NATIONAL PARKS

Bandipur National Park

Halfway down the Mysore-Ooty highway, the Deccan Plateau rises to meet the wrinkled folds of the Western Ghat mountains. Here lies one of India's best-known wildlife reserves - Bandipur National Park. It is situated within Chamarajanagar district in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, and abuts the states of Tamil Nadu & Kerala. Endowed with a moderate climate and diverse geographical features, the park supports a remarkable variety of flora and fauna, making it a veritable paradise for wildlife. In 1973, Bandipur became one of the first of India's Tiger Reserves and the southernmost of the nine reserves specially established under Project Tiger. In 1974, intention was declared under the Wildlife Protection Act to notify it as a National Park.

FLORA & FAUNA: The scrub jungles towards the eastern limits of the park consist of stunted trees, interspersed with bushes and open grassy patches. Towards its north-western fringes, there is a gradual shift in the vegetation from open dry deciduous forests to tropical mixed deciduous forests. These diverse habitats support an enormous diversity of animal life.

With the onset of pre-monsoon showers in April, Bandipur begins to unfold in all its glory. The resident birds commence their breeding activities. The air is filled with their melodious calls. Sprouting grass in the meadows and view lines attract elephants and the majestic gaur in large numbers. For the tourist who comes to watch the larger mammals in their natural surroundings, Bandipur is a paradise from April to October. Even before this, during summer, when dryness prevails over most parts of Bandipur, the backwaters of the Kabini Reservoir in the north-western portion of the park host huge congregations of large mammals, especially the elephant and the gaur. This unique feature makes a breathtaking spectacle, and is almost the only one of its kind in Asia.

MAMMALS: Herbivores: Elephant (Elephas maximus), Gaur (Bos gaurus), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Chital or Spotted deer (Axis axis), Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) or Barking deer, Mouse deer (Tragulus meminna), Four horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), Wild pig (Sus scrofa), Grey langur (Presbytis entellus), Bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), Slender loris (Loris tardigradus), Black naped hare (Lepus nigricollis), Porcupine (Hystrix indica), Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica), Common giant flying squirrel (Petaurists petaurista), Three striped palm squirrel (funambulus palmarum).

Carnivores: Tiger (Panthera tigris), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Leopard cat, Jungle cat (Felis chaus), Rusty-spotted cat, Common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), Small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Dhole or Asiatic wild dog(Cuon alpinus), Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), Golden jackal (Canis aureus), Common mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi), Striped-necked mongoose (Herpestes vitticollis), Ruddy mongoose (Herpestes smithii), Smooth Indian otter (Lutra perspicillata), Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata).

BIRDS: Over 230 species have been identified. Some of the important groups include Herons, Storks, Egrets, Ducks, Kites, Eagles, Falcons, Quails, Partridges, Wildfowl, Lapwings, Sandpipers, Pigeons, Doves, Parakeets, Cuckoos, Owls, Nightjars, Swifts, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, Barbets, Woodpeckers, Larks, Swallows, Shrikes, Orioles, Drongos, Mynas, Minivets, Bulbuls, Babblers, Flycatchers, Warblers, Thrushes, Chats, Tits, Nuthatches, Wagtails, Flowerpeckers, Sunbirds and Munias.

REPTILES: Marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), Indian pond terrapin, Starred tortoise (Geochelone elegans), Common Indian monitor (Varanus bengalensis), Indian chameleon (Chameleo zeylanicus), Forest calotes, Southern green calotes, Skinks (Mabuya spp.), Geckos (Hemidactylus), Common rat snake (Ptyas mucosus), Spectacled cobra, Russell's viper (Vipera russelli), Common krait, Indian python (Python molurus), Checkered keelback, Green whip snake, Common Indian bronzeback (Dendrelaphis tristis), Flying snake, Wolf snake, Trinket snake (Elaphe).


Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarahole) National Park

Earlier known as Nagarahole National Park, this park got its name from the Nagara Hole ("Snake River" in Kannada) which runs eastwards through its centre. Nagarahole river flows through the park before it joins the Kabini river that also acts as a boundary between Nagarahole and Bandipur (the other facet of the Nilgiris Biosphere in Karnataka).

To its south east, the Kabini Reservoir connects the park to Bandipur National Park, while the Waynad Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala adjoins to the Southeast. To the west, coffee plantations separate the park from Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary.

