As the GPS guided us towards the centre of the survey grid, we found ourselves in the midst of a deafening chorus. The dark mottles on the pale trunks weren’t flakes of the barks, but cicadas. Hundreds of them, all males, buckling and unbuckling their torso muscles to blare out their love songs.
We were on a forest trail in the Bawanthadi forest block in Maharashtra. From predatory robber flies to tigers and leopard scats, there were clear signs that this was a healthy forest, though not a ‘Protected Area’ with a national park or wildlife sanctuary tag. And that was exactly why we were there, with camera traps, mapping devices and other paraphernalia.
The Bawanthadi forest block, spread across the Nagpur and Bhandara Forest Divisions, spans across 600 sq. km. Vast swathes of this deciduous forest harbour a staggering diversity of insects, birds and mammals. But what makes Bawanthadi all-important is its spatial location – the block forms a vital corridor connecting the Pench (across Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh) and Nagzira-Nawegaon Tiger Reserves. Genetic evidence and photographic records of tiger dispersal across the two tiger reserves have demonstrated that the corridor is functional, making it a high priority site for long-term monitoring and conservation.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FOREST CORRIDORS
Forest corridors like the Bawanthadi block are crucial to the survival of the tiger as a species. Most of the Prot