The park has always been noted for its tigers which are seen quite frequently. There are leopards too but they are seldom seen. Sambar, chital, para (Hog Deer) and muntjac (Barking Deer) are the main prey of the big cats.
Elephants are now permanent inhabitants following the building of the dam and the inundation of their old trekking routes. There are now a few hundred elephants and they are seen quite often. Other animals include porcupine, wild pigs and fox. The birdlife is especially impressive with over 600 species.
Dudhwa National Park, UP:
Dudhwa was designated a National Park in 1977, having been declared a sanctuary in 1965. It is very similar to the Corbett National Park with an area of 490 sq km, bordering the Sarda River in the Terai. It has sal forest and large marshy areas which are watered by the Neora and Sohel rivers.
These swamps covered with thick tall grass are the ideal habitat of the Barasingha which are best seen in the Sathiana and Kakraha blocks. Dudhwa has a large number of tigers (there have been reports of maneaters), sambar, nilgai, some sloth bears and a few leopards. The one-horned rhino has been introduced from Assam in 1973. It also attracts a great variety of water birds.
Bandhavgarh National Park, MP:
This compact part of 105 sq km is in the Vindhya hills, (Alt 800 m). The park is set in extremely I rugged terrain with 32 hills. The marshes which used to be perenniel now support a vast grassland savanna.
It has a wide variety of game and has a longer season than Kanha. Its main wild beasts are tiger, leopard, sloth bear, sambar, chital, muntjac, nilgai, chinkara, wild pigs. In 1990 a census revealed that the tiger population had grown from 9 in 1969 to 59, sambar from 111 to over 4,500 and spotted deer from 78 to over 7,000.
The tigers, whilst elusive, are increasingly seen. Bandhavgarh (pronounced Bandogarh) is not very far from Rewa, which is famous as the place in which the white (albino) tiger originated. Now it is only found in zoos. The flowering and fruit trees attract woodland birds, which include green pigeon, Jerdon’s leaf bird and steppe eagle.
There are also interesting cave shrines scattered around the park, with Brahmi inscriptions dating from the 1st century BC. One can visit the archaeological remains of a fort believed to be 2,000 years old where one may spot crag martins and blue rock thrush.
Kanha National Park, MP:
This is the country about which Kipling wrote so vividly in his Jungle Books. The same abundance of wildlife and variety of species still exists today and the park which forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve (1945 sq km) created in 1974, also protects the rare hard ground barasingha (swamp deer). George Schaller, the zoologist, conducted the first ever scientific study of the tiger here.
The park has sal and bamboo forests, rolling grasslands and meandering streams of the Banjar River. It lies in the Mandla district in the Maikal hills in the eastern part of the Satpura range.
Originally the area was famed as a hunter’s paradise but now the valley has been well developed as a national park. The best areas are the meadows around Kanha. Bamni Dadar (Sunset Point) affords a view of the dense jungle and animals typical of the mixed forest 2one: sambar, barking deer and chausingha (4-horned antelope).
Kanha has 22 species and the most easily spotted are 3-striped palm squirrel, common langur monkey, jackal, wild pig, cheetal, barasingha and blackbuck. Less commonly seen are tiger, Indian hare, dhole or Indian wild dog, and gaur.
Rarely seen are Indian fox, sloth bear, striped hyena, jungle cat, panther (leopard), mouse deer, nilgai (blue bull) ratel (Indian porcupine), wolf (which actually live outside the park), Indian pangolin, the smooth Indian otter and civet.
Kanha has some 200 species. Good vantage points are in the hills where the mixed and bamboo forest harbours many species. The sal forests do not normally afford good viewing.
Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan:
This 800 sq km sanctuary comprises dry deciduous forest of ber, dhok and tendu among others, set in a valley surrounded by the barren Aravalli hills. Open all year round. During the monsoon the vegetation is very lush and travel through the forest may be difficult.
The place is then alive with birds but many animals move to higher ground. In the dry season, when the streams disappear, the animals become dependent on man-made water holes at Kalighatti, Salopka and Pandhupol.
The chowsingha, or 4-horned antelope, is found at Sariska but not at nearby Ranthambhor. Other deer include nilgai, chital and sambar. One many see wild boar, jackals, hyenas, hares and porcupines, though tigers and leopards are rarely seen.
The birdlife includes ground birds such as peafowl, jungle fowl, spur fowl and the grey partridge. Babblers, bulbuls and tree pies are common round the lodges. The Siliser Lake at the edge of the park has crocodiles. The Kankwari Fort is within the Park.
