What is Wildlife :
What exactly is wildlife? There is no precise and universally accepted definition of the term. Its meaning varies from country to country, depending upon the legal framework that exists in each country for nature conservation in any given period of time. Generally, however, the term implies all living beings outside direct human control; in other words, all those plants and animals that are usually not cultivated or domesticated. In its widest connotation wildlife includes insects, fungi, frogs and wild flowers, as well as wild shrubs and trees, reptiles, birds and mammals.
The famous naturalist E P Gee once opined that there were around 40,000 tigers in India in the beginning of the 20th century. Though many wildlife conservationists and naturalists disagree with him on this figure no one can deny that the population of the tiger had dwindled alarmingly by late 1960s. This perilous decline was attributed to a combination of factors including poaching, degradation of tiger habitats and loss of its prey base.
Against this backdrop, sincere efforts as well as emotional pleas were made by many people at the national and international levels. In its 10th General Assembly held at New Delhi in December 1969, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) called for a moratorium on the hunting of the Indian tiger and several other wildlife species. Taking cognizance of these recommendations, the Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL) instructed all the states to ban the hunting of tigers for at least five years. In July 1970, tiger hunting was permanently banned throughout India.
Jim Corbett National Park
Jim Corbett National Park named after the hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment is the oldest national park in India. The park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park. Situated in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, the park acts as a protected area for the critically endangered Bengal tiger of India, the secure survival of which is the main objective of Project Tiger, an Indian wildlife protection initiative. The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics. An ecotourism destination, it contains 488 different species of plants and a diverse variety of fauna. The increase in tourist activities, among other problems, continues to present a serious challenge to the park's ecological balance. A range of hills runs through the middle of the national park, roughly east to west. The forests are moist deciduous, with Sal as the dominant tree.Chir Pine trees are to be found on the higher ridges of the hills. On the low-lying areas riverine forests, with Shisham and Khair trees, are intermixed with grasslands known locally as 'Chaurs'.
The Sloth Bear, Himalayan Black Bear, Dhole, Jackal, Yellow Throated Martem, Himalayan Palm Civet, Indian Grey Mongoose, Common Otter, Porcupine, Clack-taped Hare are the other attractions of this area. It is possible to see elephants all over the park too. There are four species of deer residing over here. These are the Chital, the well-known Spotted Deer, Para, Kakka, and the Barking Deer. The Goat Antelopes are represented by the Ghoral.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park ( Bharatpur )
Keoladeo Ghana National Park, one of the most spectacular bird sanctuaries in India, nesting indigenous water- birds as well as migratory water birds and water side birds. It is also inhabited by sambar, chital, nilgai and boar. More than 300 species of birds are found in this small park of 29 sq. km. of which 11 sq. km. are marshes and the rest scrubland and grassland. Keoladeo, the name derives from an ancient Hindu temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, which stands at the centre of the park. 'Ghana' means dense, referring to the thick forest, which used to cover the area. While many of India's parks have been developed from the hunting preserves of princely India, Keoladeo Ghana is perhaps the only case where the habitat has been created by a maharaja. In earlier times, Bharatpur town used to be flooded regularly every monsoon. In 1760, an earthern dam (Ajan Dam) was constructed, to save the town, from this annual vagary of nature. The depression created by extraction of soil for the dam was cleared and this became the Keoladeo lake. At the beginning of this century, this lake was developed, and was divided into several portions. A system of small dams, dykes, sluice gates, etc., was created to control water level in different sections. This became the hunting preserve of the Bharatpur royalty, and one of the best duck - shooting wetlands in the world.
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest and most famous national parks in northern India. It is situated in Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, about 130 km from Jaipur, which is also the nearest airport. The nearest town and railway station is at Sawai Madhopur, about 11 km away. Ranthambore is most famous for its large tiger population. As tourism in the park increased, so did the population of neighbouring villages. This led to increasing amounts of fatal human-tiger interactions and poaching. The Indian Government started Project Tiger in 1972 with an allotted area of 60 mi2. It was later expanded to become what is now called, the Ranthambore National Park. Besides tigers, the reserve has thriving bird population with more than 270 different species of birds here.
In 2005, there were 26 tigers living in Ranthambore. This was significantly lower than the recorded tiger population of the reserve in 1982, which then stood at 44. According to non-gevernment sources the number of tigers in the Ranthambore National Park were 34 in 2008. In 2008, more than 14 tiger cubs were also recorded. This was largely attributed to sustained efforts by forest officials to curb poaching. Villagers in the region were being given incentives to stay out of the park and surveillance cameras were also fitted across the reserve. These efforts have been successful with Ranthambore having enough tigers to participate in the Sariska Tiger Reserve relocation efforts
Other major wild animals include the Tiger, leopard, nilgai, dhole, wild boar, sambar, Deer, hyena, sloth bear and chital. It is also home to wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles. Ranthambore is also the site for one of the largest banyan trees in India.