FLORA & FAUNA: Covered chiefly by moist and dry deciduous forests, dominated by teak and rosewood, the terrain is gently undulating and well watered by streams. The drier eastern limits of the park consist of regenerating dry deciduous forests. Moving west, there is a gradual increase in rainfall which signals a shift in the vegetation from deciduous forests to tropical moist and semi-evergreen forests. Interspersed with these forests are swampy fallows called hadlus, which are dominated by grasses and represent favoured grazing areas of many wild herbivores. These diverse habitats contribute to the phenomenal abundance and enormous diversity of animal life in Nagarahole throughout the year.

With the onset of the pre-monsoon showers, the grandeur of Nagarahole begins to unfold. Most of the resident birds commence their breeding activities. The air is rent with the melodious calls of birds. Sprouting grass in the meadows and view lines attract elephants and the majestic gaur in large numbers. For the tourist who comes to watch the larger mammals in their natural surroundings, Nagarahole is a paradise from September to May.

As the backwaters of the Kabini Reservoir in the south-eastern portion of the park recede and fresh grass appears, the stage is set for huge congregations of large mammals, especially the elephant. This unique feature makes a breathtaking spectacle and is almost the only one of its kind in Asia.

MAMMALS

Herbivores: Elephant (Elephas maximus), Gaur (Bos gauras), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Chital or Spotted deer or Axis deer (Axis axis), Muntjac or Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Chevrotain or Mouse deer (Tragulus meminna), Four horned Antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), Wild pig (Sus scrofa), Hanuman langur (Presbytis entellus), Bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), Slender loris (Loris tardigradus), Black-naped hare (Lepus nigricollis), Indian Porcupine (Hystrix indica), Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica), Malabar Squirrel, large brown Flying Squirrel (Petaurista petaurista), Threestriped palm squirrel (Funambulus palamarum), Giant fruit bat (Pteropus giganteus).

Carnivores: Tiger (Panthera Tigris), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Leopard cat (Felis bengalensis), Jungle cat (Felis chaus), Rusty spotted Cat (Felis rubiginosa), Common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), Small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Dhole or Asiatic wild dog (Cuon alpinus), Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), Golden jackal (Canis auereus), Common mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi), Striped necked mongoose (Herpestes vitticollis), Brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus), Ruddy Mongoose (Herpestes smithii), Common Indian otter (Lutra lutra), Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Flying fox (Ptreopus giganteus), the largest Indian Bat.

BIRDS: Over 250 species of birds have been identified in the Park. Some of the important groups include Herons, Storks, Egrets, Ducks, Kites, Eagles, Falcons, Partridges, Quails, Peafowl, Owls, Lapwings, Sandpipers, Pigeons, Doves, Parakeets, Cuckoos, Nightjars, Swifts, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, Barbets, Swallows, Larks, Woodpeckers, Shrikes, Orioles, Drongos, Mynas, Minivets, Bulbuls, Babblers, Flycatchers, Warblers, Thrushes, Chats, Tits, Nuthatches, Wagtails, Sunbirds, Flower-peckers, and Munias

REPTILES & INVERTEBRATES: Reptiles include Marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), Indian pond terrapin, Star tortoise, Common Indian monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis) , Indian chameleon, Forest calotes, Southern green calotes, Skinks (Mabuya spp.), Geckos, Common rat snake, Spectacled cobra, Russell's viper, Common krait, Indian python (Python molurus), Checkered keelback, Green whip snake, Common Indian bronzeback, Flying snake, Wolf snake and Trinket snake.


Anshi National Park

Anshi (250 sq. km) was earlier part of Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. It was proposed to be made a National Park on 2nd September 1987, and the final declaration is awaited. The park lies in the Western Ghats, adjoining the state of Goa. To its north is Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary.

GEOGRAPHY: It is located in Uttara Kannada district from 1454' to 1507'N latitude and 7416' to 7430'E longitude. Altitude varies from 27 m to 927 m, and temperatures from 15C to 35C. Average annual rainfall is about 4700 mm. It is interesting to know that despite the high rainfall in this area, waterholes go dry very early in summer. This is because the soil is very lateritic with very minimal water-holding capacity. To overcome the scarcity of water for animals in the park, a bore well pumps water into a man-made tank.