Ranthambhor National Park, Rajasthan:
Ranthambhor Lies on the easternmost spur of the Aravallis. It has both the old fort and the Sawai Madhopur/Ranthambhor wildlife sanctuary. Situated on a 215 m high rock 19 km N E of Sawai Madhopur, the Chauhan fort was built in 944 and over the next 6 centuries changed hands on a number of occasions.
Qutb-ud-din Aibak captured it in 1194 and later handed it back to the Rajputs. Ala-ud-din Khalji sacked it in 1301 and Akbar took it in 1569. It later passed to the house of Jaipur.
Set in 400 sq km of dry deciduous forest, this became the private tiger reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur. In addition to tigers which can often be seen in the daytime (particularly Nov.-Apr.), there are few leopards and numerous herds of sambar deer, the occasional rare caracal and a rich variety of birds.
Bharatpur-Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan:
Better known as Bharatpur, this is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Established in 1956, this 29 sq km piece of marshland is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world with over 360 species of birds. It used to be part of the private shooting reserve of the Maharaja of Bharatpur and during the season enormous numbers of birds were shot by him and his guests.
It is especially recommended from Nov. to Feb. when it is frequented by Northern hemisphere migratory birds, including the rare Siberian crane. Sep.-Oct. is the breeding season.
Among many other birds to be seen are egrets, ducks, Chinese coots, storks, kingfishers, spoonbills, Sarus cranes and several birds of prey, including laggar falcon, marsh harrier and Pallas’ eagle. There are also chital deer, nilgai, wild cats, hyenas and wild boar whilst near the entrance there are usually some very large rock pythons.
Desert National Park, Rajasthan:
South West of Jaisalmer (40 km) was created to protect 3,000 sq km of the Thar Desert, the habitat for drought resistant, endangered and rare species which have adjusted to the unique and inhospitable conditions of extreme temperatures. Temp range: 50°C to – 4°C. Rainfall: 150 mm.
The desert has undulating dunes and vast expanses of flat land where the trees found are mostly leafless and thorny khejri (prosopis cineraria) dominates. There is also khair (acacia katechu), thor and rohira.
The Bishnois who inhabit the area protect the chinkara, black buck and desert fox. Among the birds which include various eagles, the Great Indian bustard which can weigh up to 14 kg and reaches a height of 40 cm has made its home here.
Dachigam National Park, Jammu & Kashmir:
This area of the W. Himalayas was the Maharajah of Kashmir’s hunting preserve. The 140 sq km park covers the 2 sectors of Upper Dachigam, in places above the tree line (over 4,200 m), accessible only in the summer after a hard 2-day trek, and Lower Dachigam, at about 1,500 m (22 km from Srinagar) with motorable roads, thus possible to visit even in winter.
The scenic park with deep ravines, rocky outcrops, conifer covered slopes and alpine glades, supports the endangered hangul (Kashmir stag) a species of red deer, which moves to the Marsar Lake in Upper Dachigam in the summer.
The Dagwan river flows through Lower Dachigam which has tracts of riverine forest. The plentiful supply of fruit trees (peaches, plums, wild cherries) attracts numerous migratory birds (incl. monal pheasant, golden oriole, long-tailed blue magpie, Himalayan griffon, pied woodpecker and rubyth- roat) and the Himalayan black bear after its winter hibernation. There are also Indian horse chestnut, willow, walnut and oak. Area also known for trout fish.
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, W. Bengal:
160km from Bagdogra, 224km from Daijeeling. The Jaldapara Sanctuary covers an area of 116 sq. km. where one can see the one-horned rhino, elephants, wild boar, deer, leopard, gore and the occasional tiger. It is situated close to Phuntsoling in Bhutan with the river Torsa flowing through and trained elephants are available to take visitors around.
Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, W. Bengal:
The unique Sundarbans (meaning “beautiful forests”) with their mangrove swamps and evergreen forests, covering over 2,500 sq. km. in the Ganga/Brahmaputra delta, spreads across to Bangladesh.
They are said to be the largest estuarine forests in the world. The area has a vast network of creeks and channels with innumerable islands. The biosphere reserve still preserves the natural habitat of about 200 Bengal tigers which have become strong swimmers, and known to attack fishermen.
They are bigger and richer in colour than elsewhere in S. Asia and are thought to survive on salt water. Olive Ridley sea turtles and large estuaries crocodiles are the other wildlife to be seen, particularly on Lothian Island and Chamta block.
Kaziranga National Park, Assam:
On the banks of the Brahmaputra, the park occupies 430 sq. km. combining elephant grass with thorny rattan cane, areas of semi-evergreen forest and shallow swamps.
