birds that cannot be seen in the forest itself. Though elephants are a fascinating sight in the forests and on the banks of the river, one can see crocodiles, deer, monkeys and the Indian Bison or the Gaur. One can also see more than 350 water birds such as different species of Kingfisher, Hornbills, Asian Openbills, Eurasian Spoonbills and many more.

Photographs of The Mugger Crocodile, The Asian Elephant and a silhouette of water birds perched along a dried tree.

The Mugger Crocodile is a crocodile which lives in the Indian Subcontinent and other parts of Southern Asia such as Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. These crocodiles have a flat head where their eyes, ears and nose are on top, enabling them to see, hear and breathe above water when their bodies are underwater. They have webbed feet but do not use them for swimming, but instead, use them to make sudden moves and fast turns through the water. They use their strong, flat tail to help them swim. They have the broadest snout out of all the living species of the genus crocodylus, which is why they are often considered as more alligator-like than any other crocodile. The feature that differentiates the Mugger crocodile from an American Alligator is that the Mugger Crocodile's top and bottom teeth overhang when its mouth is shut while the American Alligator shows only its top teeth when its mouth is closed. These crocodiles like shallow, marshy and slow-moving waters, no more than 5 metres in depth and have adapted well to reservoirs, human-made ponds and coastal lagoons. At times, the crocodile buries itself into the mud to avoid the heat during the summers of India in the dry season. The Mugger is carnivorous and mostly eats fish, crustaceans, mammals and birds. The only animals known to prey on the crocodile are tigers and other crocodiles. The main threats to this animal come from the destruction of its habitat as well as illegal hunting for its skin for the fashion industry and other parts for the medicine market.

On a river safari, one can be lucky and spot one of the big cats who have come down to the river for a drink of water. On the banks of the river, we saw the majestic Bengal Tiger. Its patterned skin camouflaged with the tall, dry grass. We stood still on the water, our small boat gently moving up and down with the gentle waves. With the forest on either side of us, we were engulfed in its greenery. The sun shone down upon the river, making the water shimmer with bright aqua colour. The silence we stood in as we gazed into the emerald eyes of the tiger was broken by an orchestra of birds, some floating on the clear water and some soaring high up in the blue sky.

Like Michael Frome said, "Wilderness touches the heart, mind and soul of each individual in a way known only to himself."

The Kabini, Nagarhole National Park is a great place to visit whether you're a person for the forests or not. Bringing an end to your trip in the forest of Kabini with a sunset by the river, watching as the sun hides behind the trees and lights up the sky with its orange radiance will leave you feeling refreshed and distant from the hectic city life. It's reflection snaking down the river as you bid adieu to the tranquil and green forests of The Kabini, Nagarhole National Park.

Photographs of a sunset on the Kabini River

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Bhawna ghosh
Bhawna ghosh
Jan 12, 2021

Congratulations Smayana. The blog has some beautiful pictures and amazingly indepth information about the animals. Your write up is on Nagarhole is already making me want more. So keep traveling and keep writing.

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