Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve lodge

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve lodge

Our heritage in wildlife and conservation
The Sankhala Heritage: The Sankhala family has a history of wildlife conservation from the 1970's. The late Kailash Sankhala was a distinguished officer in the Indian Forest Service and Founder of Project Tiger (1973) known as the "Tiger Man of India". He authored many books on the tiger which serve as a great source of reference to other conservationists. His son, the late Pradeep Sankhala renowned wildlife tour operator, successfully developed our Jungle Lodges. Pradeep was a well respected conservationist and was the chairman of Tiger Trust India.

Today the lodges are run by Amit Sankhala who continues the legacy of conservation and wildlife tourism. His vast Knowledge and boundless enthusiasm in the field of eco tourism enables him to be heads and shoulders above the rest in Eco friendly principles and practices.

We have solar panels that provide for 100% of our water heating. We have 3 - 300 litre boilers that warm up the water with solar cells, and store them till guests arrive from the park for their showers. Alternatively, we do have boilers, if for some reason our solar panels would not work.

A portion of the cooking for our guests is done in two different types of solar cookers. This helps minimize energy use and also the food cooked is healthy and tasty. Our guests can ask for cooking lessons for solar cooking. It takes anywhere between 4-6 hrs to cook food depending on what you are cooking. It is a steel box in which you put the container of food, reflected with the suns rays, which generates the heat for cooking.

We use CFL bulbs in all our rooms which have a master switch, which guests can press before leaving the room. Once the guests have left for the park, we have a staff member check all these rooms for this very purpose. Many a times we only get limited electricity; hence preservation for us is the key. This is the main reason that we have not installed any Air Conditioners and Electric Heaters. Instead we have desert coolers and hot air blowers which use much less electricity.

We have flush toilets to reduce water usage. For bathing we also provide buckets/mugs if clients wish to use to save water (which is used by most of our Indian clientele as its quite common in India) instead of using showers which consume more water. For cleaning guest rooms we use herbal soaps and shampoos. For laundry, we have a laundry man who washes the laundry at his own place, by hand so no washing machines!

Much of our fresh vegetables come from the organic farming at the lodge. One can see a variety of vegetables and fruits being cultivated. Guests are welcome to take a tour of the vegetable garden which is cultivated only with animal manure, avoiding all pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Our garden and vegetable waste is composted in a pit which is then recycled as manure for the vegetable garden. We use a process of decomposition by worms, which is efficient and odorless. It provides us with rich organic fertilizers for our organic farming on site.

Social & community support: The local community is a part of the lodge. 95% of the workers that we have at the lodge are from the nearby villages. All the jeeps that we hire for the national parks are from local drivers. In the past we have conducted information sessions for the villagers to learn more about medicinal plants and solar cooking. The nearest medical facilities are usually 30km away, hence for common illnesses like cough, cold, body aches, soar throat, etc medicinal plants provide a vital help. For many years we had dedicated a few acres of our land to achieving this and had kept a medicinal plant expert. Today, we have these medicinal plants growing all around the lodge so our guests could also witness there uses.

All the food cooked is local and 60% of it is grown in our own vegetable plant garden. We encourage guests to do a village safari where they can learn more about the local communities and their initiatives.

We have also organized medical camps for villagers through our non profit Tiger Trust which was established by the same family that started the lodges. Tiger Trust also organized one of the only guide training workshops in Bandhavgarh and Kanha areas where guides could better understand the eco system of the park. These guides are from local villages and had very limited knowledge regarding many aspects of the park.

Guest lectures are given at the lodge where guests can contribute monetary donations to Tiger Trust. Updates are sent to guests, or they are encouraged to check our website for all the regular activities we do. The major support of funding for Tiger Trust comes from other bigger non profits like US Fish and Wildlife service and Tiger Foundation.

Members of Travel Operators For Tigers (TOFT): Recently, we have become exclusive members of 'Travel Operators For Tigers' (TOFT). Membership to this group is limited to only the best and most eco-friendly wilderness lodges. TOFT encourages its members to involve the local community by providing economic and social benefits to it. We feel that over the years we have made a deliberate effort to do just that, and therefore promoting action on responsible use of wild habitats (motto of TOFT).

The Jungle Lodge is planned to provide a friendly, informal and relaxed environment with lots to observe, understand and learn. We hope you will enjoy the stay and make it a learning experience!

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