The article is written by botanist and naturalist Gauri Gurav. Having worked at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF India), Gauri has expertise in bio-diversity (birds and plants species) and has extensive field experience in organizing nature camps. Currently, she runs her own venture Oikoessence.
How beautiful our country India is! She holds treasure in terms of variety of languages, cultures and of when it comes to biodiversity; she easily tops most other nations on the globe. I aspire to visit and revisit all the wonderful places – especially ones well-known for their biodiversity. Luckily, through my profession (organizing nature camps to various destinations and creating awareness about environment conservation), I get to visit such places. We (me along with fellow nature-campers) conduct many outings to unique and rare places throughout India. Through nature camps, the world of various plants and animal opens in front of us. Then it is up to us, how much we can absorb from its treasure.
One such memorable outing was the Dajipur and Radhanagari wildlife sanctuary located in Kolhapur district of western Maharashtra region. Generally, people approach this place from Kolhapur. But, we thought it will be adventurous if we could cover both – the coasts and forests of Western Ghats. Hence, we decided to visit via Kankavli, Sindhudurg located on the Western coast of Maharashtra state. Tasting Konkani food and exploring Konkan region were amongst the other intentions behind choosing this route.
Dajipur and Radhanagari wildlife sanctuary is part of a new tiger reserve declared in Maharashtra – Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. The area of this sanctuary is about 351.16 sq kms. One requires a prior permission from The Kolhapur Forest Department of Maharashtra to visit the sanctuary. It is famous for Indian Gaur (this animal is mistaken as ‘bisons’ that are not found in India).
We reached to Kankavli via Konkan rail in the morning and after sometime we went to Mithbav – a creek nearby. The site was suggested by Dr. Goldin Quadros, one of the senior scientists in SACON, Tamil Nadu (Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History). His students showed us the project site and gave information about their work. Then we went for a nature walk with him. Fishermen were busy with their fishing boats ready to catch the day’s fish. It had a small patch of mangrove. Good number of waders and other land birds were seen even though it was June – the onset of monsoon. We spent lot of time in looking and clicking the fiddler crabs – well adapted species for mangrove ecosystem; it was wonderful to observe them. The male of this species has two claws (like other species) but one of them is far bigger than another. The function of this claw is to attract female. It does that by waving their bigger claw.
After having a good walk and clicking pictures we realized that we all were hungry. Our driver Mr. Uttam Mhapsekar was a local from Kankavli and he knew place where one can get the home cooked food. After having a good meal, we headed towards Dhamapur bird sanctuary. There was an old temple and next to it was a huge lake. We just sat upon the staircases on the bank and searched for birds.
Common kingfisher, a pair of marsh-hawk gave us a chance to have a look at them for a very long time. We still had some time in hand so we went to Kunkeshwar temple situated right next to the sea. The waves there are breathtaking and roaring of sea really takes charge of one’s soul.
While returning, it was getting dark. And we got to see a pair of quails making their way near road or probably trying to cross the road. They hid behind the bushes and we did not disturb them. If somebody else had seen those then, there was chance of these quails getting killed by villagers/ truck drivers as quail meat tastes good. By this time Mr. Uttam got used to us and he stopped the vehicle as soon as he spotted any bird.
Next day we headed to Radhanagari and Dajipur. On our way, we halted at many places to see various trees like oroxylum indicum (Tetu), Erythrina indica (Indian coral tree) and birds like the commonly found in Konkan region – Malabar pied hornbill, Kestrels, parakeets etc.
Radhanagari forest department provided us a guide for nature walk inside the forest. Radhanagari is a catchment area of Shahu Sagar and Laxmi sagar. The forest has three types: Southern semi evergreen, Southern Moist deciduous forest and Southern evergreen forest. Since it was first week of June (not a peak season), there were no tourists at all inside the sanctuary. So, it was only us and the forest. We clicked many insects, birds, plants… simply trying to absorb the forest as much as we could and linking ourselves with it. There was small house of a farmer and both of children were very pretty and curious about us. They offered us some water whereas their parents were busy in ploughing their rice fields.
On the final day we decided to visit coastal side starting with Sindhudurga fort. On the way we spotted a brahminy kite peacefully perched on a coconut palm. I don’t know since when it was resting on the tree but we spent around half an hour clicking it and it did not move.
When we reached the fort, it was closed due to wave actions and it was declared dangerous to enter in waters. So, we went exploring nearby places like Kudal and Vengurla. We came across a very interesting stepped well that was built in Chhatrapati Shivaji’s period for horses. A gigantic ficus tree was standing next to the well. We also got one nice bird-watching spot on the way. It was full with water lilies and other reeds. Reeds provide nice shelter and feeding area for water birds. There were coots, purple moorhens, bronze winged jacanas, brahminy ducks, grey herons and few dabchicks. After spending about an hour here , we decided to move and catch the train for our return journey to Mumbai.
This short trip offered us a lot in terms of natural beauty, sightings, understanding people and their well adapted lifestyles and of course delicious food. Moreover, it rejuvenated our souls and our minds were at sea – peaceful and calm. I really wonder when people say they completed Konkan sightseeing in three days whereas we could not finish even one-tenth in three days. To understand any place properly one should spend sufficient time to observe its people, their lifestyles, geography, climate, nature and biodiversity – basically everything and try to correlate them. Only then, you realize that nature rules upon us and our lives completely. Thanks for reading.