FLORA: The area has semi-evergreen and evergreen forests. Some common tree species in the area are Callophyllum tomentosa, C. wightianum, Garcina cambogia, G. morealla, Knema attenuata, Hopea wightiana, Tetrameles nudiflora, Alstonia scholaris, Flacourtia montana, Machilus marcrantha, Carallia brachiata, Artocarpus hitsuta, A laoocha and Cinnamomum zeylanicum.

FAUNA: Mammals in the park include elephant, gaur, wild pig, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, common langur, bonnet macaque, slender loris, tiger, jungle cat, leopard (black panther), leopard cat, small Indian civet, common mongoose, jackal, wild dog, sloth bear, malabar giant squirrel, giant flying squirrel and porcupine. King cobra, python, cobra, rat snake, viper and krait are among the snakes that inhabit the park. The king cobra is commonly seen in the Gund range. Interesting birds include the great pied hornbill, malabar pied hornbill and ceylon frogmouth.


Bannerghatta National Park

Bannerghatta (104.27 sq. km) is conveniently placed just 22 km south of Bangalore, and consequently well visited. It was proposed to be made a National Park on 6th September 1974 and is awaiting final declaration.

GEOGRAPHY: It is located in Bangalore district from 1234' to 1250'N latitude and 7731' to 7738'E longitude. Altitude varies from 740 to 1034 m, temperature from 20 to 35C and the average annual rainfall is 700 mm.

FLORA: The area has mostly dry deciduous forests and thorny scrub, with patches of moist deciduous forests along the streams. Tree species in the park include Anogeissus latifolia, Schleichera oleosa, Terminalia tomentosa, T. arjuna. Grewia tilaefolia, Santalum album, Shorea talura, Emblica officinalis, Vitex altissima, Wrightia tinctoria, Randia sp. Zizphus sp. and Albizzia sp. Bamboos are common in the park, the dominant species being Dendrocalamus strictus. A small area of the park has plantations of Eucalyptus, Bauhinia purpurea, Samanea saman and Peltphorum pterocarpum.

FAUNA: Mammals in the park include leopard, gaur, elephant, jackal, fox, wild pig, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, common langur, bonnet macaque, porcupine and hare. A tiger has recently been sighted in the park.


Kudremukh National Park

Kudremukh (600.32 sq. km) is one of Karnataka's more recent parks, the intention to declare it a National Park being issued on 2nd September 1987. Located in the Western Ghats, it has one of the most beautiful landscapes with evergreen and semi-evergreen forests and grassland shola habitat, which is characteristic of the higher altitudes of the Western Ghats. However, there are a number of settlement enclosures within the park, including the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd. (KIOCL), the country's largest mining and pelletization complex.

GEOGRAPHY: It is located in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur from 1301' to 1329'N latitude and 7501' to 7525'E longitude. Altitude varies from 134 to 1892 m, the highest point being the Kudremukh peak in the south of the park. The park has a pleasant climate, with temperatures ranging from 17 to 28C. Annual rainfall varies from 1778 to 6350 mm, with an average of 4000 mm. The park is flanked by coffee and tea estates on the north and east, while there is a drop down the Western Ghats to sea level to the west. To the north-west, a forest corridor connects the park to Someshwara Sanctuary. A central ridge runs north-south through the park and the rivers Nethravati, Tunga and Bhadra are believed to originate here at Ganga Moola.

FLORA: The park has mostly evergreen and semi-evergreen forests. Shola grassland habitat is found at elevations above 1400 m. The shola forests in the park and in Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary represent the northern limit of this vegetation type. Evergreen trees include Poeciloneuron indicum, Heligrarna arnottiana, Artocarpus sp., Calophyllum sp., Alstonia scholaris, Canarium strictum, Syzygium cumini, Flacourtia montana, Symplocos spicata, Hopea parviflora, Mesua ferra and Evodia roxburghiana. There are also a few plantations of Eucalyptus, Casuarina and Acacia auriculiformis.

FAUNA: Mammals in the park include tiger, leopard, wild dog, jackal, lion-tailed macaque, common langur, sloth bear, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, Malabar giant squirrel, giant flying squirrel, porcupine and mongoose. Reptiles are represented by snakes and tortoises. The bird life in the park is very good and includes fairly rare birds like the Malabar trogon, great pied hornbill, Malabar whistling thrush and imperial pigeon.