Indian sanctuaries preserve some of the best species of flora and fauna in the world. Many of the sites are covered under the list of 'Protected Sites' and are granted special financial aid by the government of India as well as UNESCO. As per the recent data, India ranks 12th in the world with respect to bio-diversity. More than 45,000 species of plants and 77,000 species of animals are found in the country. Some of them are exclusive and can be seen only in a particular period or season.
Major Sanctuaries in India
India is flooded with national parks and biosphere reserves. There are more than 80 major national parks and around 441 wildlife parks in the country. Approximately, 4.5% of the nation's land is covered by such reserves and parks. This clearly reflects the scope and diversity of the flora and fauna in the region. Some of the noted sites are as under:
Ranthambore national park is one of the most famous sites for diurnal tigers. It is located in Rajastan and is spread over an area of 392 sq km. The site is covered by dry deciduous forests and is a house for some of the unique species of panthers, sambar, and chital. Other main attractions here are yellow bats, nilgai, Indian flying foxes, jackals, jungle cats, and Hanuman langurs. You can also find snub nosed marsh crocodiles, cobras, Indian pythons, vipers, chameleons, tortoise, and turtles. The area consists of some of the largest banyan trees in Asia. There are more than 272 species of birds and the prominent ones are kingfisher, woodpecker, sandpiper, flamingo, flycatcher, bulbul, and falcon. Dhok trees cover most of the forest area.
Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest wildlife site in India. Established in 1936 in the state of Uttarakhand, the site covers an area of around 1288 km. Being a major tiger reserve, more than 750 km is reserved specially for tigers. It houses more than 580 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, and 25 species of reptiles. The royal Bengal tiger is the main attraction here. The area is covered mostly by dense moist deciduous forests and the main trees here are mango, sal, pipal, haldu, and rohini. Crested serpent eagle, fishing cat, and Indian python are also found quite commonly in the area.
Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh is another important sanctuary. Covering an area of about 437 sq km, the region is known to have considerably high population density of tigers. It also has the highest density of the royal Bengal tigers if compared to other reserves in the world. The first white tiger was spotted in this area. Other important species found here are chinkara, nilgai, wild boar, chausingha, and fox.
Sundarbans is the world's largest single belt of halophytic mangrove forest. It is located in the state of West Bengal and is declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The reserve covers around 4624 sq km and 80% of the area comes under the territory of Bangladesh. The site is also famous as the kingdom of Bengal tigers as the density of this specie in the region is one of the highest in the world.
Periyar National Park is located in the state of Kerala. It spread over an area of 305 sq km in the mountainous region of Cardamom hills. The park is one of the 27 important tiger reserves in India. Established in 1982, the area is also known as Thekkady and is an important elephant reserve. More than three-fourth of the site is covered by semi-evergreen and evergreen rain forest. Rest of the region is covered by eucalyptus plantation, grassland, and damp leaves forest. The forest area also includes more than 2000 angiosperms and around 350 different medicinal plants and herbs. Important animals residing in the area are barking deer, Indian wild dog, leopards, sambar, and gaur. Kingfisher, racket-tailed Drongos, and Malabar Pled Hornbill are some of the prominent birds among the 350 different species found in the region.
Kanha National Park, the first of its kind in the state of Madhya Pradesh and the largest in the central part of India, is famous for royal Bengal tigers, Indian wild dog, leopards, and Barasingha. The area is also known as 'Kanha Tiger Reserve' and 'Wild Magic'. Covering an area of around 940 sq km, it is also known for a rich collection of flora with over 1000 distinct species of flowers and flowering plants. The trees of Sal, Indian Ghost, and bamboo add to the attraction. Indian peacock, the national bird of India, can also be spotted quite easily here.
Kaziranga National Park, the pride of Assam, is a world heritage site and is known for its efficiency in the conservation of One-horned Indian Rhinoceroses. The region covers approximately 430 sq km and is a home to almost two-third of the population of this species in the world today. It has also been awarded as the best tiger reserve in the world with regards to the density of tiger population in a protected area. The site is also declared as an 'Important Bird Area'. The forest cover herein is a mixture of tropical moist broad-leaf forests, grassland, and elephant grass. The other prominent species here are Wild Water Buffalo, Sambar, Eastern Swamp Bear, hog deer, Bengal fox, Indian Pangolin, particolored flying squirrels, golden langur, Ganges dolphin, and leopard cats. Some of the unique birds spotted here are Ferruginous duck, Kingfisher, Pelican, Fish Eagle, Greenshank, and stork. Reticulated python, King Cobra, Rock python, and viper are also found in the forest cover.
Gir sanctuary, also known as Sasan-Gir, is located in Gujarat and covers an area of around 1412 sq km. It is the only residence of Asiatic lions and is an important protected area in Asia. The area comprises of more than 500 plant species and most of the area is covered by teak-wood trees. The park is also rich in fauna and includes more than 300 species of birds, 2000 species of insects, 38 species of mammals, and 37 species of reptiles. Indian cobras, Indian leopards, striped Hyenas, Nilgai, four-horned Antelope, and pythons are some of the important species here.
Indian sanctuaries have gained immense importance in the recent days due to their versatility and extent of species they preserve. Each site is unique and will definitely give you a cherishing and memorable experience.
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