Bandhavgarh National Park : Premium & Non-premium zones

Why Premium & Non Premium Zones Concept

Bandhavgarh Safari Zones

Since year 2016, concept of Premium & Non-premium zone is abolished. It means all the safari zones in all the national parks are equal and their safari cost is also equal. Still for better understanding, we have explained this concept and conditions that pushed Forest department to introduce this concept. Please go through below given information.

Creation of Safari Zones
After completion of safari season in July 2010, we received tips from our sources that more safari zones are likely to be opened for tourists from next season. Decision was taken mainly to increase more safari drives opportunities to increasing tourists arrival in Bandhavgarh. New safari zones Magadhi and Khitauli were opened for tourists. During that time, concept of Premium and non-premium was not implemented and safari charges were equal for any safari zone.

After creation of Safari Zones
In subsequent safari year of 2010-11, ticket charges for all safari zones were same and this pattern continues for this season. After analyzing the safari tickets booking pattern, it was discovered that majority of tourists are booking for Tala-zone and very few are going for newly opened safari zones i.e. Magadhi zone and Khitauli zone. They mostly went to newly opened zones in conditions when Tala zone tickets are sold-out or guest is having more number of safari rounds in hand. Reasons behind this trend could be many but some prominent causes are locations of resorts and lodges and mouth-publicity by safari guides, travel agents, resort managements etc. If we go by the majority of resorts location in Bandhavgarh, we will find that approx. 90% of resorts are close to Tala zone entrance gate. Newly opened safari zone's entrance gates are approx. 10-15kms away from these resorts which means guest will travel for approx. 30minutes on rough dusty road to reach entrance gate and same time to return back. As safari zones were unexplored, local agents and safari guides were also reluctant in promoting them as it was challenging for them to explore tiger sighting possibility in new forest area, safari routes are less explored, tiger movements are not well accounted. It means safari drives was challenge for safari guides also. So the simple escape was to promote Tala zone and convince the guest to visit this well explored zone that can be reached easily, routes are well known, tiger areas are well explored etc. This all causes flop show of Magadhi zone and Khitauli zone and Tala zone was superhit.

Safari Zones
Category
Tala Zone
Gate-1, Core Zone
Magadhi Zone
Gate-2, Core Zone
Khitauli Zone
Gate-3, Core Zone

Categorization of Premium & Non-premium Safari Zones
Learning from experience of safari season 2010-11, Forest Department experts and decision-makers made some unique decisions. They introduced the concept of Premium zone and Non-premium zones. Existing safari zones were tagged as Premium zone and Non-premium zone. In this process, Tala zone was declared as Premium zone and less explored Magadhi zone and Khitauli zones were declared Non-premium zones. Safari ticket cost was made as the criteria differentiate them. This concept was introduced in Kanha national park and Bandhavgarh. Here at Bandhavgarh, safari ticket fee of Premium is just double to fee of Non-premium zone ticket.

Why Premium & Non-premium Safari rates vary
Safari charges of Premium zone and Non-premium zone varies. It is a well known fact. Total safari cost is sum of safari ticket, guide fee and vehicle fee. Here guide fee and vehicle fee is same for any safari zone and also same for Indian or foreigner tourists. The main variation is in the safari ticket fee which is issued & decided by Forest Department. Cost of Indian visitor and Foreigner visitors varies. Similarly cost of Premium zone ticket is higher than Non-premium zone ticket fee. This concept of zones ticket fee variation was introduced in year 2011-12. As it was experienced in previous year, when rates are same for all safari zones, that tourists are neglecting newly opened zones and causing congestion in Tala zone, Forest department decided to take suitable step to encourage visitors to visit newly opened zones also and reduce visitors burden on one particular safari zone. It was a good decision whose results are now seen, after four years when tourists are also visiting other safari zones and tiger sighting results have also been increased in Non-premium zones. This decision has made two positive effects i.e. on one side it has increased the revenue of Forest Department and on other side the succeeded in promoting newly opened zones i.e Magadhi zone and Khitauli zone. After this decision, tourists started visiting Non-premium zones also. With increase in tourists visit, these safari zones became more and more explored by tourists and safari guides causing increase in tiger sighting opportunities. Satisfied tourists and wildlife photographers spread the message that other zones are also have good potential of tiger sighting and tourists should visit them also with same enthusiasm and zeal.

Are tiger sighting is better in Premium zone ?
After learning the difference is safari zones rates, it is the most common question, asked from guest side. Their is no fixed answer to this question because probability of tiger sighting in any particular safari zone changes from time to time. One should must understand that their is no physical boundary, wall or fencing in between these safari zones. Animals are not known of any safari zones or boundary line which means they can easily move in between these safari zones. The safari area is just a small fraction of tiger reserve which means if park is having 40 tigers, tourists can see only 10-12 tigers, spread on different safari zones. As tigers maintain their territory in which they don't tolerate trespassing of other tigers which means Tala zone will be home of few tigers only and other tigers must be having their territory in other safari zones also and remain their most of the time thus their sighting is possible in their territories on different safari zones. Geographically, Tala zone is more hilly, offering natural or man-made cave shelters and better water sources. These sand-stone hills retains rainy water in better way and ensures water availability in peak summers also. These ideal conditions results in good prey base that attracts carnivores mammals in this region which could be one reason for Tala zone as home of dominant tigers of Bandhavgarh. But presence of tigress with cubs also contributes in tiger sighting results and also causes variation in better tiger sighting areas. Every season, tigress in different zones produces litter. Places where she manage to take well care of them, away from knowledge of male tigers, having good prey-base, in those areas tiger sighting improves for some months and thus sighting areas changes time to time and it cannot be fixed to any particular safari zone. It is a myth that tigers can only be seen in Tala zone and zones are useless for tiger lovers.

S. No.
Tala Zone Attractions
Magdhi Zone Attractions
Khitauli Zone Attractions
1
Siddha Baba
Charger Point
Umrar River
2
Chakradhara
Rajbehra
Kumbhi Kachhar
3
Chakradhara Hide
Bhadrashila Hide
Garhpuri Dam
4
Andhiyari Jhiriya
Mahaman Pond
Nilgai Nala
5
Badi Gufa
Climber’s Point
Tedka Munara
6
Shesh-shaiya
Badbada
Marjadgarh Tower
7
Sita Mandap
Sehra Dadra
Charkhi Dongri
8
Gopalpur Pond
Suwari Wah
Chhulaha Camp
9
Ketkiha
Sookhi Talab
10
Bhitari Wah
Sookhi Dam
11
Bandhavgarh Fort
Kerhawah
12
Three Cave Point
Patiha Camp
13
Vulture Nests
Dabhadol Tank
14
Ghoda-demon
Dinosaur Rock
15
Rampur Hillock
Baherha
16
Banbehi Hide
Dhaua Tower
17
Bhitari Hide
18
Bamania Hill

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