Sariska National Park
Sariska National Park lies in the Aravalli hills and is the former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Alwar. Sariska itself is a wide valley with two large plateaus and is dotted with places of historical and religious interest, including the ruins of the Kankwari Fort, the 10th century Neelkanth temples, the Budha Hanumab Temple near Pandupol, the Bharthari Temple near the park office, and the hot and cold springs of Taalvriksh. The large Siliserh Lake is at the north-eastern corner. The forests are dry deciduous, with trees of Dhak, Acacia, Ber and Salar. The Tigers of Sariska are largely nocturnal and are not as easily seen as those of Ranthambhor.
The park also has good populations of Nilgai, Sambar and Chital. In the evenings, Indian Porcupine, Striped Hyaena, Indian Palm Civet and even Leopard are sometimes seen. The forests are lush during and immediately following the monsoon, but during the dry months of February May there is a shortage of water and in consequence mammals are attracted to water holes.
Bandhavgarh National Park
A wildlife retreat where history and nature meet, Bandhavgarh is too far away from Kanha. Set amidst the Vindhyan ranges, the park has a series of ridges running through it. This park was the former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa and at present is a famous natural hub for White Tigers. White Tigers, now a major attraction around the world's zoos, were first discovered in Rewa, not far from here. The terrain is broken, with rocky hill ranges, running roughly east west, interspersed with grassy swamps and forested valleys.
Much of the park is covered in Sal forest, replaced by mixed forests in the higher elevations of the hills. There are extensive stands of bamboo and grasslands. Generally the forests are less dense here, with less undergrowth than in North India, thus offering better sightings of wildlife, notably mammals, including the daylight sightings of Tigers in the grassy 'maidans'. Tigers are estimated for the park. Other inhabitants of the park include the Muntajac, Jungle Cat, Ratel, Jyena, Porcupine, the Rhesus Macaque and the back-faced Langur. The park also has numerous ancient caves and rock shelters, with shrines and inscriptions. About 150 species of birds known from the Tala area are also found over here including the Brown Fish Owl, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Shahin Falcon.
Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is a national park and a Tiger Reserve in the Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh, India. In the 1930s, Kanha area was divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 km² each. Kanha National Park was created on 1 June 1955. Today it stretches over an area of 940 km² in the two districts Mandla and Balaghat. Together with a surrounding buffer zone of 1009 km² and the neighboring 110 km² Phen Sanctuary it forms the Kanha Tiger Reserve. The park has a significant population of Royal Bengal Tiger, leopards, the sloth bear, Barasingha and Indian wild dog.
Other larger mammal species of the park are rhesus macaque, golden jackal, Bengal fox, smooth-coated otter, honey badger, small Indian civet, Indian gray mongoose, ruddy mongoose, striped hyena, jungle cat, leopard cat, Indian spotted chevrotain, Indian pangolin, Indian porcupine and Indian hare. The Indian jungle fowl, which is the ancestor of domestic hens, is common.
Panna National Park
Situated in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh at a distance of around 57 km from Khajuraho is the Panna National Park. The region, which is famous for its diamonds, is also home to some of the best wildlife species in India and is one of the better Tiger Reserves in the country. The park is known worldwide for its wild cats, including tigers as well as deer and antelope. Due to its closeness to one of the best-known Indian tourist attraction in India, Khajuraho, the park has the potential of becoming a major tourist attraction.
The Panna National Park is located in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and is a part of the Chattarpur district. The park is well connected with the other parts of the region by a good network of roads. Distances of some important places in India from the Panna National Park are Bhopal 727 km, Delhi 889 km, Chennai 1761, and Calcutta 1040 km.
Dry and hot climate, in union with shallow Vindhyan soils has given rise to dry Teak and dry mixed forest. The dominating vegetation type is miscellaneous dry deciduous forest inter spread with grassland areas. Other major forest types are riverines, open grasslands, open woodlands with tall grasses and thorny woodlands. The characteristic floral species of this area include tree species such as Tectona grandis, Diospyros melanoxylon, Madhuca indica, Buchnania latifolia, Anogeissus latifolia, Anogeissus pendula, Lannea coromandelica, Bosswelia serrata etc.
