India is home to many wildlife sanctuaries and some are as small as 70 square kilometers and some are sprawled over hundreds of miles. These sanctuaries came into inception to protect the dwindling wild life in India. The country is among the most populated ones in the world and has suffered deforestation and poaching on a massive scale. In light of such events, the Indian government has taken numerous steps to preserve the ecology of the country and to stabilize its wild life.
Project Tiger In 1970’s the government launched Project Tiger in order to save the dwindling numbers of this majestic cat that is also known as the Royal Bengal Tiger. The project proved successful to some extent but the population of Tigers as well as other endangered species continues to somehow eke out a living under the constant threat of human invasion. However it cannot be denied that the efforts of the government with the help of the locals have borne fruit and some sanctuaries are teeming with endangered species that were seemingly beyond any hope of saving. Some of the top wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in India boast of a success story that has given a new hope to wildlife enthusiasts and professionals around the world.
Sundarban National Park S
undarban National Park is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in India and around the world. A trip to India is incomplete without a visit to this beautiful piece of wilderness that is located in the state of West Bengal. The national park is famous for its success story of efficiently managing and conserving the population of the Bengal Tiger that was tottering on the brink of extinction in the 1970’s. The success of conserving this ecological niche can largely be attributed to the locals who despite being attacked, killed, and mauled by tigers, continue to revere and worship it. This is the only place in the world where man eating tigers roam free in the inaccessible mangrove jungles that this forest is made up of.
The Sundarban sanctuary is home to almost 500 Royal Bengal tigers and many other species including the Gangetic Dolphin which is only found in the river Ganges. However, it is almost impossible to spot a dolphin and folklore has it that it is a very good omen to spot a dolphin in this sacred river. Other animals include the saltwater crocodile, spotted deer, king cobra, Indian cobra, wild boars, monitor lizards, jungle cats, the Chital, flying fox, pangolins, macaques, various turtles and sea snakes. In order to enjoy sightseeing in this park, it is important to stay there for at least a week since the jungle is dense and the animals, shy. Some of the endangered species include the Gangetic dolphin, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Olive Ridley Turtle, Ground Turtle, River Terrapin, and King Crabs. The trip is worth the time, money, and effort if you happen to spot even one of these species in the wild.
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park is located in the State of Rajasthan in India and is one of the largest parks in the country. Situated in the district of Sawai Madhaopur, the park was declared a game sanctuary in 1955 and was later declared a tiger reserve in the year 1973. Named after a ruined fort located in the middle of the park, it is one of the best places for a tiger sighting. The national park is also renowned for one of the largest Banyan trees in India. This park is bordered by two rivers, the Banas and the Chambal, and also has many lakes that enable richness in flora and fauna.
The Ranthambore National park is famous for its tigers and attracts tourists and academicians from around the world for a glimpse of this magnificent creature. The population of tigers here is around twenty five which is lesser that the number recorded in the year 1988. However, the park is also home to many other species of fauna and some of them include Indian leopards, Dhols, Hyenas, Sloth bears, Crocodiles, Chitals and Sambhars. The best season to visit is between November and March; moreover the park is closed from July to September because of monsoons.
The Manas wildlife sanctuary
The Manas wildlife sanctuary is located in the State of Assam and is one of the biggest sanctuaries in India. The park is named after the Manas River that runs through the heart of this protected wilderness. This park is ideal for someone who wants to go off the beaten track and absorb the beauty of Indian wildlife in its virgin form. The sanctuary is located in the foothills of Himalayas and is home to hundreds of species of animals and flora. The tiger reserve was created in the park in 1973 in light of the extensive poaching of tigers for the ‘medicinal’ properties of their body parts. This sanctuary provides refuge to many endemic species such as Assam Roofed Turtle, The Pygmy Hog, Hispid Hare and The Golden Langur.
The park is home to numerous species of fauna and a safe haven for migratory birds as well. Some of the famous and endemic species include the Golden Langur, The Insipid Hare and the Pygmy Hog. Furthermore, migratory birds such as Cormorants, Forktails, Riverchats and the ruddy shell ducks can be seen in winter. However, the famous attraction is the Red Panda which is also on the endangered list and the population of this rare species continues to decline due to poaching and habitat destruction. It can be found on the higher slopes of the Himalayan foothills although it is not easy to spot. The park is also a tiger reserve and has approximately 80 tigers in the park; however, it is difficult to spot a tiger in this huge park since tigers are sparsely populated and find good cover in the dense forest. Apart from being a Project Tiger reserve it is also a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.
Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park is one of the oldest and arguably the best wildlife sanctuary in India and is home to almost two thirds of the world’s one horned rhinoceros population. The park is also reputed to be the most efficient in conservation and management of wildlife. It is located in the State of Assam in Eastern India and was recently declared a Tiger Reserve as well. This unique place is also a safe haven for birds and is a happy hunting ground for ornithologists and bird watchers around the world. The scenic backdrop with many swampy areas makes it an ecological paradise for wildlife in a country where deforestation due to overpopulation has annihilated many jungles.
This National park that now provides refuge to local flora and fauna was once literally a happy hunting ground for poachers in India and around the world. The one horned Rhinoceros was extensively poached in early 1900’s and the population decreased to a mere twelve rhinos. The task of increasing the population and conserving the species seemed improbable if not impossible. However, genuine efforts by the Indian forest officers and wildlife organizations yielded astonishing results. Now the rhino population has increased to more than a thousand and continues to grow. The Tiger population has also improved and the officials say that the park has the highest density of tigers per square kilometers compared to anywhere else in the world making it one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in India.
Kanha National Park.
The Kanha National Park is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh and is one of the top wildlife sanctuaries in India. The park is over nine hundred square kilometers in area and is also a Tiger Reserve. It has a considerable population of Royal Bengal Tigers, Sloth Bears, Leopards, and wild dogs. The rare Indian wolf can also be spotted in the far eastern side of the park; however it is hard to spot and is on the endangered list due to dwindling numbers.
The park has more than twenty species of mammals including the Dhol or the Indian Wild dog. It is also home to tigers, striped hyenas, and the largest cattle species in the world, the Sambhar. The park is home to black bucks, Nilgai, sloth bears, Indian wolf, Chitals, small Indian Civet, Rhesus Monkeys, and swamp deer. Game spotting here is easier compared to other national parks because of the number of animals in the sanctuary. Some of the other places of attractions are Kanha Park Museum and the Bamni Dadar which is also called the sunset point. This place is a must see for every tourist and offers tranquil and mesmerizing sunsets amidst the natural beauty of this forest.
Jim Corbett National Park
Jim Corbett National Park is named after the great hunter who later turned into an environmentalist and a conservationist. Jim Corbett had a key role in the establishment of this wildlife sanctuary that is one of the oldest in India. Located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand in north India, the park is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. However the spotlight is stolen by the Bengal Tiger that is still tottering on the verge of extinction. Every season more that 70,000 tourists visit the place to absorb the virgin beauty that this forest has to offer. The park is best visited in winter since monsoons and summers are very harsh in the wild. Moreover, the park is only open from mid September to mid June.
The park has some forest lodges and the best chance of spotting a tiger is if you stay at the forest lodge. Private vehicles are also allowed inside the park but are not recommended since trained professional drivers of the park know where to spot game. Elephant rides are also available in the park and are the best option if you want to experience the tranquility of the forest. There are two safaris; one in the morning and one in the afternoon but the best time to explore the wilderness is at dawn when the chances of spotting game (especially tigers) are good. It is advisable to stay at the park for at least two days in order to spot a tiger, since they are sparsely populated within the sanctuary.
Gir National Park
The Gir National Park is Located in the State of Gujarat In India and is famous for its Asiatic lion that is on the endangered species list. This national park is one of the success stories as far as conservation of the Asiatic lion is concerned. Once there were only 15 lions in the sanctuary which now boasts of mote than 300 pure Asiatic lions. Furthermore the government has recorded an increase in the number of lions in the last decade indicating an improved condition of flora and fauna in the reserve. The sanctuary is closed from June to mid October and the best time to visit is between November and March. The nearest airport is Diu airfield which is located 112 kilometers from the park and is directly connected to Mumbai. The other airport is the Ahemedabad airport which is about 400 kilometers from the park. The nearest railhead is Rajkot which is a three hour drive away from the park.
There are numerous other sanctuaries in India but the above mentioned are the most famous and well protected sanctuaries. All of them are made so as to increase the numbers of endangered species and put aside a piece of land for animals that share this planet with us and hopefully will continue to do so in the future as well.