The Karbi Anglong Hills rise around the park, while the river forms its N boundary. There are a number of rivulets which flow down to flood the plains, bringing down rich silt and spreading out into shallow lakes called bheels. The habitat varies from marshes to grassland, woodland, rising to drier deciduous forests and finally to tropical semi-evergreen forests.
Kaziranga was declared a game reserve in 1926, to save the Indian one-horned rhino which had become threatened with extinction at the turn of the century. The present rhino population is over 1,100 (although poachers still kill the animal for its horn), one can easily see the rhinos in the marshes and grasslands.
The park also harbours wild buffalo, bison, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, wild pig, hoolock gibbon, elephants and tiger, the only predator of the docile rhino.
The weaver birds make interesting bottle-shaped straw nests hanging from the branches. There is a rich variety of shallow-water fowl including egrets, pond herons, river terns, black-necked stork, fishing eagles, and adjutant storks which breed in the park and a pelicanry. The grey pelicans nest in tall trees and there are otters in the river and long-snouted fish-eating crocodile, the gharial.
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam:
Scenically, the Sanctuary is one of India’s most beautiful. It lies in the foothills of the Himalayas, S-E of the river Manas, which with its associated rivers Hakua and Beki separate India from the neighbouring kingdom of Bhutan.
Over half the area is covered with tall grass and scattered patches of woodland with simul, khoir, udal, sida, bohera and kanchan trees. This changes to dense semi-evergreen forest in the upper reaches and even to conifer on hills abutting Bhutan.
The forests are home to most of the larger animals found in Kaziranga, most common being wild buffalo, swamp deer, hog deer, sambar and elephant. Some 20 of the animal and bird species are on the endangered list of the IUCN including the rare capped golden langur which can be seen among the flowering trees, mostly on the Bhutan side.
In addition it also has pigmy hog, the hispid hare, slow lorris, clouded leopard and tiger. The Manas Tiger Reserve, a core area of 360 sq km was demarcated in 1927/8 when the preservation programme ‘Project Tiger’ was launched.
The sanctuary is also rich in birdlife attracting many .migratory flocks including redstarts, fork tails, cormorants and ruddy shelduck. Otters are frequently seen in Manas river.
Keibul Lam Jao National Park, Manipur:
The park covering 25 sq. km. is the only floating sanctuary of its kind in India. It has a small population of Thamin (Sangai), the brow-antlered deer, one of the most endangered species of deer in the world, hog deer, wild boar, panther, fishing cat and water birds.
The swamps around the 65 sq. Tan. Lok Tak Lake which was the natural habitat of the thamin was reclaimed for cultivation, resulting in the near extinction of this “dancing deer” which led to the formation of the National Park here in 1977.
Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary, Orissa:
48 km. E of Sambalpur is densely forested and covers 130 sq km. Wild elephant, panther, leopard, tiger, bison, wild boar and many kinds of deer inhibit the sanctuary.
Simlipal National Park, Orissa:
It is Orissa’s principal wildlife sanctuary extending over 2,750 sq. km. at the heart of which is one of the country’s earliest tiger reserves covering about 300 sq km. The area has, majestic sal forests interspersed with rosewood and flowering trees. The rauna includes tiger, elephant, leopard, wolf, chital, sambar, deer, gaur, flying squirrel and a variety of wild fowl including mynas, parakeet and peacocks.
The Barehapani waterfall with a drop of 400 m and the Joranda Falls (150 m) are both very impressive as are the Bachhuriachara grassland, where you might see a herd of elephants and the 1,158 m peak of Meghasani.
Palamau, Jharkhand (Belta):
Located in Jharkhand, in the Chotanagpur plateau, it covers an area of 930 sq. km. of dry deciduous forest, mainly of sal and bamboo. It is a major wildlife sanctuary which was once the home of the extinct Indian cheetah. It is in the Project Tiger scheme and the world’s first tiger census was taken here in 1932. Open throughout the year.
The wildlife includes tiger, leopard, gaur, sambar, muntjac and nilgai as well as the Indian wolf. The N. Koel River and its tributary run through the park but in the summer animals become dependent on man-made waterholes. The strongly scented bel fruit and mahua flower also attract wildlife.
The Hathibajwa masonry tower and Madhuchuhan hide, ‘Tree Top’ and ground level ‘hides’ at kamaladan are good vantage points. Elephants can be seen after the monsoons and until the waterholes begin to dry up in March. Over 100 species of water and woodland birds, the remains of two 16th century forts of Ghero kings who once ruled from here, and hot springs, add to the interest.
The Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary:
Set in hilly terrain, it is a part of the Chotanagpur plateau, heavily forested with grassy meadows and deep waterways and covering an area of 186 sq. km. The park supports a large number of sambar in addition to nilgai, deer, chital, leopard, tiger, wild boar and wild cat. Roads permit easy access to large sections of the forest.
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu:
67 km from Ooty on the road to Mysore adjoining Kerala and Karnataka states, the sanctuary covering 321 sq. km. is a part of a larger national park that includes Wynad and adjoins Bandipur beyond the Moyar River. The area has hills (885-1,000 m), ravines, flats and valleys covered by mixed deciduous (particularly teak and eucalyptus), conifer and bamboo. Open throughout the year.
The sanctuary has large herds of elephant, gaur, sambar, barking deer, wild dog, Nilgiri Langur, bonnet monkey, wild boar, 4-horned antelope and the rarer tiger and leopard.
There are also smaller mammals including the scaly anteater, the pangolin, and mouse deer, civet, giant Malabar flying squirrels and a rich variety of bird life (jungle fowl, peacock, Malabar hornbills, woodpeckers, Malabar whistling thrush, paradise flycatchers, warblers, babblers and a number of birds of prey and nocturnals). Reptiles include python, saw scaled viper, Hamadryad (King cobra), seen by one visitor in Jan 1990, crocodile and large monitor lizards.
The Elephant Camp at Theppakadu 5 km, where wild elephants are tamed and some are bred in captivity and trained for working in the forest for the timber industry, is particularly interesting. One can see baby elephants do acrobatics (and puja at the temple) and also watch others come to be fed in the afternoon, learn about each individual elephant’s diet and specially prepared blocks of food.
In the wild, elephants spend most of the day foraging, consuming about 300 kg of green fodder daily over a large area, but in captivity they have to adapt to a totally alien life style.
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu:
On the Trichy Rd, 85 km. from Chennai and 60 km from Mamallapuram. Known for migratory birds which include blue-winged teals, pintails, shovellers, numbering about 100,000. The sanctuary is said to have been in existence as a protected area for about 250 years.
A marshy 30 ha site attracting numerous water fowl, has a small lake and a grove of Kadappamaram (Barrintonia acutangula) trees part of which remains submerged in the rainy season and provide the main nesting site for the birds.
Visitors and residents include crested cormorants, night herons, grey pelicans, sand pipers, grey wagtails, pelicans, open-billed storks, white ibis, egrets, little grebe and purple moorhens.
Annamalai, Tamil Nadu:
The park (1,400 m), near Pollachi, covers an area of 960 sq. km. in the Western Ghats. Open round the year. Wildlife includes Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, elephant, gaur, tiger, panther, sloth, wild boar, birds (including pied hornbill, drongo, red whiskered bulbul, black-headed oriole) and a large number of crocodiles in the Amaravathi reservoir. Jeeps available.
Point Calimere Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu:
The sanctuary on the coast is open throughout the year. It is famous for its migratory water birds and covers 17 sq. km. half of which consists of tidal swamps. Known as the Great Swamp, it attracts one of the largest colonies of flamingoes in Asia, numbering between 5,000 and 10,000 during the season.
In the spring when the berries are available on the trees and shrubs, the green pigeons, rosy pastors, koels, mynahs and barbets can be seen. In the winter the availability of vegetable food and insects attracts paradise fly catchers, Indian pittas, shrikes, swallows, drongos, minivets, blue jays, wood-peckers, robins among others. Spotted deer, black buck and wild boar are also supported.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkadi, Kerala:
Area 777 sq. km. set on attractive lake side, the 780 sq. km. sanctuary was created by the old Travancore State govt, in 1934 and can easily be reached from Kottayam. The road rises from the plains, through tropical forests, rubber and spice plantations, and pepper on the low land gives rise to tea and cardamom plantations.
In 1895 the lake was created by building a dam which covered 55 sq. km. of rich forest. A 180 m long tunnel led the water which had flowed westward into the Arabian Sea Eastward into the Suruli and Vaigai Rivers, irrigating extensive areas of Ramanathapuram and Madurai districts.
The sanctuary, near the border with Tamil Nadu, is in a beautiful setting and was designated a part of Project Tiger in 1973, though it is better known for its elephants. Most bulls here are tuskless (makhnas).
The elephants, bison, sambar, wild oxen, wild boar and spotted deer are common and in periods of drought when the forest water holes dry up, on rare occasions a tiger or leopard is sighted. There are plenty of water fowl which perch on the dead trees in the lake, and owls and hornbills in the forests and smaller animals including Black Nilgiri langurs.
Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh:
The largest of the state’s national parks named after the reservoir (201 km. from Hyderabad) which is also India’s largest tiger reserve, covers 3,560 sq. km. in 5 neighbouring districts (Alt 200-900 m). The sanctuary cut by deep gorges of the Mallamalai hills has areas of mixed deciduous and tropical forest as well as semi-desert scrubland in the NE.
There are tiger, leopard, a large colony of Indian pangolins, panther, wild dogs, civet, hyena, jackals, wolves, giant squirrels, crocodiles, lizards, python, vipers, kraits and over 150 species of birds.
Srisailam also attracts visitors to its fort and temple (originally, c 2nd century AD) with one of 12 Jyotirlinga in the country. The ancient Mahakali Temple on a hill rising from the Nallamalai forest contains a rare lingam which draws large crowds of pilgrims daily and especially at Sivaratri.
The walls and gates have carvings depicting stories from the epics. Non-Hindus are allowed into the inner sanctuary to witness the daily puja ceremony.
Bandipur National Park, Karnataka:
Area 874 sq km. Mixture of 5 tropical moist and dry deciduous forests (predominantly teak) and scrubland in the Nilgiri foothills (Alt 780-1455 m).
The wetter areas support rosewood, sandalwood, silk cotton and jamun. Bandipur, set up by the Mysore Maharaja in 1931, was the first park in South India to be chosen for the Project Tiger scheme. One can easily spot gaur, chital (spotted deer), elephant and sambar, but tigers and leopards are rare. Also good variety of bird life including crested hawk and serpent eagles and tiny-eared owl.
Taroba National Park, Maharashtra:
The area was once in the possession of the Gond tribals. The compact 120 sq. km. park has rich deciduous forest – mainly teak with bamboo, gardenia, satinwood (chloroxylon swietenia), mahua and jamun. Water birds are attracted by the perennial circular lake, including cattle egrets, purple moorhens and jacanas. It also has marsh crocodiles with a breeding farm for the Paul Strus species.
The wildlife consists of several troops of langur monkeys, palm civets, gaur, jackal, wild boar, chital, bison, sambar and a few tigers. As in Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, there are no wild elephants in Maharashtra.
Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka:
Nagarhole (nagar snake, hole streams) was one the Maharajas’ reserved forest and turned into a National Park in 1955. Covering gentle hills, it includes swampland, salt licks and many streams. The Kabini River which is a tributary of the Kaveri flows through the deciduous forest the upper canopy reaching 30 m.
The timber here is valuable and includes teak and rosewood and also stands of giant bamboo. Wildlife includes elephants, gaur (Indian bison), dhole (Indian wild dogs), wild cats, 4-horned antelopes, flying squirrels, sloth bears, monkeys, sambar and panthers.
Many varieties of birds including the rare Malabar trogan, great black woodpecker, Indian pitta, pied hornbill, whistling thrush and green imperial pigeon. Also waterfowl and reptiles.
Sasan Gir National Park, Gujarat:
The Asiatic Lion Panthera leo persica, the Asiatic Lion, once had a wide range in natural territory running from NW India through Persia to Arabia. It is now only found in the Gir forest of Gujarat. Similar to its African cousin, it is a little smaller and stockier in build, has a thinner mane and a thicker tuft at the end of its tail.
The 1913 census accounted for only 20 in the park. Gradual conversion of the forest into agricultural land and the activities of the maldharis (cattle men) in grazing their livestock in the forest posed problems for the lions’ natural habitat.
The Park covers a total area of 1,412 sq km in the Shaurashtra peninsula, of which about 10% is forest. The cattle invasion and agricultural colonisation are partly responsible for the small proportion but much of the natural vegetation in the region was scrub jungle.
The area has rocky hills and deep valleys with numerous rivers and streams and the vegetation is typically semi-deciduous with dry-forest teak dominating. Other species include sadad (Terminalia crenulata), tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon), palas (Butea monosperma) and dudhi (Wrightia tinctoria). There are extensive clearings covered with Savannah-like fodder grasses. The Tulsishyam hotsprings and Kankai Mata temple add interest.
Apart from the lion, Gir has common langur, leopard, hyena, sambar, chital, nilgai, chowsingha, chinkara and wild pig. There are over 2,000 nilgai and 1,000 chinkara. The chowsingha is exclusively Indian and is unique in being the only wild animal where the male has 2 pairs of horns.
The does are hornless. It is found on flat hilltop where there is short herbage. Like its nearest relative, the African kilpspringer, it can jump high from almost a standing start. The large population of over 8,000 chital provides suitable prey for the lion in place of cattle.