The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest and wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India. Established in 1965, with a total area of 1412 km² (about 258 km² for the fully protected area (the National Park) and 1153 km² for the Sanctuary), the park is located about 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh. The Gir national park is a heaven to about 300 Asiatic lions. The Lion, Panther Leo, inhabits the forest of Gir in the Saurashtra peninsula, attracting sixty thousand visitors to this sanctuary of Gujarat every year. Gir today is the only place in the world, outside Africa, where the lion can be seen in its natural habitat. The Asiatic lion is slightly smaller than its African cousin, nevertheless, a large male lion of the Gir is quite a sight to behold. The best way to observe the big cats is, of course, in their natural surroundings, at dawn and dusk, when they are on the prowl. Wildlife viewing in the Girs is best done, by driving around the forest.
The carnivores group mainly comprises Asiatic lions, Indian Leopards, Jungle cat, Striped Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Indian Mongoose, Indian Palm Civets, and Ratels. Desert cats and Rusty-spotted cats exist but are rarely seen. The main herbivores of Gir are Chital, Nilgai (or Bluebull), Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Chinkara and Wild boar. Blackbucks from the surrounding area are sometimes seen in the sanctuary.
Sunderbans National Park
The Sunderbans, extending over an area of 1,000,000 hectares, is the world's largest delta, formed by the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghana rivers. The region has extensive mangrove forests and the contours are in a constant state of flux, caused by the monsoon flooding each year. Roughly a third of the delta is water, consisting of rivers, channels and tidal creeks up to 5 kilometers wide. The Sunderbans falls both within the India and Bangladesh, the latter having the larger share of the delta. On the Indian side there is a national park overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans National Park is a National Park, Tiger Reserve This region is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves of the Bengal tiger. It is also home to a variety of bird, reptile and invertebrate species, including the salt-water crocodile.
The Sundarbans forest is home to more than 200 tigers. The Royal Bengal Tigers have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in the saline waters, and are world famous for their man-eating tendencies. Apart from the Royal Bengal Tiger; Fishing Cats, Macaques, Wild Boar, Common Grey Mongoose, Fox, Jungle Cat, Flying Fox, Pangolin, Chital, are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans.
Periyar National Park
One of the well known wildlife sanctuaries in the south, Periyar sanctuary attracts a large number of nature lovers every year. Also called the Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary, this place is ideal for watching the animals in their natural habitat. The forest here, slopes into the manmade lake at the bottom of the hill. This lake serves as the waterhole for the animals and they come here to drink or take a dip. Elephants, Gaur, Sambhar and even tigers can be spotted here. There are boat services which takes the visitor around the lake. The best season to visit the park is between October and June. Spread over 777 sq.km of the Cardamom Hills of Western Ghats, the Periyar sanctuary is located 137 km from Madurai. Although an excursion on the splendid artificial lake is the standard way to experience the sanctuary, you can also walk around with the local guide in a small group. Wild Elephant herds come to the lake to frolic in the water.
Sambhar, Bison, Spotted Deer, Tigers, Leopards, Malabar Flying Squirrels, Stripe necked Mongooses, etc. There are over 260 species of birds here, including Nilgiri Wood Pigeons, blue-winged Parakeets, White bellied Tree Pies, laughing Thrushes and Fly Catchers.
Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary
Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary is famous for its Indian Rhinoceros population which is estimated at 1,100 + and is by far the best place to see them in India. (this species in unique to the subcontinent, with the second largest population of 400+ found in Chitwan, Nepal). Other large mammals include the Water Buffalo, Swamp Deer and Gangetic Dolphin. The park may be explored by riding elephant or 4-wheel drive motor vehicles. There are several watch towers. The nearby Panbari Reserve Forest is the best place to see the Hoolock Gibbon. Kaziranga national park has a rich birdlife. There is a colony of Spot-billed pelicans and the rare Bengal Floricans inhabit the grasslands. This area is also known for the famous Assam tea and during the winter and spring it is worthwhile visiting the nearby tea plantations to see tea leaves being picked and processed.
Kaziranga National Park lies to the south of the mighty Brahmaputra river and being on the floodplains is inundated heavily by the monsoon rains. The predominant vegetation is a mixture of tall grasslands and riverine forests. There are many marshes, interconnecting streams and ox-bow lakes, known locally as 'bheels' or 'bils'. To the south of the park lie the Mikir Hills which rise to over 1,000 metres elevation.
Kaziranga is one of the few wild breeding areas outside Africa for multiple species of large cats, such as Indian Tigers and Leopards. Kaziranga was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006 and has the highest density of tigers in the world (one per five km²), with a population of 86, as per the 2000 census. Other felids include the Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, and Leopard Cats. Small mammals include the rare Hispid Hare, Indian Gray Mongoose, Small Indian Mongooses, Large Indian Civet, Small Indian Civets, Bengal Fox, Golden Jackal, Sloth Bear, Chinese Pangolin, Indian Pangolins, Hog Badger.
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