Forest occupies about 6,247 thousand hectares which constitutes about 23.4 per cent of the total geographical area of the state. Chhattisgarh has three National Parks and 11 Wildlife Sanctuaries to conserve wild life in general and the endangered species in particular; and National Parks are a major attraction for tourists. It has several virgin attractions in protected areas such as Kanger Valley National Park, Bamawapara, Sitanadi, Udanti and Achanakmar Sanctuaries. The endangered Wild Buffalo (Bubalis bubalis) and the even more endangered Hill Myna (Graculis religiosapeninsularis) are the State Animal and State Bird respectively. The State has taken several steps for their preservation.
The mystique of aboriginal tribal ethno-medicine which predates even Ayurveda has been preserved and practised over the inillenia. Mainpat (Surguja), Keshkal valley (Kanker), Chaiturgarh (Bilaspur), Bagicha (Jashpur), Kutumbsar caves, Kailash caves, Tirathgarh falls, Chitrakot falls (Bastar) are all exhilarating destinations being promoted for nature and wildlife tourism. Wildlife areas, camping grounds and trekking facilities are of the prime attraction.
Nowadays of course, news travels fast thanks to social media of potential troubles one might encounter during a trip to a awildlife area. Take the example below for instance.
When a man is killed by a tiger, the Baiga priest goes to the spot and makes a small cone there out of the blood-stained earth. This must represent a man, either the dead man or one of his living relatives. His companions having retired a few paces, the priest goes on his hands and knees and performs a series of antics which are supposed to represent the tiger in the act of destroying the man, at the same time seizing the lump of blood-stained earth in his teeth. One of the party then runs up and taps him on the back with a small stick. This perhaps means that the tiger is killed or otherwise rendered harmless; and the Baiga immediately lets the mud cone fall into the hands of one of the party. It is then placed in an ant-hill and a pig is sacrificed over it.
The next day a small fowl is taken to the place, and after a mark supposed to be the dead man’s name is made on its head with red ochre, it is thrown back into the forest, the priest exclaime, ‘Take this and go home.’ The ceremony is supposed to lay the dead man’s spirit in peace and at the same time to prevent the tiger from inflicting any further damage. The Baigas believe that the ghost of the victim, if not charmed to rest, dwells the head of the man-eating tiger and incites him to further deeds of blood, rendering him also secure from harm by his preternatural watchfulness. They also believe that they can shut up the tiger’s dar or jaws, so that he cannot bite them, through driving a nail into a tree. The forest track from Kanha to Kisli in the Banjar forest reserve of Mandla was formerly a haunt of man-eating tigers, to whom a great number of the wood-cutters and Baiga collies, clearing the jungle paths, fell victims every year.
Among the Bhatra dead are buried, the corpse being laid on its back with the head to the north. Some rice, cowrie-shells, a winnowing-fan and a few other articles are placed on the grave. The tribe probably think the winnowing-fan to own some magical in property, as it also constitute one of the gifts given to the bride at the betrothal. If a man is killed by a tiger his spirit must be appeared. The priest ties strips of tiger-skin to his arms, and the feathers of the peacock and blue jay to his waist, and jumps about pretending to be a tiger as part of the mystical antics.
A package of a hundred seers of rice is made up, and he sits on this and finally takes it away with him. If the dead man had any ornaments they must all be given to the priest, however valuable, lest his spirit should crave for them and come back to look for them in the shape of a tiger. The large quantity of rice given to the priest is also probably intended as a provision of the best food for the dead man’s spirit, lest it be hungry and arrives in the shape of a tiger to satiate its appetite upon the surviving family members and relatives. The allaying the ghosts of persons killed by tigers thus provides a very profitable business to the priests.